Friday, May 20, 2011


So much to say, yet words simply can never describe him.

He was simply the coolest cat you could ever meet.

IMG_0022 He was a young stray brought in to the Humane Society of Huron Valley.  We stumbled across him ten years ago in the last, lower cage in the cat room on a casual stroll through the shelter as we considered whether our current cat, River, would like a friend.  All the other cats were curled up in the backs of their cages, freaked out and wishing they were somewhere else.  This beautiful grey and white cat was having a grand old time by himself though, tossing toys around his cage, and pawing at a spider on the floor outside the cage door.  There wasn’t a doubt in our minds.

Throughout his entire life, nothing ever disturbed Milo.  He was totally unflappable.  When we took him for his first exam after adopting him, he curled up in the window of the exam room and chilled out.  The vet said, “You could never find a cat with a better temperament.”  He loved everyone and everything.  He wanted to be with you always.  He greeted everybody at the door when they arrived, curled up in everyone’s laps, followed us around the house everywhere we went.  He was endlessly happy, and it was infectious.  Everybody loved Milo.  People who thought they didn’t like cats would find themselves stroking his soft fur as he curled on their lap for hours.

IMG_0122He and River became the best of friends.  They were inseparable.  River adored Milo.  Being a little more anxious and high-strung by nature, River seemed to lean on Milo for comfort and support.  At vet appointments, moves, and other stressful events, a calm Milo would stay by a nervous River’s side.  They spent their days curled together throughout the house, and slept in a “cat pile” next to us at night.  If River couldn’t find Milo, he paced through the house yowling until Milo was located, then would curl up with him.  They groomed each other, played with each other.  It was beautiful, and we hated to think of them ever being parted.

Milo’s purr was amazing.  It never stopped and was practically a dull roar.  Many nights it woke me up from a deep sleep.  Because of his purr, it took veterinarians about three years to conclusively diagnosis his heart murmur.  They would all listen, suspicious, but that motor wouldn’t stop and it masked all other heart sounds.  Finally, there was consensus that something wasn’t right, and we were referred to a top cardiologist at MSU for evaluation and an EKG.  I asked if they would have to sedate or anesthetize him for the EKG.  Our vet rolled her eyes, laughing, and said, “Not this cat.”

Waiting for the appointment, I read up on feline heart conditions.  I didn’t like what I read – cardiomyopathy was believed to be the leading cause of death of middle-aged indoor cats, and their life expectancy was about 10-12 years.  I pushed that statistic out of my head.

At MSU, Milo was cool, calm and collected as always.  After the EKG, the cardiologist brought him in and exclaimed, “I love your cat!!”  He confirmed that Milo had a heart murmur, but they couldn’t pinpoint where in the heart it was, there was nothing else he was really concerned about, so he advised us to just continue as usual and watch for signs of him slowing down, cautioning us at the same time that often cats don’t display any signs beforehand.

Years passed happily together.  Milo never slowed down and was always healthy.  Every year, we brought him in for an annual exam and listened anxiously as the vets listened to his heart.  It didn’t seem to be worsening and all seemed well.

We can honestly say we treasured every wonderful moment with him.  At nights, he would wait on our bed for us to crawl in, then would dart under the covers between us, curl up, and purr contentedly.  We would curl around him, faces pressed into his beautiful fur, hands petting his milky white belly – what we called his “cream filling.”  His purr would melt away any stress or sorrows of the day.

On May 2, we arrived home to find Milo in distress – weak, dazed, and unable to use his rear legs.  Hours earlier he had been fine.  In fifteen minutes we were at the vet getting emergency treatment, but he was departing fast.  Something had just failed suddenly and completely.  Through sobs, we said our good-byes, held him, kissed his fur, and helped him be in peace again. 

We always said that Milo’s heart was probably weakened because it was so full of love to give.  In the end, it simply couldn’t contain it all, and he had to depart us, leaving all that love to burst out and into the world.

When we got home from the vet that horrible evening, we witnessed an amazing sunset with brilliant red and pink skies.  We aren’t particularly spiritual people, but nevertheless we felt it was Milo’s spirit being set free into the heavens.  Two days later, despite our sorrow, we forced ourselves out of bed for an early morning run, and witnessed a spectacular sunrise, and both of us felt a sense of Milo looking down on us, always with that unconditional, endless love.

Thank you, Milo, for all that you gave to all of us.  You will always be with us.


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