A donation was made in memory of Aflac on Apr 05, 2012.

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AFLAC Memorial Feline Cardiology
Endowment Fund



Aflac, my friend, died today. And I’m very sad. She was special in so many ways. We loved each other – she in her cat-like way, following me around, jumping in bed and snuggling, purring especially when I’d carry or hold her upside down, greeting me at the door when I’d come home (especially the back door from which she could see me approaching); and me by providing a safe, warm, and secure home for her, bringing her a variety of treats she’d relish eating, petting her, taking her for grooming , making sure she always had a reasonably clean litter box, giving her fresh water every day, taking care to always have some food available, and doing what I could medically.

We were both consistent and reliable, in our different ways, for each other. We were both companions for each other – she with her purrs; warmth of body and soul; softness in color and texture of fur, footsteps, and approach to life (except when it came to eating at which times she’d be more aggressive and verbal), and invariable presence. She may have been Buddhist. And clearly, she valued my presence, too.

There was the absence of significant conflict. She sat on the desk with me, sat on the couch with me, sat in front of me on the desk or on the keyboard (here was the one area of minor conflict when I’d move the mouse, she’d whack my hand, sometimes hard, even drawing blood a time or two).

She was so beautiful! What a beautiful face! The color of her fur, especially the golden areas were so appealing to my eye. The softness, fluffiness of her fur (probably tortoiseshell) was such a pleasant sensation to my touch. Her pink paws. Her pink nose. Her pink tongue. Her pointed, furry ears (unless she’d kicked them relentlessly and bloody them when they itched). Some distant relative probably was a Maine Coon. The swagger of her wiggling butt (pantalone?) when she’d show me the way into the kitchen to get her food was both commanding and appealing.

I now feel pain. It seems unbearable. Almost. I question whether I want to go on living. What does that suggest? The idea of never seeing her alive again is unfathomable. I do not know how to accept this as reality. Poor little Aflac! And the world, certainly my world, is poorer without her.

When I took a shower upon arising in the morning she might push the bathroom door open to gain entry. She would patiently wait for me to finish my ablations and get dressed before we’d go downstairs.

Typically, after I’d go downstairs to make breakfast for myself and her, either after I’d call her (“Let’s go have some breakfast, Hon”) or on her own, she’d come down and vocally request breakfast. This was a good time together. Of course if I lingered too long in making my own breakfast or coffee she’d get her body or tail under my feet and then there was no way I could ignore her and delay her breakfast. She could verbalize a wish to be fed! Almost invariably after I’d prepared her food on the counter and would turn to place it on her food mat, she’d be sitting next to her food mat looking me in the eye. I’d look directly at her, ask her when she wanted to eat, and she’d yell “Now!” For a long time she initially ate yesterday’s kibble mixed with fresh soft cat food and lysine and sometimes Laxatone, followed by a restaurant treat from the night before such as rinsed and finely cut chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, salmon, halibut, cod, etc. After our respective breakfasts, she’d either sit on mom’s rocking chair or on the love seat or couch (sometimes in the sunshine), or retire to the warm bathroom for a nap. I might not see her again before I’d leave for work, but then in leaving I’d say, “Aflac, I hope you have a good day!” or “Have a good day, Hon!”

She didn’t complain about the heat or the cold, only about wanting food. She had a good appetite and almost always seemed to enjoy her meals. Sometimes her meals were followed by a trip to the litter box and, at times, after that visit she’d make a scampering retreat.

When I’d come in through the back door she be right there. It was always a pleasure to be greeted by her presence. It often took a little prodding to get her to back up away from the door. But, she never bolted out, thank goodness. One time, recently, she seemed particularly interested in possibly “going for it” and I’ve wondered what that might have been about. I’ll never know. When Nancy, Person (Nancy’s dog, a Tibetan terrier), and I would park the car in the back and enter the back door Aflac would be there to greet us. Aflac would hold her position and Person would pretend to ignore her, going past her without any overt conflict. However, when we’d all enter from the front door, frequently Person and Aflac would go nose to nose, as if greeting each other. This seemed especially the case if Person had not been over to the house recently.

Oh, could that girl sleep! Many hours of each day.

Aflac had many names of endearment: Hon, Honey, Sweetheart, LG, Little One, Love, Little Luv. I loved kissing her soft head. And I especially loved it when she’d jump in bed and lie on my arm. Toward the end of her life, it was wonderful when she’d sit next to me at the desk, her on the soft pillow and me on the hard wooden chair.

She came into my life in December 2001. My close friend Judy suggested I get a cat. We looked online and saw Aflac’s mug shot though PAWS. She was clearly beautiful! We arranged to see her in Magnolia, where she was being boarded. With some hesitation, I arranged to get her a couple of days later after she was spayed. I was told she was “at most one year old.” I now hope that was either ignorance or a lie. Her veterinarian thought she was several years older.

She had hyperthyroidism in 2005. Before the I-131 treatment her skin was very sensitive and she was frequently irritable. She did well after the treatment until a second bout of hyperthyroidism in 2010. Again she later did well after treatment. In retrospect, I wonder how cardio toxic the iodine was. Should I have opted for a throidectomy with the need for lifetime daily thyroid medication? Or was her dilated cardiomyopathy only genetic?

