N i k k i

(cir.) 1982 — 2002


My friend Arlee and I had a cat whom we had had her ever since we first got together, over 18 years ago. She was a fully grown cat at that time, so she was at least 20 and maybe even older than that.

She has had quite a remarkable life, what we know if it. The vet we got her from had found her wandering along Hollywood Boulevard. Yes, our kitty-cat was a Hollywood Street Walker. The vet rescued her from a life of sin and adopted her because she was such a beautiful cat.

She served very nobly for some time as a blood donor until he felt it was time to find a home for her and that was where we came in, by way of a mutual friend.

Before we got her, Arlee and I had talked a couple of times about getting a pet but we couldn't come to an agreement on it (me:pro; he:con). So, I was quite happily surprised when I came home from being in the hospital and found a beautiful, sleek, long-haired, jet-black cat waiting for me. Arlee had gotten her as a surprise to cheer me up after a rather difficult time.

Nikki had a good long life with us; has very stoically and good-naturedly endured the coming and going of many other pets including a few dogs, and has moved with us to three different households (four if you count the place we were living when we got her). But it's become clear that it's now time to intervene and provide her with a peaceful transition as she has begun to suffer the effects of her very long and busy life.

She gradually started going downhill the last year or so of her life — arthritis was the first symptom of her advancing years, and that has led to failing vision and hearing.

Then, rather suddenly, she became more and more feeble and senile. Her vision and hearing degenerated to the point where she was apparently completely blind and almost totally deaf. She had been getting around the house the past couple of weeks by hugging close to walls and furniture and carefully feeling her way around, actually doing so rather adeptly, but ultimately she became unable to do even that. She just started walking, clearly disoriented, with no clear idea of where she wass going or how to get there.

She always was pretty much an independent cat — deigning to stop for affection or a pat on the head when SHE was in the mood for it — so we did not notice for quite some time that she was withdrawing more and more, until we did finally realize that she had become little more than a phantom around the apartment. We rarely saw her except for the one or two times a day she would wander into the kitchen to eat and then into the utility room to "do her dooty" and then she would vanish — spending most of her time sleeping in her favorite place: a flat cardboard box lined with a piece of faux-sheep's wool tucked in the corner of the wall at the end of the sofa.

One kind-of funny thing she started doing was that she would sit in the middle of the room and irascibly "MRRROW! MRRRROWWW!!" at some unseen object of her ire, just the way that a crotchety old lady would wave her cane and scold the driver of a speeding car. We always wondered just who or what she was hollering at.

But her descent into senility was not usually very humorous — it was sometimes heartbreaking.

One day, I heard her loudly crying in my bedroom. I went in there and the poor thing was anxiously pacing around in circles in the middle of the room, totally lost, confused, and frightened. She had no idea where she was. I scooped her up, took her to her little bed and gently let her down. She snuggled in, began purring, and gave my hand an affectionate nudge with her head as I "skritched" her chin.

The final, and worst, thing that has happened is that she became incontinent. That is an indignity that's nearly unbearable to cats who are by nature exceedingly clean and fastidious with their waste. She can't always make it to, or find, her cat box, so she has been soiling in some unfortunate places. I can just tell that she is very depressed and frightened by that handicap.

So, on Wednesday, September 25, 2002, I took her to the vet to have her put to sleep.

I had seen this coming for some time now, and was more or less prepared for it, knowing in my heart that I would instinctively know when the time is right ... and indeed I did know. She let me know.

But it was still be tough, all in all. We have had quite a few animals come and go in 18 years, some leaving with "Good Riddances" and some with the shedding of many tears, but saying good-bye to them never gets any easier regardless of the circumstances.

In fact, even though — or, perhaps, because — she has had such a long and full life, this good-bye is going to be pretty hard.



Following are some photos from when we first got her, and then some later ones ending with the last one I took of her on September 18, 2002, her last night here with us.





Following are some messages of condolence and kindness we received from friends and relatives. You all will never know how comforting these thoughtful expressions were to us.

I know how difficult this is....my heart goes out to you both. It just never gets any easier, regardless of how many times you've gone through it - as you know. But to have had a sweet cat for that long - Wow. You've given her a good life. I know it will be weird not to have her around. Please know that you both will be in my thoughts as you do what you have to. Try to remember you are doing a final kindness for her in helping her die peacefully. I'm not looking forward to that day when we have to do the same thing for our two felines. They are such fixtures! Lots of love to you both.

On the one hand, it was sad to read your note. On the other hand, I thought, "what a lucky cat to have you!" We will be thinking of you.

I was moved by your email about Nikki. Bernard and I have a 20-year-old cat in very much the same situation. When I first met Bernard in 1983, he was living with his brother in a small apartment in Montreal and they had the cutest tabby kitten you ever saw.

We still have that old tabby and "He's our oldest friend". He's been through everything we've been through. He's traveled with us, slept with us, made us laugh and made us cry.

