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Rommie The Miracle Cat (May 1993- March 24, 2011) 2011/03/31

Posted by greyhoundsrule in In Memory - the Rainbow Bridge.
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Roomie the Miracle Cat

The tribute is written by Linda Berzok.

Almost 18 years of Joy & Magic

Tucson, Arizona—Rommie, The Miracle Cat, died on March 24 at the Casas Adobes Pet Clinic after a long period of decline resulting from kidney failure.  She went to sleep for the final time peacefully in the company of her adoptive parents, Linda and Bob, while lying wrapped in a towel on Bob’s lap.
Born in the wild in Westchester County, N. Y. in May 1993, Rommie and her “identical twin brother” were rescued by a senior citizen and delivered to Forgotten Felines, a cat adoption agency.  Linda and Bob, who married that June, went to the adoption clinic two months later and Linda picked Rommie because she was so beautiful–a tiny, long-haired black and white tabby with a plume-like tail–and because the kitten was so terribly frightened and vulnerable (clear signs of being born outside and not handled during the critical first month of life).  One vet described her as having “haunted eyes.”  Who knows what they had seen?  “I knew she would need a lot of nurturing to help her gain confidence,” Linda said.
Linda and Bob took her home to Stamford, Conn. and began the long process of trying to encourage the semi-feral three month-old kitten to trust them.  “It took years for us to teach her that petting was pleasurable and even longer before she would jump up on my lap,” said Bob.  She remained mostly timid and stand-offish with other humans and never tolerated dogs or other cats.
Rommie’s early life was relatively uneventful, although she had a bizarre appetite for things like matzo, tortilla chips, Indian food, pizza, stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce and was once seen swallowing a piece of strawberry!
Rommie got to visit the Berzok cabin in the Adirondacks when she was very young. Here Linda and Bob would leave the door to the screened porch open so she could get up at dawn, sit there and watch the whole natural world wake up.
When Linda and Bob bought their home in the Berkshires, Rommie rejoiced in the outdoors.  Usually, she stayed close to the house and generally came back when called, albeit sometimes reluctantly after dusk.
This began the period of Rommie testing the theory that cats have nine lives.  One Christmas, she dove off the living room loft toward a 6 foot decorated tree because she was so terrified of Linda’s wielding a noisy vacuum too close for her comfort.  Although she may have thought one of the limbs would hold her, she crashed through the tree sending decorations flying in all directions, and landed on her chin, knocking out several teeth.  Then she beat a hasty retreat under the bed in the guest room overnight.  Thrice more in the course of her life, she would slip off the loft “cat walk,” 16 feet off the ground, and land without injury.
There were also physical problems.  Rommie was given to excessive throwing up from the time she was a kitten. Although her parents repeatedly took her to various vets looking for an answer and put her on various special diets, no vet was ever were really sure what accounted for her ultra-sensitive stomach.
In May 2006, Linda and Bob observed she was eating like a maniac but losing weight—down to 5 pounds from her all-time high of 8.  The vet diagnosed thyroid disease and Bob took her for a radiation treatment only available several hours away in Auburn, Mass.  She bounced back.
Once Linda and Bob began to commute annually from New York State to Tucson, Rommie pulled her most dramatic caper.  Arriving in Louisville, Ky., for the night, Rommie who was fed up with the travel, jumped ship (car) and took off.  After several days of searching, calling and trying to lure her back even with a roast chicken, Linda and Bob went on to Tucson distraught to gather more resources.  They ran an ad with photo in the Louisville Courier-Journal Lost and Found and got leads to the groups Alley Cat Advocates and Feral Felines, who routinely trapped strays.   When the ad elicited calls with sightings (they proved to be false), Bob headed back to Louisville to make sure all bases had been covered.  After nearly a week of searching neighborhoods morning-to-night and posting hundreds of flyers, Bob, who was about to give up, was directed to a person in the area. Vicki Litton, a volunteer who on her day off was specifically searching for Rommie, had heard a cat crying from a culvert about 100 feet from the hotel. Four hours later, with the help of a half dozen people, the cat did indeed turn out to be Rommie. During her 16 days back in the wild, Rommie had lost a pound and a half and was dehydrated, filthy and covered with mats. But, she suffered no permanent damage and was featured in an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Years later, in Tucson, there was another crisis when Rommie’s vomiting went completely out of control, occurring many times a day.  Linda went online and was able to diagnose that Rommie had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  She began a new hypoallergenic diet, antacids morning and evening and also an antibiotic at night.  This helped her incredibly and her health and weight improved.
Linda and Bob began to think she was invincible and would live to 21, but she was slowing down, going deaf and showing other signs of aging.  This past summer in Stephentown, she suffered a very painful urinary tract infection, treated with two shots of antibiotics, and the vet confirmed that her kidneys had shrunk (a common occurrence in older cats).  During the fall and winter, she became increasingly lethargic and stopped grooming herself.  In March, she began to have some episodes of incontinence.  Something else was wrong.
Linda and Bob took her to the Tucson senior vet on March 14 who confirmed she was dehydrated, had lost a pound since her last exam, both due to severe kidney dysfunction, and that she had as little as a week to live.  On Thursday, March 24, she stopped eating and Linda and Bob took her back to the vet again that morning.  She had lost another 7 ounces and was anemic.  We brought her home for private good-byes, a walk outside, being held, petting and one last perch in the sun on the windowsill.  From that morning, right through the time she died in the late afternoon, at an age which in human terms would be 87, she never shut her haunted eyes again.
A Few of Her Favorite Things:  Barbecuing with her Daddy in Stephentown; Tres Leches Cake; Muffins in our bed on Sunday mornings; Lying in the sun; Sitting on windowsills; Bird watching; Standing in front of a screen door with the breezes wafting through her fur; Times outside in Stephentown—bounding through the grass, sitting on the top step of our rail ties surveying the entire landscape; Rolling over and over on command; Lying on her Daddy’s chest in bed and communing with him; Sampling her Mom’s culinary delights just when guests were due to arrive for dinner.

