Goodbye, Panda. I miss you.
He was 12 years old. That's not very old for a cat, but his littermate Coco died four or five years ago now, so I guess there was something about the family. He had to be coaxed or carried out of the cellar lately and he had had diabetes for a while, but that wasn't what killed him; at least, not the only thing. A week or two ago, my mother noticed that he was in pain and she took him to a vet down in Brandon, the only one she could find after hours. I think she said it turned out to be only a urinary tract infection or something. She got medicine and a treatment regimen for the next few days. The problem itself might have been minor, but for various reasons we didn't really think he'd last very long... we were right. Tuesday, mom called me as soon as she got home from work to say that he was dead. In fact, he had been dead for hours - he was stiff, his body holding open the door to the cellar, where the food and litterbox is.
He was a great guy. "A class act," as dad called him later that night. Unlike his nephew Felix or our adopted stray Gray (who we put to sleep almost a year ago), he wasn't friendly with strangers at all. But he followed me around whenever he could. And he had this cute high squeaky meow, which he used a lot, answering his name or just being friendly. If he was on a bed or some other place around waist height, he'd often try to hook me as I went by - "pay attention to me!", something like that - which I made a game of whenever I could.
There's a story I tell everyone about him. Unfortunately, he grew out of this and finally learned better, but it was the funniest thing in the world until he was four, maybe even six. All cats like high places, of course, and most cats like to have their bellies rubbed. But Panda, the poor guy, tried to mix the two together sometimes. So if I saw him sitting on the edge of a bed or the top of the stairs, I'd go up to him and make your typical "coochy-coochy-coo" noises, or maybe pet him on one side, and he'd roll over--
and the next thing you'd hear would be "meowthumpthumpthump" as he rolled down the stairs.