Family Cat not coming home... I was almost 16 years old when my older brother brought home Ambrose... an orange male cat he got from someone announcing 'free kittens'. My brother went to the person's house to check them out. Being kittens, they were running around, doing their thing... except one. The little orange ball of fir, smaller than the rest, that my brother noticed was jumping and nipping on the owner's large German Shepherd dog, trying to dominate it. Of course the GSD was taking it in stride... so, my brother chose 'the little orange one' because he was feisty. Ambrose was immediately accepted into the family of HUMANS... the two other cats, Misty & Chanel, both female, weren't too sure. Of course, eventually, they got used to his antics and domineering personality, as he quickly became the 'boss cat'. This was over 15 years ago. In the interim, Ambrose was known to like a good fight... with PEOPLE! We'd put on a sweat shirt, pull the sleeves over our hands and forearms, and 'wrestle' with him... he LOVED it! He was a VERY TOUGH cat. Through the hard years of my adolescence, bad girlfriends, and struggles finding a job after college, he was there. That cat for so many years, heard all my troubles and plans. While attending graduate school, I would place a small stool next to my desk and he would sit there for HOURS watching me type on the computer. When I had the flu or was just feeling crappy, Ambrose would be there, a loyal friend indeed. As time went on, he witnessed the passing of his two older sisters, one by one, they passed away. Before the passing of Chanel, his one sister, he did something extraordinary. My parent's attached garage was a favorite spot for the cats to relax... mainly because my father had constructed a screen-door/wall across the entire garage door... the cats could sit out there and enjoy the warm summer breezes in Buffalo, NY. Chanel, one of Ambrose's sisters, was my Dad's cat. She meant the world to him. One night, while my mother and I watched TV, there came a loud thumping and thrashing sound from the garage, then a shriek and grumbling. Before I could reach the garage, Ambrose had already run down the stairs from one of the bedrooms and was out there... a great struggle ensued, which lasted no more than a few seconds... the noises I can't explain. I reached the garage, turned on the light, and there were Ambrose and his sister... Ambrose standing over her, puffed-up and tense. Chanel, exhausted and with large chunks of fur pulled out. The screen door/wall had a gash in it about the size of a basketball, and Chanel's removed fur was intertwined in the meshing. I approached them, and noticed that Ambrose had a TON of odd-looking fur and some blood in his mouth... and more of the same fur on the floor (all cats had long hair, this hair was short). My mother grabbed Chanel and I went outside to figure-out what had happened. Ambrose stood there. About 20 yards away, under a truck, was a racoon, of at least 25 pounds in weight. It, with a bunch of fur missing on one side, and limping as it took-off when I approached. Apparently, the racoon attacked Chanel and tried pulling her through the hole in the screen... that is until her scrappy, tough, younger brother handed a good whoppin' to the racoon. Ambrose literally saved her life. -- Ambrose weighed 10 pounds at his heaviest. His full name was Ambrose Deon (meaning: Immortal Conquerer). He lived-up to his name that night. I moved out of Buffalo in the Fall of 2001, shortly after 9/11, to begin my job in law enforcement. On return trips back to NY, Ambrose would be there greeting us. He usually shied away from people who didn't live in the house... but he always greeted my wife and I. Although he was over 15 years old, he'd still like a good-ole' wrestling match... tough to the end. Now, as my wife and I prepare to head back to NY to visit family this coming weekend (its now Thursday), I learned that Ambrose has really taken a turn for the worse and is going to the vet at this very moment, as I write this post. We all know that he won't be coming home... and I have missed my chance to say goodbye to the 'little orange one', one last time. I know I will see him when I pass, but for now, this hurts. Thanks for reading.