FYI - this is not a tribute - no worries - my parents cat is alive and kicking.
This is just me being my usual "Rain Man" self when it comes to dates and anniversaries and remembering that it was about this time 17 years ago that a furry creature became a member of our family.

I was in sixth grade and I wanted a cat in the worst way and had for several years - but we had just had the house remodeled and new furniture and my parents told me it would be a couple of years before they wanted to bring in a cat and risk having some of that nice stuff ruined. But finally the fall I started sixth grade they said they were ready to let me have a cat.

We went to one of those adoption events at a mall - and brought home two kittens. Very quickly we discovered these were not the cats for us and they were soon dubbed the "Cats from Hell" and quickly returned to their foster family. I was disappointed, but they were not happy kitties and it was not a good fit.

So some more time went by and then someone who worked with my dad and knew we were looking said she saw an adorable kitten at a vet's office not far from our house that was looking for a home. It happened to be MEA weekend, so I was off of school and mom didn't have to work, so we drove over and took a look. She was a very sweet cat, they let us take her out and hold her and she purred, oh how she purred. We told the ladies we were pretty sure we'd be back for her, but had to run it by my dad. We got home and my mom called my dad at work and said "Well she's pretty cute." So dad went over on his lunch break and then called my mom back and said "Yeah, go get her."

Later that afternoon she was home with us. And she fit in right away. We named her Cleo - my mom thought that was the cat's name from Pinocchio. Well that cat's name was Figaro. Cleo was the fish. But Cleo just fit our cat. It was the perfect name.

Cleo settled into life with us very nicely. She clearly was always a "girls cat" choosing my mom and me over my dad - but they would share treats together and still do to this day - pizza crusts, toast, weird stuff like that. She was always in the room that we were in, no matter where we sat.

She loved to eat - almost too much for awhile - her belly actually rubbed on the floor at one point! She used to sleep with me every night. It was hard for me to leave her when I moved out for good. She doesn't care for me much anymore when I do go over to my parents house - but she is also an old lady now who's kind of stuck in her ways. It's hard for me to have her not like me, but it's just the nature of the beast.

Three years ago she started having some problems - stumbling around the house almost as if she was drunk, very lethargic, no interest in her food. My mom took her to the vet and learned she was suffering from kidney disease. The decision was nearly made to put her to sleep - but then at my dad's insistance my mom talked with the vet and learned there were a couple of not real invasive options for treatment - special food and a pill that they could give her. They decided to try and low and behold it worked. She bounced back pretty well.

So here we are now. She is nearly 18 years old but is still hanging on. She still has burst of energy that make you go - are you really that old cat? But she has slowed down, sleeps alot and that type of thing. We don't know how many days left we'll have with her, but the vet always said that my mom would know when it's time and that time hasn't come yet. She just had a pretty good checkup this week so you just never know. She could be hanging on for quite some time yet!

Recently when I was over at my parents house for dinner on a night Nate had art class, after I ate I sat down on the couch next to Cleo. And I petted her. For a long time. And finally, while it was faint, it was there - the softest sound of her purring. It was like she was saying "yes I still love you, yes I know you have your own life now and that's ok." It was enough for me.

Cleo - still the queen after all this years (picture from 2009)

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