Sarah Riley Kristel: August 2014 – December 14, 2016


Adoption day: April 12, 2015

Our independent Maui Humane Society rescue girl, a beautiful, fierce and effective ratter, who never scratched or bit us, died this morning.


Sarah pretending to be a knick knack.

Three days ago, Johnny took Sarah to our vet to get antibiotics for her after she came home with a bloody cut on her lip.   She seemed to be getting better: eating and drinking a bit and wanting to go outside.  However, I could tell early this morning that she didn’t look chipper.  But I went off to paddle; the veterinarian’s office would be open by the time I returned.  But when I got home, I found Sarah beside our bed – still warm, but dead.  😦

We are  shocked and sad.  Sarah was independent and strong.

But a puncture wound in a tropical place can be deadly.


Johnny and Sarah at sunset.

As we buried her in our yard where she liked to hang out, John asked us what we had learned from Sarah.

For me, Sarah showed  that you don’t need to be big to get your way.  She did not want to be an indoor cat.  And she was persistent in that demand until she got her way.  She did not want our big dogs to boss her around – and they didn’t.  She knew what snacks she wanted and would complain until I gave them to her.  🙂


Kailani knew to be alert and careful around Sarah although Sarah was much smaller than Kai. 🙂

In fact, Sarah liked to hide in the bushes and leap out at Kailani, a pointer mix who weighs about 43 pounds (19.5 kilos) .  Sarah weighed about 10 pounds (4.5 kilos).  She scared Kailani each time.  And we would laugh.


Kailani and Sarah hanging out on the couch. Sarah is not the least bit concerned about Kai bothering her.

John said that Sarah showed that you need to give affection to get affection.  She had been a feral cat.  When we got her, she was about 10 months old – and did not like to be held at all. But for the last several months, she’d let us – especially Barry – hold and pet her for about five seconds – and then she wanted to go off to do her Sarah things.

Barry says Sarah showed him what it’s like to have a cat since she is the first one he has had his whole life.  He liked that she would go after mice and rats – and get them – but wished she hadn’t brought them in as presents.

Mango, Johnny’s rescue Myna bird that was blown out of a tree during Hurricane Darby this summer, doesn’t know how lucky she is.  Johnny nurtured Mango until she could eat and fly on her own.


Sigrid and fledgling, Mango.

However, every day, we expected Sarah to eat Mango.



But somehow Sarah knew that Mango is part of our family.  So what Mango might have learned is not to expect a being to be its reputation (at least sometimes).


Sarah keeping watch.


Sarah out exploring


Mango – our Myna rescue bird

We feel blessed to have had Sarah in our lives.


Our girl – Sarah

Life is fragile.  Love and cherish the beings around you.

Many blessings to you and yours.

Aloha, Renée, Barry, Johnny, Sigrid, Nalu, Kailani, Mango, & O’Rignar

About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

7 responses to “Sarah Riley Kristel: August 2014 – December 14, 2016”

  1. The Wild Wayfarer says :

    What an absolutely gorgeous kitty!

  2. Ryan says :

    Beautiful pictures and beautiful article, sorry for your loss. I will share with the girls and am sure they will share your grief as Sarah made an impression on them also.

  3. Rosita says :

    Awwwnn wha’ a sentimental and touching post…I know how hard it feels to lose loved ones, humans or not. I actually lost my dog, Black, 2 yrs ago, and then I lost grandpa due to lug cancer, on a short time after Black died, and, honestly, I’m not over it yet. I can’t lose more loved ones, humans or not. I fallen down into a decadent spiral of depression some time after I realized wha’ happened with them. I’m not over depression yet, and I do believe it did worsen my GAD (Genralized Anxiety Disorder). It’s a terrible sensation, I even do scratch myself – and the couch too -, apart from deliberately sloughing hands’ skin, for anxiety relief. Humans do judge me, but not my dogs. Bali sits by me, put her paws into my neck, as if she’d hug me, and licks my tears or simply offer her head for a petting session, even thought our personalities are too different…I’m quiet, introspective, and she’s such a wild rascal, always willing to play, even when I’m busy and not in mood. Cleo’s more like me, as she’s mellow, calm, and actually pretty sensitive to my feelings too. She’d jump on my hammock – yah, I prefer sleeping into a hammock – and she’d rather just snuggle on me. I do believe dogs can guide people to pearly gates of Heaven, but I guess cats can do same, who knows? PS: I wish I had a kitten too. And I loved Sarah pics. She was such a sweetheart. Animals are angels God send to Earth to actually teach us about loyalty and unconditional love. Think about it. And if yuh wanna try adopting a new pet, such as a puppy or a kitten. I’m not saying it’ll substitute Sarah, ’cause it never will. And if yuh can’t adopt, try sponsoring one. Wha’ about sponsoring one of loving puppies of BARC or kittens at Villa Kitty in Bali? BARC’s phone is that one: +62361971208 and Villa Kitty is: +62 858-5758-4131. But I do support u if yuh just wanna sponsor one of Hawaiian pets. I wish yuh good luck through that hard moment, ’cause I know how it feels. Really. Just try being strong and yuh’ll actually realize wha’ was Sarah’s mission here on Planet Earth, before she went to Paradise. All animals have a mission here, as well as people.
    I hope y’all are feeling better,

  4. Geri Sue Kliegman Rapp says :

    I certainly appreciate how you feel. There are several feral cats I’ve been feeding (and housing in a dog house bought just for them to get out of the cold, rain and snow) for about 4 years. Last Spring, Tux didn’t look as perky as usual. Long story short, she had a wound in the folds in her neck and by the time I saw it, there were maggots too. She died quietly in my neighbor’s garage. She was soooo affectionate towards me – moreso even than my own Catz Sisters, who I’ve had since Xmas of 2001, both of whom are in great shape even though they’re considered elderly.

    • Rosita says :

      Awwwnn thxs. I have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disprder) and my dogs are my safe haven, specially Cleo, as I mentioned. She calms me down while having crisis. Animals are angels that’s all I have to say. Do Hawaii has a serious problem with stray animals? Are there any kinda pets forbidden there?

      • reneeriley says :

        Hi Rosita: Thanks for your previous messages and kind words too. Pets are loyal, loving members of our family for sure. It isn’t possible to replace a personal grandfather – or your favorite dog, but my son says, “Many animals need our help.” I’d wanted to wait until my grief lightened over the loss of Sarah, but my son and his girlfriend just brought home two kittens – who are, I must admit, very entertaining and distracting. I love your idea of giving to Villa Kitty – and I will do that in memory of Sarah. Thanks for your advice and insight. Happy Holidays. And yes, we do have issues with people getting dogs or cats when they first move to Maui and then for whatever reason, leave – and leave their pets behind. If the pets haven’t been fixed, they multiply quickly – especially can populations. We have many feral cats; it’s illegal to keep a mongoose as a pet – since they have ravaged our native bird population; it’s illegal for pet rabbits to touch the ground; they must be kept in cages since they multiply quickly if they get away. Those are the ones I can think of – besides snakes and tigers and that sort of non-native animal. Happy Holidays. Have fun with your dogs and your family – and celebrate the season with your community. Aloha xoxo, Renée

  5. Jeany Sontag says :

    What a beautiful tribute to Sarah. She was such a sweet soul who will be missed by all that knew her. Jeany

    Sent from my iPad


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