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Grieving For The Loss of A Cat: There’s Help In Heartbreak

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In July 2013, an event happened in my life that brought me to my knees. My heart hurt so bad, I wasn’t sure I could go on. What was it, you ask? I lost my precious baby, “Sugar.” Silly as it may seem to some, she was my best friend. Her love in my life made the darkest of days seem ever so bright! Grieving for the loss of a cat you love so dearly, can be overwhelming.

grieving for the loss of a cat

Please know this first and foremost, I am deeply sorry for the pain you’re facing. I know you loved your cat like he/she was family because they were! We understand because we love our pets this way too.

Over the years, grieving cat owners have shared their own methods of coping with the passing of their cat. Everyone has their own way of dealing with the loss, and it’s important that you prepare yourself mentally and physically, especially if you suspect that their time will soon come.

In this post, we’ll be taking a look at a couple of tips that will help you cope with the loss of your cat. My hope is you will find solace in these words and know that you are not alone!


Understanding The Stages of Grief

little by little we let go of loss but never of love

One thing is for certain, grief is the same, no matter the type of loss we face in this life. One type of grief isn’t easier than another.

One of the most helpful things when it comes to coping with the loss of a cat is understanding the five stages of grief. While not a universal truth for everyone, most people will experience five distinct emotions when dealing with loss.

The order you experience these emotions can vary, but you’re very likely to experience all of them before you begin to regain your sense of ‘normal.’

They are:

  • Denial – This is typically the first stage of grief that you’ll go through. Everyone experiences denial differently, but it often passes quickly once the reality of your cat’s passing settles in. For some people, the denial stage can last a long time, especially if your cat has gone missing or if their passing was extremely sudden. Acknowledging this as a normal emotion will help you process their passing and assist you in moving forward.

  • Anger – Anger is another common stage of grief that most people will experience early on. Anger can take on many different forms and the target of your anger can constantly change. You might be angry at someone for not doing enough for your cat. You could be angry at family members, the disease that afflicted your cat, or even yourself. This anger may cause you to lash out at some people, so it’s important to try and keep that anger to yourself and find ways to work through it. There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be angry, but we must find ways to handle it in a healthy way. Consider exercise to release stress, talking with a pet loss grief counselor, or seeking comfort and counsel from supportive friends and family.
  • Bargaining – Bargaining is a strange stage of grief that doesn’t always make sense in the case of the passing of your cat. In this case, bargaining can refer to the “what if” scenarios that could be running through your head. For example, what if you could have detected the disease earlier, or what if you spent more time with your cat when you could. These sentiments can be highly painful and emotional. Remember this always: you did the best you could do with what you knew at that moment. ‘What if’ scenarios do us absolutely no good, as it is impossible to go back in time and change the past. Show yourself some grace by not tormenting yourself with unhelpful thoughts for your healing journey. What would you say to your best friend if they were facing the very same situation? Say that to yourself!
  • Depression – Depression is something that almost everyone experiences at one point in life or another. It can lead to many side effects such as losing your appetite, disengaging with life, or a powerful feeling of loneliness. These feelings are very difficult to overcome on your own, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who love you, are there for you, and have your best interest at heart. Prayer is powerful too! Allow yourself to feel what you feel without heaping on guilt! Grieving for the loss of a cat you spent your life loving is a good reason to take a time-out, seek help, and be patient as you learn to live again.
  • Acceptance – The final stage of grief is usually acceptance. It takes time to reach this point, but it often happens when you’ve come to terms with the passing of your cat and are ready to adjust to a new life without them. It will slowly get easier over time and you’ll eventually reach a point where you can accept their passing. Accepting their passing doesn’t mean you forget your love for them. I keep Shug’s urn in my office with her memorial plaque and photo. I remember her fondly, often. She will always be in my heart!

Day after day, our grief becomes a little less. What once seemed impossible to overcome starts getting a litle easier.


Grieving For The Loss of a Cat You Love:

What Should I Do Now?

grieving for the loss of a cat

Understanding these stages of grief is important, but what should you do after? Here are just a few ways to keep your love and memory of your beloved cat alive.

