Friday, January 26, 2007

Neko, you will be missed

In November of 1996, I was living by myself in my first apartment. It was an apartment on the 8th floor of a building in Detroit. I decided I needed a dog to keep me company, but they wouldn’t let me have one in the apartment, only cats. A day or two later, someone at work asked if anyone wanted a cat. I think I only waited one, maybe two, heartbeats before I said yes. She said her sister had found a cat crying outside her apartment. He was a little bigger than a kitten, but not fully grown (so I figured his birthday was in July, and what better day to call his birthday than the 4th of July?). She had hung signs up and she would wait another couple of days to see if anyone claimed him. If not, he’d be mine.

The days passed and I went to go get him. I had toys and all the essentials in my car when I got there. I brought this spunky little guy home with me, and started trying to come up with a name. I wanted something kind of cool. I had a cat calendar at work that had something like 50 cats on each page, showing the names of all of them. So, I started flipping through the pages reading all the names. I found “Neko”. I thought it was perfect. It was short, it was cool…I just liked it. Of course, a few years later I found out that it apparently means “cat” in Japanese.

When he first came into my home, he was a little shy, a little standoff-ish. Shortly after moving in he got a little sick and he came and lay on his side by me and put his head in my lap. That was our first real bonding moment, I think. I remember his first week with me, we had a terrible snow storm in Detroit. There were stories on the news about record lows, bundle up if you go outside, don’t leave your pets outside…I looked down at the kitty I brought home and felt so lucky someone had saved him and brought us together. He could have been out there in that weather but now he was safe with me.

Neko was all boy. And I used to tell him that all the time. He was proud, he was smart, he was “his own kitty”. You couldn’t pick him up and cuddle him, but he had no problem coming to you and cuddling you. So MANY times he’d come lay with me and wrap his little arms around my neck. So MANY times he’d sit on the back of the couch and drape himself over each of my shoulders. And everytime he did it, he’d purr. And what a purr this cat had. It was a deep contented purr. It was like he was just so happy to be there, at that moment. And everytime he did it, so was I. I would always try to sit very still so he wouldn’t move. Just stay… He did this the last time just a couple of weeks ago.

We had our little “things” that we did. He would nuzzle me with his nose so that I would pet his nose and right between his eyes. He would just close his eyes and stick his little face out the whole time. If I stopped, he’d nuzzle me to keep going. In the morning, he always sat on my bathroom sink. He’d sit there and wait for me to come kiss him on the head. And when I did, he’d press his head up toward my kiss.

He was playful, and unfortunately, he was a bit of a biter. But, he always kept it in check and tried not to bite hard. It was just how we played. I’d try to get his belly and he’d try to get me. He’d roll over and over, trying to “surprise me” and get my hand. And over and over again, I’d pull away and get his belly again. If I stopped, he would bump me to get me started again. We played that game every morning, too.

He could also be gentle. When my son was born in 2000, I was worried that Neko would bite him, not knowing that he could hurt him. He never did. Not even when my son grabbed him by the ears and pulled him down into his lap. I have that one on video.

Not long after I got him, I was watching a show about pumas on TV. They reminded me of him. Some of the things they did and the way they moved. I started calling him Puma Kitty. When I was growing up we had a cat named Sox. For some reason, my dad started calling her Pooh. So, after a while of having Neko around, Pooh just started sounding “right” as a term of endearment. I called him Pooh a lot. I bet he was confused about what his name was.

Puma Kitty
Kitty Kitty
Pookattie (from Pooh-Kitty), pronounced POO-ka-tee

The list goes on and on. What ever he was, he was loved so much.

We found each other when I was in my mid 20’s, single, in my first apartment. He was there by my side through so much. A marriage, a divorce, a new baby, and now a new fiancĂ©. But Neko was always there. Always my buddy. Always ready to hug me, eat my hair, or just purr in my ear to let me know he loved me. And I’m sure he knows how much I loved him, too.

A week ago today he got really sick. He spent this past week in the hospital, where he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. The vet tried everything he could to save Neko. But today my fiancé, Steve, and I went to say goodbye. We spent some time with Neko. I got to hug him, kiss his head like I always did, and call him Pooh. He was so sick but he still wiggled his tail and pressed his head to me. It was so hard to say goodbye to such a great friend.

He was more than a cat. He was a beautiful loving spirit, a wonderful companion and a cherished part of my life.

I love you, Pooh. I’ll miss you always. God bless you.


Mr. Terrianne "GUMBY" Johnson said...

