This is Nero, the ninja cat. I found him somewhere in the middle of summer this year, half-dead, sick and weak. His eyes were still closed even though he was already almost two months old, due to severe case of conjuctivitis, and he couldn't breathe through his nose. I took him to the vet, cared for him for a while, and in a few week's time, he grew stronger and healthier. His fur become shiny and dark, his strength returned and his eyes fully opened.
Throughout the summer, almost every afternoon, after I'd return from work, I would head straight to the Garden and sit to read a book. Nero would jump into my lap, curl up and fall asleep. Oftentimes I would fall asleep too, and together we would sleep the slow, lonely summer afternoons away.
On Saturday, just like every other day, he came to the door, as he always does when he's hungry. I opened the door, and he slowly came in. He was breathing heavily, whimper escaping from him with every breath he took. He was weak, so very weak, and I knew right away something was terribly wrong. At first I thought he was suffering from a cold, or possibly pneumonia, as the past few days were really cold here in Croatia. But he seemed to become weaker and weaker, and I realized he needed to see a vet right away. Seeing how I live in a huge primitive village that has the nerve to call itself a town, no vets work on weekend, and the two I called didn't even answer their emergency numbers. Luckily, somebody, my mother or my girlfriend, I don't remember clearly, remembered there's an animal shelter called near Dubrovnik, so I called them, and they recommended a vet just outside Dubrovnik. I didn't have my car, so I called a friend, and he was kind enough to leave his work for later and take us to the vet. For this, I cannot thank him enough.
After checking him, the vet said Nero's condition was critical, and that she wasn't sure he could survive for long. She gave him a therapy, tried all she could, and sent us home with instructions for the rest of the day. While in the car, Nero became really nervous, so we hurried up and ran into the house. I lowered him to the floor, and he lay down, still very weak. As we gathered around him, he took a few breaths, and just like that, he wasn't breathing any more. His heart stopped, and his eyes lost the glow. Nero died around 0500 PM. He was about seven months old.
Nero died from poisoning. Since he lived in my garden, I am almost completely sure he was poisoned on purpose. It's been two days since he died, and I cannot find a single reason why somebody would do such a thing. He didn't bother anyone, he wasn't loud or wild. I wonder what kind of sad, sick person you'd have to be to purposely poison another living being, and scar another one for his or her life. I am insanely angry, and terribly sad. It's a sad, sad world in which you have to be afraid to have a pet in your own garden.
I don't have many friends, nor do I wish for more. But, as strange as that may sound, I feel like Nero was one of the closest ones I ever had. I know that, with time, I'll be able to spend time in the Garden and not feel that there's something missing. I also know that it won't happen any time soon.
Goodbye, little friend. I saved you once, but I couldn't save you twice. I'm no Superman.
P.S. I want to thank Marjan, who was willing to postpone his work and takes us to the vet; a girl who works at animal shelter "Žarkovica", for recommending a vet; a vet, who did all she could for Nero; and Gaby, my girlfriend, for being with us the whole time.