Duke: 1994-2010

Four days ago, with the help of one of the most amazing and compassionate human beings I’ve ever known —  our vet —  I faced the wrenching, but loving, task of easing my most beloved Duke out of his failing body.  Aside from being one of the biggest loves of my life, it was Duke’s struggle with Inflammatory Bowel Disease over a decade ago that set me on the path to discovering the wisdom and curative powers of home-prepared raw food for cats.  The raw diet cured Duke’s IBD and was the catalyst for the website and my own passion for feline nutrition.

Without Duke, catnutrition.org would never have come to pass.

Duke was doing so beautifully until a few weeks ago. He suddenly began dropping weight and losing his notoriously strong appetite. The diagnostics were inconclusive (healthy kidneys, clean bloodwork, clean urinalysis) but the best guess is that that he had some kind of cancer, perhaps of the liver.

Until last Monday morning, he remained as lively and engaged as an underweight, sick cat could be – still seeking out lap time, sitting with me watching the snow fall, and making regular short Cat Patrol trips around the house.  He was the essence of fearlessness and peace.  He had no appetite, but he was clearly not uncomfortable or in pain. Love and the homeopathic remedy he had over a week ago helped Duke glide through the transition of his last weeks.  I was a mess, but Duke was still Duke. Absolutely undiminished in spirit.

His exit was smooth.  I felt his spirit growing and expanding, then flying, big and free.

He left this earth space much better loved –  and its cats much better fed — than he found it. He was my most important teacher on cat nutrition but he was also my daily morning meditation lap buddy, a tremendously loyal friend for nearly 16 years, and a gentle spirit.  He was the easiest imaginable cat to live with, and still his presence loomed large.  It feels like a lot more than one orange-marmalade cat is missing from our home.

The Duke abides.

We miss that beautiful furry marmalade-orange body gracing our home so much that it’s staggering.  His adopted sister, Nettie, is keeping a close eye on us; like me, she keeps being caught off guard and looking around the house expecting to see that handsome fellow with the amber eyes come around the corner.

Love, however, is an ongoing event; Duke was such a conspicuous expression of love while he was in a body and now, without the confines of form to hold him back, he’s good to go.  I sure as heck wish I’d have had lots more years with that form, but I’m profoundly grateful for the gifts he gave me.

Godspeed, Dukie-boy.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We love you all the time.

21 responses to “Duke: 1994-2010

  1. I just wrote you a thank you note for your wonderful website and guidance. At the time I did not know the inspiration for all us had left! I am so sorry for your loss, words do not accurately convey my sorrow for your lose of Duke. Duke was a large part of your life and he bacame a large part of each of us who found your website, I cried a few tears for Duke too. Please know I gave Milo a big hug and let him know his reason for being a much healthier cat left us. RIP dear Duke.

  2. Oh… my deepest sympathy. Very best wishes to you and everybody else who is hurting from a Duke-shaped hole in their lives now.

    And many thanks to you, and to Duke, for catnutrition.org – my two lovely girls, who have been thriving since we brought them home from the shelter and put them on raw food, owe you and Duke a lot, and so do my husband and I.

  3. SUE- Charlie's Mom

    I was so sad to hear about Duke. Your love for him has resulted in an immeasurable contribution to the well-being of felines everywhere. As a “newbie” to your website I am still learning all the wonderful things you and Duke offer the cat world.

    My big orange guy, Charlie, was in terrible shape with IBD and under the care of a greatly uninformed vet who practices under the guise of “Cat Specialist”. Charlie’s future looked bleak, and then we found you! Thanks to all your hard work , Charlie is better than ever.

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for all your efforts and my sincere regrets for your loss.

    Blessings Duke!

  4. Oh Anne, I’m SO sorry…I’m so sad to hear about Duke’s passing….I’m typing through tears as I write this to you, it’s SO hard losing an animal, they’re are family! I’m so sorry that Duke got sick after being so healthy for so long! When I found your website Anne, I could relate so closely with what poor Duke had been going through becuase my poor Biscuit had been going through all the same thing! At least you found the way to keeping Duke healthy for so long, and in turn, you and Duke have helped me and my animals (one who suffered from IBD and another UTI infections) and many many countless others! If it weren’t for you and Duke, we’d still be suffering through these horrible diseases and sicknesses! And if it weren’t for you, Duke would’ve never had the chance to see what living a healthy happy life was all about! Nevertheless, words can not tell you my sadness for your loss of Duke. All I can say is thank you Anne for all you’ve done with all of your much appreciated information and research you’ve done and genorously shared with us, and thank you Duke for all you’ve done and helped us with in keeping our cats healthy, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be where we are now. RIP special kitty! We will all miss you so much! 😦

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Your site has helped me get my three cats off of dry food, and onto a better, healthier diet, and I appreciate all the work that you do (and have done.) Two of them eat raw, and the third is on a premium (Wellness grain-free) canned diet.

