© David Burton 2016


     On March 29, 2016, Traveler's long and happy life came to an end.

     Traveler was a Maine Coon cat who was part of our family for over 20 years. My older daughter took in Traveler in 1996 when she was only 6-months old. She spent her early days with this older daughter, then moved in with my wife and me, and, for the past several years, spent the rest of her life with my younger daughter, my two grandchildren and their two dogs.

     Maine Coons are known for being loyal to their family and cautiousóbut not meanóaround strangers, but are independent and not clingy. Their gentle disposition makes the breed relaxed around dogs, other cats, and children. They are playful throughout their lives. Maine Coons are also well known for being very vocal cats. They are known for their frequent yowling or howling, trilling, chirping, and making other loud vocalizations.

     Traveler had all these characterisitcs. She had a silky flowing coat and a long, bushy tail. She was extremely sociable, once she got to know you. The breed is often referred to as "the gentle giant". Maine Coon cats are known for their intelligence and playful, gentle personality, with "dog-like" characteristics. Traveler certainly fit this description.

     Traveler lived much longer than most cats of her breed - the median life span of the Maine Coon being about 12.5 years.

     Traveler had her own Facebook page which my older daughter maintained for her. The final post there read:

Well everyone, it's been a while since I last posted. I wanted to let you know I've gone in for my end-of-life care and won't be returning. After 20+ years living beyond a wonderful life, the last few years of which was specifically amazing due to my other mom, and her beautiful, kind, loving, patient family, I can't have asked for more in this world. I hope I provided everyone as much love as they showed me. Peace out and I'll see you on the other side.

     Traveler traveled to and lived in some five residences: the home where she was born, three of my older daughterís homes, my house, and my younger daughterís home. But, Traveler hated to travel Ė whenever she had to go to the vet or elsewhere in a car, she would meow and complain the entire time she was in the vehicle.

     Traveler sort of came to live with us and my younger daughter by accident. My older daughter first got Traveler as a kitten. Traveler went with her as she moved from to a house in the country to a suburban condominium and then to a Boston condominium. She was always a house cat and never ventured outside the homes where she lived. When our older daughter was going to have her Boston condominium painted, she asked my wife and me if Traveler could stay with us during the painting. We agreed and Traveler never went back.

     At our house, Traveler had a very spacious three-story Victorian house, with a full basement, in which to explore and play. Her litter box and food were on the landing of the basement stairs. Traveler was often visited by our older daughter and by our younger daughter with her two children and their Golden Retriever, Kelsey. At first, Traveler would hide whenever Kelsey came to visit. But gradually, she became accustomed to Kelsey and would even play with her.

     We had a bird feeder located out the back window of our house. Traveler liked to climb up on the wooden radiator cover below the window and watch the birds feeding there. Another favorite perch of Travelerís was the soft arm rest of our living room couch. When she draped herself over the arm rest, it appeared as if she didnít have a bone in her body.

     It took time for Traveler to be comfortable with new people and other animals. If you or another animal were new to her, she would go and hide. But, after a while, when she got to know you better, she would come to you to play or be petted.

     Several years after Traveler came to live with us, my wife and I went to Israel for a number of weeks and we asked our younger daughter to take Traveler to her house while we were away. She agreed. And, once again, Traveler never came back. My younger daughter, my grandson and my granddaughter refused to let her leave. But, my wife and I, along with our older daughter, visited with Traveler just about every week in her new and final home.

     Strangely, after Traveler left daughter number oneís condominium for our house, this older daughter developed an allergy to cats. During her frequent visits with Traveler, her eyes would tear up, she would start sneezing and, eventually, she had to take antihistamines whenever she visited with Traveler.

     Traveler enjoyed her home with our younger daughter, the Golden Retriever Kelsey, our grandchildren, our granddaughterís father and his three children (from a previous marriage). Then Kelsey died and a new Golden Retriever, Riley, came to live with them. Riley was a small puppy when he joined the family. Traveler, by now, was an old lady, as cats go, and didnít feel like playing with a rambunctious new puppy. It took a while, but Riley and Traveler reached a mutual agreement and even got to like each other. Traveler would occasionally take a loving swipe at Riley with one of her clawless paws and, at other times, would lick his face. They would even sometimes lie down and nap together. And, Riley got to like Travelerís cat food.

     A few year back, Traveler started urinating outside her litter box. When I found out about it, I suggested she be tested for diabetes. And sure enough, Traveler had developed the disease. So for the last few years, Traveler was administered a small dose of insulin twice a day and put on a low carb diet. She never seemed to mind the needle sticks, but she did prefer the better quality and better tasting Fancy Feast canned cat food, along with her cat treats. Traveler knew where the special cat treats were stored in a downstairs closet, and whenever I walked down the stairs, she would follow me, loudly meowing all the while, until I opened up the closet and gave her the delicacies she craved.

     Traveler seemed to know that she possessed seniority in our daughterís house. After the house underwent remodeling and new rooms were added, Traveler established an added walk-in closet as one of her favorite places in which to hang out and nap. When a new soft bed was bought for Riley, she took possession of it and slept there instead of Riley.

     The day of Travelerís death was a day when my wife and I would normally spend the afternoon at Travelerís home playing nannies to our 15-year old grandson and our 8-year old granddaughter. Afterwards, we would stay overnight and look after them the next day. At night I would sleep on the living room sofa. Frequently, Traveler and the 70-pound Riley would join me on the sofa. Traveler loved to climb on top of my chest and rub her face against my beard. She would contentedly purr when I stroked her back and scratched under her neck and behind her ears.

     Often, when I was doing nanny service and working at my laptop computer on the kitchen table there, Traveler would jump up on the chain next to me and start to rub against my arm. I knew what she wanted and that was attention. I would then scratch and stroke her until she started to purr contentedly. If Riley noticed this, he became jealous and would come over, and stick his nose between us until he also got his share of similar attention. Also, on mornings when I stayed over, I would go out early in the morning to bring back breakfast bagels for the grandchildren and myself. Many times, Traveler would jump up on the kitchen chair next to me so she could lick the bagel's cream cheese off my fingers.

     During her last years, Traveler got in the habit of waking me around 4:00 am with very loud meows, telling me that she was hungry. Her food dishes had almost always been emptied by Riley who seemed to enjoy cat food as much as his own dog food. So, I would get up and refill Travelerís food dishes and then go back to finish my sleep.

     The evening after Traveler was put to rest, my 8-year old granddaughter asked me if I cried when Traveler died. I said I had. That night, before she went to bed, my granddaughter asked me if I would get her a new cat for her birthday. I told her that she would have to ask her parents about that. Later, she brought two small stuffed animals to sleep with me that night in place of Traveler.

     Traveler passed away peacefully purring in the arms of my wife and younger daughter. She had gone through some seizures the previous night and early that morning. Later in the morning, she was taken to the vet. Perhaps for the only time in her life, she did not complain about traveling in a car. It almost seemed that she knew it was time to say goodbye.

  8 April 2016 {Article 248; Whatever_45}    
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