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This is the story of Hobie, and my 20 year relationship with "The Best Cat Ever!"

In 1991 I was working at Good Samaritan Hospital as the liaison nurse for the Home Health Dept. Our office was located in an old building that had once been the student nurse's residence. The upper floors consisted of apartments rented by hospital employees. The ground floor housed our office and a laundry room. My office looked out onto a patio area where some of the kids who lived in the building liked to play. In the summer of 1991, I noticed that the kids often played with an orange kitten. I remember thinking, that the poor kitten never got any rest from these kids. He seemed happy enough to be with them, as they carried him around in a big box and passed him from one child to another.

Months passed, and I didn't see the kitten, because the kids seem to be around. In March of 1992, I noticed an orange tabby cat hanging around the laundry room and out in the patio area. Then, he was at our windows looking in at us as we worked. One day, when the office door was open, he came in and wanted to hang around. This didn't make everyone in our office happy. The world is not full of cat lovers like me. I noticed that this scruffy little cat was pretty skinny and dirty. It occurred to me that this was probably the cat that I had seen with the kids during the previous summer. Apparently, the family had moved away, and left him behind.

I started bringing in dry cat food, and feeding him every day. He would come to the window, and paw on it to get my attention. If I saw him outside or in the laundry room, he would always come to me, and loved to be held and petted. One day I brought my son Jeremy to work with me. I told Jeremy to come to the laundry room with me, so I could show him something. We went into the laundry room and sat on a couch. The little orange tabby cat was sitting on top of a dryer, staying warm. I called to the kitty to come. He immediately jumped off the dryer and planted himself between Jeremy and me on the couch. I remember Jeremy said "Wow, that's a cool cat!"

Some people in my office wanted to call animal control to come get my little orange friend, but I was determined not to let that happen. I was sure I could find a home for this sweet little kitty. I didn't think I could keep him myself, because we had two other cats at home, and very little money. Besides that, only two months before this time, I had lost my dear cat named "Kitty" at the age of almost twenty years. I was still grieving for Kitty, and I wasn't really ready for another cat.

A friend of mine, Joyce was very involved in animal rescue. Joyce arranged for free neutering for this little cat, which would make it easier to find him a home. I had an appointment for him at the vet for the following week. Then, I walked into work one day and noticed that the little guy had an abscess on his leg. I knew that he need medical attention right away. So, I took him to the vet who was scheduled to perform the neutering. I explained that we had very little money, but I wanted to help this little cat get well. I left him there for two days. They drained the abscess, neutered him, and gave him all his shots. When I returned to pick him up, I was very worried about the cost. I believe the vet charged me only $30. I was amazed and thanked him profusely. He responded by saying, "No. Thank you for taking in this animal.

I took the little orange tabby cat home with me, figuring I'd keep him long enough to find him a good home. He came into our house and went right to the bedroom that my husband Cliff and I shared. He stayed there pretty much all the time, except for using the litter box, and eating. Our other two cats weren't fond of him, so he just stayed out of their way. He was a "peace at any price" kind of kitty. We decided that he needed a name, even though we didn't plan to keep him forever. We picked the name "Hobo", because he had been a little homeless guy. I really did try to find him a home, but it was harder than I thought to place a cat, even a perfect one. After a short while, I gave up. Hobo had not only moved into our home, but into our hearts.

For the past twenty years this little cat, who we affectionately called "Hobie", brought us more joy than we could have imagined. To us, he was simply the sweetest, smartest cat that ever lived. He never scratched a piece of furniture, always used the litter box, never scratched or bit anyone, and almost always came when he was called. He got along with other cats and dogs. He loved to snuggle. He would come upstairs to our bedroom every night and insist on snuggling with me for a while before bedtime. I had a special way of holding him like a baby, while he purred very loudly. Around 9:00 P.M. every night, if I wasn't already upstairs in the bedroom, he'd come looking for me to tell me loudly that it was bedtime. He loved to snuggle with Cliff too, and just about anyone else who would allow it. Hobie slept with Cliff and me at night. If he got cold during the night, he would gently rub his paw on Cliff's or my cheek until someone lifted the covers, so he could get underneath where it was warmer.

When his kidneys finally failed, he behaved bravely, pushing himself to stand and walk and eat for as long as he could. Many times I could tell that he didn't feel like doing it. I think sometimes he walked and ate just for me. In the past two weeks, it became harder for him to walk. I would get up during the night and carry him to the litter box. He went potty for me every time. Who says you can't teach an old cat new tricks?

It was impossible not to love this little cat. Today, I lost him. I can't believe that he is gone. I'm grateful for the twenty years that he filled my life. The time seemed so short. There is a big hole in my heart now, that was once filled with a little orange stray cat named Hobie, who was The Best Cat Ever!