Two days before my 44th birthday I was enjoying a pleasant Sunday in front of my computer. George was on my lap, pawing at my hand and demanding to be petted. The next moment he started having a coughing fit. The drive to the emergency vet seemed to take forever as he struggled for breath in his carrier and I navigated streets of Rockville that I would otherwise avoid. The news at the vet was not good--he had a tumor in his lung and an embolism. I had to make the gut-wrenching decision to put him to sleep. It was surreal to have him on my lap at 2pm, and return to my apartment at 4pm with only his collar, which I hung on a memorial doorknob in my bedroom that also holds the collars of my departed cats Arthur and Anastacia along with my late mother's watch.
I was thankful that I had George for 19 long years. I may not have been around for his end of life were it not for a miracle that occurred in 1992 before the advent of the internet, micro-chip IDs, and community listservs: George returned to us after getting out of the house and going missing for 6 weeks. After receiving a call from the local shelter that a nuetered male tabby had been found on my street, I sent my then-boyfriend over to see if it was him. George announced his presence to him in a room full of similar tabby cats.
He was truly an amazing cat with an enormous personality that was possessive, affectionate, and engaging. He grudgingly accepted the attention of my cat Kimba for the last 18 months of his life, and a gallery showing of George and Kimba's surveillance footage two days after his death (embedded below) served as a wonderful tribute to his life. I hope he is at peace now and playing with Arthur and Anastacia.