Leo - The Wise and Stoic Cat
I've had a fairly long relationship with Leo and his mom. I met them many years ago, along with his older brother, Hefty. The two cats were good friends, but sometimes Hefty was too bossy for Leo. Hefty used to make Leo feel as if he (Leo) had to keep his distance from Mom whenever Hefty was getting his fill of love. But after Hefty died in 2008, it was Leo's turn to be the recipient of all the love and attention.
Leo's mom is a business woman and her work requires her to travel a lot. On a recent trip, she was going to be gone for much longer than usual. She called me ahead of time because she wanted me to ask Leo if he'd like to come with her on this trip so he wouldn't have to be left behind for several months without her company. Leo had never wanted to travel before, and he wasn't inclined to want to go on this trip either. At first, he said he wasn't up for the long flight to Thailand, but after much discussion back and forth, he decided to compromise, and he finally accepted the idea of going with Mom this time.
Just prior to their journey in September, 2009, Mom took Leo to the vet for a check up. There was a minor sore above his right paw, so the vet needle-aspirated the tissue. It seemed to be a form of sarcoma, but the test results weren't necessarily 100% accurate, and they didn't confirm the stage of the growth, so Mom decided to wait to take any further action until after they returned from their trip.
While they were in Thailand, the sore did continue to grow. Also while they were there, Leo received Reiki treatments from a Reiki Master on a regular basis. He very much looked forward to receiving these soothing, healing treatments.
The amazing thing is how very calm Leo was under the circumstances. He said he enjoyed the treatment he was receiving as a guest in another country. He was even being friendly to the resident dog, and simply relishing each day, looking at the birds, receiving morsels of his favorite foods, going to see his Reiki Master for treatments, or being loved by his Mom.
As soon as he and his mom returned to the US, their veterinarian found a spot on Leo's lung. Mom then called me with this new information. Since Leo was already 18, the cancer diagnosis didn't come as a surprise to either his mom or me, but it was sad to know that the cancer was already spreading to his lungs.
Mom then asked me to present several options to Leo so he could choose the one that best suited him. One possibility was to have his leg removed by the best specialist in the US. Another option was to receive acupuncture treatments from a holistic vet. I presented these, and several other options, to Leo for his consideration.
Leo was adamant that he didn't want to lose his leg. He told his mom he was doing just fine getting around as
best as he could, and he still enjoyed eating his meals. With incredible wisdom, he also told his mom: "I know you love me because you're always sending me light and love, and because you always look for ways to fix things for me. But this time you can't fix it. You just have to accept it. I'm proud of you for understanding and honoring my wishes, even though they may not be the same as yours."
Even though Leo's life on earth would be coming to an end sooner rather than later, his mom and I knew we would remember for the rest of our lives his zest for life under these trying circumstances, and his ability to accept that it was best to let nature take its course.
Since Leo was still eating and enjoying his daily activities, Mom wanted me to ask him how he would feel about going back to Thailand again, since he enjoyed being there so much during the previous trip. He did want to go again this time, so in late February, he said goodbye to his favorite vets and nurses, and went back to Thailand with his mom. While they were there together for the second time, he continued to enjoy receiving regular Reiki treatments.
While I was in Argentina, Leo's mom called me again from Thailand when his condition got worse and he had to be hospitalized for a night. But the end wasn't to come until a little later.
Around 7:00 p.m. on the evening of March 10th, his mom was downstairs talking with a client when her assistant came quickly from upstairs to tell her that Leo was having a minor seizure. The seizure activity lasted for less than five minutes, and with his mom lovingly holding him, he took his final breath. It had been six months since the cancer diagnosis, but for Leo and his mom, it had been a very treasured six months.
Leo was a very special cat who was loved by everyone who met him, especially his grandpa. His demeanor, self-discipline, and stoic nature were always apparent as soon as you said hello to him. Doctors and nurses who cared for him found it hard to believe that he was a cat in severe pain from the effects of cancer.
Memorial for Leo
Buddhists believe that all animals have the potential to become enlightened beings, so Leo's soul was delivered to heaven in a unique memorial service performed by local monks in Thailand at the request of his mom. Part of his ashes remain on the altar at their home in Thailand, and his mom has the remainder with her at home in the US.
Thank you, Leo, for letting us love you, and for sharing your life with us. For you, and for countless others, we all wish you much light and love!