I had to have Prince put down on Sunday. At 17 years and 6 months, he had already lived well past the average lifespan of a domestic cat - and had done so with amazingly good health and very few problems. But he stopped eating a couple of weeks ago and seemed very listless. My vet recommended a visit to the Animal Emergency Hospital in Mansfield. They ran a battery of tests and found evidence of cancer, as well as a bunch of fluid in his chest cavity. After they drained it, he seemed to perk up pretty quickly - but it was short-lived. After draining him twice more in a week, it became apparent that further treatment was pointless - we would not be extending his life, just prolonging his suffering and misery. So Mrs. HHD and I went to the hospital to say goodbye to him and authorize the euthanasia. When the doc brought him out to see us, he was meowing like crazy and glad to see us - but it was also obvious that every breath was a major effort. After the first treatment, I had hoped that we would have a few more weeks or months so he could come home and enjoy his remaining time, but it was apparent that the humane thing to do was to end his misery. Knowing that it was the right thing to do did not prevent my crying like a baby as he died in my arms. I really miss my buddy. I got him when he was weaned as a kitten, and had him for over 17 years (nearly 1/4 of my life). He was a very playful kitten - I remember bringing my putter, putting cup, and a couple of golf balls into the family room to practice putting. It was a big game to Prince to see if he could intercept a putt before it reached the cup - most of the time he succeeded. He really liked batting and chasing plastic balls across the floor - and it was a riot to watch him. Before my knees cratered, I used to get up and jog at 5:00 - to beat the heat and traffic before going to work. Prince was a smart cat and broke the code pretty quickly - "5:00, Master gets up to run, goes downstairs, and I get breakfast." The first day of my retirement, I was awakened at 5:00 by his kneading on my chest - "Good morning, Master, it's 5:00 - where's my breakfast?" I tried to retrain him, but he wasn't buying it, so I finally decided I could get up when he was hungry, fill the food dish, and go back to bed. Mrs. HHD and I get tilapia and salmon filets from the Commissary every few weeks. He was really happy when he could smell the fish coming out of the oven - he knew he could sit there patiently and wait for me to give him a handout (which I always did). He loved to eat the fish. He wasn't a real lap kitty, but he did like to curl up next to me in front of the TV and have me scratch his ears. If I tried to quit before he was ready, he would simply look up at me and stare - I got the message and scratched some more. I could go on with a bunch more insights into Prince, but it's getting hard to see the computer screen through the tears. I'll leave his picture up as my avatar. I know many of you have had to put beloved pets down, so I'm not alone - but I just had to share my thoughts about my friend Prince.