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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My little girl is getting old. I am talking about my cat who is 15 years old and looking every year of it. She was born with a deformed hip, so she always walked funny, but it’s ok. We almost gave her away when she was very young because she hates rugs. I mean, she hates them. She knows how to use the litter box, but sometimes those rugs just had it coming. But we just could not part with her.

Needless to say, our house is now full of beautiful hardwood floors. We brought home a couple of male cats recently and one instantly took to my wife and one took to me. It wasn’t long until my little girl started having one accident a day on the hardwood floor in front of my chair. It was no accident, of course, she was just reminding me that she was still there. Like I needed to be reminded.

She is my princess and, while she is not in any pain at all, she is showing her age. My last female cat lived to be 19 years old and it looks like my princess may find herself at that point as well. When my last female cat passed away at 19, she was perfectly healthy until the last two weeks of her life. We rushed her to two vets and finally got the honest answer that there was just nothing that could be done. I watched her struggle for breath one night before I went to bed, but she seemed comfortable otherwise. When I came downstairs in the morning, she had found her final spot and she was gone.

It is funny how pets find that one spot where they want to give their final release and they go there a week or two before the actual moment. They seem to know that the time is coming and they seem to handle it well. My last female handled it a lot better than I did and still do. Hang on a second…

Ok. Now I prepare to help my princess pass into that goodnight. Aside from her hip, which I think may be bothering her from time to time, she appears to be perfectly healthy. But at 15 years old, she is starting to slow down a lot. I do think about that moment and I am not looking forward to it at all. There is a lot of pain whenever a pet passes away, but this one is going to rip a hole in my heart. I don’t know if I will ever be ready for something like that.

It is strange how these moments can either slowly exist for years, or sneak up on us suddenly. We have another female (yes, four cats) who is 13 years old going on 14 and she looks and acts exactly like she did when she was two. Since I have lived through it once, I feel a little better prepared to handle the perfectly healthy pet who is suddenly not healthy anymore. I say that I feel prepared, but I know I am not.

I am an emotional guy and our pets are very important to me. They are, as I have often said, the neatest toys we have ever bought. But they are so much more than just that. They have become an integral part of our life. We cannot plan vacations without making arrangements for our pets. We cannot move the furniture around too often because it freaks them out. But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Pets are a blessing and we feel very blessed.

I don’t want to start the grieving process just yet for my 15 year old princess because, like I said, she could still be with us for quite some time. She still eats like a horse and, for the most part, she still uses her litter box. But she is frail and we can feel her frailness when we pick her up to hold her.

But she still likes to be held. I pick her up and she instantly curls up in my arms and tucks her head under my chin, just like she has done for 15 years. I treasured those first 15 years of chin tucks, and I will treasure each one I get from now on. Everyone should treasure their pets and treat them like the family members they are. Animal abusers should rot in hell, but I also hope they find hell on Earth for what they have done.

The love of a pet is unconditional. The devotion of a pet is lifelong. I have understood that from the day I petted my first cat. I am not much of a dog person, but I would never begrudge anyone the love they have for their dog. Pets brighten our lives and, while they are here, all they want is our love in return.

Take care of your pets and they will take care of you in the only way they know how – unconditionally. After all, that is what real love is supposed to be all about?

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and proud pet owner. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or email him at Take care of your pets – you are all they have in the world.

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