Fortunato lost his battle with lymphoma and was laid peacefully to rest December 4th, 2018 at the age of 20. My sweet little old man was a fighter from very early on overcoming feline heartworm disease at the age of 2, undergoing i-131 therapy for hyperthyroidism when he was 12, living with chronic kidney disease from the age of 14 on and intestinal lymphoma the last year-and-a-half.
Fortunato and I crossed paths 19 years ago when I managed a restaurant in a downtown area as a college student. After work one night there was a young cat under a dumpster looking pathetic and wet. I fixed him a plate of inappropriate feline food options and carried on my walk home. Of course, this little bugger continued to lurk and eventually started following me the two and a half blocks home to my duplex, where inevitably I decided to feed him from my deck, thinking all along how I don't have time for a pet as a full-time college student who was also working full-time. He became an outdoor resident the entire summer and even though I did not want a pet at that time he and I had a magical connection right from the very beginning. Come fall when the weather started to chill, I decided he had already long ago won my heart and I opened the doors of my home to this very special little boy. Our journey continued 19 years from there.
Many things happen in life over the course of 20 years - I finished college, met a human companion, changed jobs, we changed homes, we added another cat... But the one thing that never ever changed was this incredible connection that I had with him. As only pet parents would understand, there's an amazing nonverbal communication that can happen between people and their pets and he had a divine ability to always know when my heart was hurting or when it was time to be silly and make Mama laugh. He was a champion at snuggling, occasionally almost to the point of smothering because he always needed to lay near your heart. When I would return home, he greeted me every day at the door or at the top of the stairs once he became an old man. Whenever together he never left my side. He was incredibly smart and trainable - as long as there was a delicious reward at the end. He knew many tricks like sit, stay, high five, and was even taught to sit and stay for his blood draws. As a stray before he became an indoor Kitty, he was quite the hunter and would bring many "offerings" to the front door - always aiming to please. Mischievous at times until he was a senior, we were only able to put up a holiday tree once and learned quickly that the destruction was real and that any further attempts set seasonal decor would have to happen outside. And if my sister Katie left any food on a plate nearby, he was sure to burglarize the scene. She found endless joy in offering him horrible things like Mac & cheese, noting how he just "needed a little taste" and for that he loved her always. He was nurturing to his brother Charlie, teaching him quickly about life in our home and always respectfully reminding him who was in charge. Moments later you would find the two of them snuggled together in front of the fireplace.
Looking back on the past 19 years my heart is filled with gratitude for the wonderful companionship that he gave us. I don't have human children, but this little guy got every ounce of parental love that I had to give. From under a dumpster to the most pampered life, I'm grateful every day that you chose me Fortunato. You will be missed greatly my sweet boy. Often you were the brightest part of my day. It's hard to imagine the days ahead without you and I can only pray that we will meet again someday. You are loved beyond words my little angel.
We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all the Veterinary professionals involved with caring for Fortunato over the years - Dr. Bill Graham & Team SMAEC, Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum, Dr. Jenny Cho and the team at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Referral center, and most importantly veterinary technician Sheri who made it possible for me to do much of his care at home. You were not only his "Auntie" but also an exceptional cat care co-pilot. Finally, to our friends at Pets Remembered Cremation - Thank you for so much for respectfully taking care of our boy all too soon after our loss of our Abbey. We appreciate your condolences and understanding of how hard it is to lose the ones we love.
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