  6. My tears and love — tears, for losing such an obviously beloved Baby — love, for what you both are teaching us –I refuse to use the past tense.
    I have just found your extraordinary site and I have spent the day (since 10am) both absorbing all you have to teach, and reflecting on 40+ years of loving and caring for our many beloved fur-bearing family members.
    My husband (Bill) has been consoling me over and over today as I realize how little I truly knew re: nutrition.
    My manic journey for truth began in earnest with the recent loss of my beloved Bailey to CRF.
    Bill says “we did the best we could, under the circumstances” — BUT –!
    I have never posted before so forgive errors. I’ll need more help and information but need to be more composed.

  7. Hi Anne,
    I am heartbroken to read about Duke….I am so sorry. Through Duke you have helped so many and I am very thankful for all your help in getting me started in 2001. Sophie and Simba continue to enjoy their raw. Duke’s memory will live on forever and he will always have a special place in my heart!

  8. I am sorry for your loss and can sympathize – we had to make the same decision last fall to our family cat – Bo-bo. You never really know, I think, just how much of a companion a good cat (or dog or…) is until they are no longer there.

    My kids are still feeling the loss – even with two new kittens and nearly 5 months passing. (And to be truthful, so am I…) Bo-bo left a big hole indeed…

  9. Ever since I first started this company with Annie’s help and encouragement and Duke and Nettie to help me fine tune our blend on the recipe, they both became one of my “kids” too. Fortunately, Nettie always approved of the turkey cuisine and I would pass a sigh of relief and revel in her culinary expertise. Duke on the other hand, was a prodigal son that would gobble up everything and would always be kind with his food reviews. I’m going to dearly miss him …. as one of my adopted sons…

  10. Anne, I am so very sorry for your loss and I am thinking of you. Ever since I found your site I have been doing a lot of research into feline nutrition and I have been relentless about spreading the word. You have inspired me so much that all my cats’ lives are forever changed now. All five of them are thriving on your recipe. Duke was an angel sent to educate us about how we should really care about our feline companions. He brought together many people and opened many eyes and minds. What a beautiful gift.

    Thank you a million times over. You are saving lives.

  11. Thank you Duke for giving the love of my life two more years of a good life. Anne is a wonderful person and I am glad you found her and that your partnership has help so many others. My Rascal died one year ago this month, it is hard to believe that it has been that long, I too see her on the chair and hear her talking, then my heart breaks again. My cat had diabetes and asthma and was going down hill fast. We had feed her some of the poison recalled pet food and she deterirated almost immediately , I believe she was within 24 hours of death so as a last act of kindness I gave her some cooked chicken and she loved it and she immediately improved. That is when I found Anne’s site and started the raw diet. It made all of the difference in the world. And she loved it so much, she got very excited to see her raw food come out. She felt good and was active. She stayed with us for over two more precious years, ones I would have missed if not for Duke and Anne. So thank you Duke wherever you are for the great gift you gave me. Anne I feel your pain, Rascal was about 15 when we had to make the hardest decision of our lives, but one that was necessary because we loved our girl. Anne, I hope you can take some comfort knowing that to at least one cat you made a real difference in her life, as well as my husband and my lives. I wish I could give you such an enormous gift. I will cry for Duke now as well. I hope peace will be with you soon.

  12. I have tears in my eyes as I read through your post and the comments. Thank you Duke and Annie. Both of you contributed to my knowledge of correct feeding for our obligate carnivores. You have both made such a huge impact on my life.

  13. Today I was talking to a cat owner about your raw food recipe and I suggested to print it for her.That is how I got to read about Duke. I am so sorry . I know how it is hard to say good bye to our best furry buddies. I hope he comes back in a new healthy body soon . Thank you for all your good information on raw food , and my sincere regrets for your loss.

  14. Anne, I have been thinking about Duke none stop ever since I learned of his passing. I am sitting here writing you this, with tears well in my eyes, because I can imagine how beautiful, loving and kind Duke must have been when he was your companion. I am so so sorry for your loss, and I feel your pain in my heart.

