Almost 19 years ago, Herne was born - conveniently on my friend Merry's birthday who'd taken in Herne's very pregnant mama. He was the runt of a litter of five - and by far the prettiest of the bunch, though I'm guessing Mer would disagree since she kept his brother Casey.
When he was a kitten we called him Circus Cat. He'd do amazing midair flips when we'd play with him with ribbons and other toys. He played fetch with puff balls and he'd go to the basement every night and drag three or four dirty socks from the laundry bin, all the way up two flights of stairs to lay them at the foot of our bed. He was so tiny that the socks were bigger than he was. He earned the nickname Herne the Hunter for that. We also called him Bunny Boy because he had fur as soft as any rabbit.
Herne has always been a mama's boy. He snuggles with me no matter where I am and especially likes to help me write by laying on my keyboard or my arms or my chest while I'm trying to work, contentedly purring the whole time.
Over the last couple years, he's been sleepier and weaker. He's gone deaf and blind. He navigates the house using the perimeter of the room and what we affectionately refer to as Kitty Sonar. It involves Herne yowling loudly as he wanders around. He'd always make himself known to whoever was on the phone with me, meowing loudly into the mouthpiece. It's an obnoxious sound, but it's one I'm going to miss.
Herne had a stroke today. One minute he was sleeping by me on the couch and the next he was spinning in horrifyingly endless circles, stopping only when the right side of his body would give way. Then, he'd claw to his feet and repeat motions looking more and more confused.
I held him and he snuggled into me and purred, but when he got restless, the same cycle would start again. They boys and I took turns keeping him calm until Matt got home and we took him to the vet.
We ended up having to put him down tonight. I miss him so much already.