cleo leaves

RIP Cleo

It’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have it.  Less than four months ago I put down my rescue cat Charcoal, who had a cancerous tumor in his mouth, and now his companion Cleo follows him across the Rainbow Bridge, from the same complaint!  Cleo and Charkey were very close, and she hasn’t been the same since his passing.  Her eating habits had become erratic, and she was isolating more and more in the upper reaches of a storage unit in the laundry room that was their home.  After a few initial forays into the spring sunshine of the garden, she refused to go out, and the weekend before her death, she stopped eating completely.

She still came to sit with me daily, cuddling together on the kitchen steps while I petted, she purred, and I sang to her (she was a Cole Porter afficionado).  Although I knew something was seriously wrong, I did not suspect, when I packed her up for the vet visit on May 6th, that I wouldn’t be bringing her home again.

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Most of my pictures of Cleo date from our time in Philadelphia, some 9 years; here she is about to have lunch at the feeder on the front porch, but ever wary of human passersby on the sidewalk

I had known Cleo for more than a decade, though I only took her under my official protection a year ago, when I moved from Philadelphia and disbanded the stray and feral cat colony we had managed there since 2008.  Cleo had a very sunny disposition, nothing fazed her, though she could also be skittish and easily startled.  Outgoing and accommodating with other animals, she was very hesitant with humans, and we deemed her unadoptable, especially given the difficulty of placing all-black cats, who still suffer from centuries of superstition.  But Cleo came to us with the telltale left ear tip, designating that she had been spayed, so at some point someone cared enough to do that for her.  Cleo had no voice per se, but could manage a rasping croak when agitated or afraid.

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As a black cat, Cleo blends naturally with the Halloween décor on the back door stoop in Philadelphia

When she first moved here, Cleo had an incredibly hard time adapting, refusing to come out of the garage for weeks, despite the presence of her BFFF (Best Feline Friend Forever) Charkey.  Eventually she came out of her shell, and then she blossomed!  I was stunned to find that she loved to sit on my lap – in all the years I had known her, she never evinced the least desire to do so; though she enjoyed being petted and cooed over, it was always at the relative distance of a stooping affection, and she loathed being picked up (that at least never changed, but she readily jumped into my lap after she settled in here).

But once acclimated, daily sits became a routine for us, inside or out.  Since Charkey also loved being held, and was naturally jealous, there were times I had to struggle to accommodate both cats in my lap at once, and I would have had to have been Kali to possess enough arms and hands to hold and pet them sufficiently.  Cleo had a lovely way of repaying my affection with soft little hand-licks that showed her appreciation, and a habit of rotating while curled in my lap to bring her precious face upwards to gaze into mine as I petted her.

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It took her two months to adapt to her new home, but eventually Cleo came to love naps in the garden

When her health seemed to deteriorate shortly after Charcoal’s death, I had her vetted, and she passed the exam and blood test with flying colors, though we did determine that she was FIV+.  This feline equivalent of human HIV/AIDS can persist for years without serious harm, but once infection does set in, throwing it off becomes extremely difficult.  It was less than a week after that the excessive drooling began, which indicated a mouth or gum issue.  Little more than two months later, she was dead.

Cleo passed peacefully in my arms at 8:48 PM EDT at the veterinary hospital in Saylorsburg PA on May 6th.  Venus at 27 Taurus setting on the 26 Taurus Descendant showed the loving environment at her demise and the affection in our relationship; its trine to Pluto at 26 Capricorn indicated the death itself and the transformation in our bond that wrought.  With Pluto was asteroid Klio at 22 Capricorn (a phonetic match for Cleo, named for the Greek Muse of history), uniting Cleo with the modern lord of death on the day of her passing.  A Grand Cross is present, of Klio/Pluto opposing asteroid Atropos (named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death) at 28 Cancer; asteroid Alexander (for myself) at 29 Libra; and asteroid Rip at 25 Aries (which functions as a death indicator in the form of the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription).

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Cleo’s stately demeanor is apparent from this fence-sitting pose

Asteroids Alex, Miller and Nemesis have been traveling as a pack since last August (and will continue within ten degrees of each other until next January!  Goddess, give me strength!), and this has given rise to innumerable setbacks, losses and challenges for me during this period, a general feeling of being blocked, hindered or put-upon.  Asteroids Kleopatra (also for Cleo) and Mary strayed into this stellium, with Nemesis at 9 Sagittarius, Kleopatra at 12, Mary at 13, Miller at 16 and Alex at 19 Sagittarius.  The vet who performed the euthanization was Mary Van Horn.  Nemesis is exactly squared the 9 Virgo Midheaven for her passing, and that MC/IC axis of 9 Virgo/Pisces aligns with my natal opposition from asteroids Kitty and Katz at 13 Virgo and 10 Pisces.

The Sagittarius stellium opposes asteroids Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead) and Catullus (for “cat”) at 8 and 18 Gemini, and forms a T-square with asteroid Saylor (for the Saylorsburg venue) at 20 Pisces, which itself conjoins Neptune (hospitals and drugs, including those used to euthanize) and the Moon at 22 and 24 Pisces.  Requiem is also conjunct Mercury at 5 Gemini, which rules pets and small animals.

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Initially I resisted feeding cats in the fenced yard in Philadelphia, preferring them to use the communal feeding station on the front porch, but Cleo quickly became an exception, with her own china table service

Asteroids Fellini, Horne and Lachesis conjoin at 1, 4 and 10 Scorpio, with Fellini a stand-in for “feline”, Horne doing duty for Dr. Van Horn, and Lachesis named for the Fate who determines the span of life.  These square Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 13 Aquarius, and broadly oppose the Sun at 16 Taurus.  A loose Grand Cross is formed with an exact conjunction of asteroids Karma and Vet at 21 Leo, for the inevitability (Karma) of veterinary involvement (Vet) in her death (Saturn, Lachesis); this pairing conjoins my natal Uranus at 20 Leo, for the shock and surprise of Cleo’s sudden passing.

