A Cat Named Cleo

I am very sad tonight. We had our cat Cleo put to sleep today. She was 13, not super old for a cat, but old enough. She developed a cluster of health challenges rather suddenly, and she was in pain and not herself. My husband and I were with her at the end, and the good people at our vet clinic were as kind as I could have ever hoped for. (God bless vets and vet technicians!)

img_2132Cleo came to me as a stray street kitten. One day I was visiting my mom’s house, stepped out of my car, and there was this little fluffball, gray and peach and white (what I would later learn was called a Tortie), meowing up at me. At the time I was totally broke and couldn’t afford to take her to the vet to get shots and rid of fleas, so I asked my mom’s neighbor to keep an eye on her for a week or so till my next payday. When the payday rolled around I took her to the vet and brought her home. I’ll never forget watching the fleas just drop off of her and die from the medicine they gave her. She slept most of that day and then started bouncing off the walls as kittens do, playing with and getting used to my other cat at the time, the unflappable and dignified tabby Gus.

img_2130A few months later I started dating the man who would become my husband. Two years later we would all move to our new house. Three years after that, my son was born and five weeks later sweet Gus kitty passed away. I don’t think Cleo was quite right in the head after those events. She was an anxious, vocal, possessive kitty. She loved me fiercely and I loved her, even as challenging as she could be.

Here are some things I want to remember about Cleo:

She always wanted to be in my lap at night, any time I sat down. If I reclined she would get up on my chest and fall asleep.

She had the softest fur. She was 90% fur, I think.

She was beautiful.

img_2131She could be hateful to anyone besides the three of us who live here. We had to put her up in my bedroom when we had company over. But she was still a sweet kitty to me.

She loved to go outside and eat grass.

She never was much good at killing bugs. I always wanted her to take care of them for me, but she’d just kind of half-heartedly bat away at it for a minute and then lose interest.

She loved to sit in the window and watch the birds. She made the funniest little squeak when she saw them close by.

She was such good company at night, when my son is asleep and my husband at work. It’s awfully quiet and empty feeling in here tonight. It’s gonna take some adjusting to not having a cat in the house for the first time ever. I know that we will get another cat some day, but we will never EVER have another cat quite like our crazy Cleo. She had a good life for a one-time street kitten. Rest in peace, Cleo, and have fun catching up with Gus up there. I’ll miss you.

39 thoughts on “A Cat Named Cleo

  1. Oh, Laila, I’m so sorry! What a lovely post – a real tribute to the love you and Cleo shared. Each little cat is unique and can’t be replaced, nor would we want to. Lucky Cleo, though, to find someone who would take her in and care for her and love her as you did. You gave her the best life she could have and the mercy of a gentle passing when the time came. I hope that knowing that is a comfort to you.

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  2. I’m so sorry for the loss of Cleo. These are precious reminiscences you’ve collected, and many of them ring true for me with my own cat. Pets are such important parts of our families — don’t let anyone tell you she was ‘just a cat’ so you shouldn’t be sad. Hugs!

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  3. I’m so sorry you’re sad about Cleo. Would you share a good story about her torturing guests? I’ve never met someone who had to put their cat away; usually, kitties hide when guests come. My cat is the opposite: she can be a jerk to us, but is lovely to guests and makes us look like liars! Sneaky kitty…

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    1. Oh that is truly funny that your cat is the opposite of Cleo in that way. I don’t know that I have a particular story, just that when we would have friends and family over for a dinner or holiday she would hiss and swat at anyone who came near her, or meow incessantly, so we just decided it was best practice to put her in our bedroom with her food and litter until the event was through! 🙂 She grew to tolerate my mother and father in law because they are in my home so much taking care of my son. She certainly was full of personality! Which makes it even more quiet around our house now.

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      1. When my niece was three, she visited from 200 miles away (super far for three-years-old!). She looked at my cat on our bed, and the cat let out the most vile hiss. This is how we learned our cat does NOT like kids. Mariam came running out of my bedroom crying. Later, when the cat came out to eat, Mariam said, “Your kitty not mad anymore?” SO. CUTE.

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    1. Thank you, Smithereens! Tee hee, it’s my favorite picture of her. I took it in 2008, well before my book blog and even smartphones. It’s funny, once my son came along we somehow stopped taking pictures of our cats. When we get another cat (one day) I will resolve to take more pictures of him or her.

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  4. Lots of love to you. I’ve never been a cat or pet person but your post gave me all the feels. Hugs and love. I’m sure Cleo must be having a darned good time with Gus!

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  5. Oh I’m so sorry to hear this Laila, what a tough couple of days/weeks you must have been having. Not many people understand the difficulties of losing a cat, but I certainly do, as do many other book bloggers who are fellow cat lovers 🙂 I love the idea of Cleo and Gus hanging out together again though, that’s very comforting.

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    1. Thank you so much Anne. It was a very tough week. She got sick suddenly but we didn’t know just how sick she really was till we took her to the vet. Then it was a week of trying some medications but in the end this ended up being the kindest thing for her. It’s really hard! I appreciate your kind words.

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  6. Aw, I’m so sorry to hear about this and to think about how hard the past week or so must have been for you, trying to find solutions and then feeling as though the only one was the final one. How fortunate you were to find Cleo and how fortunate Cleo was to meow up at you. And how lucky that the neighbour lady was willing to step in and look out for her until she could move in with you. And to think that this little creature was one who shared memories with you even dating back past your husband and your son. I’m sure she appreciated not having to hiss at all those strangers and keep them in their place whenever you had company: that kind of guard-kitty activity must have been tiring for her, and perhaps not properly recognized and appreciated by the guests as high-level security patrols. Cleo clearly had some expertise!

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    1. Well, you win for the comment that made me cry and laugh in equal measure! Thanks, BIP. I truly appreciate what you said. It’s been a hardweel and a half, but I do know how lucky we both were to find each other and enjoy each other all these years! 🙂

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