for the love of Junior

This post was originally published in 2013, but as today is International Cat Day, I thought that all the pet lovers out there would be inspired to read it again. Since writing it, I adopted Jimmy, a wonderful orange tabby who brought great joy to my life until his passing in June of 2021 from the effects of severe diabetes.


Jimmy was a super cat who got me through the pandemic.

Today is a very sad day for me, as my beloved cat Junior had to be put down. He was almost 15 years old, had kidney disease, and for the past six days, hadn’t eaten or drank anything. He was being kept alive by intravenous, and had been in the hospital since Tuesday morning. The good folks at Gimli Animal Hospital did what they could to clean out his clogged intestines, and encourage him to eat or drink. But all our efforts failed. It was his will to pass on, and we have respected that.

Thanks to my wonderful cousin, Esther, who saved this story I wrote about Junior back in 1999, when he arrived at our door as a stray of about 10 months old. I hope you enjoy it. It still makes my husband and I smile when we read it. Gone, but never to be forgotten. A tribute to Junior …


Junior sitting on his perch overlooking the yard and garden

Junior’s Story

My husband and I are both softies when it comes to nature. We feel sorry for all the wildlife – large and small – that calls our neck of the woods home, especially during our harsh Manitoba winters. So we feed the deer all winter long, and we feed the birds, chipmunks and squirrels all year round.


But when the little gray cat first appeared in our world, we tried to be tough. We were already nurturing the needs of our 17-year-old dying cat, Buzz, sick from the effects of cancer and kidney failure. And our other cat, 16-year-old Beaver, although not noticeably ill, had a heart murmur and a rather inhospitable disposition to boot. So there just wasn’t room for this new kid on the block who was hell-bent on moving into our abode.


We chased him off the porch day after day, gently tapping his little bum with the broom to show that he wasn’t welcome. But it had little effect. He kept coming back, each day more tenaciously vying for our affection.


The turning point happened the day I was entertaining a group of ladies outdoors for lunch. Our uninvited visitor showed up, turning on the charm full steam. “Isn’t he cute?” one of them said.


“And I can’t believe how much he looks like Buzz,” said another. It was true. The resemblance to our own dear Buzz, was uncanny. A gray tabby, with soft short hair and warm eyes that shone straight through to your heart.


“You know he’s chosen you, Doreen,” said a third. It certainly seemed that way. If I was in the kitchen, he’d be standing on the barbeque, looking in the window and meowing at me. If my husband and I were sitting in the living room, he’d be perched atop the air-conditioning unit or deck table, bent on catching our glimpse.


We’d been a three-cat household until last year, when we’d lost Buzz’s sister, Goldie, to cancer. But we thought we’d eventually either be cat-free and travel more – or maybe get a dog. The cats had been mine before marrying Reg, and he’d always been a dog person. But the cats had grown on him. And he was becoming increasingly fond of the little youngster who’d shown up on our deck.


I put a notice up at our local vet clinic to see if anyone would claim him. I even called the Humane Society in Winnipeg to see if he was reported lost. He had no collar and no tattoo. It was likely that someone had dumped him. He was at the age of puberty, when the cost of neutering and vaccines would become a factor. He’d probably had the misfortune of being placed into a family who liked kittens but not cats. Or he could have been a barn cat in search of a more comfortable lifestyle.


One thing was for sure – make that two things. He loved people, and he was determined to become a part of our little family. Slowly, I began to give him our cats’ leftovers or table scraps. He was always so grateful – for anything you’d give him. I think my husband took to him so intensely because he could identify with the young cat’s situation. He, too, had a difficult life. Things hadn’t come easily to him. He always told me, “If you want something, go out and get it,” – meaning don’t let life’s difficulties discourage you.


And there was also the way we’d gotten together. My husband, then co-worker, had wondered what it would be like to live with me. He’d camped out in my ditch on snowmobile with his friend, surveying the grounds, asking the neighbours about me. And look where he ended up.


