When we first got Pancho 19 years ago, we thought he was the ugliest cat we had ever seen.
He was only a few weeks old when Charlie brought him to our apartment, the last kitten left from two different litters. We decided he had to be the runt, all gangly legs and a head that seemed to account for a full third of his tiny body. Wild blue eyes flared from under a skull that bulged between his pointed ears, a cranium that would imply genius if he wasn’t so obviously insane. Charlie thrust the squirming kitten at Sandy, said, “Take this cat!” and promptly walked away to nurse the various scratches he had gotten on the car ride to our place.
It was love at first sight.
Pancho eventually grew into his head, and like an ugly duckling became a beautiful cat. I mean, really gorgeous. Over the years various vets, pet-sitters and house-guests have all stopped to coo and fuss over him, and being the most loving, gentle and friendliest cat ever, he’d just bask in it. Occasionally he’d bite a nose because he was also crazy, but you didn’t mind because by then it was too late — you were already in love with him.
When we lost him to bone cancer June 12, we were heartbroken. We still are; I don’t know if there will ever be a time we aren’t. That probably sounds strange to some people — all the effort to give Pancho the medicines and supplements and subcutaneous fluids he needed even stranger. But we loved Pancho and when he was diagnosed four months ago we kept doing what we had always done; we took the best care of our baby boy as we could. At his age surgery or treatment wasn’t really an option, and all we could do was keep him as comfortable and healthy as possible while watching that awful disease progress. Eventually our days revolved completely around Pancho’s care. Sandy cut her on-site contract work to nearly nothing; I stopped working completely. We were lucky to be able to do that. We’ll be forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him.
On the day we finally decided to let Pancho go, he was still eating and drinking, still using his box, still getting onto my chest to purr himself to sleep. But the cancer was robbing him, of so many things, and we had decided a long time ago that we would never let one of our babies suffer. It was one of the hardest decisions we’d ever had to make, but we loved him too much to let it go any further.
It seems weird to say “loved,” as if it’s a condition that’s in the past now. We still love Pancho. We always will. He was a best friend, a companion, an amazingly endless source of unconditional love. We spoiled him, but only half as much as he spoiled us. Our home, our days, and our lives are emptier without him in them. We miss him. Our little Panchito. Pancholino. Pancho Doughnuts. Papas. Sweet boy. Handsome boy.
Our very good boy.
Love of our life.