Even as I added the photo, I knew Sergio was no longer the playful and energetic kitty he was when that photo was taken a few years back. Just two months ago, Sergio was diagnosed with the beginnings of kidney failure. We put him on a special diet and gave him lots of love. You can see by the postscript I added that Sergio lost his battle with the disease and now joins seven other cats in our book of memories.
Sergio was a neighborhood stray, growing up feral like many of our adopted cats. He came to us and we fed him. Eventually we had him trapped and neutered. The plan was to return him to our front yard since we already had a houseful of cats. First we sequestered him in a bedroom until he healed from the surgery. But somewhere along the line, we decided to keep Sergio (as we named him) and introduce him to his new family of brothers and sisters. There was Satchmo, Rocco, Sami, Gage and Sasha. Unlike these other rescues, Sergio wasn't ready to be a house cat. He spent all his time hiding under a bed. We figured he'd eventually come out and join the others, but he didn't. And he wasn't eating. The poor cat was obviously miserable inside and my wife decided it was best to return Sergio to the outdoors where we found him. So about two weeks after we brought him in, she opened a window in the bedroom and he scampered out.
A funny thing happened, though. Sergio kept returning to our front door, and we kept feeding him. After many months, he allowed us to pet him without running. This went on for more months while we made friends with this stubbornly-resistent outdoor cat. We eventually got him in the house only to have him scurry under the bed again. My wife and I looked at one another, thinking, "Here we go again." But this stage lasted only a day or two ending when my wife entered the bedroom to find Sergio not under the bed but on top of it. He looked at her as if to say, "What? Isn't this where I belong?"
Sergio was now part of the household, and a fully socialized kitty. He proved to be one of the sweetest boys we've had, never giving us any trouble. Fast-forward twelve years. We awoke yesterday morning to find Sergio in bed with us, something he never did. Was he saying goodbye as a friend suggested? Perhaps, but yesterday we said goodbye to him after the vet informed us his kidneys had shut down completely. Goodbye Sergio, and to the 12 years of friendship and good spirits you brought to our household.
I'd like to think he would have enjoyed seeing his picture on my website, and remembered fondly the times he licked my head while I sat there reading or watching television. I know I will.