So I think he easily found a place in his heart for this poor lost soul and one day gave me the go-ahead to take “Junior” to the vet to have his health checked over, get him vaccinated, neutered and tattooed. Junior had won. He was part of the family and he was moving in.


Doreen Pendgracs, Birds Hill, Manitoba

 I hope you enjoyed that tribute to my dear friend. It was quite a flashback of memories for me, so many years later. The article had been published in a couple of rural lifestyle publications as I think many of us who live in the country could really relate to the showing up of unexpected strangers who become our friends.

Please share any stories you may have on the impact of cats in your life. ❤️

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

80 Responses

  1. Losing a beloved pet is an incredibly tough moment, and your tribute to Junior is moving. It’s evident how much he was cherished and how he, in his own unique way, became an irreplaceable part of your family. The journey from a cautious newcomer to a beloved family member is a beautiful testament to the unexpected ways love finds a place in our hearts.
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  2. Susan says:

    I have a pug in my life and truly understand how much joy pets bring to our lives. I can’t imagine life without him.

  3. Natalia says:

    I too have a cat in my home. She is my best friend. Pets bring so much love and joy to our lives.

  4. Esther says:

    Hugs to you, Doreen. It’s always sad to lose a beloved fur baby. But, as you know dear Doreen, when one door closes, another door opens. It’s the circle of life. This is a great trip down memory lane.
    Esther recently posted…Jane EyreMy Profile

  5. Wendy Peck says:

    Jimmy was such a character. Even though it hurts to remember, our pets bring so much while they are with us, the joyful memories override the hurt.

  6. Simona says:

    It saddens me deeply to read your post about Junior but whenever an innocent soul like his leaves this very world, we should think about all the beautiful moments we have spent together. My thoughts go to you hoping they will alleviate some of your pain.
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  7. Erwin says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that, and it make me feel so sad. I know that this is a tough time for you, but I am sure that you are strong enough for it.

  8. Thanks, I tried to subscribe, and it says I’m already subscribed. I had just changed my website, so hopefully I”m subscribed. I enjoy your blog posts. I’m inspired to write a post on my blog about my cat, if you don’t mind.
    Rae Ann Norell recently posted…I’m Moving to a Cave!My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Rae Ann. Yes, I checked and you are subscribed. Thanks! And yes, I’d love to read a post about your cat. Let me know when it’s up and I’ll take a look.

  9. I’m so sorry about Junior. Our cat Keekers had to be put down a couple years ago, similar story, kidney failure. She was 17. And had been doing fairly well, until all of a sudden, in what seemed like two weeks, she plummeted.. The vet was very kind. Take care.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your kind comment, Rae Ann. Yes, it’s strange how an animal can go from vibrant and healthy to dying/dead in a matter of days. I guess it’s because they can’t tell us their symptoms, and probably stuff goes on that we don’t know about. the odd thing is that I’d had Junior in for a check-up before I went away and all seemed well. So it truly was just a matter of a few days that changed everything. Thanks for visiting the blog. I hope you’ll subscribe and join our community. 🙂
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  10. Dan says:

    I feel you. I have been taking care of some cats in the backyard of my apartment building for quite some time now and I love them very much. I cannot even imagine what I would do if I lost one of them. I am sorry for your loss. Its better this way, instead of being in pain. Take good care of you!

  11. Fatima says:

    Developing an association with your pet is a very natural thing and it is a beautiful relationship altogether. We may not understand the language of animals like Dr. Do Little but we surely can understand what our pets actions mean. Keep spreading the love for animals. Cheers.

  12. Arleen says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your cat. Nothing will replace with him. Only time will heal. Throughout my life I have lost dogs and each time I say I will never get another one but I always do and each one has a different place in my heart.
    Arleen recently posted…Marketing Lessons Learned from the “Man of Steel”My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Arleen.

