Poco Roo
July 18, 1998 - June 21, 2002

Poco looks on as I study for another one of Dr. Thiel's monster exams

How do I even begin? Just this one time, I'm not going to obsess over my syntax; I'm going to write as it comes to me. As you probably noticed, "Cat House Prejudice" was written while Poco was very much alive. If you haven't read that page yet, you might want to begin there to understand the beginning of Poco's life with me. As I write this page, it's been only a month and a half since I lost one of the best things that ever happened to me. I've needed to do this, but have dreaded the moment that I would have to truly face the words. I miss him. Those of you who have loved and lost a pet will understand. I miss him more than I thought humanly possible for someone to miss a pet....but that's the "end" of this story....

I was a dog person. Besides my Mom's cat, Boots, I never really developed an affinity for the seemily uppity nature of felines. But, then again, I hadn't met Roo yet. He was so very tiny, so very helpless and so very stubborn! Despite the odds, he not only lived, he thrived as King of the House.

If you've read "Cat House Prejudice," then you know the story of how he came to live with us. It was pure serendipity. His mother, as much as I hated her for abandoning my dear Poco, knew something that I didn't. There was a reason she took his brother and left the smaller kitten. He had a heart problem that was undetectable until the week before he died. I promise, there will be happier memories further down the page, but I want to get this part of the story over with first so that the joy that was Poco is the last thing you read. There is even a happy ending, of sorts.

One night, he was walking toward me and, out of the blue, suddenly screamed so loud that it instantaneously terrified me. He ran upstairs and hid under my son's bed, where no amount of coaxing could get him out or silence his screams of agony. Within moments, his back legs started shaking and he was unable to get up. He dragged himself across the floor, still screaming, as if moving would somehow stop the pain and terror that he must certainly have been feeling.

We live next door to a veterinarian and even though it was late, we took him over. At first, we thought that he might have gotten into something poisonous, but it became apparent that Poco was much more serioulsy ill. I stayed up with him all night, trying to calm him. Into the wee hours of the night, he dragged himself back and forth across my bedroom floor, screaming, screaming, screaming...and pleading with his eyes for help.

A few days later, it seemed as if he was getting better. He had regained use of one of his back legs and most of the other. Unfortunately, I noticed that he breathing just wasn't normal. After another visit to his vet, I was told to just let him rest and hope for the best. But, I knew. I had been crying regularly, but one night it all broke and the fury of grief exploded from me. I stood up and announced that I had to take a shower. I ran in there, thinking that the sound of the the water would offer me protection from children's ears. The water began cascading over me and I sobbed like I have never sobbed before. I screamed and beat on the shower walls with my fists. My pain became so great that I no longer cared who heard me. My huband came in and found me rocking on the shower floor, yelling and chanting, "I want my cat back! I want my cat back! I want my cat back!" All he could do was put his hand on my head and let me mourn.

Poco thinks he's invisible under the packing paper The next day, Poco began labored breathing with his mouth open, but he was still eating and drinking, though it was obvioulsy painful. Three days of this and still, he was not getting any better. I stayed with him on the floor and dreaded waking as I was sure he would be gone when I opened my eyes. Yet another day went by and his condition worsened. Now, he wasn't sleeping, he could only sit in the prone position and he stopped eating, drinking and going to the bathroom. He was in agony. I was the only one he would look at, and while he gasped for every breath, I swear I could understand his plea for help. I was left with the most terrible choice that I knew I had to make.

I never put Roo in a cat carrier, so I bundled him in my arms and took him to Doc's. On the way, he had another attack. There is a small bench just outside the vet office and I sat there with my screaming, terrified cat. He was so frantic to get a breath of air that he became absolutely uncontrollable. The veterinarian's assistant came out, and through sorrowful tears, I begged her to help him. "I don't want him to hurt anymore, please make it stop," I cried. She understood, took him from me and went inside. I sat there sobbing, with the agonizing sounds of my cat's screams in the background. Fearing that he would die without me, I ran in to see Doc holding the syringe above Roo. I held Poco's head, looked into his eyes, and almost as if he knew peace was coming, he stopped crying. I told him how much I loved him and nodded my head to Doc. I locked eyes with my baby and it was over in seconds. "I promised you that I would help," was all I could say as I bundled him up into my aching arms.

