February of 1995. My wife at the time was expecting our daughter. We had just moved into our new apartment and we wanted to warm the place up. We went out and found ourselves a little kitten for our new home. He was little tiny and orange. I remember him being active that brought him to our attention. We brought him home and named him Panama.
A young Panama circa 1999
When he was little he was a terror. He’d hide behind things and jump out at us. He’d tear around the house and chomp on our ankles. All I remember from those days was what a terror he was and how he used to drive my ex crazy. We bought a house and moved in Panama and eventually added more cats. As the elder statesman of the house, he always had to bear the indignity of kitten attacks when a new one was brought into the house. My ex had a thing for acquiring animals but was never that big on keeping them. A couple of dogs came and went. Eventually we split (you already figured that out). By now, Panama was an adult. He wasn’t quite the typical cat. He would always want to be in the same room as me.
She moved out of state and didn’t want to take the animals with her. So there I was with a house and some animals and that’s when Panama and I really bonded. He would come sit at my feet, follow me around the house, and he adopted the habit that a lot of cats have of liking to sit or sleep in boxes and box tops.
When I met my wife and decided to move to Texas, I packed up a UHaul and Panama and I drove from Colorado to Austin Texas. When we got here, there was a period of adjustment with him and Tarkheena’s cat, Shadow. Before too long though, we would catch them curled up together sleeping. Or they would be playing together, chasing each other around the house.
Panama also always would come when he was called. He knew some commands like; “Lay down” and “Don’t Bite” when we were playing a little rough. Panama always wanted to be in whatever room we were in, and once he got to know Tark, pretty much wanted to be in her lap. This wasn’t a small thing as he was a Maine Coon, and in his prime he was often between 16 and 18 pounds. He was long as well, and could stand on his hind legs and put his paws on the kitchen counter.
Panama in his prime
I know everyone thinks their pet is special. I’ve had a lot of pets in my day and this cat was by far different than any other. He was great with the kids, even when my youngest son would run up on him, or flop down on top of him, he wouldn’t bite or scratch.
Like most animals, as he got older he got a little thinner. He lost a little of his mass and we couldn’t get it back on him no matter what we did.
In February, we got really concerned. On a trip to the vet we found out he had hyperthyroidism. In cats this is treatable but expensive. We were ready to forgo our planned vacation and get him his treatment. In the run up to the thyroid treatment, he started showing some unrelated symptoms. We took him back to the vet and found out that it looked like our little friend had a brain tumor. He was declining fast.
On Thursday February 25th, we had to let him go and we had the vet put him down. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life.
My younger kids cried when we told them, and Tark and I both spent several days with tears in our eyes. One of the reasons I haven’t written much for the last few months and even took so long to post this is that it was just too painful for me to share my feelings. I know it sounds crazy but he was that important to me. He and I went through a lot together, and he was always there, a faithful and loving friend to just hang out with.
For 15 years Panama was a wonderful pet and a great companion. He was special, and there will never be another one like him. Pictures don’t do him justice. He was elegant and handsome as a cat can be.
So I am writing this to say; Thank You, Panama. Thanks for the wonderful and unconditional love and companionship you gave me and everyone who came in contact with you. Thanks for adjusting to new cats, new houses, and new places. Thanks for sitting next to me in a UHaul for 2 days and never freaking out. Thanks for being a lap cat, and coming when we called you.
Just a week before we lost him.
You were the pet of a lifetime and we’ll never forget you.
12/1/1994 – 2/25/2010