Tribute to a fighter... and a friend

Friday, February 17, 2006
It is Friday, February 17, 2006. The Big Guy is gone. The official diagnosis is congestive heart failure, but the real reason is his body finally wore out. According to the date of birth our vet had on record, he was 21 years, one month, and two days old. (DOB 1/15/1985).

The Big Guy had a special place in our hearts. He was the smartest cat I ever knew. He was always good and never bad. Yet... that cat was a fighter!

From the day Mr. Harold met him -- as he chased the neighbor's dog, Catfish, across the street and then ran away after Catfish got hit by a car -- to today, when he drew his final breath, he was never predictable, always faithful, always fully himself.

He was the only cat I've ever heard of who contracted feline leukemia and lived to tell the tale. He conquered anemia, rampant skin allergies that often left his paws a bloody mass, and a back injury. One of his ears was permanently torn from an old battle injury. Still, he loved warm spring days, and there was nothing he liked better than to sit on the porch swing and watch it rain. He loved chicken, and turkey, tuna fish, and Kraft mayonnaise.

Most of all, he loved his human, Mr. Barry. He knew exactly when Barry was about to turn the last corner on his way home, and he sat at the end of the driveway at just the right moment to welcome Barry home. He fully lived every one of his nine lives!

Once, many years ago, one of the neighbor kids asked me "Is he made of puma?" After thinking for half a second, I replied, "Of course he is."

Now, his great spirit is released from his old, tired body. I wish you well, Big Guy. I will never forget what you taught me.