I love having pets. Cats, dogs, gerbils, doesn't matter, they're all welcome at my house. We fed the wild birds outside until we discovered they were becoming the daily snack for our next-door neighbor's cat. We knew it wasn't our cats because we don't let ours out. Fortunately, Ms. Snooty Neighbor has moved away, and Nice People have moved in, so it's a lot better.
Anyway, pets are wonderful. We've had up to 3 cats at one time and loved them all. Ophelia came to live with us in '89 (well, more specifically, started living with Point Man, since we weren't married yet then) and lived to the fine age of 15. Higgins walked into our home in '92 as a kitten and was with us til last June, making it to age 16. Joey joined us last June not long after Higgins died, and he'll be 5 in June. Somehow Joey's managed to pick up where Higgins left off in terms of totally awesome cats. He'll never replace Higgins, but he's made a new home in our hearts.
Chelsea, our senior cat, joined our home in '91 at the age of 3. She made it to her 21st birthday yesterday, but over the weekend it became clear that she was too sick to go on for probably more than a week longer. We loved her and couldn't bear to see her suffer, so we made the very hard decision to put her to sleep tonight. When you have a cat that old, you know it's just a matter of time. Some part of me wanted to walk downstairs in the morning and find her curled up in her favorite spot on the couch having gone to heaven in her sleep. That didn't happen. So we made the dreaded trip to the vet for the second time in 9 months. I know it's part of being a responsible pet-lover, but I hate this part. The only consolation is that her death was very quick and totally painless, and she really did just fall asleep before going to heaven.
However, it never makes it any easier to lose a part of the family. Rest in peace, Chelsea.