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You never really know how things are going to go from day to day. I didn't know on the October day in 2002 that I was going to meet a friend who would touch my life in so many ways.

We had talked about getting a second cat. We didn't want our girl, Cleopatra, to be lonely. So when my wife's best friend (a Memphis DVM) told us she had a boy kitten for us, we decided to go have a look. He was a big boy, even at 8 months old, with big paws. My first view of PJ was behind a piano where he was hiding to avoid the other cats. I pulled him out and held him. As I petted him, I discovered little scabs under his fur: his sister, Muffin, had a habit of beating him up. Well, there would be no more of that. PJ came home with us, sleeping on his back in the pet-carrier.

When we got him home, we set him down and introduced him to Cleopatra. She hissed at him, and they became frenemies for life. Poor boy, never had very good luck with the ladies cats.

That first day, PJ came and curled up in Ginger's lap. She was the first to experience the "purr motor." So loud and strong. The more he was petted, the louder it got. Ginger proclaimed right then, "This is the kitten I always wanted." PJ loved Ginger and she adored him, holding him while sitting on the couch, or cuddling with him on the bed.

PJ loved food. He would jump up on the bed on Saturday mornings and paw Ginger until she got up and fed him a can. Oh, he could eat, nudging into anybody else's bowl and hogging the treats.

He was a good boy, loving and affectionate. PJ would jump up on your lap, and turn on that purr motor. It didn't matter what you were doing. When he wanted attention, everything else got put on hold. He loved to be petted and scratched. He loved to have his chest rubbed. He would stretch his body out, extending his arms. I would tease him, saying he was wanting to fly. Sometimes, he would come to me when I napped, pulled himself close to me and slept.

When we brought home Pepper, at first he didn't like her. He hid under the bed, refusing to come out, barely eating. Did he feel betrayed? Did he think he was being replaced. I took a while, but our little spunky black kitty won him over. They became best buds, snuggling together and play-fighting on another.

PJ had his way of playing. He rarely ran (except to chase Cleopatra), but scampered all of the place: chasing a mouse, or a ball. He is happy and as I watched him, I too was happy.

Boy never met a stranger. He come up to anyone who visited. He liked friends. And people adored him: He was the "Proper Cat," the "Big Fella." My best friend Ardist would house-sit for us while we vacationed. He and PJ became fast friend, sharing treat time--Ardist with his pork skins, PJ with his little treats. One time, Ardist got mixed, and PJ got the pork skin and Ardist, well, he got the cat treat.

PJ made us happy just be being himself. He was a pretty boy who loved to be loved most of all.

You never know how things will go from day to day. After a week of illness, we expected to take PJ home with some changes to his routine--medicines to take and new food to eat. But I did not expect the news I got. When we decided painfully to put him to sleep yesterday, we cried over our decision. We loved him so, but we could not put him through anymore pain. He was strong, a fighter. But we knew he would never have a happy day. He would never scamper and play like he did before.We could not let him suffer anymore pain.

I stood with him. I petted him and kissed him. I told him how much I loved him, and how happy he had made us, and that we would forever miss him. I kissed his head once more. Then he was gone. My boy, my friend, was gone.

I cannot express how much my soul aches. I am happy that PJ is no longer in pain, but I miss him so. As the months go by, and the years fall away, I know I will still feel an ache in my heart for him. I know for some, it is unconceivable to imagine my feelings and why I feel as I do. To them, I can say nothing. I loved my friend, and he loved me. That is all I know.

My boy sleeps beyond the stars. He is happy and playful, and free. If no where else but in my mind, I know when I want to see PJ, he will be there for me.

Goodbye, my friend. 2002-2011

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