# 1 – Consider having something to honor your cat’s life

There are many different things you can use to honor your cat’s life. For instance, a cremation urn for the ashes of a cat can be something to remember them by and also keep them close to you on a shelf or in a cupboard. Alternatively, you may want to consider having a framed picture or favorite photograph of your cat to remember them by.

# 2 – Grieve together with your family, friends and other pets

Your friends and family members may also grieve with you. A loving support group can be one of the most healing helpers on your grief journey. However, remember, other pets can also notice your grief. They need support through what they’re feeling too! Grieving together can help make the process a lot more bearable, so seek comfort with others when possible.

# 3 – When things get bad, don’t hesitate to call for support

Whether it’s contacting your friends and family members for a chat or finding a grief counselor, there’s a lot of support out there that can help you while you’re grieving the loss of your beloved pet. It’s important to rely on others for help when your situation gets worse and the stages of grief are becoming too much to bear. Please, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need support. So many of us understand exactly what you’re feeling right now!

# 4 – Should you adopt another cat?

Some people believe that adopting a new cat is the best way to help you grieve the passing of your previous cat. Some even suggest getting a new cat as soon as possible. While they will never be able to replace your previous cat, they will love you unconditionally and help with the healing process.

They’ll also help you take your mind off the grief that comes with the loss of a cat, and help you honor their memory by pouring your love into a new feline friend.

I’ll be honest with you, for me, I couldn’t even bear the thought of adopting another cat after the loss of my cat, Shug. My heart hurt too severely. It took a long time for me to even consider having another pet, and I adore them!

It’s an individual choice, and there is no right or wrong answer. Don’t feel guilty if you choose to adopt a new cat. Likewise, don’t feel guilty if you’re simply not ready. You may never be, and that’s okay!

Whatever you do, don’t rush the decision! You will know when the time is right! I can’t explain how… you just do.


Have You Grieved The Loss Of A Cat In Your Life?

My questions for you:

  • What helped you as you were grieving for the loss of your pet?
  • What books or websites encouraged you in your healing journey?
  • Do you have any stories you’d like to share about a beloved pet you’ve loved and lost?

I’d love to hear from you, friends! Your comments always make my day. I value each and every one of you!

And again, sincerely, if you are dealing with the loss of a cat or other pet right now, I am praying for you. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re feeling! Many hugs headed through the internet, straight to you.

All My Love & Healing Puurrrs,

holly image

Sharing Is Caring ♥ Thank You!

Comments

  1. I’m so sorry to here of your loss. Losing a kitty is so heartbreaking. We lost two of our dear snugly kitties a few months ago. We comment every night how we have neither kitty waiting to curl up with us when we crawl into bed. It’s so sad. They gave us so much comfort.

    • Oh Tim, no words can express how sorry I am for your losses! I can only imagine how much you do miss them. Their absence leaves a huge hole in our lives and our hearts. 🤗 You’re right, they do give so much comfort.

      How are you guys doing now? Is there anything I can do to help? Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with each of you. My heart really does go out to you. I’m so, so sorry.

      • We’re doing well. We are adopting two black kittens. We get them on the 8th.

      • Aww! I am so happy for you and your family, Tim. I know they’re going to be spoiled rotten – just the way it should be! 🙂 I look forward to seeing your photos of them and reading the crazy antics they get up to.

    • Thank you sweetheart!! I am sending hugs right back to you. And I agree, grieving is definitely a process. There’s no escaping the emotional response we have to loss. ♥️

  2. I wept reading your post because I have lost two cats and a dog this year. I lost my dear companion Absinthe a lovely black kitty on June 30th. She was suffering from hyperthyroidism and I was treating her for it these past three years. I miss her so much and I still keep looking for her in my room. I can sometimes hear my dog Soufflè barking at night. He was pretty old and I adopted him when he was abandoned by his owner. He died of renal failure on June 8th. I lost two pets in the same month. The year started of by losing Grimalkin, a lovely cat, who also died of renal failure. Strangely, they were all 15 years+. I hope that we did the best for them and they had a good life.

    I feel so blessed and honoured that I was able to share my life with these wonderful pets. I’ve lost so many over the years and I still remember each and every one of them. The pain never really goes away. Thank you for writing this post.

