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CLEO “the cat” Merritt Exam Room Established

Posted October 05, 2016

When Bonnie and Joe Merritt of Argyle, Texas adopted a small white kitten, neither of them could have imagined how much the soft ball of fur would impact their lives. The white kitten, named CLEO, would be a family companion for 17 years. Additionally, CLEO would play a part in introducing the Merritts to the Aggie family.

As one of three beloved cats owned by the Merritts, CLEO spent much of her day in the family business’ office. Tragically, CLEO developed cancer on her ears. The family veterinarian in Argyle, Garry O’Neal ’84, DVM ’87, treated CLEO’s cancer.

“We had to have CLEO’s ears amputated,” explained Bonnie. “Garry would take her home with him after the operation, and then when we picked her up, Garry would be sitting with CLEO in his lap in the office. We just thought so highly of the Argyle veterinarians and Garry in particular.” In addition to treating CLEO, O’Neal also treated the other family cats. The Aggie family of veterinarians at the Argyle Veterinary Hospital quickly won the Merritts’ hearts. “Our devotion to the Argyle clinic was just immense,” Bonnie said. “They were all Aggies. They all did an unbelievable job for us and for our cats. We just felt like we had to do something. We wanted to do something to give back.”

In honor of the excellent care provided to CLEO by Aggie veterinarians, the Merritts established the CLEO “the cat” Merritt scholarship for DVM students and made arrangements in their estate to add to that scholarship after their lifetimes. In addition, the Merritts donated to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) to improve the Small Animal Hospital
and were recognized with the CLEO “the cat” Merritt Exam Room. Prior to their donations, the Merritts had no ties to Texas A&M or the CVM. “The number one reason we’re at Texas A&M is because of the Aggie veterinarians and Dr. O’Neal taking such fantastic care of our animals,” Joe said.

The memory of CLEO also inspired CLEO’s Polishing Products, a white buffing product sold by the family business, Buff Polish & Grind Industrial Supply Co., Inc. Celebrating their 32nd year of business in 2016, the Merritts have enjoyed the spirit of CLEO in their work since purchasing the patent over 20 years ago.

“Every day, there are people promoting our product worldwide,” Joe said. “Every day customers are calling to talk about CLEO. She is with us 24 hours a day. We talk about CLEO as a product but also as CLEO “the cat.” She’s become very much a part of our existence. Everything we do is related to CLEO, and that’s why we set up the scholarship. We couldn’t see anything better than to put it in CLEO’s name.” The Merritts plan to retire in Aggieland, their new found home, where they can continue to enjoy the memory of their beloved CLEO.

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