I am so sorry for your loss.  Romeo was lucky to show up at your doorstep.

Chris <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
  It is with a very heavy heart that I tell you that I lost my Romeo today to
lymphoma. I write not out of grief but to encourage all the newbies who
wonder whether they can hang on with a FELV positive, whether they know
enough to take care of them, whether they should mix, etc. And the
resounding answer is YES YES YES. My Romeo was a throw away stray that I
first met 7+ years ago when I helped someone out feeding a little colony
near me. He was already an adult (3-4 years old) who would come running
across the field when I’d whistle and meow the whole way so I wouldn’t miss
him. He would get underfoot, get bullied by the other cats, bury
everybody’s food, and just rub up against my leg for some loving. I knew
someone had been unkind to him cause if I raised my hand, he’d scamper away,
just out of reach, cowering. 

Fast forward two years and we had one of the coldest NY winters we’ve had in
a long time. One weekend, we were expecting zero degree temps and a major
snowstorm. Romeo was the last of the colony and I knew I had to bring him
in. I even had an adoptive home ready—but he turned out to be positive and
they couldn’t handle it. Soooooo, he stayed in my room for a few weeks,
watching my every move, figuring out the TV and the vacuum cleaner weren’t
that bad. Slowly, he started coming out of his crate at night when he
thought I was asleep. Little baby steps—first the food dish got moved next
to his crate. Then the litter box in the bathroom. And slowly, he’d come
out during the day. I knew we won the battle when I peeked out over my
monitor to spot him on my bed. You could see it in his face—this is
niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice and from that point on, he was totally
comfortable being in and around we humans. Funny thing is that he never
really wanted to get out—he rarely sat at the window—the couch and the bed
were always much more comfortable for him!

Over these last 4 ½ years, Romeo turned into the most loving cat you’d ever
want to meet. Only thing I could never do was pick him up or restrain him
in any way---he was just too scared. But he’d jump up on me, lie on my
chest as I was trying to get to sleep, follow me around like a puppy dog and
otherwise just kept thanking all the humans he met for being safe and warm
and loved. My other cats were a bit leary of him and Tucson never did take
much of a liking to him—all jealousy, I’m sure. But Romeo persevered and
the two of them had come to terms with each other...

His final illness took him quickly. He’d never been real sick before—had
some gum and teeth problems a couple of times, but that was it. Going to
the vet was a major trauma for him so I’d always worked with my wonderful
vet to keep those visits to a bare minimum. But today was one of those days
that I knew he had to get to the vet asap. He’d been feeling poorly during
the week and over the weekend, he started breathing very hard—like he
couldn’t catch his breath. He’d been on antibiotics for what I thought was
another gum problem but when we got to the vet, I knew it was a whole lot
more. My vet sent me immediately to our local specialty hospital and they
confirmed the lymphoma. He had a large mass in his chest, his lungs had
filled up with fluid, and I knew that emotionally and physically, he could
never withstand an aggressive course of treatment that in all likelihood
would only give him a short extension of his life. So, I made that decision
we all dread after I looked in his eyes and knew he was telling me it was
time. I stroked him to the end and told him I loved him.

And do I regret taking him in—ABSOLUTELY NOT. He gave me so many wonderful
memories and he will always be in my heart. And did he regret coming
inside—ABSOLUTELY NOT—he had almost 5 years of a wonderful life and I know
that had he stayed out, he would have died a miserable death from the cold
and hunger or an infection and he would have been alone. We can’t save them
forever—but we can give them some wonderful time and we can all learn so
very much about life from these little guys. 

Christiane Biagi


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