Nova’s Farewell

Originally posted to Blogspot on:

November 13, 2010

I’m at a loss this week. It actually started last Saturday when I attempted to find some lunch to satisfy my stale heart and discovered that two dine-in sub shops I occasionally visited were both gone (a Quizno’s and a Miami Subs). It culminated in the disappointment on Monday when I attempted to pick up a $40 ticket to see Former President George W. Bush speak at the Miami Book Fair (for tomorrow afternoon) and missed it because the writing lab was too busy the moment tickets went on sale, thus leaving a once-in-a-lifetime dream in the dust. Losses I would get over, certainly, but they still kinda sucked.

Well, last night, I was blindsided by an even greater loss when my cat Nova suddenly deteriorated from a lively, if not occasionally grouchy and unusual cat, to a weakened and unresponsive creature who not only couldn’t recognize her name, but failed to twitch whenever someone would touch her ear. She had gone from slightly injured last week, to somewhat sick this week, to delirious Thursday night, to dying the following evening. The speed at which she deteriorated was alarming, and even now I’m still in a daze from the reality that my cat is no more.

I should’ve known a few days ago that something wrong was happening with her when her usual desire to run outside or sleep on the couch faded. She had spent most of the week lying on the bed with a bandage over her ear to prevent her from scratching her sore. Much of the time she didn’t move, and there was one moment when I had to look closely to see if she had any life in her. Of course, she twitched at my presence, so I left her alone. I would often find myself doing that whenever I’d find her sleeping anywhere, for she was pretty old and seemed to have strange sense of comfort in bathroom halls, on top of towels, and so forth. Never knew if she was okay or not, but she’d always respond with the lift of her head, the twitching of her ears, and then a return back to sleep. It’s just the way it’s been for several years now. When mornings came, she was up and running, at her food bowl, and at the back door waiting to go sleep in the sunshine. That was her way. But in the last week, her usual cat energy was snuffed.

Thursday night was the night her future first showed its disturbing head. We (as in my family and I) were watching TV in the living room when she wandered out of the bedroom and had that air of dementia hovering over her that suggested she had no idea where she was. She didn’t respond to her name, and she didn’t walk to her usual hotspots. Even then the first question came up, “Is she looking for a place to die?” It was easily ignored because it just wasn’t possible. Our cats were fighters. They, as in she and Sniffy, the other old cat, survived three major hurricanes, lived outside during house fumigation among other things, and endured a number of photographs taken over the years. For her time to come so suddenly, it didn’t seem possible. But the signs were there. She was standing between the refrigerator and its door when I went to find a drink, and didn’t move when I tried to close it. She stood between the organ and the television, staring at the empty space between, and showed no sense of recognition. She had entered her own private nursing home for cats.

Friday morning, she fell off the bed, the first indicator that her muscle control had faded. She was on her back and couldn’t right herself. In the afternoon, she was taken outside to sleep on the patio under the clothesline (one of her favorite outdoor spots) and stayed there until after sundown. The last time I watched her move, she was trying to crawl under the patio chair. She tried to stand, took a couple of steps, and fell on her water dish. That was it. That was the last time. She stayed under that patio chair until her life faded down to a soft pulse. Around 9pm, when the light of her life was nearly burned out, we put her in her makeshift bed (pillow and a couple of towels in the top cover of her litter box), brought her inside, and let her spend her last hours on the same bed where she had spent the last week trying to recover. Sometime in the middle of the night, her pulse finally stopped. And that closed the book of her life on earth.

I don’t really know what I want to say here. I’m still dazed. My pet is dead. She’s been part of the family for about 10 years, and now we feel the hole in the heart she’s left behind. My sister is heartbroken. This morning, my mom cried for the first time in years that she had cried over any animal when she laid the rock down on Nova’s burial site. The other cats are visibly upset. Nami, the youngest of the three cats, spent much of the day in the window watching over Nova yesterday during the hospice period, while Sniffy patrolled the yard, keeping the birds away. Everyone is off-kilter.

In the end, though, everyone tried to give her a peaceful way out, and I think we accomplished that. She died her way, and not many animals can do that. Perhaps that’s the joy in this. She got to go out peacefully. For a cat that seemed so internally troubled, perhaps that was the best thing for her when her time finally came.

All we can do now is remember her:

Named after a space explosion,
You came into this world,
And though we did not know you then,
You exploded into our world.

Four months they had you caged,
But for four months you endured,
Four months you patiently waited for us,
Until your lonely life was cured.

You came home to a life of freedom,
I’m sure it was a sunny day,
You met your buddy Sniffy,
And life let you have things your way.

Ten years you ruled the house,
As the matriarch of cats,
And though kittens would come and go,
You kept your roost long last.

Sleeping on tables left you cautious,
Sleeping on couches kept you content,
Sleeping on beds made you queen,
Anywhere was a place well spent.

But as life eventually ends,
Your time finally came,
Last night the sun went down on you,
Today we’re still feeling the pain.

Your family will miss you, kitty,
Sniffy and Nami will the same,
A rock and a plant now cover your body,
But heaven holds your spirit’s frame,
Nova was your name.

Classic Photo of Nova