      You are so right. Every pet is different and retains a place in our heart. But there is always room for a new bundle of love to help with the healing. I am certainly enjoying mine, although, admittedly, the wrong name slips out every now and then and our thoughts are still with our newly-departed Junior.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  13. Junior is truly a cutee, and quite persistent until you took notice. Cats are stubborn when they like someone… as they are very picky creatures. They know whom to go — the soft hearted.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      I suspect you’re correct. Junior probably cased out our place from the sidelines for awhile, seeing that it was cat-friendly and a good place to be. We’re glad he did, as he gave us many happy years. We’re now on to a new era, and a new baby boy (kitten) named Jimmy. We are definitely a cat-friendly zone!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  14. Aayna says:

    Hi Doreen,Losing the pets is nevery easy. I can understand your pain. I had the same feeling when I lost my dog. But this is a part of life. We need to move on. Take care.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Have definitely moved on, Aayna.

      We have a new kitten! An orange and white tabby named Jimmy.

      We’ll never forget Junior, but Jimmy has certainly help lighten the pain.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  15. Catarina says:

    Very sorry to hear about your loss, Doreen. The same thing happened to Jesus (pronounced in Spanish), the cat we had in London. Suddenly he was diagnosed with heart problems and had to be put down. So I know exactly how it feels.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Catarina. With so much love to give, we’ve now got “Jimmy” a 4-week old kitten who is keeping us smiling and has given us new focus.

  16. Harry Hobbs says:

    Congratulations on your new family member. He is lucky to have found a wonderful new family where he will be loved and give much back in return. Is he what is known as a ginger tabby? if so he is like our Farley who was found in a garbage bag at the side of a road after he and his brothers and sisters were dumped there. One kitten in the litter that didn’t survive had a broken leg and made us wonder if someone just threw the bag out the window and kept driving.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Not sure about the ginger tabby term , Harry. I will post pics on FB and then you can tell me.

      Hugs to you and Farley!

      • Harry Hobbs says:

        Our Farley is a mottled orange one might say with darker orange stripes in his fur. He has white paws and white fur under his neck. and on his chin and a white stripe in his nose. Above his eyes is an M shape that almost looks emblazed. The M mark on tabby’s is a trade mark of the breed and caused the legend that tabby’s were once blessed by the Virgin Mary anmd she left her mark on them!

        • WizardOfWords says:

          Hi Harry: Thx for the description of the tabby trademark. did you see the pics of Jimmy on my FB page? I wouldn’t say he has an M above his eyes, but definitely a marking, and the darker orange stripes with white feet and markings. SO cute. Happy cat love.

  17. Pat says:

    When do we get a picture of your new family member?

    • WizardOfWords says:

      I will send you one/some, Pat. And I will post some on FB for those who are on FB. He is just so adorable!

  18. Pat says:

    Sorry to hear your sad news Doreen. Sending you and Reg a big hug.

    • Doreen Pendgracs says:

      Thanks, Pat. We will always miss Junior. But today, we adopted an 8-week old orange and white tabby kitten. He needed a home, and we needed someone to love.

  19. Harry Hobbs says:

    My heart goes out to both of you at this sad time. It sounds like Junior had a wonderful life with two loving and devoted pet parents. He has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and awaits you on the other side. It is always a tough decision having to put a pet to sleep and a vet once said to us it is the decision is what is best for your pet. it never is the right time for you. As one friend said to me that having a pet is a life long commitment – their life unfortunately not ours.

    I’m glad you have decided to get another cat. There are so many unwanted and unloved animals out there waiting for homes. That has always been a guiding decision in our lives. We have four very spoiled SPCA cats all with sad beginnings and it amazes me how much love they give considering how badly they have been treated by people. Sadly the two eldest ones are now over 10 and it just seems like they were kittens yesterday. We can all learn from animals about what unconditional love means.’

    A big cyber hug to both of you from us.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for your fabulous comment.

