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I suppose I’ll never forget when I named Thomas…I had just sold my business and within minutes of that transaction, two kittens, littermates, appeared literally in my path and I knew they were mine. They picked me and I was fortunate enough to say yes. They were tiny and homeless and one was solid black and one was solid white. I knew immediately that Echo’s name would indeed be Echo. I already had one solid black kitty and it seemed apropos that the new kitten would be her shadow so-to-speak…and the name Echo seemed fitting. But the tiny little white kitten was more difficult to name. I didn’t want to name him Snowball or Fluffy or something quite so standard. I could tell he was special, there was something about him. Because the little kitten was so small but seemed equally social, I decided to name him after my favorite cyclist, Thomas Voeckler, and it could not have been a better fit. Thomas Voeckler the cyclist was, and is, a fun cyclist. He is small, even in a sport of very small athletes, he is so small that the commentary guys typically refer to him as ‘L’ll Thomas Voeckler’. He’s 8also full of energy and bounds around with enthusiasm, he is known as the most social cyclist of all the professional riders. It’s almost impossible not to like Thomas Voeckler.

The same goes for my beloved little white cat, Thomas Voeckler. Like his namesake, he is tiny, has always had energy to spare and loves people – by far, he is the most social of my cats. I have never met anyone who didn’t fall hard for my little Thomas; he emanates love and acceptance and while I like to think I’ve only exposed him to people who have good hearts, he is particularly drawn to those who are genuine. Frankly, I’ve learned from him as to help decipher the authentic from the ‘less than’.

I knew something was wrong with him, my gut told me and I didn’t want to acknowledge it. It was as if I couldn’t bare it, not another loss, I’d had to endure so much in such a short amount of time. But I noticed…he didn’t play with the laser light like he used to and while he still came running for treats and was always there for breakfast and dinner, intuitively I knew something was wrong; it has been a subtle and slow transition. 

In December the vet ran blood work but didn’t see anything abnormal but she also voiced concerned about how small he was. I watched him throughout the winter as he slept a lot but always chose to sleep where I was: reading the paper, Thomas would sleep over my shoulder and help me do the puzzles each day, writing blog articles, Thomas would sleep on his chair in my office and then at bedtime he was always there…he always chose to be around me. I continued to notice how tired he seemed, I left for a vacation and my friend and housesitter noticed it too…he slept a lot but never missed a meal. I thought perhaps he was stressed about my absence. We were going through a dreadfully cold winter, the house was cold, I was cold, he was cold…I thought perhaps we were struggling due to the cold. 

But then we moved across the country to a warmer more inviting environment…a big journey that I talked to him about and explained where and how and why. He did great. His vet helped with sedatives and I did everything I knew to do to make the trip smooth, calm and stress-free. Even in the car as we drove, if I spoke on the phone it was in a calm voice, if I listened to music it was one of a few select CD’s that I thought would be soothing. My stops were quick and focused more on my cats than me. Upon the move-in, everything was set for him and the other cats to be comfortable; their familiar blankets, toys, beds and rugs in place. And they all did fabulous. I was grateful and cannot believe we did it and did it so well.

Once we were settled and they knew their new home and environment, all their things were in place, Thomas began to let me know he didn’t feel well. I knew…I had known all along that something was wrong but we just didn’t know, the tests didn’t tell us and animals and humans don’t speak the same language.

Thomas accepted our new home and immediately made the outside balcony his own. He’s always been the one who wanted to be outside, to chew on grass, to smell the air…he’d beg for me to let him outside and I did. He wanted to be outside and I’d let him spend as much time as he wanted in the safety of his large crate taking in all the outdoors had to offer. 

                                   Unfortunately, the outdoors offered up a virus 
                                that he ended up contracting that he won’t survive.


He probably contracted it last fall on one of those golden afternoons where he spent hours gazing in the yard, soaking in the sun and smiling at me as anyone who has met Thomas knows he can do.

As we all settled in and began making our new home ours, finding places we like to hang out, the kitties claiming places they prefer, Thomas spent many hours on the balcony gazing out, watching the deer and the hawks. He’d look at me in awe and watched and napped under the rocker. Within one day he let me know he was sick; I acted immediately. I learned today that he is fatally ill and because cats are cats, we really don’t know how long he has to live.

I know some things for sure. Thomas knew he was sick and he knew we were moving. He held on until we got to our new home and got settled. He never missed an opportunity to sleep in front of the fire or on top of the sofa, two of his favorite things. He traveled very well and when we stopped he would get out and look around, curious and calm. He made sure everyone was ok – I watched him bathing his little sister Pine Cone, he napped with Bridgette and sat with Echo in the window and he laid on the balcony and enjoyed the awesome view looking out on the northwest hills of Austin – for the first time ever – not being contained in a crate. He smiled at me as those of you who know him knows he does as if to say, we’re here, we did it, can you believe it?

When he told me he was sick I responded immediately.

I found a vet worthy of my sweet boy who tenderly tested him and let me know that he is fatally ill and there is no cure; he’s probably been sick since at least the fall. My sweet, lovable Little Thomas Voeckler is dying and even there, with the vet, as I sat crying, Thomas looked at me as it to say, ‘we did it…we made it to Austin and I got to be outside and see the deer and it’s ok’…or at least that’s how I have begun to rationalize it.

Minutes later I was home and ran into a neighbor and new friend…he has a beautiful greyhound and as I stood holding his dog and explained about Thomas without inhibition I looked up and saw tears in his eyes. And then I remembered…we don’t sign up for this part when we bring pets into our lives. We want them to live forever but they don’t and they don’t carry the heartache that we do…they only carry the love. My friend Seth reminded me that animals don’t feel regret and that surely Thomas loved being a part of the journey to Austin as one of the family. He saw the effort I made on his behalf and he held on until he felt it was ok to let go.

As I go forward in the next couple of days or weeks or months I will strive to be present for Thomas and not focus on who I am losing but rather feel gratitude for all that he has been to me, to my friends and to my family. We are losing him and my other cats have let me know that they know; they are a bit clingy yet they stay close to Thomas too. I will do everything in my power to make sure Thomas is comfortable and content. 

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t fall in love with my sweet L’ll Thomas Voeckler, but no one more than me. I used to joke that I picked him but truth be told, he picked me and I’m very fortunate that he did.

As small as he is, he will leave a huge hole in my heart.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven



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