    Duke’s beautiful spirit will continue to live in all of us. I have been talking to my cats Annie and Sebastian about Duke. And tell them that because of him, they are glowing, and happy.

    Thank you and Duke. We are forever grateful.

  15. I didn’t know about Duke….and I will tell you why. Because of Duke…. Anne-and you being the first person to teach me about feeding raw…..I have had-knock on wood-the healthiest of young men in my house. I haven’t been on my cat sites that much in the last year and it is because of that wonderul Duke boy. What a beautiful tribute Anne….you were lucky to have known such a wonderful being. I am so sorry for your loss…..but I know for sure-that you will see him again:) xooxoxoxxo-Robin (of Robin and Peri)

  16. Anne, I’m so very sorry to read about Duke’s passing. Like Robin, who posted just above me, I’ve come late to the news because now my girl Pearl is bouncing with health, I haven’t been visiting my cat sites so much. I look at my glossy, healthy girl now, and it’s hard to remember how desperate I was when I stumbled across your wonderful site so many years ago. We’d tried everything, my girl and me – she’d been through every test, every (dry) special diet, known to vetkind, while she got sicker and sicker – and all they could offer us in the end was steroids to control her IBD. Well, I don’t need to tell you how the story turned out; you’ve heard it so many, many times already I’m sure. Anne, I will never forget what you and big, gentle Duke did for us. Thank you so much for giving my beautiful girl back to me. Oh dear, can’t see to type any more. RIP Duke – run free over the rainbow bridge. – Annette and Pearl x

  17. I was so sad to hear about Duke. Your love for him has resulted in an immeasurable contribution to the well-being of felines everywhere. As a “newbie” to your website I am still learning all the wonderful things you and Duke offer the cat world.

  18. I’m getting this news late. I am so sorry! I must echo Annette’s story above. Duke changed my life forever in 2004 with the story of his victory over IBD when I was seeking information and help for my own IBD kitty. Duke (and Ann), your impact on the world of feline nutrition has been beyond compare, and all those you have touched are now carrying on your message for future generations of kitties. Thank you so much!

  19. Anne, I just read your blog and you have my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of Duke. About a month after Duke made the transition, my elderly kitty Miel also made hers. I had e-mailed you about her. She’d been struggling for a long time, and it was just too late for her no matter what the diet. Who knows how old she was, probably at least 16-17. I will always remember her diving into the raw ground rabbit with bones when I brought some home to make your recipe. She loved it! Although it was too late for Miel, my other two kitties will live longer, healthier lives thanks to you and Duke. Roux, who was overweight for years, is now slim and trim (though I think his belly skin will always hang down!) and Minou, who was tending toward plumpness, is now the perfect weight. As for Miel, she is buried close to the house near her favorite mouse-hunting spot, and I planted a beautiful flower garden for her complete with bird bath. Anne, I loved how you described Duke’s spirit flying big and free. Thank you to both of you.

  20. I just found this wonderful website. And in tears after reading the story of your brave Duke boy. What a wonderful cat! He must have brought years of pleasure and pride to you and your family.

    I was desperate to find some information about some cat food which my KittyGirl can eat without vomiting/diarrhea. She has a sensitive stomach, and have tried her on several expensive dry foods, which she does not like. So am going today to start her only on wet/canned food, which she loves. Always thought cats needed to be supplemented with dry kibbles. So instead of the big pet chains, have found a recommended little natural pet store for advice. Thanks again for this website!

  21. Hi, Anne – it hasn’t been long since I read your website, but I think it was after February 2010. I am so sorry for your loss of Duke and may he rest in peace. Your site is an inspiration and was the first one to start me on the long road to transitioning my German Shepherd dogs and now my 2 cats to whole natural food that is right for each species. I am in the process of communicating with Drs Hodgkins and Pierson, thanks to your links and am truly grateful for your encouraging information and guidance, eventhough layperson you may be, as I am. Thanks, Duke for your blessed teachings and thanks to you Anne, for heeding them to help all of our furry friends. Love and Memories will never fade, but grief needs time to fade. Hang in there. May you have many more happy years with Nettie and any other furries you may adopt. With love from a sunny South Africa and my kitties, Kazuri and Bagheera – here’s hoping that they will heed Duke’s wisdom and transition to the Good Stuff quickly and soon! All the best and thanks again.

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