The years on Capital Hill were fine. She had the run of the house. She’d bring “her babies” (kitty toys) from the basement to the second floor bedroom. She got a gift of a feather on a stick and it interested her for all of one day and no more. Similarly, a cat toy with a bird noise only held her attention for a day. Over all or almost all of our years together she had four favorite toys – blue bells, green bells, yellow bells, and her multi-colored pin cushion. Her treats from Taree, after grooming, never interested her. She’d get excited in looking out from the kitchen and seeing raccoons munching kibble on her back deck. Often she’d spend time sleeping in the living room. Rarely, she’d sleep on the kitchen table in the Western sunshine. One time, when there were about six of us gathered for dinner, one of the guests, Debra, left the back door open and Aflac went out. That was frightening and I felt panic. It was not a safe neighborhood for an indoor cat, especially at night. Fortunately, Nancy located her under the steps and pulled her to safety. In feeding her, sometimes Aflac would get so anxious for food that she’d biff me as I was lowering the food bowl to the floor. And, oh, yes, she may have slightly damaged a rug at the Capital Hill house, but again, this wasn’t a significant problem although scratching posts were unsuccessfully placed for her use and ignored.

The move to Bryant occurred 4 ½ years ago. She knew the house was hers and everyone else was her guest. She now had a turret from which to view the world! She was the princess of the castle looking out to the world beyond. AND she had a constant-temperature heated bathroom floor with a soft mat to curl up on. This room became her favorite. She’d spend late mornings relaxing, afternoons napping, and nighttimes sleeping on that bathroom mat. When I’d turn on the little heater, she’d get up close to it and, at times, would stretch out and roll over, revealing her white fur and pink belly. She was very cute and I’d smile. A couple of years ago she developed a keen interest in the linen closet. It’s above the hot air duct and contains lots of folded towels – ideal for a cat nest. She’d dash into the linen closet whenever I opened one of the doors, and remain there for hours. She covered what had been clean towels with cat hair. After quite a few months, her interest waned somewhat or my willingness to have her in the linen closet diminished and she made fewer attempts to gain access or I more assiduously watched and prevented her from getting in.

Significant time was also spent in the living room. She’d take naps on the loveseat and later the couch, naps in the sun on the desk next to the computer screen in the summertime, or curl up on mom’s rocking chair for a little snooze. Petting her when she’d sit or sleep on my desk was special. Sometimes she’d rest her head on the telephone for a little nap. Precious! To get up to my desk she’d usually first jump up on my lap (generally not snagging my pants with her claws although this was my concern) or rarely she’d jump directly up onto the desk from the floor. She did use the love seat to sharpen her claws, but this was the only furniture in Bryant she damaged and I didn’t mind at all. After the gas fireplace was installed and a sheepskin rug placed in front of it, Aflac sometimes enjoyed lying close to the fireplace. Her colors blended perfectly with the hues from the fire, mantle, and rug.

The other place she’d spend time in was my bed. This would occur at times when I’d just call her up to bed (“Okay, Honey, bedtime!”), other times when she’d come up and jump into bed on her own, and still other times when I’d carry her upstairs and put her into bed – often this wasn’t what she’d want and she’d immediately jump down and go into the bathroom, at least for a while. It was so pleasant when she would stretch out on my arm and purr and sleep. Those were special moments, although sometimes my arm would get painful. When she’d come into bed in the middle of the night, she’d announce her arrival with a unique sound. She often made several visits into bed. Also, at night she’d often carry her “babies” around and, in doing so, would make noises that were distinct and again are hard to repeat. She had quite a vocabulary.

She generally spent very little time in the dining room, although passing through the dining room was part of her circuit. She would only be in the kitchen when she wanted to eat or was eating. There is a section of the refrigerator devoted exclusively for Aflac food and this frequently had two or three different delights for her future consumption. I usually micro waved her food so that it would be warm and more flavorful for her. Her food bowl was silver from Columbia and her water bowl was gold from Italy. Her food mat was from Canada. Once or twice she smelled food on the granite counter and jumped up to help herself. The only time she’d go into the guest bedroom, except to use the litter box, was when I’d cycle on the computrainer and, at those times, she’d jump up on the chair, the window ledge, or the desk top and keep me company. She had a strong interest in exploring the basement and, given the opportunity of an open door would head downstairs, vocally complaining when caught that she wanted to remain in the basement and not be brought back upstairs.

When I’d travel, she was frequently on my mind. I’d try to bring her back something she’d enjoy. There was lobster from New England, caviar from England, and foie gras from France.

When I took her for grooming, Taree always seemed to enjoy her. She liked Aflac’s feistiness, her “starch in the britches.” With Taree’s and others’ feelings toward her, I had to confront my amazement that anyone else would like Aflac, someone I loved.

It was acutely painful the first time I went for a bicycle ride and came home and Aflac didn’t greet me at the back door as she always had. In the past it was as if she always welcomed me home, cared about me and was glad to see me. She knew I’d cycled and cheered me on.

Before going out to dinner, I’d always anxiously ask myself, “Do I have Aflac’s food bowl?” Now it’s painful to realize I no longer need it. Dining out is very different now. Before it was as if there were three of us present at every meal. She would get her share first, it being carefully put in a cylindrical container for her later enjoyment. Now she’s sorely missed in this way, too.

Her soul was pure and her quiet way of being was loving, connecting, comforting, holding, grounding.

She was a little cat with a big personality and a big presence that filled the entire house. Over the years she brought many smiles to my face and much joy to my heart! Her affection was vital for me – I know this painfully in her absence. I miss her deeply.

Richard C.

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  • Paul Breitkreuz – 1/16/2013
    Comments: Hi Richard, Just wanted to let you know Michele and I both read your tribute to Aflac and truly realize how attached you both were to each other. It has always been customary in our families to treat our animals if they were our BEST friends. Reading your comments reinforced all of our warm thoughts on these long time relationships we've all held with our animals. Aflac was truly another one to add to our long list of family members past and present. Love Paul & Michele