Trouble: 1995-2011 (Photo by Amy Thompson)

Trouble came to us via a co-worker at The Eddie Mahe Company in Washington in 1995. She found the kitten shivering in the rain in a DC alley. He had survived among the other creatures of the night.

The black-and-white kitten didn’t meow and make much of any sound. We never knew if the silence came form a physical defect or a defense mechanism that allowed the young creature to survive on the mean streets of the city.

He always had a troubled look about him so Trouble became his name.

Yet the creature of the streets became one of our more loving — and loved — cats, a gentle animal that would fight back only when cornered by one of our other, more aggressive pets. He became more than a pet. He became a member of our family.

He came with us to Floyd in 2004, along with A.C. — short for anti-Christ — our younger, more vocal, alpha-male cat. As our menagerie grew over the years, Trouble remained the quiet one. He found his voice later in life but spoke out only when hungry or threatened.

In recent weeks, Trouble showed signs of age. With only three teeth remaining, he had trouble eating, so Amy fed him soft food through a syringe but he continued to fade.

Trouble died at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 2011, in Amy’s arms while she gave him water. When she laid his lifeless body in a box, our five other cats came by — one by one — to say goodbye. A.C. — the younger alpha-male who later became the protector of his smaller, older companion — retreated to a corner of the hallway and hasn’t moved. Our cats know they have lost one of their own and each grieves in his or her way.

So do we. Amy and I cannot stop crying.

Tears cannot replace the loss of a beloved pet.

But they can help.