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Loving and losing your pet

This past week I lost a beloved pet, my cat Biggie. He was a feisty rambunctious and fiercely independent animal. Despite having the strong need and desire to be in complete control at all times, he was as loving as could be.

There seems to be a huge misconception about cats, that they are no where near as loving as dogs and don't want to be held or express affection in the same way. I am here to tell you it is a huge lie. Cats are every bit as loving as any other animal, and that includes dogs.

As a person who loves all animals from horses to rabbits, and everything in between, I can honestly say that when you care and live with and love an animal every day for years, their passing leaves you with a feeling of great loss. With humans they can communicate at least their pain or discomfort, and tell you what's wrong and what they need. With animals, it's different; they can't tell you anything and they will turn inward trying to mend themselves. You need to truly pay attention and try your best to notice when their behavior begins to change.

Biggie was a rescue from a shelter about 13 years ago, he was small and scared and needed a home. My boyfriend Lennie rescused both he and his brother, Elmo, so that they could be together. Elmo and Biggie were two peas in a pod and took over the house, bringing lots of antics and lots of laughter. Sadly, Elmo and Biggie lept off of our terrace together. Elmo didn't make it, but Biggie managed to make it out with just a fractured paw. Talk about nine lives, right?

After that, Biggie was pretty much the king, he was the only pet and we gave him all the love we could muster. He had scratch pads, toys, and treats - you name it. Well, about two years ago we found another stray - a small, black, thin and hungry kitten. She needed food and shelter, and you guessed it; Lennie and I took her in, and Biggie was not a happy camper. We named her Foxy and I truly believe she is the most loveable lap cat I have ever met in my life, even the vet can not get over her sweet disposition.

Despite Foxy's love of Biggie, Biggie had nothing but disdain for Foxy, she had invaded his perfect world and he wanted nothing to do with her. Of course, Foxy did not know this and loved Biggie from the start, laying next to him, kissing his head and always wanting to play. It was fun to watch.

In Biggie's last days, Foxy was by his side always, and when we let him go we did it peacefully at home with a terrific veterinarian. Losing Biggie was sad and traumatic, and was our first loss of a pet as grown ups.

What I can say about this experience is that I learned a hard lesson in the pain of losing a family pet. But, it strengthened my resolve that the joy and love he brought to our lives was far more than the pain we had in losing him. We need to always remember that every pet you rescue is a life you save from a shelter filled with loneliness.

Animals need love and care and they give back everything you give to them ten times over. Lennie and I will miss Biggie forever, but I look forward to the next animal we bring into our home and I hope we can give him all the happiness that Biggie gave to us.