A Cat Named Milo
Emily, Age 11, Barrie, ON

There he was, on that one small pillow on the bed, kneading with his two front black paws, his eyes closed into slits, his ears back slightly, and his black, tan and brown striped sickly-looking fur slowly rising and falling as he fought for breath. On that one special green and purple striped fuzzy pillow, a very special cat lay. His name was Milo.

Chapter 1: He’s Perfect!
There we were, surrounded by brick walls painted with cats and dogs and smaller animals such as birds and hamsters, with at least 63 cat cages, and 13 dog cages. I stood in front of a shiny metal cage, the one next to the middle one, and in it a big, black, chubby cat lay in the corner, his eyes closed, his small white paws tucked under his pudgy body, softly purring, alongside another, a small pale brown tabby with unusually dark brown stripes down his back, head, tail, legs and arms. He rubbed himself against the hard metal bars, purring. I smiled and reached to open the cage and hold him. You are allowed to do that there. But before I could do anything, Mom’s voice rang in my ears. She called “What do you think of this one?” I turned to my right to see her next to a manager pulling a small bundle of black-and-brown fur out of a cage filled with a bunch of unmoving, sleeping kittens, except for that one - he was perfect!

Chapter 2: Bringing Milo Home
As we drove home, the kitten was on my lap and I petted his soft little head as he jerked his legs, tail twitching, letting us know he was dreaming as I whispered to my mom, “He’s dreaming…!” When we got home, he was obviously curious when we set him down on the tile floor. I don’t think there was ONE spot in that kitchen that he didn’t poke his little nose into and sniff around! Then he obviously got tired sniffing and poking around, and saw his bed. Apparently, he was a lazy little kitten because his front paws dragged on the floor. I laughed my little giggle-like laugh as he tumbled over his chubby little new-born kitten legs.

After a few weeks, we realized something which was a real shock and horror to our family, and Milo…

Chapter 3: What’s Wrong with Milo??
A few more weeks passed, and Milo got a lot lazier. Before that, he would not stop playing with us. Now, he was getting chubbier and lazier every single day – even when I twirled his favorite yellow piece of string around his head and said what he loved me to say the most, “Here kitty, kitty!”, he just looked at me with two wide amber eyes, as if I was offering him chocolate! After a while, my mom got concerned about Milo and called the vet immediately. I lay on the couch with Milo on my chest as he kneaded on my dark red clothing, like he always did before he went for a long nap; his naps were getting longer and longer, as if he was trying to reach death in his sleep. I watched Mom’s concerned face when she talked. She looked as if she only had eight days to live and someone just broke the news to her! The next day, we took Milo to the vet just to be sure he wasn’t sick or anything worse. Mom let him sleep with us that night just in case those were his final hours.

Chapter 4: Saying Good-Bye
The vet confirmed Milo had FIP, which stands for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. Its name is pretty long, but Milo’s life wasn’t. As I was in school, Milo got put to sleep at the vet hospital. It was done with care and honesty. In his last hours, we made sure he was comfortable.  When it's time, you know when to say goodbye. Even though his life was short, it was a good life. We gave him a home and he was happy – and he made us happy.

After that terrible experience, I soon realized that things don’t always turn out how you plan. Some things you have to prepare for; others you won’t expect. But anytime and anywhere, you’ll need to know how to always be there for your family, even if it’s your family pet.

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