When James and I got married back in 2000, I owned 5 cats. And even though he had never in his life been around animals before, he was very accepting of the situation. I guess you could say animals are what make me, me.
He actually enjoyed being around the cats in the beginning, so much so, he absolutely had to rescue this one kitten, Nero, from a couple who had just found out they were pregnant and decided Nero posed too much of a health hazard (please do not even get me started on this). I was against getting another cat… 100% against it. But James persisted, and I gave in.
So this cute little kitten came to live with us and unfortunately got beatings from the other cats for a little while. My gentlest cat, Esmeralda, dished out the most severe beatings, and she was relentless for 2 solid weeks. She chased him under the washing machine daily. Eventually the beatings stopped and they became the best of friends. Ez was the matriarch of the family; she commanded respect and she definitely got it. When she was 17, arthritic, and could hardly walk, her and Nero would still play chase, and Nero would wait for her to catch up, then bolt off again, and so on and so forth… he knew she hurt, so he was patient and gentle. He even let her win the wrestling matches when, in reality, he could’ve taken her down no problem.
One spring evening in Arizona, James grilled us some salmon. Nero was about 7 months old. James had left his plate of salmon on the coffee table to get up for a second, and Nero was so smart and stealth, he snuck up to James’s plate, grabbed the salmon in his mouth, and ran with it. Unfortunately, that particular piece of salmon was as big as Nero was, so he didn’t get far. Besides that, Nero was so shocked that his little plan worked, he didn’t know what to do with that huge piece of salmon. He wasn’t sure if he should eat it, soon decided against it, then ran off, without ever knowing the joy of salmon.
Nero was a super smart cat. When we moved to Washington, to a house that had lever handles, it took him no time at all to figure out how to open them. He loved going around opening all the doors. It was entertainment for him. James finally had to replace all the levers with knobs because, you know, cats don’t have thumbs.
This morning we had to say goodbye to our beloved Nero. His GI tract was shutting down, as were his kidneys, and he had lost too much of his body weight. I know some cats live longer, but I think 16 is a great, long life for a cat, and we were blessed to have him for so long. He was loved immensely, spoiled rotten, and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, sweet Nero.