Neko Supercat


Neko Supercat

April 28, 2005 – October 1, 2016

The story of one very special soul and our life together

On a dark and stormy Thursday night in London, Ontario (2 hours south-west of Toronto) in September 2005, there was a knock at my door. It was a man, I recognized him as my upstairs neighbour although we had never met. He was holding a cat. He said “is this your cat?” I replied “no”. He said, “do you want it to be?”. Ever practical, I said “no!” After some discussion about how she was fighting with his cat and the weather and the busy street we lived on we decided that I would take her in for the night and the next day he would take her to the pound. So, just like that, our adventure began.

Right away I was smitten, she was so friendly and engaging, not like any other cat I’d met. I was certain someone out there was missing her and as an animal lover I was heartbroken for them. I set out carrying the soon-to-be Neko in my arms and knocked on doors up and down the block, several blocks. But nothing. I put her back in the house and drove to the store to get her litter and food. I couldn’t keep her for the night without them. I had visions of what I might find upon my return. Shredded carpet and curtains, broken knickknacks. But when I walked in she just greeted me at the door, a trait we would later call the “welcome wagon”, no disaster, just pretty green eyes, a pink nose and the cuddliest fur found on this side of a chinchilla.

She was so excited for the food. She ate like she hadn’t seen food in days, maybe she hadn’t.

That night she cuddled up with me and burrowed her way into my heart, she took up residence and has been there ever since, and will be forevermore.

The next day I called every animal shelter in the book (there where phonebooks back then), but to no avail. To my great surprise there was no loving family missing her. I checked all the telephone poles for Lost Cat posters and scoured every newspaper, but nothing. How could such a lovely cat be out on her ear without a home? It boggles my mind. But secretly the more I searched the more I hoped she could be mine, because by now, on day two, she had a name and place in my home.

I fed Neko for about 3 days before anything came out the other end. I was beginning to think she didn’t know what a litter box was. I checked the corners and the houseplants but nothing. Then one day, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, she hopped into her box, did her business, and hopped out. I guess she was starving.

A few days later she went into heat. I had never seen a cat in heat before. If you have, you know what I mean, if you’ve had the good fortune of missing this experience let me just say that it’s awful. For 5 straight days and nights she traipsed around the apartment oscillating between horny come-hither meows while rolling on the floor and caterwauling at an eardrum rattling pitch. I didn’t sleep for days. I began to get a feeling for why she was homeless. I had fleeting thoughts of booting her out. Not seriously, but I could see the appeal. Once her demonic possession, I mean heat, was over, off we went to the vet.

The vet estimated she was around 6 months old so I arbitrarily set her birthday to April 28th, the birthday my family’s cat  I had when I was growing up. It seemed reasonable.

From that swift and crazy beginning blossomed a beautiful thing. We became best buddies. She would follow me around the house, never more than a few feet away. We cuddled, we talked, we played. Anything I did at home she was always right there.

A year later a man, who she would come to know as dad came into our life. The first time I had Mike, my now husband, over for dinner Neko jumped on the dinner table and waved her big tail through the lit candelabra. I think we both leapt out of our chairs in unison to pat her down. Neko, ever so cooly, jumped down and looked up at us from the floor wondering what all the commotion was about. A moment later her nose started working as she tried to figure out what it was that she was smelling. The smell was burnt kitty cat. She was unharmed but had singed off half her tail.

Neko was always the life of the party and the center of attention. She welcomed every visitor and joined every house party. Anyone who has ever visited or stayed in our home can attest to this. There are suitcases all over the world that are covered in a fine coating of Neko hair. God she loved suitcases. She loved to sit on many things but when given the choice a suitcase always won out.

Her love of suitcases was the extent of her love of travel, however. Cars were not her favourite, neither were planes. When Mike and I would travel we would always have a friend stay at our home to keep her company. Sometimes she would stay at theirs. Unlike some cats, she was not a solitary creature. Over the years she had a wide array of houseguests. We are so thankful for their love. Having people that would love and snuggle her when we could not, made our world travels possible. When we returned home she was always happy to see us, sit on our suitcase, and the keep me up all night demanding “active snuggles”.

Although she didn’t enjoy the journey, once we reached the destination it never took long for her to settle in. She would get a feel for the lay of the land, locate the bathroom and hop up on the sink for a drink. If you took too long to come to turn the tap on she would make herself comfortable and nestle into the sink for a snooze.

She also had a peculiar way of drinking water. She was never interested in drinking from a bowl. She found your water glass to be quite perfect. She would rest her upper lip on the edge of the glass and dip her little sandpaper tongue into the water. A technique that was sure to slop water over the edge. It looked really silly but worked for her. Although she hadn’t done it in years, she has been known to flip over glasses that had insufficient water levels for drinking. I’m not sure if she outgrew this or if we just got better about making sure we always had our glass topped up.