      You have eloquently captured the spirit of the situation. We love our pets. We have to make difficult decisions. We must move on. And we do all of that for the love of animals.

      It is a new morning, the sun is shining, and in a couple of hours, I will pick up our new bundle of joy.

  20. So sorry for your lost. He sounds like a truly wonderful little guy. Thanks for sharing the story of how you found him, it’s a really amazing way to remember him.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…The Power and Pain of PollingMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Debra. I’m so glad my cousin reminded me of that story I’d written. It really captured the spirit of Junior, and expressed the love and gratitude we owed him for finding us.

  21. Jeff Stern says:

    Doreen and Reg, my heart goes out to you with the loss of Junior. As a pet lover, and rescuer of cats, I can certainly relate to the large hole left in your heart with his passing. As pet lovers, we are given the huge responsibility to make these hard decisions for the right reason. And you most certainly gave him a great life and he will remain in your hearts forever. It has been 40 years since my Trixie passed and I still remember her hot fur whilst she slept in front of the window and how I would lie down and put my cheek on her smelling her scent and feeling the burning warmth of her fur. Having put 3 other cats to rest since losing my Trixie, each of them: Mouse, Tarr and Ariel all have a place in my heart and will for decades to come as Trixie has. You too will feel the warmth of Junior in your hearts once time heals your open wound. ((HUGS)) to both of you at this difficult time.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Jeff. If anyone knows and love cats, it’s you. I completely agree with you. Each one holds a special place in our hearts that never diminishes over time. I still think about Goldie every day and she died in 1998. What a great cat! But they’ve all been great. And come tomorrow … we bring our new kitten home. He’s 8 weeks old, orange and white and super cute. I will always love and remember Junior. But life moves on, and my heart is too big not to share with another furry friend. Will post a pic soon.

  22. So sorry to hear about Junior. Huge Hugs!
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. I know you, too, recently lost your dear Treble. I can’t remember your other cat’s name, but I hope he/she has survived being an only child since Treble’s passing.

  23. satinka says:

    Thanks for sharing your story about Junior publicly. It reminds us all of our love of our amazing natural world! The more connection we have with animals, the better. They are always sooo tuned in to their Inner Being/Higher Self or whatever you want to call it! I’ll bet everyone here has an amazing story to tell about their pets! 🙂
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Satinka. And thank YOU for being the one who not only dug out the old story I had written about Junior, but also for retyping it in text form so that I could copy and paste it here. that was so considerate of you.

      And yes, I think we animal lovers all have a story or two to tell about our animals changed our lives. I can’t imagine my life without that influence.

  24. Linda says:

    Oh dear, Doreen. I’m so sorry to read this post. I know too well how difficult this is for you. It sounds like Junior had a similar personality to my beloved old Whiskey, gone now for, geez…20 years? He also knew how to wrap non-cat people around his big orange tail. The circle of life is inevitable but heartbreaking.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Linda. So true. the old adage, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” Painful to lose. More painful to be lonely, and never to have been able to get past the loss. We’re all born, we all die. It’s what’s in between that really counts. Thanks for your friendship and support.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  25. Cheryl Harrington says:

    Doreen, I’m so sorry for your loss. Loved reading your story of how Junior chose you as his family. Having been chosen myself, I understand that special bond. Thinking of you.

  26. My thoughts are with you today Doreen. Losing a pet is never easy. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful life with you! xoxo


    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Jenn. It’s been a difficult day, but the out-pouring of love has been so appreciated, and so comforting. I am hopeful that I will soon have a new feline friend. Life just isn’t the same without them. Have a great wkend.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  27. Joanne Carnegie says:

    If I were with you Doreen, I would give you a great big hug, and we would both end up with moist eyes. Thanks for sharing this.

    By the way, you may not be aware that Junior was the reason we got to know each other, because you’d posted on the PWAC listserv about getting to know him, and I contacted you after that. (It might have been the same piece you shared up above.)