I dread the day one of us is going to have to make the decision you have had to make. The consolation is that THERE IS A KITTY HEAVEN.

We're with ya sweetie. Be strong.

Been there and been through thaat, of course. Cats (and Pekingeses) definitely tell you when they wish to pass on. As I said to a colleage of mine, perhaps the worst long-lasting effect of the Holocaust will be our failure to come up with some proper safeguarded program of euthanasia for humans who wish to die with the same dignity we accord to our pets....

How many Pekes do you have at this point?

I share your joy for the gift this life that has blessed you these many years. On Sunday night as part of our worship service, we can do a memorial to her. There is a liturgy for it and Arlee can attend if he likes.

Thank you so much for your beautiful letter about Nikki. I expect that by now she is a beautiful memory. It takes great courage to make that kind of decision, but you were never a coward. All my sympathy goes to you.

Your timing was most welcome. My sister and I are having to do the very same thing on Friday. Kringles the cat has a wasting thyroid illness that has reduced him to furry skin and bones. He's always been a behemoth. Now he's the Incredible Shrinking Kitty. No matter how often or how much he eats he is always starving. So Friday he is going to Kitty Heaven, where there are no collars, and ham grows on trees.

Kiringles is the brother of the kitties Kurt and I had for so long, Tuxedo and Rex. I found all thrree of them in 1987, born of a teenage runaway kitty in an apartment in Hollywood. She had six or seven kittens, all different. "I'll take that big fat gray one, " I said, "and that little black and white one, and can I have the orange one?" So Tuxedo and Orange Rex the Wonder Cat came to live with us and Gray Kitty, part Maine Coon Cat and longhaired, came here to live with my sister and her husband and little girl.

It's 15 years later, and both my sister and I are divorced, the little girl is away at college, and Kringles is still pretty in the face. But he's so scrawny and scruffy that it's hard to look at him. So we made the terrible decision and now I'm feeding him and petting him as much as I can.

May our loss be heaven's gain!

Our thoughts are with you.

Your letter was a very touching and bittersweet memoir about your cat. Sorry I never had a chance to meet her. Yes, we all do come to the end of our daze sooner or later. Her time has come. May God give you strength. A friend of mine recently got divorced and had to take their three cats, which is really too much for a small apartment. Would you consider one of them as a new pet? They are all wonderful.

what a lucky cat to have someone like you guys nice eulogy, better than what i hear from funerals! may Nikki rest in peace...

With tears and love my thoughts are with u guys... thankyou for giving her such a wonderful life on earth!!!

Sorry to hear about Nikki... I know how difficult this time can be, but you are doing the right thing. You memory of her is quite special and wonderful. Thank you for sharing this special story with me.

This is so sad and I know what you are going through. I hope you and Nikki enjoy your last day together. Go outside and walk in the sun, talk to her and let her roll in the grass next to you. These are things that will mean so much to both of you. One of the most difficult parts of being owned by a pet is knowing when it's time to help them to the better life. There are many wonderful, loving and newly healthy animals waiting for Nikki at the Rainbow Bridge.

You both are in our prayers and thoughts. Thanks so much for including me in this very sad time. I know that no one or no thing can help ease your pain and sorrow. After Nikki has arrived at the Rainbow Bridge she will send you a sign to let you know that she is ok, you are much loved, and that she will continue to watch over you.

Scritchies to Nikki...

and prayers and condolence and deep sympathy to you

Sorry to hear about your kitty. I know it must be rough. My German shepherd lived to be age 15, which is old for a shepherd. I finally made the decision that her quality of life was not good anymore and put her to sleep.

Have a good week out there in sunny Calif.

Thank you for sharing your pictures and story. Nikki is a very fortunate kitty to have belonged these many years to such a loving family, and to have one that always has her best interests at heart, even if it involves painful decisions and events. Bless you all--

Sorry to hear about your cat.I can relate ,having just put down my dog of sixteen years.Take care--

Today, reading about Nikki, I just had to drop things for these few minutes to say how very, very sorry I am that you're having this added grief. I've "been there, done that" several times - and will probably be facing it with Graypuss in the next year or two.

I KNOW that it is pain of the worst kind - as bad as losing a family member. And, even though we know it is best for the pet, it is still so hard to let go.

So - blessings on you as you go through all these viccisitudes. I do understand.

We had a similar experience with a 17 year old pekingnese. It's a tough decision. But it's tough, too, to watch the deterioration.

I do know how hard it will be for you tomorrow, but so kind and caring of you to let her go. I took our cat, Fergie, to the vet, and held her while the vet gave her the medication. She was a good kitty, too, and couldn't eat or find her box. I'll be thinking of you.

I am so sorry about your sweet cat. I remember her from my visit with you in 1991. It is SO hard to have to put a pet to sleep, and yet you know it is the right thing to do. She had a VERRRRRYYY long (and happy) life. She has to be the oldest cat I've ever heard of.

I know you will remember her with great fondest and keep a warm part in your heart for her. I'm sure she's in kitty heaven now.

