was a proud and strong cat, dominant yet social. He curled his tail over his back to display authority. He loved people and
was tolerant of other cats. Andy never hurried—he sauntered toward the
door to welcome visitors. He positioned himself in the middle of family gatherings. Although I did not know his genealogy,
I called him the dog of cats. Tuxedo cats have expressive faces. Andy would widen his mouth into a tuxedo cat smile and purr
if I stroked him on the forehead.
Andy entered my life in 2001 when my neighbors moved and left him
behind. When I realized a few months later that he was abandoned, I opened the door to my home and he walked into my heart.
My husband is not fond of cats. I used to tell him that was because he had not yet met the right cat. Andy was the right cat.
After recovering from some common infections of stray cats, Andy enjoyed a decade of good health. A
year ago, he began a slow decline. His primary medical problems were hyperthyroidism, high blood calcium and elevated pancreatic
enzymes. It became clear during the last month of his life that he no longer enjoyed being Andy. My once strong and proud
cat was weak and wobbly, with a drooping tail.
Like most felines, Andy didn’t appreciate visits to the
veterinarian. He was not aggressive, but always feisty and vocal. On the day of his euthanasia, he was silent and calm. The
veterinary hospital has a euthanasia room—a private place to spend time with a beloved pet and say goodbye. Because
of the staff’s compassionate care, Andy died the way he lived: unafraid.
At the moment the euthanasia was complete,
the heaviness of the room decreased. I felt only love and peace. Dr. LeCompte noticed the change, too. He left so I could
be alone with Andy for a few minutes. Andy’s face had been drawn and tired-looking the last day of his life. He hadn’t
smiled for at least a week. As I looked at my dear friend for the final time, I saw that his mouth had relaxed into his sweet
tuxedo cat smile, as if to say, “Don’t be sad. I’m well again.” I believe that
he made safe passage from this world to the next.
I miss his greetings at the door, talking to me as he followed
me from room to room, snuggling on the sofa or bed, nudging my face when he thought it was time to rise and dine, supervising
from the dryer top while I folded laundry, hopping in the bathtub for a quick drink and, most of all, his tuxedo
cat smile. Andy’s serene countenance is the last image I have of him. I will carry it in my heart forever and be grateful
for it. His good death affirms that suffering passes while love remains. Thank you, Andy. Rest well, my friend.
peaceful transition comforts me. If the experience was all in my imagination, well…God gave us our imaginations, too.