John is very much a cat person: all cats like him. The goal was to try and find a cat that liked me, too. Or at the very least, tolerated me. We visited the SPCA and also the Pet Corral (local pet store near our house) which featured SPCA cats for adoption. The Pet Corral keeps their cats in a glass enclosure, so there is no place to interact. You have to request the cat be brought out, and then hold him. You can’t put him down on the ground because he’d just wander around smelling everything. It wasn’t an ideal way to try and see if you could bond with a cat. That added to my reticence.
On the top left corner of the glassed-in enclosure, on a short cat tree with a half-circle carpeted top, sat a big gray tabby who, on the couple of times we visited him, was usually sleeping. He seemed pretty chill and was an adult – starting me out with a kitten wasn’t a great idea. We visited him approximately 3 times before making the decision. His paperwork, which was disorganized and possibly wrong, said he was a surrender from a family who moved and couldn’t keep him. His name was QQ and he was approximately 2 years old. He never seemed to respond to that name, though.
It was the Victoria Day weekend in May, and we filled out the adoption paperwork. We were accepted and made arrangements to pick him up on the holiday. Since the store owners had to come in and check on the animals, they said we might as well come in and get him that day. We took him home, and put him in the basement with some food and water. He seemed pretty calm, walked around and sniffed at everything, and relaxed. We thought we might need to leave him in the basement to get adjusted for a few days, but we ended up bringing him upstairs within a few hours. It was as though he deemed this place to be good for his needs, and got busy doing cat things like smelling and sleeping.
We didn’t like his name, and since he didn’t respond to it, we knew we wanted to rename him. We had a hard time picking one out, to the point where he was almost just called “cat”. John had a dream one night where he thought of the name Rome, which we changed to Romy to give that “ee” sound that cats often respond to. The cat seemed to be ok with this name, and it stuck.
Romy came with an eye infection, so we took him to the vet to get checked. For the first few days of his tenure, he had one eye mostly closed; thus his “Pirate Romy” nickname at the time. The vet told us that he was a big cat, and expected his normal weight to be around 18-20lbs. Romy loved his food, and usually wound up being 21lbs. We started measuring things according to how many Romys it weighed.
|Romy's first picture. He was generally ok with being here, but needed some time to chill by himself.|
|Romy's awesome belly|
- If I Had A Romy (If I Had A Hammer)
- His name is Romy and he dances on the sand (Rio)
- I heard a Romy, they say he's got a clinky tag (I Heard A Rumor)
- Got your belly (Rock Me Amadeus)
- Romy Romy Romy Romy... Romy (For The Love Of Money)
- There once was a cat named Romy, and he was so cute (I think I based it on some tune rolling around in my subconscious)
Romy had a lot of favorite things. I don't have a picture of it, but he would always sit on his lounger by the stair rail. Whenever anyone went up or down the stairs, he'd meow at you to pay a petting toll as you passed. He also loved it when we pretended our hands were spiders, and they would crawl along the bed or couch and catch Romy's attention.
|His lounger. It was like a human's favorite recliner. No matter what, he would always come back to his lounger.|
|Pillows. he was a big proponent of pillows.|
|Relaxing with his favorite male human|
|Sleeping in what humans would think are uncomfortable areas, especially when his cat bed and lounger were a few feet away.|
|Boxes, of course|
|Sitting on plastic bins. The only purpose of plastic bins was for Romy's lounging needs.|
|Sleeping on office chairs|
|Red foxes fascinated him. We would watch this xmas special every year, even though his interest wasn't the same as this first time, he still liked foxes.|
|"Hiding" behind the shower curtain|
|My smelly laundry|
|My clean laundry. He especially liked the white sock load, likely because he had an affinity for Bounce fabric softener.|
|He really liked it when I left a hamper of clean laundry on the floor. I know where I'm sleeping tonight!|
|One day he even taught John a lesson about leaving drawers open.|
When friends came over, he was usually interested in their shoes and/or purses. When he could, he'd stuff his whole head into strangers' shoes.
Christmas meant the return of two great things: sitting under the tree, and the best water from the watering can.
|Romy did occasional duty as a speed bump|
I've never seen, and may never again see, anyone as comfortable as Romy when he slept. Comfort you can only dream of.
Since I was always the first human awake in the morning, I was generally the provider of food. Whether Romy was hungry or not, when food was poured, he had to check it out. Any time I brought the water dish over to the sink to clean it, he suddenly was extremely thirsty and would I please hurry up already. I also was the morning cleaner of the litterbox, which he appreciated and then proceeded to destroy by flinging the litter as far over the floor as he could. He made an absolute mess sometimes, but I still loved him.
Romy turned 10 this year. Around September, John asked me when I'd last seen Romy eat. I couldn't remember, but he thought it had been a few days. We knew immediately that was not good. We took him to the vet, had bloodwork and x-rays done. At first it was suspected urinary infection, then possibly pancreatitis. He continued to not get better on various treatments. We went through at least a dozen types of wet food trying to get him to eat anything. He lost a lot of weight, and was down to 15lbs. He spent 3 nights hospitalized trying to get his hydration back under control. An ultrasound showed that he had irregular shapes on his liver, suggesting a tumor. It also showed a lot of fluid, when when drawn out of his belly, was red. He was bleeding internally. Without exploratory surgery, which might in itself kill him, we knew he didn't have much time.
We spent the last few weeks giving him as much love and comfort as possible. I had mild success getting him to eat some out of my hand. He also would drink some from the tap in the kitchen. We had an IV of fluids to give him when needed. By yesterday morning, though, his nose was visibly shrunken and it sounded like he was having a hard time breathing. When he opened his mouth, it smelled like rot inside. We had friends over on Fri night to talk things through. When I listed to what we were saying and pretending to be a bystander, I could tell it sounded like it was time to let him go. He wasn't moving around much, he wasn't eating or drinking enough, he wasn't lounging, he couldn't jump up, his back legs weren't always working. He wasn't his Romy self. John didn't want to see him suffer, and by yesterday morning, he said he thought it was time. Had it been only up to me, I probably would have prolonged it for my own selfish reasons, and not for what was best for Romy.
I gave all of my heart and soul to this cat. This wonderful cat, who did so many incredible things for me. He was so patient, so tolerant of someone who had never had a pet. He didn't get into trouble, he was very chill and relaxed, and loved his house. There may be other cats, but there will never be another Romy. My heart is absolutely trashed. I'm horrible at losing people in my life, and this is no different. In some ways, it's worse. He was one of my best friends. Someone who gave me unconditional love every day. I have memories and pictures, but they don't compare to having that purring ball of fur to wrap my arms around, only to have him escape because enough hugs already, geez. I keep trying to find the right words to convey how I felt about him, but none of them do him justice.
Romy's legacy is that he taught me to love cats. He's the cat who taught me how awesome having a cat in my life can be. We went on to adopt Sapphire 3 years after we got Romy. They weren't that close, but were ok sharing a house together and playing (though Romy's version of playing was sitting on Saph's head). There will likely be other cats in my future. Those cats all have Romy to thank for opening my heart and my home.
This experience has brought me so much joy and so much pain. Right now, it's hard to imagine I will ever feel this deeply about another cat. I can feel the wall going up around my heart to protect me from this deep pain in the future. The right cat can probably knock it down. But for now, I want to take my time to miss my great friend. I still feel like he's around the house somewhere. I expect to see him on his lounger, on the back of the couch, randomly lying on the floor. For as much as I was surprised at the beginning to see something moving along the floor, I am now surprised that he's not there.
God, please help me through this.