    Somewhere you have a photograph of Junior sitting in the grass…that’s one of my favourite photos of him.

    Great cat. Great love you shared. Absolutely terrific story about how Reg and Junior had some similarities.

    Take care.

  28. Amanda Lerougetel says:

    Lovely tribute, Doreen. My partner and I have taken in two strays now: Blanco (all white) was a pure and sweet soul who was with us four years, until we had to put him down due to kidney disease; and Chester, a gorgeous orange sweetie whom I was determined not to keep but who is still with us after about a year. They do seem to win, don’t they – first, with their charm, then with their love. Cats are special family members. Long may your memories of Junior comfort you and Reg.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Amanda. I am so lucky to have so many cat-loving friends! 🙂

      Cats have been a HUGE part of my life. I remember thinking I could speak cat-talk when I was a small girl. Don’t know whether the cat understood me , but I remember loving him deeply. And each subsequent feline in my life has been equally special in its own unique way. I’m glad Chester won you over.

  29. Hi Doreen
    My heart goes out to Junior and to you and Reg. He was very handsome and does have a determined look to his face. You know how much I love my boy Jay, so I can understand a little that losing yours would have been hard. Junior came when he was meant to and I believe he left the same way. They decide who will be their parent(s) and only they can really decide when it is time to go. All we can do is honour their decisions. It is great that your cousin saved the story you wrote. I send you gentle thoughts and loving memories. Jay sends you a soft head butt to your hand.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Susan and thanks for your lovely comment.

      Yes, don’t you love those head butts? Cats are amazing creatures, and I believe what you said about them choosing their time. A couple other people have said that to me, too.

      Hugs to you and Jay.

  30. What a lovely tribute. I can’t help feeling so sad–you were just showing me pics of Junior on the train ride home! We love them so much but we get that returned tenfold. All we have to give them is food & shelter and some affection (okay, maybe we shower them with affection) and we get unconditional love in return! So sorry for your loss Doreen and Reg.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Christine. Yes, I’m so glad that you got to to see Junior in my life before he passed. I enjoyed seeing pics of your fab feline as well. Pets definitely make us more loving people. So grateful that I have learned that.

  31. Jeri says:

    The best pets are always the ones who choose their owners. I had to say goodbye to my ten-year-old dog shortly after moving a couple of years ago, but felt compelled to immortalize her in a post as well. Fur-children definitely add so much to our lives, and its always sad to see them go.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      I love that sentiment, Jeri, about pets choosing their owners. Junior was the first pet I’ve had to came knocking on our door. I’m so very glad we had the sense to let him in.

  32. Suzanne says:

    Hi, Doreen,

    I’m so sorry to hear your news. But I know how you feel. We went through a similar experience in January when our dogs Mikko and Daisy had to be put to sleep. They were both old and in poor health, so it was the best decision, but a most difficult one to make. I think about Daisy and Mikko every day. But they are fond memories. You’ll have many fond memories of Junior, too.

    God bless.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. Yes, I still think of pets-gone-by often. Their spirits never leave me. And they still bring me joy long after they have passed. I’m sure that will be the case for my dear Junior also.

      Did you get new dogs once you moved to the beach? I can’t imagine life without a furry friend or two.

  33. My heart breaks for you.

    I smiled and cried with you my friend. Losing a beloved pet is so hard. I had a cat who passed away with the very same condition a number of years ago. I grieved and swore he could never be replaced. Then my Samuel showed up through a friend and he is a love. He hasn’t replaced my other cat but has filled in the hole that he left with his passing. 🙂
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Susan: That’s so true. One never replaces the other. But a new one will indeed displace the pain. I still think of my Goldie each and every day and she died in 1998. But I’ve had other cats since then who were all wonderful in their own way, and as mentioned, each has his/her own special charms.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing your cat love.

