THE SPRING AND SUMMER OF MILO
You were born on February 5th 2016. We took a seven hour round trip to pick you up on a crisp, cool and sunny morning in early April from a home based breeder. You came from a litter of 3; the last one to be homed, and the smallest one.
You were the cutest tiny bundle of soft fur with clear blue eyes and a sweet disposition. Anticipating a rambunctious Seal Point Siamese kitten aged 8 weeks and 1 day, we borrowed a carrier for your ride home, which turned out not necessary. You briefly meowed then settled into my arms and chest. You slept the entire time on our drive home while I softly ran my thumb and index fingers over your eyes. To our delight, you slept snuggled on a large fluffy pillow in our bed the entire length of that very first night in your new home. It was such a wonderful day!
We were ready for your arrival with all the essentials, and you quickly became accustomed to the main floor. Since you were so tiny, access to the basement and stairs to the upper floor was restricted the first few weeks to save you from potential trouble. Closing the French doors to keep you in the kitchen/dining/living room area always elicited complaints, but you quickly grew and in no time were allowed full access as you proceeded to curiously investigate every nook and cranny of every room in the house.
Milo was a finicky kitty from the time he arrived. While he always eagerly accepted special treats like deli turkey and fresh salmon, when it came to dry food he nibbled her and there, and as far as canned/wet food, he would often totally reject the one flavor he had liked the day before. He was not a big eater.
We researched kitty names and struggled to find a name to fit his personality, but once we came upon "Milo" we firmly settled on that.
Milo turned out to be a wonderfully tempered kitten. Early on he would run, leap and jump so much that before the month of April was done (we picked him up on April 3rd) he had to be taken to the vet because he started limping (first the left side, then the right front legs). XRays done and nothing broken. Medication for inflammation and discomfort. Within a few days he was back to his old self.
Gradually he became acquainted with the entire house, and I kept finding him taking naps in different new places.
As with all kittens, he was inquisitive and adventurous. Once I went in the bathroom to find him in the bathtub digging for and pulling hairs out of the drain. I discouraged him from doing that, kept the bathroom door closed, and eventually he went on to other adventures.
If I opened the closet door Milo came running to investigate, hide or play with the clothes hanging inside. Early on he would run over without fail to supervise whenever he heard me clean his litter box. Often, in those early days, he would curl up in a small basket next to my night table to nap if I happened to be in bed catching up on email or working on the iPad.
One day in early May he discovered my soft fluffy pink Betty Boop bath robe one morning and started kneading while suckling it. From that point on, it became Milo's robe. He would always look for it on the bed at bedtime or nap time. Louis (my husband) wanted me to get him out of that habit, but I resisted and I'm so glad that I did.
He loved chasing and cattering (talking) to the red dot. Loved his feathers too. I would throw his copter toy (feathers bound with a wooden bead and soft pom pom on the end) up the stairs or down the hall and he would bring it back to me to throw again and again. When he tired, he simply brought it over and would remain next to me, ignoring a subsequent throw.
Leaving the house he would frequently come to say goodbye, and when coming back home we would almost always find him waiting behind the garage door and then playing with the rubber along the bottom edge as the door closed.
He looked out at the deck and backyard in the morning after breakfast and would climb the screen wanting to go outside. He nearly destroyed it. I would grab a cup of coffee on the nice mornings, put him in his carrier and we would sit outside by the birdfeeder throughout the summer. I think he enjoyed that. At times he would fall asleep if we went back out mid afternoon. After a while, he would just walk over to his carrier, I would open it and he would voluntarily go inside. That's how I knew he wanted to be outside.
He would follow me around the house as I was going about my chores and was always willing to give me a paw in making the bed. If I went to the laundry/furnace room and closed the door behind me (he was not allowed in) I would almost always find him just a few feet away sitting patiently waiting for me to emerge.
I will never forget his sweet playful expression and face plus those big blue eyes looking up at me from the bottom step in the basement just waiting for me to be out of sight before chasing me up the stairs.
He would often play long and hard to exhaustion, at which point he would come over by my feet and meow softly for me to pick him up and hold him or to be on my lap, where he would fall asleep.
He would rest surveying the backyard through the panoramic window in the living room from the top of his kitty tree. One of his favourite places to nap. It was also his spot for treats.
At treat time, I got into the habit of walking towards the cat tree while saying "treat tree". He would follow me, I would let him climb up to the top and he would take treats from the palm of my hand. Not long after, all I had to do was say "treat tree" and he would start walking towards the cat tree, always letting me get there first, or he would stop whatever he was doing and just look up at me.
From the bedroom window looking down to the backyard we would look at squirrels and magpies (a rather noisy but beautiful Canadian bird) together. If a fly got in the house he would chase it while cattering away. The bird feeder became a source of fascination during those early sunny spring and summer mornings when birds would fly back and forth between it and the bushes nearby. Lots of catering went on. Milo was quite vocal.