Hey sorry to the news of Neko. I know exactly he games the you talked about, Me and Judy did the same things and her favorite was "The Rub" that one on the nose between the eyes and then when she had enough she would try to attack my hand and then run off --the big scaredy cat chicken. Judy was TJ's and mine for a short while, I had her for about 8 yrs, but TJ didn't have a choice when we got married, but they soon learned to love each other and share me. I have a really good picture of TJ and her sitting together, the cat watching her grade papers, later we found out the cat is the one that actually "eats the homework", not he dog. Another thing our kitty's have in common is that they were both adopted (or did they adopt us?), mine too was dumpster kitty about 4-6 weeks old when I found her in the bushes just oputside my apartment. I had a time coaxing her up the steps to follow me to have some milk. Little by little she would come a bit further each day, finally she crossed the doorstep to get the milk and the rest was history, she was now my indoor kitty. She did manage to get out a few times once me and previous girlfriend (pre marriage to TJ) got a house. You want to know what else our babies have in common with Pumas?? They are very very fast once they get outside the house and back into the "wild". That cat would run me silly chasing her around the neighborhood--up and down the street and then when she thought that I had enough or I would give up--she would just head right back for home like nothing happened. She knew where her meal-ticket was. I had to put Judy down shortly after we had Austin, he does remeber her though. I also have another great picture of her posing on the toilet as if she was getting ready to try it instead of her kitty box. She got that very rare feline kitty cancer that they get (1 out of every umpteen thousands) when they get their shots. Actually this was the 2nd time she had it, we operated once before, but it came back--later I found out that if you don't get it all removed--you piss it off and it comes back later even more aggressively. If I ever have another kitty I promised myself never to have it vaccinated. I tried everything, my vet even made us an appointment with the vets @ Texas A&M University that had discovered the link between the shots and the cancer development(you have to be referred in order to receive treatment and my vet was a former student there as well as myself so they took us). We went down there togethr just Judy and I, Terrianne stayed here at home. They did tests and kept her overnight. Next morning they told me that if they operated on her to remove the tumor there would not be enough cat to put back together and that chemo was not an option. They gave her 2 weeks to 2 years tops to live, worst news I had gotten in a long long time. She did hang on for right at two years and we made the most of it as she felt like doing stuff, then little by little she went down hill and became less and less actve, just not my same old "Judy Kitty" aka Ms. Kitty (from the old show Gun-Smoke). Finally, I had to say my goodbyes to her. TJ went with me and we put her to sleep, I held her little paw as she drew her last breaths and we too kissed goodbye. She looked at me like she was sad, confused and so betrayed, but I knew it was best for her not to suffer in the pain she was going through anylonger. I'm crying again just remembering that day and all the other good memories that I have of her as well. I know that you will miss Neko, you never truly get over losing someone or something that you love so much, but I'm sure you already know that too. I decided to have her cremated and I still have her with me still to this day in a nice box on my dresser. We still have our little talks together sometimes, although she doesn't purr back at me like she used to. I would love to have another kitty and Austin and Kyle really would like one, but TJ says she came into the marriage under the one kitty clause rule, she could stay but after that no more as she is allergic. Well, I wont keep you any longer, but know that we are thinking about you and your kitty. Also congrats on your engagement. No you didn't tell TJ the last time and she was very suprised when she read your email. She will probably write more to you later today or tomorrow. Not to bbring up a sore subject, but when you were married before, did't you have Neko and another cat? I thought I remebered seeing pictures of two kitty's. Let me know if I'm right and what happened to it. Take care for now, and God speed to Neko, maybe he and Judy can hook-up together in kitty heaven and tell some stories about all of us. Wonder what they would be saying, or maybe we don't want to know. We love you and Spencer and wish you all well and hope to see you guys again soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for you loss. I lost a pet 2 years ago and miss him terribly everyday. My heart goes out to you.

Neko seemed like a very special cat.

Judith said...

Donna, my deepest, heartfelt condolences on Neko's passing to the Rainbow Bridge...I had tears in my eyes and loved that precious picture. I've experienced many such first furbaby, a kitty cat called Boo-Boo--- who also had many other names :>), and several beloved dogs. My only hope is that one day I will see them all again...heaven or whatever is next wouldn't be the same without them.
Try the website THE RAINBOW BRIDGE. It has helped me...

Theresa said...

beautifully written memorial to a cherished friend. My thoughts are with you.
Theresa (thery4...crochetville)