"When I arose early on the 26th so that I could wrap the proofs for mailing however, I noticed that Billy didn't appear to feel well. Jane watched him while I went to the post office. He was no better when I returned, and as the morning passed we came to realize that he had a urinary problem. That afternoon I took him to our veterinarian, who kept him for treatment; the problem was serious; by then the cat was in great pain. Jane and I both wondered: Why Billy? Why should such a seemingly perfect young creature suddenly become that sick, for no observable reason? .... On Tuesday the veterinarian told us by telephone that Billy was better, that "probably" we could take him home the following afternoon, I was to call before making the drive across town, though. Wednesday afternoon, then, an hour before I was due to check, the phone rang ...it was the vet, regretfully explaining that Billy had died an hour or so before.
"We were shocked because Billy's unexpected--and serious--illness reminded us of the almost universally accepted view that life is terribly vulnerable. Any kind of life. Billy was a replacement for our previous cat, Willy (who'd died in November 1976 at the age of 16), and we'd found him at an animal shelter the next weekend after Willy's death; as far as having a pet to love went, we'd thought ourselves "set" for a number of years. At first we'd called the newcomer Willy Two, but soon automatically shortened that to Billy.
"During the 836th session, Seth reminded us that "animals do not 'think' of long lives or short lives, but of a brilliant present, which in a way, compared to your framework, has no beginning or end.., time, in your terms, does not exist for them--and in the deepest of terms a life's quality on a human scale cannot be judged primarily in terms of its length, either.
Seth: "My dear friends: Existence is larger than life or death. Life and death are both states of existence. An identity exists whether it is in the state of life or in the state of death. Your cat's consciousness never was dependent upon its physical form. Instead, the consciousness was itself choosing the experience of cathood. There was nothing that said: 'This consciousness must be a cat.'
"Billy belonged in another probability, and in a fashion you switched probabilities for him, though without his consent, when you took him from the animal shelter, where he would have soon been 'done away with.' His three years with you represented a grace period for him . . . He did not make this probability his own because of what you may call 'other commitments' --or rather, other purposes.
"There is no such thing as a cat consciousness, basically speaking, or a bird consciousness. In those terms, there are instead simply consciousnesses that choose to take certain focuses. We have not touched upon some of these matters, and some are, again, most difficult to explain, as we wish to avoid distortions. These would have nothing to do with Ruburt per se, but simply with the way you put concepts together at this stage of development"
"You both knew Billy was about to die. So did the plants in your house, and the trees outside your door. The cellular announcement was made that the strong possibility existed, for the birth and death of each cell is known to all cells in the world . . .Cellular communication is too fast for you to follow. The cat could have changed its mind, of course, but the signals were sent out, and ahead of time. [Several people who wrote to you] picked up on that probability... .
" .. . .The quality of identity is far more mysterious than you understand, for you assign an identity in a blanket fashion, say, to each living thing. Now your dead cat, Billy, exists in the following manner: The units of consciousness that organized to form his identity as you knew it, still form that pattern--but not physically. The cat exists as itself in the greater living memory of its own 'larger' selfhood. Its organization--the cat's--exists inviolately, but as a part of the greater psychic organization from which it came.
"That identity of Billy's remains vital, known to itself whether or not it is reactivated in your terms. This is not necessarily always the case--and there is great variation--but Billy identified with 'the larger organization' of the litter [that is, with his brothers and sisters, all of whom are also dead], and the consciousnesses of that litter are now together. They are forming a gestalt, where the five consciousnesses will merge to form a new identity."