We had our routine. He became my constant companion; suddenly appearing in whatever room I happened to be in, and was rapidly turning into a bona fide lap kitty.
He was obedient and would immediately jump off the kitchen counter or the dining room table when scolded. We had to make use of the water bottle very few times. Sharpening his claws on the sofa, love seat or living room chair; in spite of the scratch poles and roped cat tree which I attempted to teach him about, was another story. Milo left us with many furniture scratches to remember him by; as well as torn up ends and little bites marks on window blinds.
Summer nights we would come to enjoy sitting outside on our laps so long as he did not make attempts to jump off to chase whatever night creatures he could see that we could not.
I had owned only one cat up to this point. Mazee lived with me in Florida for 19 years prior to my move to Canada, from the time she was 3 months old. Mazee crossed the Rainbow Bridge in early March 2015. Louis on the other hand, had been a multiple cat owner over the years, and had always wanted an Abyssinian kitten, so thinking Milo might enjoy a playmate, we set out about finding one.
Dyson (Grabby Abby) joined us in early July 2016 from a larger cattery, which we properly vetted . While not exactly welcoming at first and after a tense few days, Milo accepted him rather quickly. Before we knew it they became thick as thieves and in the process often got themselves in trouble. They would play, wrestle and snuggle up to nap together on top of the cat tree. At night they would either briefly follow us upstairs only to leave again in a wild chase, or they would settle in. Milo always in our bed; and in those early days Dyson's chose to curl up to sleep in the same small basket nearby or in the kitty bed Milo never really took a liking to. In the early morning though, Dyson would usually climb up to join us.
Milo appeared generally healthy and robust through late August. Playing with Dyson and the many toys, climbing stairs and up to his perch at the window in the bedroom to look at the world outside, and even to the top of his cat tree.
Gradually he then became lethargic and spent more and more time sleeping with a loss of appetite and little interest in his surroundings or in play; although pretty much to the end he at times made sluggish attempts to bat at a toy, munched on his favourite Pure Bites freeze dried chicken breast treats, deli turkey, Alberta lamb treats and fresh sushi grade salmon.
He was taken to the vet who could find nothing physically wrong with him without performing blood and other sophisticated tests. We kept a close eye on him, and five days later took him back and ran the blood and liver tests, which were inconclusive. His red blood count was down and the white blood count was elevated.
We took him to the local animal hospital immediately thereafter that evening for further testing, where he was kept overnight for emergency treatment and a stomach ultrasound. By then abdominal distension had started and he was diagnosed with effusive (wet) FIP the following morning.
We opted to bring him home the following evening with 7 days' worth of pain management medication. I stayed home and doted on, spoiled and loved him non-stop on a daily basis while voraciously researching and educating myself about this dreadful and deadly disease I had never heard of, until it was time to end his suffering not postponing the inevitable. By this time Milo was just merely sleeping but taking sips of water and bits of food as I offered them every few hours. He would get up and attempt to jump off the couch or my lap. I quickly realized these were the times he needed to use the litter box, so I would carry him there. He never had an accident and even at this late stage covered everything in the box.
On a beautifully sunny clear blue skies but cool afternoon, just like the one when we brought him home, Saturday, the 24th of September, we again sat on the deck and took turns holding him one last time while wrapped in his pink robe. We allowed him to experience for the first time the feeling of blades of grass on his paws. We then drove to the place (vet he had been taken to just a few months prior for care and vaccinations) where he would be led over the Rainbow Bridge.
Karen, the receptionist at the vet's office is involved with the city's animal pound and local pet rescue placement efforts volunteers. I asked her to let me know if a Siamese kitten were to become available for adoption.
Less than two weeks after Milo's passing I heard from Karen. Virginia from Little Cats Lost showed up at our doorstep with Siam, whom we renamed Sammy, on October 6. It was a rough start between Dyson and Sammy. Dyson hissed and growled non-stop, and for much longer than Milo had at him; but eventually they also became best buddies.
We had been numb with grief and unable to eat much or sleep soundly still at that time. I was still in a daze. Sammy saved me as much as I had saved him.
When Sammy's adoption was formally finalized and we were given his written records and history from the animal pound I was astounded to learn Sammy had been admitted and registered there on the very same day Milo crossed the Rainbow Bridge (September 24), just over an hour after. Coincidence, or a sign that from beyond the Rainbow Bridge Milo's paw had something to do with Sammy coming into our home?
For 5 and a half glorious months Milo filled our world with untold happiness and joy. Despite the ultimate outcome, we would not have traded the experience for anything.
Milo's Betty Boop pink robe was laundered and is currently hanging with two other robes I regularly wear. I have not worn it since and not sure that I ever will.
While the memory and pain will fade over time I will never forget nor stop missing our cute little Milo.