The first year I had housecats, they seemed indestructable. My cats, adopted off the street, never seemed to be ill, and when they were, it was temporary, like colds are for humans. I kept them wormed and deflead and vaccinated, and things went along for 11 years in a very comfortable way. And then two dogs killed my older cat. Since that time, now 6 years ago, I have learned that a saying I heard somewhere is really true. To love cats is to accept grief.
Among the 30 or 40 cats that have passed through my care over the last 4 years, there has been a 30 percent mortality among my inhouse cats, and I don't want to think about the ferals who refused to convert to domestication. I find it hard, and I cry, even though I don't believe in death, being a long-time meditator. But someone brings me a kitten and I take it in without question.
Cars, dogs, and environmental and deliberate poisoning are the first and foremost killers. Disease is a distant runnerup.
I have come to terms with the grief that is attached to loving cats. I have learned the other side of the saying -- that having the friendship or companionship of these enigmatic and wondrous creatures, even for the limited time many of them survive, is more than worth all the tears we shed. My grief is mainly for my own loss. Life and death are the opposites of a continuous circle -- a continuous cosmic wheel of birth, death, rebirth... I let my grief rise for my own loss, but I rejoice that I have known my little friends and I would not trade their company for any burden of tears in the world.
Your first cat lived a very long time, unless that 20 years was a typo? How wonderfully lucky you both were in each other to be able to share 20 years of living together. How wonderful that your old cat was able to pass beyond with the memory of the security and love she had with you. How very strong of you to help her die peacefully instead of lingering in misery. How much I wish it was acceptable to help a person to die so gently when they reach the point that life has no quality.
All of life is only a loan by the Creator. All of us return to the Spirit in the correct and appropriate time.
I hope your news about your young cat is not bad, but endings happen to us all -- even the mighty Redwood will fall in some thousands of years. Don't let loss keep you from the honor and joy of being the companion of all the cats that still wait in your future.