Adopting two older kitties taught one New York rescuer a great deal about living life as well as grieving loss. Rescuer Christina Ha, founder of the cat café Meow Parlour, shared the emotional stories of two adopted grey kitties, Haku and Haru. Although they look alike, they are not related and adopted apart from one another. But they both had an equally big impact on the experienced rescuer’s life.
Haku, the 16-year-old cat, was the “best old man” she could ever have asked for, taking everything in stride.
“He was there by my side, a reminder that half of what makes life beautiful is the way that you look at it,” she said.
Then, 13-year-old Haru became the “most perfect old lady” among her all-time favorite cats. After losing Haku, she adopted Haru to honor his life. In doing so, she gave them both their best final days in a loving home.
Adopting gave her “an overwhelming amount of love,” she said. The way the cats took on life despite many health concerns was inspirational, with lessons about resilience and “how to be a better person.” After they crossed the Rainbow Bridge, the cats’ stories are helping others deal with the grief of losing a pet.
Haku, the ‘Best Old Man’
Christina says she adopted Haku on a whim as her injured ankle was hurting her and she was feeling sad. So, she did “the next logical thing,” taking home an older cat she saw on YouTube, she joked. He was “several layers of geriatric all rolled up in this baggy grey body,” she recalled. But you can see what a distinguished gentleman he was.
Haku’s Story is Helping Other Cats
Her beautiful story about Haku’s life touched thousands and even won a grant to help other cats at Meow Parlour. But before deciding to help him, Ha had never seen him in person and didn’t know his background. Nevertheless, she agreed to give him the best life possible in hospice care.
Like many aging cats, Haku had kidney disease, arthritis, teeth issues, and also hyperthyroidism. Although she’d never dealt with those issues before, she took on the many challenges all at once. By actively caring for his health, it reminded her of the need to take time to care for herself.
“All Haku wants is to be well enough to be loved, and in helping him do that, it became time to invest in my own future,” she explained.
Haku reminded her of the many things in life to be appreciated, nurtured, and also let go. She got her ankle cared for and her own health improved as she started going to the gym and making time for the important things in life.
After recovering from a stroke, Haku passed away in May 2023, having received such love right to the end. In all, he was in the home for 13 months, celebrating his 17th birthday with as many churus as he wanted.
“I wouldn’t trade our time together, the ups and downs and all, for anything else in the world, except for the privilege to go back and do it all again,” she said.
Video by Whiskerstowhiskers about adopting Haku:
Haru, the Perfect Old Lady
While grieving the loss of Haku, the rescuer knew the best way to honor his life was to help another older cat. This time, she learned about the cat’s backstory. Haru was surrendered twice, but this was to become her third and final home. When Ha saw Haru for the first time, she couldn’t help but think of Haku and his soft grey fur. But her story was a much different one.
“She reminded me of my special old man. My heart fluttered just remembering his soft fur,” she said.
Video via Instagram/whiskerstowhiskers
Like Haku, she had kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. But unlike him, her conditions were in a downward spiral. Ha did her best to improve her failing health, as everyone hoped the kitty would recover.
Haru’s Story is Helping People Deal with Anticipatory Grief
But after some signs of improvement, the cat’s health continued to decline. Ha wondered if her efforts would give Haru the dignified end that she deserved, sharing the emotions of “anticipatory grief” that are very real.
“Anticipatory grief is the experience of grief before the expected loss actually happens, and preparing for the loss of a loved one is never easy, 😔” she shared.
A Cat Camp webinar event to honor Haru’s life is helping others understand how to cope with anticipatory grief for animal family members. It features Jackson Galaxy and Grief Counselor Stephanie Rodriguez.
“This event was made in honor of Haru, who lived in and left this world on her own terms.✨,” Ha shared.
Haru passed peacefully at home with Christina Ha and her husband Simon there with her in the room. This cat had a loving home until her final moments, and that is the best anyone can hope for. Helping her live out her final days in peace was such a loving gesture that was rewarding and even life-changing.
“Haru passed on September 25th after I whispered to her that I would be okay if it was her time to go. Our time together was short, but treasured. She was the best girl ❤️,” Ha shared.
Despite grieving the loss of these beloved cats, Ha says deciding to adopt them counted among the “happiest and best decisions” she’s ever made. What an inspiration for those considering caring for older cats who need a home!
Preparing to say goodbye to Haru by Whiskerstowhiskers: