(C.A.R.E. Name: Charlie)


It was 11 years ago I met Chilli. I was single, looking for some feline companionship, preferably a cute cuddly kitten. I made my way to C.A.R.E. to adopt a little feline critter. I was feeling a little nervous about just picking out a kitten. I felt bad that I would have to choose, like at a candy store. I thought I might pass up some kittens and feel bad that I didn't choose them. I told the counselor what I was looking for. She said , well, we don't have many kittens, but you might like this cat, Charlie. She described him as a lap cat that was found and brought to the shelter. They thought he was about 1 1/2 or 2 years old. Charlie had been taken to the vet already to be checked out. He had some routine ear mites and was FIV positive, she explained. She further explained the whole FIV thing and that other adopters were hesitant to adopt these FIV positive cats. So we walked to the back . She opened a cage; I walked towards the cage, and into my arms jumps a huge orange cat. It was love at first sight for both of us. I asked a little more about FIV and costs that it might entail. I made the decision to adopt and made an agreement with myself, when the end was near, give him extra love and care and not do surgeries, etc. to prolong his life. So off we went, Charlie and me.

I called Charlie "Kitty" for a while, because Charlie just did not match his personality, and I thought it sounded old. Then I just started saying Ch, because his head would tilt and look at me, so I needed a name that started with Ch. So Chilli, it was. I used to watch a cartoon with a Chilli Willi character on it, and this seemed to fit well. Later I found out that it was more like chili the food, because he sure could drop a smelly poop, and he had stinky breath too.

As we got to know each other better, I was amazed at how affectionate and almost over-friendly he was. He liked to play and talk ALL the time. He never missed a day greeting me at the door, and never failed to tell me when he was hungry, which was all the time. He would climb on me like I was a tree and hold on by his paws. So he developed a lot of cat muscles over the years. He liked to climb on anyone and everyone. He liked everyone, and everyone ended up liking him. Even cat haters fell in love with Chilli.

The only thing Chilli loved possibly more than me was his cat brush. We went through five brushes. He would eat the bristles off and he loved to be brushed and rubbed ALL the time. If I were a masseuse for cats, I could be rich right now. He liked to be rubbed in his armpits, on his stomach, on his chin, near his whiskers, on his butt, his ears, his thighs, you name it, and he liked it. We talked every day. He watched me every day as if I were HIS entertainment. He would just sit and stare. So much that a few times I had to step into the bathroom to change my clothes because I felt a little uncomfortable. Ha-ha!

We moved five times. We watched one of the apartments slowly flood with water that was creeping towards us. We slept many hours in the bed. We hung out many times just doing computer work. We made a few visits to Bramer Animal Hospital in Evanston, IL . We ran around the apartment like crazies sometimes. We caught a bird in the house together. We ate a lot. We hung out a lot. We also had the opportunity to make a lot of friends. We had many friends. And if they weren't a cat lover coming into the apartment, they left a cat lover. We left them in awe of what a pet and pet owner can actually be. Ha-ha! I would explain to all the visitors of his FIV status.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus What is that? My friends would ask. Well, it's like HIV in humans, but it is a cat thing. Laughing, well can I get it? No, that's why it starts with the word Feline... HELLO!!! Then I would go on to explain that he is still a normal cat, will live normal cat years, just the ending will probably be a little different. After they would hang around a while, they realized this was not a normal cat. A big tiger head, people would say. Big shoulders and paws. Why does he just sit and stare at me? He keeps brushing against me. Now he's trying to sit on me. Oh, he wants me to pet him again. Where's his brush? Hold on, I can calm him down; he likes to be thrown up in the air. He likes big bear squeezes on the way down. Well let's play with this string for a while; maybe he'll get tired. He would parade all over the guests, tormenting them with affection and love while they were trying to watch a movie or have a chat with me. Eating pizza was difficult because Chilli wanted some too. After 10 - 12 shoves to the side, he STILL wanted attention. He was like the energizer bunny; he kept going and going and going. STOP, was not in Chilli's vocabulary. So if he had a downfall, this was it, but how can you hate a cat showing you some love???

At the end of every night, we both slept with our head on the pillow. He was the alarm clock. I would awake to a cat staring at me, waiting for me to feed him. I later figured out, he was sleeping during the day and waiting for me to get home and play. So when my schedule changed and I was home more during the day, I am sure he got sick of ME waking him up. He has been and seen and felt everything I have experienced the past 11 years. Not just a cat, truly a friend I loved indeed. The past month he has been losing energy and slowly lost that LIFE he was so full of. The cat talk turned to quiet wails today, I knew it was time. He lay on his side with his head on my hand. It has been one of the saddest days I ever had. Today, February 6th, 2006 at 2pm, death became our friend. I am sure Chilli is winning him over too with all his love and affectionate cat kisses.

F un to have around all the time

I nside he was a warrior, fearless, and adventurous

V ery loving and affectionate

+ I am positive he changed my life