1/1/2010 - 5/26/2013Rudy's days were all borrowed time, and so happy while they lasted.

Rudy just wandered into our yard, our lives, and our hearts one summer – a young, friendly, neighborhood cat who adopted us as his family. He had no idea his days were already numbered by feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and we never told him – it didn't stop him from having a wonderful life. It did prevent us from keeping him indoors (to ensure he didn't infect other cats). We simply couldn't put our indoor feline family at risk. Neither could we find a home for him, and taking him to a shelter with FeLV was a certain death sentence. So we did what we could. We got him fixed to curtail his fighting and roaming. We gave him the best veterinary care. We tried to keep him in our yard, but no fence was high enough. So we kept him close the only way we could: with lots of food, shelter, play, and love. We knew his future was uncertain at best, but he seemed so healthy and full of life that we always hoped he would beat the odds – and for three happy years, he did.

There was no sitting around looking out a window for Rudy. He led a charmed life, the kind indoor cats can only dream of: roaming, sniffing, marking, running, climbing, pouncing, hiding, and sunning in the garden without any walls or floors or panes of glass to dim the wonder of his world. With a thousand places to explore and an ever-changing environment, he had all the enrichment a cat could ever want. He reached an ideal weight, his coat got thick and soft and bright, and the scars from his fighting days healed and faded. He even became comfortable in a carrier and was well-behaved at the vet. He roamed the neighborhood, but our backyard was his home. I called it his paradise, because it had lush vegetation, sun and shade and fountains, and everything a cat could ask for, including an (almost) on-demand human playmate.

At the same time, Rudy's life was bittersweet, at least for us. Having FeLV meant he was always the cat in the plastic bubble – but on the outside looking in – in through a window at the warm, intimate, indoor home that he could never share. He spent almost his entire life alone outside, so he didn't have as much to give as more fortunate cats. Even so, he was very sweet-natured. When the weather was nice, he would roll at our feet in delighted greeting, and when he stayed in the laundry room or garage during a bout of bad weather, he would forget he was a vigilant outdoor cat and turn into a relaxed, adorable snuggle-muffin. He would have made the most wonderful, loving, faithful companion if only a kinder fate had given him an indoor home.

Too soon, the odds caught up with Rudy and he developed the cancer that often follows from FeLV. It was very advanced when we discovered it. Rudy finally made it to the other side of the window and into our home for the last twenty-four hours of his life – and that was all the time we had to say goodbye. We kept the other cats away and he slept in my room with me for the first and last time. He spent his last day looking out the windows, so fascinated by the second-story view of his domain that we could almost forget that he was dying. His friend next door brightened his day with a visit, and then with his loving family surrounding and comforting him, he fell peacefully asleep for the last time while looking into my eyes. My little buddy's roaming days are over now; he sleeps forever in his paradise: our backyard.

To say that I loved Rudy, that I miss him terribly, and that I will never forget him, is simply not enough. I would rather be able to say that the story of his short but very special life can bring a little hope or inspiration to those with feline family facing a bleak or uncertain future because of disease. What he had to give was enough to start me searching for a way to help other cats with FeLV/FIV, if not by making their lives a little longer, then a little happier – in memory of Rudy.

You are welcome to light a candle for Rudy whether you knew him/us or not, or to click on About Rudy to share some of my memories of him. Some of them are captured in the pictures below.
Glen HarrisNewport News, VirginiaJune 1, 2013
Light a Candle

Today, after coming back from the vet, I was scavenging the web for extra little tidbits of information that could help me keep my FelV+ cat as healthy as possible and came across your beautiful memorial.
She appears to be healthy, her bloodwork is good and I pray to god this will last as long as possible, she tested positive a year and a half ago now.
Little Rudy looks so cute and playful and my heart is warmed by your display of love here, coming back year after year to not let Rudy's memory fade.
Feline lukemia is such an unfair and daunting disease, cursing these innocent creatures and taking away so many years from them, but such is the way of nature. Coming to terms with our own mortality is hard but sometimes discovering it in others is soul crushing.
Glen, I hope you're still out there doing good for animals in memory of Rudy.

Sincerely, Matteo and his furry companion Bianchina
Matteo Ventura - June 25, 2020
Small friend, so tame and yet so fierce of tooth and claw
You brought me gifts, which brought me pain—you could not know.
A hunter born, you stalked your prey
A flash of white the very last
They ever saw.
Glen Harris - May 26, 2020
Summer, then autumn passing by cannot efface
The memory of your eyes: one green, one blue
Their living light, too soon released
To roam the sky and leave the earth
A dimmer place.
Glen Harris - May 26, 2019
Five summers and five autumns have come and gone my little buddy - five more than the only three you knew.

I don't visit your stone anymore, but if I close my eyes I can still feel its rough texture on my hand.

I live far away now - I may never visit your place again and that makes me sad.

But I still carry you with me, and every day I get one step closer to where you've gone.

