PErickson
It has been a week since we lost our beloved cat, MacHeath. He had been with us for 19 years and was still healthy, happy and very loving. He went out in the afternoon for his usual stroll through the yard. Typically, he would then lounge on the porch railing until my husband came home from work, then come back inside. At his age, he had become the old porch guy who just wanted to make sure the neighborhood kids were not on his lawn.
My husband worked late and I had just had surgery on my hand that morning. MacHeath wasn't waiting at the door when my husband came in so he didn't realize he was outside. I went to bed early, thinking he would come in with my husband. Our son, who usually spent the evenings with the cat on his lap while playing video games, spent that evening in his room, instead. MacHeath had always been extremely careful around the street but we found him the next morning, having been killed by a car during the night. It is not as though he had never been outside all night. Over the years he had spent hundreds of nights out but it had become his, and our habit to make sure he was in by dark. We all feel as though we let him down. 
MacHeath came to us as a kitten on a summer day in late June of 1996, just a month after our son was born. He showed up on our porch - a tiny, scraggly kitten with big feet and huge eyes. I went out to get the mail and suddenly found a yowling creature on my feet. I went to pet him and he slashed my hand before fleeing across the porch. As soon as I stood back up, he ran right back to my feet again, screeching even louder. I thought he belonged to our new neighbors and tried to shoo him off the porch but he didn't leave. I forbade my children to feed him, telling them he belonged to someone else and he would go home. And he did leave, for several hours at a time, but always came back, sleeping on the doormat at the front door. A few days later, we left to go on vacation. We were gone two weeks and when we returned guess who was still waiting for us on the front porch. He had decided where he was going to stay and that was that. I tried to pet him and he slashed me again. This time, we got food and it took me a couple of days to figure out that he wasn't mean, just terrified of my of hands. When I realized what was wrong, I made him a promise that we would always take care of him and never let anyone hurt him again. I named him MacHeath after a ripper character from the Three Penny Opera but you might be more familiar with his signature song "Mac the Knife". Because I am tremendously allergic to cats, MacHeath remained an outdoor cat for several years. In fact, he refused to come inside until he had been with us for 3 or 4 years but, over time (and with copious antihistamines) he began to spend more time in the house. Through the years, he went from scrawny kitten to a burly cat weighing over 12 lbs, with very lion-like facial features and coloring. His medium long winter coat enhanced that appearance even more so.
About 5 years ago, he disappeared for over a week. We thought something had happened to him but could find no trace of him. Then just as suddenly, there he was again, awaiting us on the front porch. He was hungry and thirsty but seemingly in good shape. After that, he quit roaming the neighborhood and began staying closer to home. He survived a dog attack the following year. He was pretty chewed up but he still had the dog's collar in his mouth when we got to him. After that, he began staying inside the house at night.
He knew his name and would always come when called. He would sit, sit up, and lie down on command. He would do absolutely anything for catnip treats and had a purr  loud enough to be heard from an adjacent room. He insisted on lap time and seldom took "no" for an answer. If you sat down anywhere within his line of sight, he would be on you in an instant and you were trapped. His most charming attribute was that he would "sing" in the hallway every morning when he was looking for us. He had a special vocalization that lifted at the end in a very specific way, much like a question. Somewhere along the way, he transcended being a cat and became another child instead.
We have had many cats over the years since MacHeath came to live with us. We think he put some invisible sign on our house that reads "suckers live here" because they have all just showed up. Some for which we have found forever homes and some of whom have stayed on with us but none have achieved the status of Mr.MacHeath. He truly loved us in return as much as we loved him. Over time, I had come to think he would be with my husband and I as sort of a bridge as our children leave home. Our son is the only one left at home and will soon go off to college. 
MacHeath's death has left a huge hole in our hearts. My daughters (one away at college, the other newly married and moved to Australia) have grieved along with us. We still have other pets and appreciate them all the more but no one will ever be able to replace our boy.
P.Erickson

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened" - Anatole France
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Bizbol
Please accept my deepest sympathies. I myself have lost a part of me this past Monday, when my beloved little Pomeranian passed away. I feel your pain and your suffering. 

I hope you find strenght in this forum, which is filled with caring and understanding people who are going through the same ordeal as you are.

My thoughts are with you and your loved ones,

Eric
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Wileykitten
I am so sorry to hear about ur beloved kitty... 19 is a long life u took very good care of him and he knew real love. I share ur pain as I lost my Wiley after 15 years. It does leave a huge hole in ur heart. Please know we are all hear for u and ur family.

praying
-Stacie
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godiva
The quote in your signature speaks so loudly to me and to all of us who can relate:

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened" - Anatole France

May peace be yours in your time of grief.

Much love,
~ Becky
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PErickson
Thank you all for sharing. I am so glad I found this site. It is a terrible occurrence to have to share with others but it is greatly comforting that others are experiencing the same grief. A well-meaning friend told me to just get another cat. People that are not close to their pets or those whom have never had pets just don't get it. I wake up every morning and listen, expecting to hear him singing in the hall. 
On the day he died, I sat out on the porch for an hour with him on my lap, just so he could have his last lap time. I couldn't bear the thought of burying him without doing that. He did love it so.
It IS getting better though and I know the pain will fade. I guess we just convinced ourselves that he would be the cat that grew old with us and would die a peaceful death in his sleep. God must have had other plans for him.
P.Erickson

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened" - Anatole France
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