Asteroids Katz (phonetic match for “cats”) and Anubis are still running together, as they were for Charcoal’s passing in January, with Katz now at 28 Gemini and Anubis (named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites) at 0 Cancer.  Just down the celestial pike is asteroid Kitty at 11 Cancer, with asteroid Alexandra at 14 Cancer, opposing asteroid Wildcat* at 9 Capricorn and T-squared asteroid Osiris at 4 Aries, identifying the dying (Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead) cat (Kitty) as mine (Alexandra), and a stray (Wildcat).  Mars is also here, at 8 Cancer, and while I can’t think of a direct application of its energies to the story, its mere presence as a major planetary body ramps up the impact of the pattern considerably. 

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Plastic bat or lunch? Cleo was an accomplished hunter, something all the more remarkable for the fact that she had but four teeth remaining when she came here, but managed to pull a wide spectrum of mice, voles, birds and even a chipmunk from the yard in her short residence

I don’t have a birthdate for Cleo, but in looking back over the records for Leo’s Cat Rescue, our stray and feral cat colony management operation in Philadelphia, she is listed as “identified” on 12 November 2010.  “Identified” is not an initial sighting; it means that this was when she was first recognized as a “repeat customer” at the feeding station there, and given a name.

The most interesting feature of that chart is the placement of asteroid Klio at 25 Capricorn, indicating that, at 22 Cap for her death, Klio (with an orbital period of 3.6 years) was just about to complete its third circumnavigation of the zodiac since Cleo graced our lives.  Pluto had also transited “natal” Klio as recently as February, when the cancer first developed.

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A shot which shows Cleo’s bent tail, a sign of some sort of accident or abuse before she came to us; perhaps her distrust of humans was well earned

Saturn at 12 Libra with Kleopatra at 19 Libra indicates Cleo’s longevity and endurance; most street cats survive for less than three years, but with our support Cleo lived a considerably longer, healthier life, at least 12 at her passing.  Venus at 28 Libra with Wildcat at 2 Scorpio shows, not only our affection for her, but her naturally sunny disposition and calm, peaceable demeanor with other cats.  Kitty at 17 Virgo with Alexander at 19 indicates our close bond; on my natal Moon at 19 Virgo, the connection was familial, and my eventual housing of her at some point would seem to have been inevitable.

A presentiment of the manner of her passing is seen as asteroid Saylor at 3 Libra, conjunct Vet and Mary at 1 and 5 Libra, and exactly squared Pluto at 3 Capricorn, also trine a combination of asteroids Anubis and Catullus at 1 and 2 Gemini, for the cat (Catullus) who began her life in Philadelphia, and against all odds, ended it (Anubis, Pluto) in Saylorsburg (Saylor), some 90 miles north, facilitated by veterinarian (Vet) Mary Van Horn (Mary).  “Natal” asteroid Rip at 26 Taurus is an exact match for the Descendant of her passing.

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Cleo loved to roost on an old stack table next to the shelter she had formerly occupied with Charcoal in Philadelphia (now upgraded to the cozy, dry laundry room), from where she could survey her new domain

In my birth chart, natal Kleopatra at 14 Scorpio exactly squares natal Venus at 14 Leo, and natal Klio at 11 Gemini is sextile, bearing out the love and affection we had for each other.  I will miss her and our quiet times together.  Sweet dreams, my dear one, and give Charcoal a kiss for me!

* Thanks to reader and asteroid enthusiast Laurien Rueger for bringing Wildcat to my attention recently; it takes a village to wrangle 21,000 asteroids!

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

9 comments, add yours.

Danielle Brown-Buzan

So sorry for your loss. Cleo was a beautiful girl.


A very bittersweet story. I’m so sorry for your loss. {{hug}}


You have my sympathy, Alex. What a beautiful cat she was! This was a wonderful tribute to her that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the mention although I must say I have lost track of all the asteroids I have learned from you! It is amazing how the manner of Cleo’s passing was foreshadowed not just in the planets and asteroids at the time of her death but back when she was first recognized at your colony. Fascinating indeed. Thank you for sharing and I do hope Nemesis gives you a break in the months ahead.


So sorry for your loss, Alex. Much love to you.


So sorry for your loss Alex. It is always so hard to lose them, but the only comfort I ever find is that it’s the price we pay for the joy of sharing their lives with us, and I wouldn’t give up having them for anything. May Grace find and comfort you.

    Alex Miller


    Thanks, all, for your love and well wishes. Cleo was the last of my outside cats (I still have my girl Ashes with me inside), and after almost 15 years, it’s the end of an era, and the adjustment has been hard. I’m so used to having those little souls to tend to, I feel a bit rudderless now. I appreciate your support.


My condolences at the loss of Cleo so shortly after losing Charcoal. Sending loving spirits to you at this time, and strength too. Thank you for the caring, loving home you provided, they both had a wonderful human pet parent in you, Alex.


So sorry for the loss of your very beautiful puddy-tat, Alex. Sending you loving vibes…
My Descendant is also at the end of Taurus. The supposedly baleful fixed star Algol is there – I favour Algol’s interpretation to mean that it makes it impossible for the wearer of his badge to be unmoved by the unhappiness of others – and you epitomise this in your love and compassion for your cats.

Robert Denk

Alex, sorry about Cleo. We’ve taken in quite the few cats and dogs, over the years, so I know how that goes. Keep up the good work!

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