I brought him back home and sat for two hours holding him on the back porch swing. He had been so sick that he couldn't even jump in my lap for days, so holding him, even in death, somehow made me feel a bit better. If that was possible. I buried him beside the house, in a spot where no grass grew (he was afraid of grass) and wept uncontrollably. Just a month shy of four years and my sweet cat was dead. For the next ten days, I avoided my computer room as it was chock full of Poco pictures. Every where I went reminded me of him and my lap was so empty, I thought that I'd never be whole again. I was right about that, but not to the extent that I believed in that moment.

I Couldn't Help It....I Fell in Love.

Poco and Mex sitting with Kenny Are you still reading this? You must be a true cat lover and I thank you for hanging around. Poco was an amazing animal, and not just because he had an incredible sweet tooth. You see, he loved ME -- he actually preferred ME. That may not sound like a profound statement, but you have to understand my husband. Kenny is simply an "animal person." They love him, they ALL love him. True story: We lived in a semi-country home and, one day, a deer showed up in the middle of our yard. People from the neighborhood gathered around to see the pretty doe. Kenny started walking out toward her and I whispered to stay back or she would be frightened away. Naturally, he kept walking. When he got to the deer, she was neither frightened nor particularly concerned. Instead, she reached over and began licking Kenny's hair!

At the zoo, rhinos and zebras come when he whistles at them. He is, again, an animal person. Therefore, all the pets we have had over the past 16 years have preferred him, hands down. Poco, though, loved me best. I could come up with a lot of reasons why, but none of that really matters. What was significant to my life is that Poco Roo was the first animal in my entire life that preferred ME and I fell hopelessly and blissfully in love.

Sweet Tooth

Boy, was I lucky. It's easy to lament the too short four years that he was alive; but, during those four years, he gave us a lifetime of memories. I briefly mentioned that Roo had a sweet tooth. That might have been an understatement. As soon as he was big enough to jump that high, Poco began getting up on the cabinet and eating out of the sugar bowl. Dismayed, we purchased a sugar bowl with a flip up lid, thinking that would do the trick. Yeah right. You would swear he almost grinned at you as he jumped on the counter, flipped the lid up on the new sugar bowl and began eating. Nothing was safe. Kenny's glazed donuts, Cool-Whip, Little Debbie snacks -- all were apparently Poco's birth right and he was not shy about claiming them. He may have been lactose intolerant, but he certainly made up for it in the other food groups.

This Page Needs to End Eventually

Goodbye, my dear friend... I could speak forever about my Roo, but this page has to end eventually. If there is one thing that is left to be said, it is about Poco's love. Poco received the kind of love that I didn't know I had in me. That love was a direct result from the love that he gave me in the first place. I'm a Type-A personality, but Roo managed to calm me down, to soothe my nerves and to be there every single time I needed a friend. I would yell at the boys and he would come running at a full gallop, jump up on my lap, meow loudly and rub my face -- all in an effort to calm me. He never wanted me upset and he would always do his utmost to prevent it. He was a true friend and for weeks, I was unsure how to live without him.

The truth is, I can't live without my big tabby. He changed my life and, in this way, I will never have to live without him. He gave unselfishly, he loved faithfully and gave me unfaltering loyalty. I was lucky indeed.

For Those of You Who Have Read This Far, I Have a Happy Ending for You

New Beginning: Popper Doo

Please Spay or Neuter Your Pets...Here's why from the US Humane Society.

This story and all photographs are the sole properties of dana wolfe-hildebrand, and may not be copied without permission. All rights are exclusively reserved. August 2002