PicturePrecious & I in 1995
My cat, Precious, passed away this past Wednesday, October 2, 2013. I thought that since so many of my pet product reviews were based on him, it would be appropriate to honor him here. 

Precious was born in April 1995 and came to live with us in June of that year, on my last day of elementary school. He has been a part of my life for more than half of my existence and his passing has been very difficult to accept. I feel that sharing his life here, even if no one reads it, is a good way for me to express my love for him. This is a timeline of his life, interactions with our other pets, and his quirks and amusing personality.

In June of 1995 my family was going through some difficult times and to help me cope my parents decided to let me adopt a cat. We already had one cat, Tsitsolina (Tsitso), who was a bit older and very loved, and a dog, Fifi, who was a wonderful friend. But getting a kitten was a way to distract us from our problems, and boy did it work! We could not have asked for a better distraction. Precious was always the life of the house.

Precious enjoying his new home (already trying to get out!) in 1995
Little did we know at the time that just finding Precious was going to be an adventure. We started with the standard North Shore Animal Shelter. Regrettably, we did not know at the time that they would not let us adopt a cat if they knew we let our current cat outside (even though, at this point, she pretty much was an indoor cat). So we left there empty handed. We then set out to find a cat through ads. One woman we found had a stray cat in her yard who recently had kittens and she was trying to find them homes. Unfortunately, she was very protective of her kittens and would not come near us. My mother did go back and was able to pet them, but she couldn't snatch one away from their mama. 

The next person we came across was definitely memorable. He had 9 cats, all indoor, and all impeccably clean (including his apartment). He had found about 4 or 5 kittens and was nursing them. They were the cutest little things, but this guy wanted us to sign a contract to get one!!!! I still remember what was on this contract, it included visitation rights and we had to pay a penalty, in addition to giving the kitten back, if we did not follow his requirements (neutering, indoor, visitation, etc). We went running away from this guys house!

Finally, the happy ending was approaching. In Astoria, right next door to Pizza Palace off Ditmars, was a small pet store (it's now a restaurant). They had one kitten "on display" for adoption (free with a $25 purchase I believe). It was love at first sight! He was in an enclosed display in the middle of the store with a bunch of shredded paper and toys. He was running around attacking the paper and having a grand ol' time. We took him home and we became one big, happy family for the next 18 1/2 years!
Precious meeting Fifi in 1995
Precious developed a very close relationship with our dog, Fifi, right from the start. She was such a good dog and it seemed that she adopted him as her son. The two spent so much time together, she even let Precious eat her food right out of her bowl in front of her! She also let him sleep on her blanket while she slept on the cold tiles. I think she is why he grew up to be such a gentleman with our other cats. 
Precious & Tsitso in 1997
Precious also developed a love/hate relationship with Tsitso. As you can see by this above picture, she was always a little apprehensive about him, after all, he did encroach on her territory! But she tolerated him and he tried so hard to play with her! He would jump on her and play bite and she would make the most awful sound! She was not the playing type, but she put up with his shenanigans as best she could.  

When Precious was very young, his obsession was feet. He loved to bite and jump on anyone's feet. This also included stealing socks! If anyone ever left a sock drawer ajar, you better believe we came home to an empty sock drawer and a scavenger hunt to find all the socks. My mother likes to reminisce about how he used to wait in the hallway in the morning for her to go to the bathroom so he could pounce on her feet!

As he got older, he developed new obsessions. We allowed him to go outside at this time (we didn't really have a choice, he wanted out!). He LOVED the outdoors. He used to go off for hours at a time and then come in exhausted. He would sleep for 2 days straight sometimes. He was known by everyone in the neighborhood. He also was known for biting the neighbors! He would roll on the ground in front of you, exposing his stomach, waiting for you to reach out and then POW, grab hold of you and bite. Most neighbors learned this after their first encounter! They still loved him though. Even when he climbed up a 60 foot tree in our neighbors yard! One of our other neighbors got a ladder and climbed up there to get him. He was completely unaware of any danger as he sat up there on a branch enjoying the view! He probably chased a squirrel up there.

Precious always came up with new ways to surprise us. One of our most treasured memories was him attacking us through the couch. At the time, we had a wood frame couch that had separate back and bottom cushions. Precious came to learn that he could reach through the gap from behind and grab us while we were sitting. Every now and then he would miss, and we would see a paw reaching out next to us. It was surprising and HILARIOUS every time! Another funny bad habit he picked up was drinking out of the toilet. I don't know how he got the idea, but he did it for years. I would go into the bathroom and find him with his head in the toilet and his rear legs on the toilet bowl holding him up. It was HILARIOUS! But we had to start keeping the toilet seat closed because of him, and later the bathroom door. 