  34. A.K.Andrew says:

    So sorry to hear about Junior . Being a cat lover myself, I know how awful it is when they pass- like losing a family member. It was even the more touching hearing how he chose you. It’s good to take the time with the memories and honor the grief you’re going through. All the best to you and your husband x
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, A.K.

      I can’t imagine a life without a pet. It’s part of my essence, and gratefully, my husband seems to share that spirit. So I’m quite sure we’ll be adopting a little kitten very soon. I’ve already met this brood and there are some cuties just waiting for a good home.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  35. Saying goodbye to your cat children can seem almost impossible but reflecting on when you first met them is often the sweetest memories. I still remember when I got my now 15 year old cat Pumpkin. I think of that day all the time. I’ve had him since 3rd grade and I can’t imagine my life any other way with out him.
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  36. Oh, Doreen, I’m so sorry. We said good-bye to our Daisy just over a year ago, and I miss her so much. I totally share your soft spot for animals–they ask so little of us, and become such a big part of our lives. And cats . . . what personalities they have. It sounds as if Junior was quite the little fellow.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      He sure was, Cynthia. The biggest thing Junior taught me was to be grateful for all the positives in our lives. Reading that story I’d written about him so long ago reminded me how spoiled our other cats were. And Junior was so very grateful for every speck of food and every act of kindness you would show him. Sometimes, we all take too much in life for granted. I will always thank him for teaching me that great lesson in life.

      And as well, he taught me that it’s OK to ask for affection. In his later years, he would just drop himself at my feet so that I would bend down and give him a belly rub. How he loved that! Sometimes, we’re too proud to ask for those little favours, but not Junior!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  37. Margaret says:

    So sorry that Junior has passed. My deepest condolences to you and Reg. I was so moved by the story you wrote, Doreen. What’s that saying about children and animals- they have a way of detecting what’s in your heart of hearts and obviously Junior was not to be deterred in finding a home where he would be adored.
    I am sure you are both feeling sad, but I’ll bet there is also a sense of gratitude for having had those many years with him. I’m convinced there is a pet heaven somewhere and Junior is enjoying a long, lazy nap in the sunshine.
    Lots of love,

  38. Maryanne says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss, but he sure had a great life.
    Hugs to you and Reg.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      He sure did, my friend. We love our pets dearly, but as you know, eventually, they leave us just as everything else in our lives will. But as Reg and I agree, it’s SO worth the agony in order to have those amazing 14 years with Junior. And we will be getting a new kitten soon. Too much love not to share!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  39. Virginia Heffernan says:

    I’m sorry to hear this, Doreen. It must have been a rough night.

    I think Junior must have been prowling somewhere when we visited you before/after Hecla, but I know you got a real kick out of him over the years. You never know what you’re going to get when you adopt a pet (or have a child for that matter!), but it sounds like you found a real kindred spirit in Junior. May that spirit live on in you and Reg.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Ginny. Reg says he’s never felt this way about a pet since his horse “Smokey” that he had when he was just a wee lad. Junior was indeed a special cat. Definitely not the most affectionate cat we ever had, but we’d adopted him when he was already a young adult, and so I think those protective patterns of self-preservation had already been embedded in him. But he was playful, loyal, and grateful, and we both loved him dearly. I have no doubt there will be another furry friend to be adopted here soon. 🙂

  40. I feel your pain and sadness. I have felt the same for dogs and cats. You will love the next one just as much

    • WizardOfWords says:

      You are so right, Lyle. Reg and I are already talking about getting a kitten. A friend of ours’ cat had kittens that are now 2 months old and looking for a loving home. 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…for the love of JuniorMy Profile

  41. Heidi Turner says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Doreen. People who love their animals as much as you do make the world a much better place. You and Junior were lucky to have shared your time on this planet together. Big hugs to you.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Heidi. You are as much of an animal lover as I am. And though it makes us vulnerable, it opens our hearts to so much love. 🙂

  1. July 9, 2013

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