Thanks for giving her such a great home.

I know you had a rough day yesterday. It is never easy putting a beloved cat to sleep. I have had to do it a number of times with my cats and well as my daughters' pets. Our first cat made it almost to 20 yrs like your Nikki so I know how terribly hard it had to be.

My suggestion--go get a kitten today. That is how we have always handled it.

I loved your letter about Nikki. I myself am restoring a Kitty Angel that I built 12 years ago when Kringles was a young cat. My Kitty Angels are cat portraits made with modeling compound, paint and feathers, meant to hang on the Christmas tree. I made them back in 1990 and '91and they have been part of the mourning for more than one cat. All my Kitty Angels arre here at my sister's, because now that I don't have a Christmas tree she hangs them on hers. Last June we had a flood in the basement and all the Kitty Angels got soaked. But they came through okay, although a bit scruffy and stuck all over with bits of the toilet paper they'd been wrapped in. Kringles, being a fluffy cat, had feathers all over him and boy, what a mess. So he's getting some new ones, and some glitter and a star on his halo. We are having a Kitty Funeral tonight, and he is going to hang from the chandelier. I know Nikki will always be with you.

It looks to me like your Nikki has really led a full life. Your last picture shows her on her feet, - - which seems amazing for a cat of her age. One of Ileana's cats is half Nikki's age, but her hind quarters are giving out. As for being incontinent, this cat of Ileana's gave up using the litter box a while ago, Another of Ileana's cats, the same age, has never had much truck with the discipline of the litter box. Ileana's third cat usually uses the litter box, but refrains from the practice when she's ticked off (pissed off?) at something or other. I, who had never lived in a cat household before moving in with Ileana, have been led to assume that that's the way cats are - - pissing, shitting, puking fools. If your Nikki was otherwise, I, for one, am in awe and sincere admiration. May she be rewarded with the fast track to cat heaven, and a place of honor for exhibiting thoroughly civil behavior for nearly all of her long life.

i'm sad now :(

I will have you in my thoughts tomorrow as this is the anniversary month of the death of my beloved Muffin. I did not have to have her put to sleep, but she did not have an easy death and a day does not pass that I do not think of her. She was a great source of love, comfort, and joy to me. My thoughts will be with you. Much love--

Thank you for sharing the pictures and story. I know Nikki will be at peace, and it is so nice to know that she had a happy life. I've never had a lot of pets in my life, but I love animals and am always very moved by them, both in what they give in life and in sharing with friends stories and situations like this.

Did she have a tendency to hide (as some cats do) when company comes? I don't remember seeing her when I was there, unless I'm just completely spacing it. I saw all of the dogs.

I'm so sorry. I know how difficult it is to make the decision and carry it out. God is holding her in His arms now.


One of our long time family members, Fergie, 9 year old cat, died last year and we buried her in our back yard with petunias over her. Memories come back often. Blue is our 11 year old blue cat - loving and trusting - seems to have another several "good, lazy" years left. Yes they do become a meaningful part of ones life.

The pictures are from this evening on the beach - mother and son; face in the cloud.

Hi Don't ever be apologetic about your feelings about all kinds of life. Life in any form is a gift that we take very lightly and we get so involved in such intense matters that we sometimes forget what a gift it is to be alive and each day is special. When you are able to give love and receive love from our "animal" friends it is very special as it is part of our life experience and the loss of a special being is very emotional as it should be. I thank you for the support you both gave me when Kal passed on. I still mourn for him and the money that I am getting doesn't mean a thing to me. Losing a loved one in any "form" is still a loss and my feelings are with you.

Even not being attached, I had tears in my eyes reading the final episode, so beautifully written. The lovely pictures will comfort you I know.

I'm saddened by your lose....and thankful for you thinking enough of us to share it....

It will be interesting to see what happens next time you take an animal to that vet's. The one time I stayed for euthanasia, I had a second Peke at home, who had always cheerfully gone to the vet before I had Sham Poo II put down and I stayed.

It took two people to drag Topsy II into that same vet thereafter! Talk about animals reading your mortal mind!

Have just been thru this with another friend, who just brought a second Siamese home this week to replace one put down. He sent out her pictures and said she had not yet told him her name. I said that her name was Philomela, but have not heard if she has agreed or not.

Have you another kitty, or are you planning to get one? How have the dogs reacted so far?

Keep in touch.

Sorry to hear of your loss. I know what it's like. In the past 15 years I have had two kitties die and one had to be put to sleep (my dear baby "Poo Poo"....no cat was ever as precious to me as she was). But somehow we still keep "going back for more". As you know I got a new kitty about 8 months ago, "Mimi", who is an orange and white tabby. She's a monster but I am already in love with her. I enjoyed your pictures. I'm sure you will treasure them---and the memory of Nikki---always.

I feel certain Nikki is enjoying that great catnip patch in the sky and waiting for you just inside the Eastern Gate!

Charlie's and Arlee's Pets Page

Ethéreal Esotérica 137



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