    • Oh sweetheart, first and foremost, I am DEEPLY sorry for your losses! Bless your heart. It’s terribly difficult to love and lose a pet. One thing I know for certain – you don’t need to hope that you did the best for them and that they had a good life. I KNOW they had an amazing life with your love in it and I know you treated them with the utmost care and attention. You’re an amazing person with a beautiful heart. I’m grateful they found you, and that you had their love in your life, even if for far too short of a time.

      15+ years is definitely a full life, although for us, it’s not nearly long enough. You are a blessing and I hope you know that!

      You’re right, the pain never really does go away. Some days are easier than others, but recalling certain memories with fondness really hurts the heart. I suppose it’s better that we had the chance to love them, than to have never been blessed by their lives at all.

      You are so very kind. I am touched by your comment and grateful for your love, sweet friend. Thank you for all you do! I’m grateful for you and your life. 🤗

      • Thank you so much for your kind words. I value your friendship and I am really happy and grateful for your love and support. I was moved by your kind words and it means a lot to me. I think that you’re a very special person too and your positive thoughts and words touch so many lives and help people. That’s amazing! <3

  3. It’s not silly in the slightest for you to have found your best friend in Sugar. That must have hurt like hell when you lost her, and that pain doesn’t ever really go away. I lost my little baby boy Robbie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was the sweetest dog in the world; that was over 8 years ago & I still miss him, I still get teary thinking of him. I’m very sorry for your loss, Holly. It’s awful because you know when you own a pet that they will become your heart and soul but you also know you’ll lose them one day.

    I think it can help to know those stages of grief because you want to make sure you’re dealing with the loss, not bottling it up. And it helps to know you’re not alone in what you’re feeling, whether it’s denial or anger or anything else. The question of whether to get another pet or not is a tricky one and I imagine everyone is different in how they feel on this one. It changes over time too. I thought I’d never, ever want another dog again because I wouldn’t want to replace Robbie. Of course I didn’t bargain on a cat adopting me, but it was the best thing that could have happened (I don’t say this on the days where he scratches me!) I now would absolutely adore another dog, which I didn’t imagine I would say after losing my first one. You’re right, you just know when the time is right.

    Such a heartfelt, compassionate post, Holly. You’re the perfect person to write this, so thank you for sharing  ♥ xxxx

    • Your comment nearly brought me to tears, Caz. You’re so special, thank you!

      Reading how you feel and felt about your precious Robbie does make me tear up. It’s a special bond we never forget. It breaks my heart knowing that you still miss him and wish he could still be here with you. I wholeheartedly understand how you feel. I am deeply sorry for your loss too, my friend. 🤗 Your words to me were so kind. Thank you for your compassion. It is truly remarkable how attached we become to our four-legged best friends, isn’t it?

      It’s like you said, it is awful because we do figure that we will outlive them. It’s a tough reality, loving a pet so much and yet almost being guaranteed of losing them one day. It’s not something we really care to think about because they bring so much joy to our lives. Imagine all the memories we’d miss out on if we had never loved them at all…

      I agree wholeheartedly with you about how the healing process works, and how we do ‘just know.’ It’s funny, my experience has been much the same as yours with Virgil just showing up into your life. Dizzy happened the same way. They do adopt us and it seems to happen at the moment when we really do need them. It makes me wonder who is rescuing who? 😀 Do you think you’ll be adopting a dog in the near future? Are you hoping to get another Spaniel? Whatever you decide and whenever you decide to do it – I hope they bring as much love into your life as you bring into mine and everyone else’s! You deserve the very best.

      Thank you, Caz, for your incredibly kind words about me. On days when I’m a bit down (like these past few), you always know just what to say to lift my spirits. I adore your comments and the thought you put into them. Sending all my very best love your way. ♥

  4. Acceptance takes a very long time. All great coping points though. And somewhere down the road most get another kitty and the journey begins again. It’s a good thing for most.

    Have a fabulous day, Holly. ♥

    • Dearest Sandee, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree, acceptance can and does take a very long time. Our hearts always have that ‘touchy spot’ where we lovingly (and painfully) recall our love for them. So many worthy animals out there are in need of our love and care. When it’s the right thing to do, loving another pet is a blessing for all involved.

      Sending my love to you, Sandee. I pray you & yours are well. 🤗

  5. My heart goes out to you! I was sending you virtual hugs at the very beginning of this post. It’s so hard losing a pet.