Her Least Favorite Things: Any other animals and most other humans except her Mommy and Daddy, and a recently developed friendship with Gennie at Creature Comforts “Sleep-Away Camp;” Visits to Dr. Doom—the name we gave to every vet; Motel Rooms; Car rides over twisty-turny roads; Being left alone. Travels A 10-Day Car Trip to the Gaspe Peninsula, Canada; A separate trip to Toronto where she got loose from the hotel room and, according to the manager, “saw most of the first floor;” 10 cross-country car trips between Stephentown and Tucson; 7 airline flights between Stephentown and Tucson and 1 from Louisville to Tucson; The Cabin in the Adirondacks.

Rommie taught everyone to believe in miracles and that cats are angels in fur.

Cat Story: Lost and Found 2009/12/09

Posted by greyhoundsrule in Greyhounds Rule/News.
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A few weeks ago I went to a dinner party and three of the four of us are devoted pet owners. If you’re a pet owner, you know you go the extra mile or even across the the country as Bob Berzok did to find his cat. The fourth person, a non pet owner, just rolled her eyes a lot. I won’t mention names.

Here’s a heartwarming story of Rommie and his romp in Louisville and how the kindness of strangers and the dedication of pet owners made for a happy ending.

Bob & Linda Berzok said they still exchange holiday cards with the people who helped find Rommie. It’s amazing what animal lovers will do for each other.

Rommie - lost & found

Sunday, November 26, 2006 The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky

Cat-astrophe averted

Feline, couple reunited after scary adventure in Louisville

By Katya Cengel, Feature Writer
This year, Linda and Robert Berzok’s Christmas card will feature a picture of their 13-year-old cat Rommie, and words about their Louisville miracle.
Thanks to the generosity and caring of strangers, the Berzoks’ longhaired gray, white and black cat is home again in Arizona after an unplanned adventure.
The Berzoks were driving from their summer home in upstate New York to their winter place in Arizona on Nov. 1 when they stopped in Louisville for the night.
As they opened the car door at the Extended Stay America hotel on Dutchmans Lane, Rommie leaped out.
The cat, rescued from the streets 13 years earlier, always had been nervous. She had to be kept away from children, dogs and even guests. It took 10 years before she would jump onto Robert Berzok’s lap.
“It brought out all the nurturing in us to take care of her,” said Linda Berzok, a 63-year-old writer and food historian.
Toothless, clawless and extremely timid, Rommie’s fate weighed heavily on the Berzoks, who for the past five years have been making the drive from New York to Arizona and back with Rommie.
“She’s like a character in our lives,” Linda Berzok said. For 30 minutes, their “little girl” hid under cars and bushes around the parking lot. Then she disappeared.
After more than four hours of searching, the Berzoks went to bed. But Robert Berzok, a 62-year-old retired communications director, didn’t do much sleeping. Every few hours he would get up, get dressed and search.
In the morning they searched again. They spent another night in Louisville and the next day they placed an advertisement in The Courier-Journal and made a few fliers.
Then, filled with dread, they continued home.
Once in Arizona, they placed a new advertisement in the newspaper, this time with a photo of Rommie, and made more detailed fliers, which they sent to several Louisville organizations, including Alley Cat Advocates, which spays and neuters stray cats.
Vicki Litton, a retired BellSouth worker from St. Matthews, called the Berzoks and told them about a cat she had found. Robert Berzok asked if it had teeth. Litton said it did. It wasn’t Rommie.
Several more Louisvillians called the Berzoks with supposed sightings.
Then, more than a week after Rommie had gone missing, Pat Cundiff called to tell them about a cat she had spotted matching Rommie’s description.
Robert Berzok flew to Louisville that night.
At the Extended Stay, people called to offer suggestions and support. Cheryl Jewell, a volunteer with Alley Cat, worked nearby and kept an eye out for the cat.
Berzok posted 400 fliers and photos of Rommie in the neighborhood. But after almost a week, there still was no Rommie. Berzok was paying his hotel bill when he heard that a woman searching nearby had heard a cat’s cry.
Litton had spotted a culvert and decided to drop a little cat food in front.

That’s when she heard a hiss.
She closed off the culvert with cat carriers. Berzok showed up unsure whether it was his cat. Litton thought it was and called her husband, Gary, who brought poles to try to poke the cat toward a carrier.
But it wouldn’t budge.
Jane Harper, of Alley Cat, and her husband showed up. Jewell snuck away from work and managed to secure some cat traps. For four hours they tried to coax and prod the cat out.
As he got a better look, Berzok became convinced that the cat probably was Rommie.
Next on the scene was Capt. Ann Camp with Metro Animal Services. She brought another pole. Cat food and sardines were placed near the traps.
Berzok got down on the muddy ground and edged closer to the cat, which slowly edged closer to him. When it was about 2 feet away he grabbed it.
Rommie emerged — muddy, scrawny and scared, but well.

Berzok began to cry, then Litton, then the rest.

“It was sweet; it was just the best feeling in the world,” Litton said.
Berzok and Rommie stayed in the hotel that night free, thanks to the general manager, Robert Flores.
Alley Cat provided Rommie with a new brush and carrier. The next morning she took her first flight. Not wanting to risk any other mishaps, Robert Berzok bought Rommie her own ticket so she could sit with the passengers. He’s also instituted a strict car policy.
“She can have the run of the car,” he said. “But before any door is opened, she must be in a carrier cage.”

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