Solo's Legacy


If you love me, let me go. Unknown Source

I have always shared my life with cats. Many years ago I started feeding a scruffy orange and white stray. At first there was no rhythm to his appearances but he soon began showing up on a regular basis. He was thin and afraid. I asked about him around my neighborhood and learned that he had been surviving alone on the streets for at least three years. Because he looked so lonely, I named him SoLo.

Over time, and with much work, Solo trusted me enough that I was able to take him to the veterinarian for shots and a bath. When we came home, I decided to find out how he would adjust to the house. I opened the carrier and he plopped on the couch like he had always lived there. From that moment on, Solo became an indoor cat and good friend. Even if I opened the door and invited him out, he would sit on his favorite rug and refuse to budge.

Solo thrived and he became a beautiful majestic fellow. For six months we enjoyed each other’s company and I grew to love him very much. Then one day I noticed bleeding gums. After a few tests, the vet told me that Solo had feline leukemia. There was no cure and it was a bad death. The doctor suggested euthanasia. I had known this wonderful cat for less than a year. It wasn’t fair. I couldn’t do it.

For the next three months, I chose aggressive treatment to keep Solo alive while I watched him fade into a frail shadow. Most animals have strong survival instincts that drive them to cling to life against all odds. I also believe they possess an inborn sense that tells them when it is time to let go. On a particularly bad day Solo looked at me with soulful eyes and softly meowed, as if to implore, “Please. Please stop the suffering.” I called the vet's office and Solo took his final breath later that afternoon cradled in my arms.

I made a promise to myself, and to Solo, on that day so many years ago: I would never again place my need to hang on above my pet’s need to let go. Solo probably had acquired leukemia before we met. He had come to me for a good death and I nearly failed him. The lesson was painful but it is one that I cannot forget. Many amazing cats have graced my life since then--some for a short while, some for many years. Because of Solo’s legacy, when the sad time arrives to make a decision, I can love them enough to set them free.

Quinnie Rose (Summer 2011)


I first saw Quinn huddled against my garage during a nighttime blizzard in February 2010. In the beginning, she would not eat until I was out of her sight. With time and patience, she began to trust me and within a year I could pick her up. I knew we were real friends when she sat on my lap and purred. Quinnie Rose was a pretty little tabby girl with emerald green eyes and a black stripe down her back. She had a funny goatee on her white chin and a golden underbelly. Her jumping ability was grace in motion, a combination of power and beauty.

The following spring, I took Quinn to the veterinarian for routine vaccinations. Unfortunately, she had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), a contagious and deadly disease. She couldn't be my outside cat anymore because a lot of neighborhood cats strolled through my back yard. She couldn't become a house cat because I had four AIDS-free indoor felines. I didn't want her to eventually die of AIDS in the confinement of a no kill shelter; and I didn't know anyone willing to accept the financial responsibility of a cat with AIDS in a single pet home. She had known complete freedom and was so happy outdoors. Through the seasons, I saw her chasing snowflakes and fireflies.


My veterinarianis a compassionate man. Dr. LeCompte has the unusual qualities of being a skilled clinician, good with people, and incredible with animals. I call him The Cat Whisperer. Kings Veterinary Hospital has an euthanasia room. Dr. LeCompte lightly sedated Quinn so she was awake but unafraid. I held her for about 15 minutes with no one else in the room. I told her how much I loved her and that I was grateful she had come into my life. She had a gentle, peaceful death and the last voice she heard was mine.

Quinn and I had been through a lot. She began scared of everything, including me, and ended in my loving embrace. I placed a small heated doghouse in the garage during the winter. She had a warm place to sleep and lots of good food. I found her in a blizzard and let her go on the first day of summer. I’d like to believe that this symbolized her life: The cold gloom of a frightened stray transformed itself into the warm light of love. For such a little girl, Quinnie Rose left a big hole in my heart.  


We who love creatures with lives more fragile than our own experience this sadness throughout our lives and yet, because of the joy these wonderful animals bring, we love again and wouldn't have it any other way. Rest well, little one. I'll look for you on The Bridge.  



Go to next page: Before You Euthanize Your Pet: Eddie's Story

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