    I went through all of these stages when I lost Sam. With the anger stage I was angry at myself. Some days I felt like it was my fault – that I should have done more. But I finally learned to accept that he lived a really long and happy life.

    I still miss him and I swear I can still hear him meowing some days. ❤️

    • Virtual hugs received and more sent to you! Thank you my friend. 🤗

      It nearly brings tears to my eyes hearing your love for Sam. I know he knew how loved and blessed he was just by all you’ve shared. I wish he was still here with you, but am glad you had such unconditional love while he was here. ♥️

      You’re right, it is a very hard loss to suffer. And the stages of grief are very real. But in the end, I’m grateful we realize how blessed we were and that there’s nothing but good memories to hold onto.

  6. I have never loved a pet as much as I loved my cat Abby. She was like my shadow at a time that I was alone and still grieving the loss of my husband. I miss her so much. She was ill for a long time and I spent much effort and expense to keep her with me, but I knew when it was time. My Vet helped me with the decision to let her go. I felt very guilty that i made the choice to end her life.

    • Oh Linda! I am so deeply saddened to hear of your loss of sweet Abby. Just hearing you speak of her makes me feel your love for her. I have no doubt in my mind that Abby knew how much you loved her, and still do.

      Making the decision to let go of our suffering friends is a choice that I wish no one had to make. I sincerely believe they know it is our final act of love for them. It’s just so hard on us, dealing with the “what if” scenarios that we beat ourselves up with. I don’t know if my words are any comfort to you or not, but please know dearest Linda, that you did the right thing. You did all you could do to help her and keep her well for as long as possible. It is my sincere belief that if she could give you a big kiss right now, she would. You put her needs ahead of your feelings. That is true love.

      My heart is with you, Linda. If I can help you in any way, please let me know! I am praying for the healing of your heart. I also hope that some of the resources in this post were helpful for you. Take whatever time you need to heal. Words can’t express how deeply my heart feels for you. 💔

      • Your kind words give me comfort. I am finding myself still crying every day when I look down and she is not there. Thank you so much.

      • How are you doing, Linda? I am thinking of you. My heart still feels for your pain. I wish that I could take it away from you completely.

  7. My husband and I let our sweet angel baby, Shur-Shur, go today! It was the hardest decision we have ever made in our 33 years together, but we came to the conclusion that our sweet girl would never be vibrant and happy again as she was in her younger days. She had become so fragile and thin and the years had just taken a toll on her little body! So, today, January 19, 2022, we decided to do the best thing we could do for her and give her rest. She would have been 19 years old on Valentine’s Day. I don’t know how I’ll move forward without her, but I know that God’s grace is sufficient, for in my weakness, His power is made perfect! I’m breathless thinking of never touching her silky smooth beautiful solid white fur again; never hearing her soft meows or purrs. Never snuggling with her in bed at night with her lying by my side, at my head or on my chest. Just never seeing her again! My heart will never beat the same.

    • Dearest Gina, no words could adequately express how much my heart breaks for you and your husband. I am deeply sorry for your loss of sweet Shur-Shur. Thank you for taking the time to share your love for her with me and a little more about your story with her. Honoring their memory with such words of love is one of the last gifts we can give them.

      You’re right, it feels like an impossible decision to let our beloved pets go. They really do become our four-legged kids and the pain at times feels unbearable. It sounds like you absolutely made the right choice, even though it was/is heart-wrenching. Letting go of Shur-Shur was a profound act of love for her because it went against our natural desire to not want them to leave us. Bless your heart, I am sending you so many hugs through the miles.

      I too am a believer in Jesus and I love what you said. You’re right, God’s grace is sufficient. Please know this; I have been praying for you since I read your comment. I pray that your Comforter, Holy Spirit, would overwhelm you with His peace, His love, and His comfort as you grieve the loss of your beloved baby girl. I pray that people would surround you with love & kindness, thoughtfulness, and genuine care. Know that you are not alone and that I care very much. So many will read your words as well and understand exactly how you feel.