I hope to find you there.
Glen Harris - May 27, 2018
I wish I knew what to say. No words can take away your pain. I am so very sorry that you lost precious beautiful Rudy. You gave Rudy so much love. God bless you. Please take comfort in knowing that Rudy has eternal happiness in Heaven, and you will see Rudy again. I know how much you miss Rudy because I miss my babies that I lost every day. I love them so much just as you love Rudy. Rudy was so blessed to have you.Patricia Giannascoli - February 14, 2018
So when, in winter days to come I think of you
And recall this day, and that white hawk, I'll feel
This breath of spring— that when it turned
I saw the color of its eyes:
One green, one blue.
Glen Harris - May 27, 2017
Now the bowl is broken
but the bond is not, I know—
because I feel the missing pieces
of me that went with you.
Gleh Harris - May 27, 2016
As time passes
Pain diminishes
Much too slowly
Love remains
Ever the same.
There is no goodbye
He remains with you
Wherever you go
No matter how far
Your Guardian Angel.
The special monument
Only marks a spot
His soul follows you now
Wherever you may be
As he waits for the day....

You will be together again.
Gwen Owens - July 7, 2015
Steps creak.
Fingers trace
deep scratches
in the post.

Worn grass
leading back—
a pale shape lies
by the fence.

A hand brushes
dirt away
from the face
of the stone.

Cherry blossoms
newly bloomed,
already falling
soft as fur.

Color fills
the empty yard.
Life returns,
memories flourish.
Glen Harris - May 26, 2015
To My Brother: We go through so much, us that were chosen to give, to care, to nurse, to LOVE. We know that we won't be together long, that to our lifetimes, theirs is just two blinks of an eye. And we accept, because we are the ones privileged to know that special love, the love that you only feel when you are loved by a feline. We thank god that we were allowed to know these mysterious, wonderful creatures, even as the pain of their loss doubles us over. It doesnt lessen that pain in any way knowing as I do that there is an afterlife, that you do live on. I can only hope that it is a very special place where they go when they leave here. Time doesnt seem to make the pain lessen as I thought it would too many times now in my own life, but the one thing I do know is -they are your guardian angels now, if you listen you'll hear them, if you believe you may even see them before they go to the foot of the Rainbow Bridge where they wait for us.Remember that the only link you have now is your heart, don't close it. He's still there with you. One day.......Gwen Owens - February 14, 2015
Wind chimes
Fill the empty yard
With mournful notes

Under weeping branches
Where you sat
Cherry blossoms fall
Glen Harris - May 26, 2014
Hi Glen,
I can't add much to what so many others have already said. Although Rudy couldn't share the inside of your home you found a bridge to him to make it possible for him to live good, happy, fruitful years, however brief. There is a saying: "You get things to make a living, you give things to make a life." Your journey with Rudy is a great example of this. You did well by Rudy. I hope your memories of him become more and more weighted toward the joy he gave than grief, as time goes on. Take care.
John Brennan
Newton, MA
John Brennan - January 5, 2014
How truly special that you took the time to ensure that Rudy's abbreviated life was as full as could be. Some shy away from caring for an animal who doesn't have much time left. However, those are the critters who need our love the most. I'm sure Rudy appreciates all that you did for him, and will happily greet you at the Rainbow Bridge to return the favor by showing you around. All the best.Lisa Vaughan - November 28, 2013
Six months. A summer and an autumn have come and gone: one more than the three you saw. Three. I wish I could have given you some of mine. Not a day has passed without frequent thoughts of you and standing by your stone in sun or rain remembering you. I was your devoted guardian, and that has not changed. I could not save you, my little buddy, but as long as I live I will carry you with me and keep your memory bright.Glen Harris - November 24, 2013
Glen, on behalf of your precious sweet boy , thank you. I'm sure Rudy would agree that he had the best life possible because of all the TLC you gave to him especially with his serious health condition. It was no accident he came into your life when he did. God needed someone with a great big heart to give him their best. No doult, you did just that and therefore Rudy had a much better life.Lori Stancil - November 19, 2013
Glen & Cindy,

I'm so sorry for your loss but so happy that you were able to give this beautiful boy a wonderful and loving life. The memories that you've shared (and the great pictures) are very touching. Cats have a way of finding their people, and Rudy found your family.

