In 1997, shortly after I graduated from OSU, I moved to lovely Lima, OH to work for Arbor Health Care. One of my coworkers had a cat that had just given birth to a litter of kittens, and I expressed an interest in having one. As soon as the kittens were old enough, one was brought over to me. I was told it was a female, so I named it Xanthippe. (Considerably later I learned that it was, in fact, a male, so I shortened the name to Xanth.)

My job was that of a traveling technician, going to the various Arbor facilities throughout the state to provide desktop computer support. This meant that I was gone for long stretches of the day, and poor little Xanth was all alone. Feeling bad, I inquired of my coworker whether she had placed all the other kittens, and if not, whether I might acquire one more. To my delight, one little kitten was left. She was all black.

I struggled for a long time to think of a suitable name for this new cat. She remained nameless for well over a week. She was quiet, and timid, and didn’t meow at all, unlike her brother who was bold and brash and meowed rather a lot. Then, one Saturday afternoon, the nameless kitten began following me around, mewling in a barely audible voice. It took me awhile to realize the extent to which she was following me, and when I stopped, she would cry. Finally, as I stood staring at her, she ran over to the closed door of my spare bedroom and sat down. As I approached, I heard Xanth crying from the other side of the door. Each of his cries was followed by a quiet little cry from the nameless kitten.

Thus was she named Echo.

Echo was always a quiet cat. Even when one accidentally trod upon her tail, her cries were barely more than a whisper. While Xanth would howl and cry when he was hungry, Echo would merely pace back and forth, occasionally opening her mouth. One would have to strain to actually hear anything from her.

Echo was affectionate and sweet, though more than a little shy. When I entertained guests, Echo would often hide while Xanth would parade around looking for attention. Both cats kept their tails in the air when they walked, which produced something of a comic effect.

Echo was very playful. She thoroughly enjoyed chasing strings, straps, and rope. She would bat at darn near anything dangled before her.

While I lived in Lima, Echo had the strangest, and sweetest, little ritual with me. Every morning, just after drying myself off after my shower, Echo would leap onto the bathroom sink and begin her soft mewling. I would approach the sink and Echo would rise to her hind legs, placing her front paws upon my chest. Then she would slowly spread her arms out, so that she was effectively giving me a hug. I would scratch her behind her ears for several moments while she did this, and then she would drop down and leave the bathroom. Every day this occurred. I admit, getting a hug from a cat is a pretty cool way to start your day.

Echo was a long-haired cat, and I wasn’t always very dedicated to brushing her beautiful coat; nor was she the most fastidious of cats when it came to grooming. Her hair would get matted and bunched, especially in the summer time as she shed much of the excess. One summer, I took her to a professional groomer to thin out her hair in order to make her more comfortable. When I picked Echo up, I was surprised to see that she had been shaved like a poodle.

A couple days ago, Echo walked into my bathroom and urinated upon the bathmat, right in front of me. This was definitely not normal behavior, so I started paying a little more attention to her. I noticed, with growing dismay, that she spent a continuous 24 hours sitting in the same spot on my couch. Then, when I came home from work yesterday I saw her trying to walk: she was wobbly, and her hind legs looked very stiff. Concerned, I called the vet and scheduled an emergency visit. I ran to the basement to get the cat carrier and discovered an alarming amount of vomit on the floor.

The vet said that Echo’s innards felt fine to her cursory examination, and that the impaired mobility was likely not neurological, since she was responding to stimuli in the appropriate way. Blood, stool, and urine samples were collected, and I was told that I could expect a call the next day.

That call came this afternoon. Echo was suffering from terminal kidney failure.

The vet described a number of treatment options, and I listened politely to each of them, knowing full well that I wouldn’t pursue any of them. What kind of life might Echo enjoy if she were being medicated multiple times per day? Her mobility would be greatly impaired, reducing her ability to jump up onto the couch to stare out my front window.

No, knowing that I would only be prolonging the inevitable, I called the vet back to schedule an appointment to euthanize Echo. I took her in, the vet sedated her and then injected the lethal dose. Quietly, she stopped breathing.

RIP Echo 1997-2009

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