Zodiac had been sick for awhile. Three years ago, he had a small tumor removed from his chest and, though our veterinarian thought they got it all, last year it showed up again. This time it was very aggressive and I was told there was nothing we could do about it. Up until last Friday, Zodiac seemed to be doing pretty well. He wasn't as active and he had some coughing episodes but for the most part seemed like a happy cat. Last Friday he retired into my bathroom cabinet and slept there, not eating or drinking much. Yesterday he seemed a little perkier and even tried to eat. But then this morning at 4:30 he woke me up with a few loud meows. I went into the bathroom to discover he'd tried to get out but couldn't walk. I picked him up and he stopped meowing but I could tell he was having trouble breathing. So I held him for about 5 minutes as he took fewer, longer breaths. And then he was gone.
We got Zodiac 14 years ago from the litter of a friend's cat. Debra picked him out and named him. She chose Zodiac as his name because our friend was very much into astrology, not because the kitten seemed like a crazed killer. Far from it, Zodiac was a sweet lovable cat. At the time, we had another cat, Blue, and she made sure he knew who was boss. Even after he grew to twice her size, he let her bat at him and push him away from the food dish. If Zodiac didn't gobble his food down, Blue would finish her own and then run over and eat whatever he hadn't finished yet. But he always forgave her and they lived together for 8 years. When Blue died Zodiac looked for her for days and cried so much about being alone that Debra and I went back to our friend's house, where there was another new litter, and we picked out Diva so Zodiac would have a friend.
Zodiac slept at the foot of my bed and always came up to let me know when it was breakfast time. He was a chubby cat until a year ago when his illness started to impact him. Throughout his illness, Zodiac always ate and that is why I knew it was close to the end when he decided he couldn't eat anymore.
I will miss Zodiac. I'll miss him greeting me at the door each night (to let me know it's dinner time). I'll miss how he sat behind me on the couch at night while I worked or watched TV. Sometimes he'd come up behind me and pull my hair. I don't know if that was him being annoying or some cat signal of love, but I'll miss it. I'll even miss him waking me up in the morning.
RIP Zodiac. I like to think you're off playing with your old friend Blue.