I wish you strength and peace.
carol sedlak - October 13, 2013
RIP Rudy & bless you for providing him with love and companionship, that he returned 10 fold from your own words. We are facing this fate after 16 1/2 years & hearing your words...well...just thank you.Kathy Z - September 27, 2013
Rudy was so lucky to have you to look after him for the short time he had in this life. He was a sweetie and I hope you can always find a smile when you think of him. He is watching over you and waiting to see you again. Cooper's MomJanet Zaidenberg-Schrum - July 17, 2013
I miss you so much, my little buddy. Every morning and every twilight I go out to your resting place and I look around the yard, and smell the breeze, and listen to the sounds, and remember you. Every day I remember more, and miss you more, and I miss most the time we never had together. My comfort is that in my dreams you are not lost, and that one day I can follow where you've gone.Glen Harris - June 23, 2013
What a great cat. The picture of him crouching next to the cat statuette is priceless.Barbara Martin - June 18, 2013
What a beautiful sweet boy that Rudy!! You gave him such a wonderful life. He is now over the Rainbow Bridge and he is waiting for you to join him one day. Maybe he has met up with our Carrie, Missy, and Daisy? I can tell you that if they have found each other in Heaven, they are playing and having a great romp. My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss. I know all too well what you have just experienced with this horrible disease. Carrie's two kittens, Lily and Lovey are still with us and seem to be in perfect health. we are holding our breath and will get their blood work done in August to see if they grew out of the Feline Leukemia disease. so far, they are both living the lives that their mother and two sisters would have had if they would have survived. My prayers go out to you to help you in your grief and to Rudy so God will protect him until you meet again.
Marcia Diehl - June 10, 2013
What a beautiful kitty and an amazing story! He was so lucky to be so loved for his short time on earth.Jen Bansel - June 8, 2013
All I can say is if I could be re-incarnated as a cat I would want to live with your family. We need more people to be FeLV kitty advocates, because it doesnt have to be a death sentence- instead your family made his years a celebration of life. Quite inspiring. I have shared your story with my friends at the feline only shelter where I work, and they were all so touched. Thank youAmanda Grant, DVM - June 5, 2013
Dear Glen, You've posted some very wonderful and amazing pictures of Rudy. What a beautiful memorial tribute to him. I know he had the best life with you and your family. I'm touched with what you shared about Rudy's life. He will live in your heart forever, and his memories will bring you comfort in knowing the special bond that you shared with him. Blessings to you and your human and kitty family.Angela Bross, DVM - June 5, 2013
Like they say "Its not the quanity but quality of life" it still does not lessen the hurt of saying goodbye. Bless you for caring him. I come to this site often to visit my kitty angel. RIP RudyCarol Morris - June 4, 2013
RIP Rudy!Joao Torino - June 3, 2013
What a beautiful note Glen. There's no doubt Rudy had the very best life possible, what a sweet gift for you to care for him so lovingly! Wishing you warm memories.Dr. Dani McVety - June 3, 2013
So very sorry for your loss of your sweet Rudy. Thank you for giving him a home and a longer full life!Maura Higginson - June 3, 2013
Such a great message in memory of Rudy. He had a great life I'm sure.
I had a young cat that I had to euthanize due to FeLV induced lymphoma. I love that he touched you so much that you will always be advocates for felv/fiv positive cats. They really need our help.
I feel your pain.
Sending you warm memories,
Brad Bates - June 3, 2013
Rudy - you clearly had a wondering life and adopted an amazing family. I know you will watch over your family as you have watched over them over the last few years.

Glen - may the memories, stories, pictures and love you shared bring an enormous smile to your face. How wonderful to be able to have Rudy with you one night before he went to his next adventure.

Warm hugs!
Dr. Mary
Mary Gardner, DVM - June 2, 2013

So glad that you found such a loving family, and that they found such a great pet in you.
Robyn Baldwin - June 2, 2013
It has been a week already: so soon, and so far away. I have accepted that he is gone, that I will not look out the window and see him ever again. I will miss him, I do miss him. But just as I always looked every time I walked by a window for the bright spot that was Rudy, now I look intentionally to still see him there, in my imagination, in his little kingdom of my garden where he will always be.Cindy (Rudy's mom) - June 2, 2013
It is clear in the pictures how happy Rudy was and how loved he felt. He was lucky to have found such an amazing family to share his life with! I admire your courage and compassion to care for him and let him into your hearts even though you knew it would be a short, rough road.Heidi G - June 2, 2013
Sweet, lovely Rudy was a lucky kitty to have such a loving and sweet family. Good Karma is coming your way.Allie Halm - June 2, 2013
What a sweet, loving memoir. I wish I knew your Rudy, I am sorry for your loss. I hope your heart is not heavy for too long. You made his life amazing and you are amazingly kind.Holly Ayres - June 2, 2013
It doesn't matter how brief their time with us is here. They dwell forever in our hearts and our memories, because they are love.Larisa Scates - June 2, 2013
Hi Glen, you truly cared for Rudy.You gave him a wonderful life and vice versa I,too, had a cat with Fel L. I adopted her, Scarlette, because her family had other cats and they did not want them to get sick as well. I had her for a great 6 years. The disease was rough on her in the end. I wished I had sent her to heaven. But, I bet she greeted Rudy at the gates. Rest assured others can feel your pain. Sending warm,positive thoughts to you and your family. It is not a bye, but a see-ya later to our furry fam members. =)Melissa J - June 1, 2013

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