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It's been two years since Theodore died but for some strange reason we always find little things here and there that remind us of a cat we called "Theo" for short, but I'm pretty sure he would've preferred Theodore; he was that kind of cat.

Several years ago when my children were still teenagers; my wife and I went on a vacation to New York City. When we got home our children introduced us to baby 'Theo," who just showed up at the front door soaking wet from the turbulent weather. My children still won't fess up as to how they really acquired Theodore. Today, when we ask them, they just laugh and give us two or three similar stories of the day they found him. All's well that ends well.

Theodore grew to be a 14 pound independent, antisocial, mongrel black cat; who just wanted to be fed, have his litter box cleaned, and left alone so he could get in his full 20 hours of sleep. He let our other cat know who the boss was by throwing her around like a rag doll when he is in a rare playful mood. When the children left home, they said “now Theodore and dad can retire together." They weren't kidding and we have a picture of Theodore sleeping in one recliner and me in the other recliner watching a ballgame, to prove it.

We decided just to have a couple of cats in our golden years because they are supposed to be low maintenance. Theodore was anything but that because his only priority was to find a way to get outside. It was funny watching him hide, situate his back feet, and use his whiskers to gauge precisely how much room he needed between the person who opened that door and his freedom. Theodore was a neutered declawed cat, but once he got out, he would run off strange dogs and cats by just hissing. We knew that he wouldn't last long as an outside cat. It was always an adventure when he got out and at times expensive. Since he was a black cat, it was easy for him to hide, so we had to buy a spotlight to find him when he got out at night. There was a time when we didn't realize he was outside. This one rainy day, I heard a thumping on the backyard patio door; it was Theodore wanting in. The most memorable moment was when Theodore got out, climbed the tree and jumped from there to the roof of our house. He must've been content and it probably was amusing for him, watching from above, as we called out for him. About 45 minutes, into the search, my younger daughter spotted him, and then the adventure really began. It was as if he was deaf because he never reacted to us pleading for him to get down. He had some shade, so he wasn't in a hurry to get down. My neighbor didn't have an extension ladder, so I had to go buy one but that wasn't going to be my biggest problem. Here I was; an out- of -shape retiree who had to depend on two people who had never held a ladder, as my supporting team. I finally got him and brought him down by holding him in my left arm and navigating my way down with the other arm, and the only worries my family had, was that I would drop him.

Theo lived 17 years but his last year on earth was not pretty. He became friendlier in his last year but his arthritis had become so severe that he couldn't climb the steps to be with us at night. He would just get on the coffee table and roar until I finally gave in, picked him up and carried him upstairs. It was painful watching him walk down the stairs. It was the last month that we will never forget. Theo started hiding under the bed and in the spare room downstairs. He was not eating or using his litter box. We took him to one vet, who said he was dehydrated needed to be forced fed. After two weeks, he was still the same, so I decided to take into another vet where I insisted on an X-ray or anything else that would pinpoint his problem. It was then that we got the bad news that he had been suffering from liver cancer, and here we were, forcing him to live like that. I still remember the day when our grown children and grandchildren came by to say goodbye to Theodore. He lay there, lifeless in his carrier allowing everyone to pet him and to say their goodbyes. Theodore was just an old black cat who mysteriously showed up at our door one day, but little did we know he would leave a lot of memories.