I had a cat named Panther that my folks found outside a kennel near our home. The cat had one of the most charming personalities I've ever seen within an animal. She would stare at you with a curious gaze while you ate....or just curl up in your lap to say 'Hi'. She loved to watch TV, played in the bathtub and would spend hours running up steps just to jump off the balcony onto the couch below.

She loved to wake me up with rough kitty licks. And the steady glide of her body up and down my back, accompanied by her loud purr, was always there to make sure I got up in time for work.

When I moved away from home, I took her with me. She became my lap buddy, my internet surfing companion and most importantly...a great source of relaxation. She experienced my first heartbreak with me, helped me with the stress of my new job and was a companion for another stray kitten my roommate and I saved.

Last night, I had to put her to sleep. She stopped breathing and only in an oxygen tube could she find enough oxygen to stop heaving. I knew I would miss her, but seeing that lovely cat, her black face and gorgeous yellow eyes, in such pain...hurt me to my very soul. The pain of the decision was horrific...but I was sure it was nothing compared to hers.

So...with a hug, a kiss and plenty of tears....I bid her farewell.

I'll miss you Panther.

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