I guess, when your cats live long lives, you really get used to having them around and you start thinking they will live forever. Unfortunately, it eventually comes time to say goodbye.
Padua was one of those scrappy cats who adapted beautifully to family living, but was fiercely protective of his "territory" which included the whole house and yard. He tolerated his feline housemates, loved his Megi, and defended his borders whenever they were breached. He's the cat who tore out the screen in the screen door, because there was another cat in his yard and he wanted to get him! That night, he spend the night in the crawl space under the house and cleared out all the wild critters that had been there, too. Then he came out when I called him, ambled into the house, ate his breakfast and went to sleep.
He was just a little tiny kitten when he was spotted in the parking lot of the San Gabriel Civic Auditiorium, where my kids were working. He came home tucked inside Meg's sweater and settled right in. He was FIV positive, which meant we had to get all of our cats tested; in those days, there wasn't a vaccine for it, although there is now. In practical terms it meant that every so often he'd have to go in for antibiotics--he'd get a really sore mouth--but otherwise he was just as healthy as all the other cats. We decided he had to be part Siamese--he had that Siamese body type, long-legged and lean, and a decidedly Siamese voice.
During the house renovations, he boarded at our vet's, where they were able to give him fluids to keep him hydrated, really quite a blessing since Meg and I are terrible kitty-IV-givers. He was happy to be home, but it was obvious that he needed more care, and so after a couple of days of assessment, the vet agreed that it was time to say goodbye.
I'd like to think that tonight he's curled up on Robert's lap, right next to Tache and GiGi. There's a Padua-sized hole in our hearts tonight.