Turkey was our second choice cat. We'd had our eyes on a spunky calico who had already been spoken for—and so we decided that the scrawny little tuxedo, who had curled up in the shelter's cage with our other kitten, would do.
Little did we know that we had just hit the pet jackpot. (In fact, I feel a bit sorry for the calico's owners.) For Turkey was three pets in one. Like a dog, he would greet you at the door and kiss your nose with his sandpapery tongue, and when he purred, he gobbled like a turkey. (Hence the name that stuck, despite horrified looks from strangers.)
Life with Turkey was never boring. He was a Houdini, capable of wriggling out of carriers and snagging chocolate cupcakes from a bowl without disturbing the plastic wrap. He licked butter and cream cheese when you weren't looking, and dive bombed your plate if you had a tuna steak. His cuddling prowess was so legendary that we named a nap after him, and it seemed like as soon as you sat down, he would comandeer your lap. He would spend hours in our big picture window chasing snowflakes—and then do the same thing to the cartoon snowflakes in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. When our girls were little, he put up with everything they could dish out—tail pulling and pokes in the eyes—without a single growl or swipe of his claws.
He simply wanted to be friends with anyone he met—dog or cat, cat lover or cat hater. And eventually, he won practically everyone over with his charm and his persistance, with his desire to love and be loved. How could you resist?
We used to laugh at his big, paunchy gut, which would flap back and forth dramatically whenever he ran. But now, that gut is what is going to separate us, as our Turkey fights a losing battle against a disease that's eating him from the inside out.
This is the hardest part of opening your heart and your home to a pet—knowing that someday, way too soon, you'll need to say goodbye. And we're trying so hard to do that for Turkey, so he doesn't have to suffer. But when you have a cat that is this amazing, it's very tough to let go.
I want to remember him as he was, to think of him chasing snowflakes giddily in the great beyond. And I hope I have the strength to let him go there.