"The bearer of this card is entitled to one free cat/kitten to be redeemed at the Animal Shelter"

Or words to that effect - I still remember the card I received on my 12th birthday, a rough white, almost hand-made paper with a stylized line drawing of a wizard holding a jewel in his hand, the jewel was plastic diamond glued to the card. Inside the card was my dad's handwriting.

I was going to get a cat!

I had not had too much luck with pets before - Snowball is nothing more than a memory of a white bundle of hair that never moved from on top of the dryer, eventually dying of a clogged urethera. Tiger was a stray that we adopted until I tried putting him on a leash made of an old rope. He took off when the rope parted, leaving him just enough rope to catch between the boards of a fence where I found him hanging the next day. My hamster, proved himself an escape artist when he discovered that cat food tastes better than hamster food. My sisters cat decided hamster tastes best of all.

About a week or so later, my dad came home from work carrying a box. Setting it in front of me, I heard scratching noises, carefully opening it up I saw the largest pair of yellow eyes I had ever seen inside a box - then I realized the eyes were attached to something black - so black you couldn't make it out in the shadow of the box. In a flash it jumped out, streaked across the room and disappeared under the couch.

It seemed a homeless person had carried this kitten in to St Anthony's Free Dining room, where my dad worked part time, and left it there. The animal shelter was called, but by the time they arrived, my dad told them never mind - he had found his sons birthday present.

For a week all we say were the yellow eyes staring out from under the couch. I said something about it looking like a black panther stalking and the name stuck, we had a panther in the house. Even the impatience of a 12 year old was no match for the absolute fear seen in those eyes. Food and water were left out and disappeared during the night. My memory gets a little hazy on the exact details - but very soon she had adjusted to her new suroundings and was playing with balls and sleeping on my bed where she essentially stayed until I moved to college 6 years later.

From there she bounced from my sisters bed to moving in with me in college, to my parents house when I moved back, back with me when I got another place to stay and eventually into the house I bought, where she lived the last few years of her long (19 years) life. She has outlasted numerous friends in my life, stayed with me through several changes - she has always been there.

In Dec 1999 I noticed she started complaining - a lot. She would walk around the house meowing loudly, never being able to get comfortable anywhere she sat. A trip to the vet revealed that she was getting old (really now) and had severe kidney failure. Essentially she couldn't process water she drank and was getting severely dehydrated. The vet offered to put her down right then and I thought about it for a few days but decided to do the heroic efforts.
We now had a new schedule - every day I would give her a subcutaneous (sp?) injection, essentially putting a needle just underneath the skin and running 100 ml of IV fluids. She recovered within a week and was just as nimble as ever.

to be continued later

caught snake Apr 2001

went camping May 2001 - forgot to fill water dish - almost dead when I came homeincreased doses of IV's recovered for about two weeks

Jun 6 noticed she had difficulty walking

Jun 7 she couldn't stand up - took her to Vet - Panther put to sleep around 9:00 AM