      I will continue praying for you and your husband. Again, I am deeply sorry. I believe you will one day see her again. Perhaps her little spirit will come to you as you sleep and let you know she is well and thriving again. I actually had this happen not long after having my baby girl, Sugar, cremated and it moved me in a way I cannot describe. God loves you so much and I trust that He will bring you exactly what you need. He is a faithful friend, near to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I trust that He is wrapping you in His arms even now. ❤️

      Genuinely, I send you my love.

  8. It has been 8 months since I lost my little ginger cat and i still cry every time i think of her. She was my best buddy and i was never lonely with her around. Some family think i am crazy for loving a cat so much, but i don’t care and will always love and miss her.

  9. I had a really AWFUL birthday yesterday – my 79th – it was so cold here (Sullivan County, 80 miles north of New York City) – it was just AWFUL – I was in bed all day – as I am every day – as I’m really not well – coughing – pneumonitis – but worse than that, half the kitties were having trouble breathing – (12 kitties in the household) – they’re all congested – It’s such a worry – you can hear the congestion in their breathing – and even though I had Robin set up pots of water on the wood stove and an electric vaporizer in my study to help Rajah with her breathing – my most beautiful, wonderful, affectionate, soft, dear, dear kitty – deal with the congestion – my favorite kitty by far – Robin told me this morning that she died in the night….
    What a shock! My beautiful, gorgeous, sweet, sweet girl who always sits on my lap in the study – and purrs and purrs –
    I cannot tell you how heartbroken I am.
    She was the best kitty in the house – who loved me as much as I loved her – just the most beautiful, affectionate, soft and lovely kitty in the world – I cannot believe that this happened…
    I’m beside myself with grief and unhappiness…
    Everything is so terrible here – Robin was disgusting all day yesterday – (though he was kind the way he told me about Rajah this morning) – I’m really sick of living here and dealing with all the problems – I don’t even see how I’m going to survive – I don’t have enough money – I don’t have anywhere else to go – I don’t think I can go through another winter like this – and I don’t even know if Robin will still be here next year – as he’s walking around lame and stupid as can be – I’m in a state of unhappiness like I’ve never known – but this is the worst – to find that my precious, beautiful, soft and lovely Rajah is gone today! – I am so sick over it – I don’t even know what to say….
    I had called the vet yesterday and tried to get her in to see him but they had no openings – they would call me – which they never did.
    I’m sick with grief and unhappiness – and worries –
    I don’t know what to do…
    Well – I guess I do – I just have to keep going – but this is a hit to my soul beyond anything I could imagine – my best, most wonderful, sweetest, dearest, most beautiful, loving, purring kitty – always here with me in the study – always purring with me – gone this morning!!!
    I’m sick – I’m just sick…
    This is too terrible – too terrible…
    J.
    Later: – I’m afraid I’m inconsolable. This kitty was so special – so soft and loving – she was the best thing in my life and now – suddenly – for no good reason – she’s gone forever! I’m sitting at my computer – where she always kept me company! It’s unbearable. A friend I was just speaking with said it’s like open heart surgery without the anesthetic!! So true!! There’s a giant hole in my heart now – a hole so big I don’t know how to go on! I really have nothing to live for except a few lovely things like Rajah – now gone forever. She was the best part of my life. But of course I’ve got to take care of the other kitties – can’t abandon them – would never abandon them! My Natasha is 15 and slowing down but in so many ways, doing well! – and I’m so glad – especially glad now that she is keeping me company (on my bed and in my bedroom where she spends most of her time) during this terrible, terrible time. She’s a great comfort to me. She was always my most faithful – following me each day when I would go to the post office to get the mail – her little steps (she’s rather petite) trying to follow my path – so sweet, so touching – a wonderful cat.
    J.
    To another friend: Oh, of course I understand how sad all these people would be at the loss of a dear , companionable dog – It is like losing a person – or, as this nice guy in my building in NYC said when I lost Charlie and was so devastated – he said, It’s like losing a member of the family. It literally is!!!
    The loss of Charlie was beyond devastating. He was a magnificent cat – extraordinary – just so wonderful – and he was my little roommate – We were so close – so affectionate – he was so important to me! Then one day, quite unexpected of course, he fell off the roof and died!!! I just couldn’t get over it – I was almost catatonic for FOUR MONTHS! – everywhere I’d go I’d cry – at dinners – at my Torah Class – everywhere! – walking along the streets of the City – I just cried and cried.
