We got him when he was only 8 weeks old. He was almost pure white with just a few hints of pale tan that became the dark brown seal points he grew into. We named him Cleopatra’s Cat because we first thought “he” was a “she” and he looked like something Cleopatra herself would have owned. He was OH so pretty, and boy did he know it! From the beginning, we knew Cleo was special. He was talkative and smart and was always a ‘lap-cat’. He was the world’s biggest cuddler, even approaching strangers to find a warm body onto which he would slink like oil. One minute, your lap would be empty and the next thing you knew, you would have this warm, fat, glossy purring ball of fluff peering up at you with eyes of sky-blue and an expression that convinced you that your life would be so much better if you just let him stay in his comfy spot. In fact, if he got especially comfortable and blissed out, he would start drooling on you.
Cleo was the kind of cat that you could see him thinking or figuring out a problem before ultimately finding a solution. At one place where we lived, there was a sliding screen door that led out onto the patio. It was Cleo who figured out how to hook a claw and pull sideways to get the door open for him and his brother, Max, so they could both go soak up the sunshine in the great outdoors and snack on the grass salad bar while they were there (and then come back inside to regurgitate said “salad” on the floor). At the same house, he was not allowed in a back hallway area of the house and we put up a foam-core board (very lightweight) tall enough that he couldn’t jump over. Cleo didn’t need to jump over it, because he figured out how to hook that same claw under one corner and methodically work the corner out enough that he could squeeze his head through and eventually his fat body followed. We finally discovered a solution by taping a bunch of fake flowers at that particular corner of the board – apparently, they stymied him enough that it wasn’t worth the effort to burrow under them to get to the corner.
That one claw became Cleo’s subtle ‘weapon’ of choice. In the morning, when he wanted fed, he would use that single claw to great effect, barely poking my face with just the sharp point of it. Poke, poke. Merroow. Hey. Get up. I’m hungry. Poke, poke. Hey, you. If that didn’t work, he was not the least bit concerned about walking on my head or getting up on the pillow and blatantly laying down on my head. Let me tell you, a 12-pound ball of fur either draped across your head (or sometimes your face) and stepping on your hair is enough to wake even the heaviest sleeper. The funniest part about how much he weighed was that although his body was heavy and covered in the softest, thickest, most luxurient fur you can imagine, he had these skinny legs and bony feet! If I could draw a stick figure of him, it would be with a big, round body and stick legs and feet. 🙂 Now imagine that feeling when you’re trying to sleep and the cat decides it wants to walk all over you.
He was a pure-bred, Applehead Seal Point Siamese. These are of the “true” traditional cat line that descended from Siam (now Thailand). Through careful breeding, they don’t have the crossed eyes or wedge-shaped head of the other Siamese breeds. They are also very friendly and their voices are soft and cultured, not scratchy or whiny like the other Siamese. Even though he was a pure-bred, through most of his life, Cleo acted like more of a Heinz 57 variety of house cat. He was the pauper prince of the household. Actually, in his older years, he reminded us more of an old drag queen because of his mannerisms (such an attention monger!). He adored having his belly rubbed and would flip over if he thought there was even a remote chance at that kind of attention. Of course, in that position he was so cute, and he knew it, squirming around on his back and using his feline wiles to persuade anyone nearby that he deserved a good tummy rub. Come on, pet me. You know you want to.
At 18 years old, Cleo went to the Rainbow Bridge today. He was in the latter stages of kidney failure and life was no fun for him anymore. He stopped eating and drinking a couple of days ago and although I dreaded it, I knew it was time to let him go. People think that cats who die at home just go peacefully in their sleep, but the truth is that in the later stages, once they stop eating and drinking, they get weakened, dehydrated and suffer from dementia and a slow starvation…so euthanasia is a kinder ending. As their mom or dad, you owe it to them to make sure they do not suffer. It is the last, great gift you can give your dear friend, to hold them and be with them right up to the very end. Luckily, we have a vet in the area who makes house calls, so I didn’t have to stress the poor old guy with fear of a vet office visit. We buried him under the rosebush because it was one of his favorite outside spots and so that when I see the roses I can think of how his beautiful spirit is helping the flowers grow and become beautiful, too.
Rest in peace my sweet, old friend. You will be sorely missed.
The Rainbow Bridge
(inspired by a Norse legend)
* * * * * * * * *
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.