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Memories of Salem
When I moved into this building in June of 2003, there was a cat sitting by the dividing line of neighboring property. I felt sorry for him. I thought he was homeless. I called him and he meowed in the sweetest tone I ever heard. It wasn't any ordinary meow, it was the most beautiful cat voice I ever heard. I headed to 7-11 to get some things and decided to get cat food and milk for him. I got back and served it to him. He jumped down faster than a fly and started eating.

Each time he'd see me, he'd jump down just to say hi. He also let me pet him. I continued to bring him more food. One day he was sitting on the front windshield of my car. I was in awe. I was even more smitten when I noticed tons of cute paw prints all over the windshield. This went on for a week or so.

Every time I'd go to my parking spot, there he was. Then he gave me a kiss on my left calf. Oh boy - - I was falling for him. I was going downstairs to sit on the stairs and he'd sit on my lap. I did some investigating and found out he wasn't homeless. I was relieved because I learned he was safe. I spoke to his daddy and introduced myself. I offered to babysit him at any time. Surely I tried to persuade him to let me keep him. After all, we kept running into each other all the time. But the daddy said, no.

Thanksgiving Day 2003 rolled by. His daddy came up to my place and asked if I could feed "Milton" while he went out of town. I was more than honored. Well you guessed it -- after he left -- I brought him up to my apartment and he stayed with me for 3 days. I was in heaven.

After I came out of a minor surgical procedure in January 2004, I still went downstairs to feed him. The doctor would have scolded me for not staying in bed as he ordered. But we all know that pets heal better than medicine. Besides he needed his food. When he saw me, he meowed at me in a way he never did. He could smell my bloodied bandages.

Between January - May 2004, Id purposely go downstairs to pick up him every day and bring him to my place for a few hours. I would pick him up in the late afternoon and drop him off 4-6 hours later every day. I even got a litter box for him. He even got upstairs on his own on 2 occasions. One was on my birthday and the other was a few weeks later at 2am! I was stumped as to how he found my apartment door in the building on his own or how he got beyond locked doors! There were times he'd meow outside prompting me that the coast was clear to pick him up. I'd open the building side door and he'd coming running up the stairs meowing.

Then the day came in May 2004 when a U-Haul truck was parked in front of his place. My heart sank. I was devastated and told his daddy that I'm going to miss this cat a lot. The daddy knew he was spending a lot of time with me. He told me that he knew I was feeding him because he wasn't eating his food! He let me keep him. I felt like I won the lottery! I just loved him so much. I also named him Salem. I took him to the vet and was informed he was leukemia positive. I'd have to be on top of his health in order for him to survive.

The following 8 1/2 years he filled so much in my life. He was my joy and my constant reminder of love. There has been a lot of stress in my life, but no matter what, seeing him changed a lot and just made it better. He was here for me during surgery, quitting smoking, difficult times, and endless sagas in career, relationships, 6-7 legal cases, and more. I don't know what I would have done without him.

From 2004-2009, Id travel at max for 4-5 days. I had a neighbor down the hall come by 2 times a day to open up his canned food. I made about 7-8 short trips in 5 years. However she moved. So I then hired a professional cat sitting service to spend the nights a my place. for the next 6 trips I took from 2010-2012. Boarding him was not a possibility as I was told that he didn't like other cats as he had a bad experience when he was younger. In a way this was better for him because he had all night company.

In May 2012 he was diagnosed with hyperactive thyroid. I got him treated with i-131 radiation in July 2012 to cure the thyroid. Its the only treatment that cures the thyroid. Besides the thyroid medicine made him vomit too much up to 3 times a day. So radiation seemed like a practical thing to do. Hyperactive thyroid can lead to a heart attack. Worse he lost 1/3 of his weight. I was seeing the thyroid issue in his appetite as he start to eat ravenously.

The radiation cured his thyroid hormone to a normal level. But...his kidneys started to fail. Either medicine for the thyroid or radiation will give kidney failure. So I had to take him to the vet once a month for blood work. He was receiving close to 6 medicines a day plus hydration via an IV drip for his kidneys. I was told that cats can function with renal/kidney failure.

In August I hospitalized him so they could flush good liquids via IV to lower the kidney levels. It was successful. But he was developing anemia. I had to give him an injection 3 times a week so that he could produce more red blood cells.

Every night I thanked him for one extra day with him. I knew the time was coming. I was beating myself up giving him radiation. After speaking to many people, I accepted that either way I would have beat myself if I did or didnt opt for radiation. Bottom line I operated from a place of love and high hopes to heal him. There's just no price tag for his health or happiness in my book. He came first. He was a priority because I told him before he moved in with me that if he does move in, I will give him the world. I had to keep my promise.

From August to November I was calling the vet's office 2-3 times a week. There was too much vomiting taking place. He was also developing litter box problems. I thought they were "accidents." But there's a possibility he was developing dementia. He was somewhere between 16-19.

On November 7th he was so weak. He barely moved or ate. He was in pain and howled. The next day he wouldn't get out from under the bed. I had to remove the mattress and box spring and carry him. I hydrated him. He still wouldn't eat. Then we went to the vet. The blood work showed the anemia got worse. I had a choice to hospitalize him again. This time it would have been for a blood transfusion. But he would only have a week left as he would spiral back down. The vet pointed out that it could have been the anemia medication stopped working, he could have developed anti-bodies that prevented it from working, or it could have been the leukemia which he had from the start. At that point I had to make that decision that was based on quality of life for him. I couldn't put him through another hospitalization. It was already too much. 1 radiation treatment and 1 hospitalization in a 4 month period was enough.

I know he's in a place now where there's no pain...no more kidney failure, no more anemia, no more leukemia, no more medicine. Just endless joy and good health. I live for the day that I can be reunited with him.

He is my surrogate child. I'm so grateful he was with me. In my heart he hasn't died. He relocated to a bigger and better place. The memories I have cant die. I miss him. I love him and that's forever. Thank you. This was the best gift I ever had in my life.

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