Precious was always changing and growing. The cat he became was so different than the cat he once was. In 2001, we lost our Tsitso and decided to adopt the two kittens we had been fostering, Ivory and Jasmine. My sister was an vet technician at the time and we had been taking care of Ivory and Jasmine, who were only weeks old (bottle feeding and all). The death of our sweet Tsitso was the deciding factor in the decision to keep them (best decision EVER). He did not seem too affected by Tsitso death, as they were never very close. He was also not too affect by the death of our dog, Fifi, about 6 months later on New Years day 2002. These two losses were devastating, and Precious and the new kittens were the best distraction possible. 
Ivory (white) & Jasmine (black) in 2001
PictureIvory, Jasmine, & Precious in 2006
Precious was never really interested in Ivory and Jasmine, as they were kept indoors and he was still going outside at this time. He got along with the fine, but they had each other to play with. Ivory and Jasmine are much more interested in love and affection from us than Precious. As long as he was fed, occasionally pet, and allowed out, he was as happy as could be. Also, if you gave him a box, he was set for a year!

A few years after our Tsitso's passing and the adoption of Ivory and Jasmine, another cat came into our lives. A stray cat had been hanging out in our yard, clearly needing help. He was emaciated and very scared. We began feeding him and allowing him to become comfortable. He happily moved into our garage after a few weeks, but we were hesitant to let him in because he was SO SCARED OF EVERYTHING. We eventually decided to keep him and named him Monkey. Monkey and Precious did become fast friends at first. Monkey never became an indoor cat because of his violent nature. He liked to fight too much, and our indoor cats couldn't handle being around him. He remained in the garage (it's a heated garage and became his bachelor pad where he stayed at night). 
Precious & Monkey keeping warm in 2005
Having Monkey gave me a whole new perspective on Precious and his good nature. Monkey was very territorial and often fought with other cats that would come on our property (he never left our yard, but protected it with all his might). We believe he was abused before he came to us, which probably contributed to his behavioral problems (he was a very sweet, cuddly cat, he just didn't like other animals). This is why we came to keeping them both inside at night. In all Precious' years of being outside, he had NEVER fought with another animal. In fact, one time, he brought our neighbors cat INTO our house and let him eat out of his bowl!!!! He was friends with everyone, both dogs and cats. Monkey was not. By around 2009, Monkey started fighting with Precious, so we decided that it was time for Precious to retire his outdoor life and remain indoors for the rest of his days. It took almost two years for him to stop crying at the door and trying to sneak out! But he eventually accepted it.
PicturePrecious saying goodbye to Monkey
At the end of 2012, Monkey developed cancer. We fought it as best we could, but we lost him this year, on January 12, 2013. It was a heartbreaking loss and I felt so guilty, as if I could have done something differently to save him. He couldn't move much at the end and he was clearly in a lot of pain. We put his to rest when it was clear that he couldn't go on. I miss him everyday.

At this time, Precious was also getting sick. He was almost 18 years old and his age began catching up to him. He had been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid the year before and was on medication for it. He lost much of his body weight due to this and his fur became matted and knotted up because he couldn't groom himself anymore. He never liked being brushed, so this made things much more difficult. I would have to cut off knots when he wasn't looking or they would get so bad that it would hurt his body. 

A piece of paper is as good as a box, especially when there is a pillow! 2013
Since becoming an indoor cat, Precious tried to find new ways to entertain himself. He started taking to being pet much more and adopted my mother as his companion. Wherever she went, he wanted to go. Doors had to be left open everywhere, otherwise he would be crying and scratching on everything. He began going upstairs, to my aunts house, with her on a daily basis. She was always cooking something, which is one thing he loved about going up there. Sometimes he would just go upstairs and sleep on her couch, or in my grandmother's wheelchair! 
Precious chilling in my grandmother's wheelchair, 2013
PicturePrecious with my mother and I for our last Christmas together
It came to the point where no one could go upstairs without him! However, his arthritis was worse on some days than others, so he expected an elevator ride up on those days! We happily obliged and carried him up whenever necessary. Even at 17, his quality of life was as good as ever. He kept himself entertained as best he could and didn't let his arthritis or weight slow him down.

Precious in his favorite sleeping position in 2013 (yes, he agrees with Garfield!)
Precious began suffering from other aliments in 2013 relating to his kidneys and liver. He also developed a slight heart murmur. His appetite varied from day to day. Sometimes he would eat like a pig, other times he would eat nothing. I believe that he also developed pancreatitis in the end, but the vet never confirmed this. In addition to thyroid meds, he was also on an assortment of vitamins, a low protein diet, and subcutaneous fluids a few times a week. 

His death on October 2, 2013 came as a complete surprise. He had been doing really well the past two months and was actually having a great day. He ate well, took his meds, and even went upstairs to my aunts house to visit. That night we were giving him what was to be his last dose of fluids. Right as we finished administering the fluids, he ate his last treat. I picked him up to put him on the floor and he just slumped to one side, unable to move his legs. He gasped for air and within 5 minutes he left us. It was one of the most devastating things I have ever experienced and I still cannot accept how it happened. I always hoped that when he was ready to go, it would be quick, painless, and on his own terms, so I am grateful that this is exactly how he went. 
The suddenness of his death still haunts me, but I am glad he lived a long, wonderful life, full of adventure, amusement, friends, happiness, and, most importantly, LOVE. Rest in peace Precious.
The whole family together for the last time, 2013