    Then a miracle happened.
    Mort called one night. Do you remember the stories about Mort – Joyce’s husband – the famous doctor? A character with both great qualities and also some more difficult. In any case, he had found a kitten who had crawled up to the porch of his house in Rye – a very nice, big mansion – and Joyce and Mort are NOT cat people – or pet or animal people – at all! – but they knew how devastated I had been at the loss of Charlie. So Mort called and told me he had this little kitten that needed care and a home right away and – it was a Sunday night – he was willing to drive the kitten into the City for me (which he wasn’t planning to do otherwise) (they had a pied a terre in the City – a nice apartment on the upper east side – from where he could go to work during the weeks) – but I said, no, no – I’m not ready for another cat. Take the kitten to a shelter. But he couldn’t do that – he didn’t know where one was or how to go about doing that – and he wasn’t disposed to doing that. But he kept insisting that I take the kitten and I kept insisting that I was not ready – absolutely NOT ready!! Finally we agreed, that he would bring the kitten to the City and I would take care of it – as it was a bit scratched up – having been abandoned in an empty field up near their home – (people are so lovely about “disposing” of their unwanted kittens!!) and he would pay for the vet – and then we’d figure out what to do with the cat.
    So he drives into the City and I meet him downstairs in front of #204 and he opens the trunk and I reach in and take this dear little kitten in my arms – and I say to the kitten: Hello, Sweetie – Welcome to your new home – You had a brother named Charlie but he’s gone now – and so you’ll come here to stay – This will be your home – and I kissed her little head – and that was IT – DONE! I took her upstairs and of course from that moment on she was MINE – and I was hers. I named her Tillie- (“Tilly Dilly Doodle Dumpling Rosenfelt!”) and do you know what? My grief suddenly abated – almost totally! I was no longer devastated by the loss of Charlie – though of course I was still sad – but I had a new “love interest” – and that healed me – right then and there – immediately – I no longer felt that my heart was empty – it was suddenly kind of full! It was such a good thing. And I have to thank Morton for having insisted on my taking the kitten. It all worked out very well. Tillie came up here with me when I got the house, of course – and she was a lovely cat – a real comfort to me during the difficult early days living here. Later she developed a brain tumor and became very difficult and had to be put down – but she was a beautiful, lovely kitty until that happened. I have the fondest memories of her. She was beautiful! And then I began taking in the stray cats that arrived on my property – which is how I managed to have maybe 14 kitties at one point! And one of those was Rajah. She was a very special cat right from the beginning. I later saw a photo in Cat Fancy Mag. And realized she was a pure bred Tonkanese – a version of a Siamese cat – except much prettier, softer, longer hair – more beautiful. She was near starvation when she was found. When she first got here she was so weak she couldn’t jump up on my bed. But of course we fed her well and gave her heaps of affection and she soon grew strong and healthy and was such a fine cat – as you know – so sweet, and soft, and affectionate – and responsive – loved to cuddle with me – and always purred when I picked her up. She loved me as much as I loved her. A perfect relationship – and an important one to me – the best thing in my life in recent years! – until this dreadful tragedy…
    I’ll never find another kitty as wonderful – affectionate – companionable – as Rajah – never… So sad….
    I do still have Natasha now – who sleeps on my bed. At age 15. I thought she was fading at one point, but we’ve been feeding her lots of good food for several months now and she seems to have rallied well – doing just great – and I’m so grateful to have her now. She’s always been a wonderful companion to me – used to follow me to the Post Office every day when I would go to get the mail (which I haven’t done for years – Robin does that now) – she’d follow – her little feet trying to follow my pathway (she’s kind of petite) – She’s always been the most faithful of all the kitties – following me about. So she’s still here now – on my bed – and I do love her dearly. Very different from Rajah – but very much loved, too. I’m truly grateful for her presence now – let me tell you – a real comfort to me at this terrible, terrible time.
    Joan.
    A few days later: Just trying to cope… Cannot bear this pain… It’s too terrible…Oh, my Rajah, my Rajah!!…My beautiful, lovely and loving, soft and sweet, dear, dear Rajah…How I miss you – I will never stop missing you, my sweet, dear girl…

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