1/24/10 – Tradgedy & the End of an Era

I’m writing today with some tragic news.  My beloved Romeo, a domestic short-haired tabby, of 11 years passed away.  Yesterday, last night around 9:25pm to be more exact, did indeed mark an end of an era for my life.

Romeo came into my life on a sunny ’99 California day in Fountain Valley, Ca.  Wait.  Let me back track a bit.  You see, my families first cat, Snoopy, had recently ran off to go be with God.  My sister Alisa and I- the only ones left to watch over our family home (everyone temporarily moved out of state for several years)- we’re confused and saddened that he wasn’t coming home like he normally did.  We searched the neighborhood and nearby streets for days.  We had no idea that cats, once they hit a certain age, will leave the family nest to go off and die alone if given the opportunity.  Snoopy lived a long healthy life for the most part and was 16 when he passed.

Years earlier, I had developed a allergic reaction to Snoopy.  What used to be the norm- him coming to sleep on my bed, lap, and petting and picking him up often, was left to other family members.  I didn’t want to deal with the itchy eyes and hive-like bumps.  Needless to say, when he ran away to pass, I felt guilty.  For the last several years of his life, I tried to somewhat avoid him.  I didn’t even get to say goodbye to the little guy.

I took Snoopy’s passing harder than I thought I might.  After all, he was old and I knew it was coming.  But surprising myself, I felt really resentful of the little time I spent with him the last few years.  My boyfriend of several years, Jeremy, saw how sad I was.  Never though did I say anything about wanting a new kitty due to my allergies.  The crazy thing was- that’s exactly what I was surprised with on that sunny California day.

Jeremy knocked on the door and handed me a large open basket with a blanket and a kitty named Chester inside.  I’ll never forget- he was wearing a red collar around his neck and was thee most exotic and beautiful kitten I’d ever laid eyes on.  He had unique features that to this day I can’t find on cats.  On each ear, big at the time for his face, there were tuffs of black hairs at the top that went into a sharp point and each hair on his body had multi colors to it.  He looked like a mini bobcat.  I fell in love with him immediately.  Again, catching my emotions by surprise, I cried when I saw him in the basket.  I remember my sister Alisa being there are the time along with my sister Lori who must have been in visiting from DC.  They tell me they thought Chester and me crying over him were adorable.


It was at this moment I knew that my allergies would just have to deal- and eventually they did.  Jeremy told me how he had gone to Petco and taken a look at all the cats.  He didn’t see any that really stood out.  He asked or a lady told him, I can’t remember which, that there was one in the back, Chester.  He took one look at Chester and knew that I would love his exoticness -my room at the time was decked out in different patterns of leopard and I had pictures of exotic cats all around my room.  She said he’s available and packaged him up for delivery.

(Please do not at this point comment about how never to get a cat at a pet store such as that, I’m really not in the mood to hear it as it does not change my stories outcome one bit.)

We quickly went upstairs to introduce him to his new bedroom.  We took a few pictures that day.  I was looking at them last night.  I will be scanning some onto my computer so I have them all in one place on a disc.  Anyways, I was not sold on his birth name Chester.  I wanted his name to match his uniqueness and Chester wasn’t cutting it.  Everyone that night kept asking me at work what I was going to name him.

I decided to wait and see what would come to me in the day or two ahead.  It didn’t take long however to see how much of a ‘lover’ this kitty was.  He loved people and loved attention- both giving it and getting it.  He’d make really cute poses on his back with his paws always around his eyes and ears if he wanted to be petted.  He knew pretty quickly how to melt a heart.  I saw no other name but to call him Romeo.  That’s exactly what he was for the name suited him perfectly.

My years with this little cat were some of the greatest in my life.  There were also some more trying times including a breakup and a divorce.  Romeo was there to celebrate milestones in my life and also did an excellent job helping to comfort me when I needed it.  I remember when I used to struggle with panic attacks or the occasional nightmare- I’d wake up and pet him and just feeling the softness if his fur would help me to relax.

He greeted me at the door when I’d come home, follow me around, come when I would call him from the other end of the house, would watch me get ready in the morning, greet me out of the shower, bite my ankles when he needed more food and even learned to turn off alarm clock in the morning time.  He was definitely one of a kind.

Unfortunately, he had developed low end kidney failure around age four.  He was always a thin cat and now Brian and I knew why.  In the later years we needed to begin treating him with fluids weekly then recently it turned into every few days.  He also developed a heart murmur and this was bad for his kidneys.

Several weeks after having Romeo back after as the divorce was being finalized and I was settled into my own place in Huntington Beach he was laying on my lap in the early evening.  I felt his head go completely limp for a split second and my heart stopped.  My instant reflects took over and I tensed my legs to stir him and shouted his name.  He lifted his head within that second and I called in Michael to let him know what had just happened.  We thought it was strange but didn’t think much more of it.  Little did I know he may have just had a stoke.  I believe this is what made his health go down further in the last few weeks.

After 11 years of being an absolute trooper, he could no longer do it anymore.  Never during those years did he complain or appear to be in pain.  He just adapted to moving slower and being a little less active than your average house cat.  But he was always social- the hit of the party- attracting attention and love from even the most staunch dog lovers.

You couldnt tell from looking at this beautiful cat that inside, his body was breaking down.  However ultrasounds and blood tests were proving this.  I knew he knew it was time, he couldnt fight it anymore.  Looking into his eyes yesterday while he looked back into mine, we both knew he put up a damn good fight.  On 1/24/10 he went to lay to rest in my arms one final time.  His body didn’t fight or even move a bit.  In that moment he was at peace.

Sleep was difficult for me and waking up without him here this morning was hard too.  I know it will get easier and I am truly eternally grateful for the last eleven years I was blessed with his presence.  I feel that I will never fill this void that has been left in my heart and my house.  I believe God gave me this cat suited perfectly to me who carried all the qualities I’d always wanted in a cat and more.  He was a special soul.

Romeo- you will be missed and never forgotten.  I remember and thanked you for all you did for me over the years.  I look for the day to see your face again to hold you near to me like I have so many times before.  I love you little guy.  This one was for you.

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