We lived in 6 homes together and she visited many more. From London we moved to Toronto and then onto New York City. I think her favourite place was in Toronto when we had the large terrace that she could roam. However the pigeons on our window sill here in New York must come a close second. To be honest, I’m not sure it really mattered to her. She always seemed to be happy when we were around and extra happy when there was food.

Neko LOVED food. She would eat pretty much anything except for fruit and vegetables. Her insatiable appetite likely stemmed from her days as a homeless kitty on the mean streets of London, Ontario. In addition to all the usual suspects, like meat & dairy, some of her favourites include Pad Thai, not just the chicken, she loved the noodles & bean sprouts too, butterscotch pudding, refried beans, nacho chips, and tater tots.

Neko was a big kitty. Once she grew out of the scrawny cat I first met, she always struggled with her weight. She was perpetually on a diet so we had to limit the above mentioned. But she was so persuasive sometimes. Her face would somehow morph and become ever cuter when she wanted something. We called it her “cute face”.

To combat her weight, we tried to exercise her, a difficult feat when you live in an apartment so we made use of the hallways. In one place we had a very long hallway that Mike would chase her up & down. I can see her saggy underbelly swinging from side to side and she bounded down the hall. More recently there were stairs that she loved running up and down. She would lead us to the door whenever she wanted to go for a run. She even did that the day before her last. Feisty right until the end.

For the last 7 and a half years I have ran my own photography business with a home office. Neko was the office manager. She would spend most of her days sitting on my desk “helping” me work. We spent considerable time negotiating the space that was acceptable for her to lay on and the spots that were not. We discussed over and over how the keyboard and mouse, although incredibly comfortable, were not acceptable pillows. It was her company that would get me through long days at my computer.

Neko loved to cuddle. Every night she would hop onto the bed, give me a head-butt and then flop down alongside me in her little spoon position. I would put my arm over her and we would sleep most of the night like this. When we were on the couch she would sit on our chest or snuggle in alongside. She loved to purr and did so nearly every time we scratched her head. When we were sick or sad she knew and was extra attentive.

She loved all people and was never shy or aloof. She did not however care for other cats or dogs.  On one trip home to Vancouver she sequestered my parents’ large male cat to one room in his own home. She puffed up 3 times her size and wouldn’t let him out.

Up until her last days Neko was a playful and frisky kitty. She loved pigeons. She would watch them endlessly and even though never successful, she would try to catch them through the window. She was actually pretty good at catching flies and liked to eat them. Once she chased a mouse around the house all night long. She caught it many times only to let it go so she could continue the chase.

This beautiful bundle of fur brought us immense joy. She was always there to listen, rarely complained and was never mad at you. She made our home feel full. Coming home and opening the door to see her sweet face was always a highlight of the day. A constant companion for 11 years. That’s a long time.

In July we found a lump on one of her 8 boobs. Well, actually she found it. She had always been a “mower”. Mowing is when cats nibble their fur short, usually on their bellies. It never caused her any harm, for all we knew she enjoyed a shorn undercarriage, and hey, how is that our business? Until she decided to nibble and lick one patch near her lowest nipple on the left side raw. I put a Cone of Shame on her to try and let it heal and hopefully break the cycle. A few days later her eye looked a little gooey so I made a vet appointment. I suspected an infection because she wasn’t able to properly clean her face with the cone on. The vet gave some drops for her eye and I told him the story. He felt around on her nearly healed belly and found a lump. It was exactly where she had been licking. She knew it was there.

The biopsy came back cancer and then she had a full mastectomy on the left side. During surgery the vet found a second tiny lump on the right side so it was removed as well. Histology reports showed that the original tumor was successfully removed with clean margins and the second lump was benign. We thought we got it. It looked good. The tumor was small, the prognosis was positive.

Her hair was growing back from where she’d been shaved for surgery and she was back to all her normal activities. We had dodged a bullet and she would live out the rest of her natural life. She would be with us until forever.

That was, until the last week of August when we noticed she wasn’t eating and pooping as much as usual. I took her to the vet, I thought that maybe the new food we had her on was making her constipated. The vet X-rayed her abdomen to check for a blockage but there wasn’t one. Instead she caught a glimpse of her lung in the X-ray and didn’t like what she saw. She turned her around for a chest X-ray. When she compared the X-ray from only 7 weeks prior (chest X-rays are routinely done before surgery to check for metastasis) to the one from that day she saw a difference. It was slight, but still a difference. She sent the scan to a radiologist to be sure and we awaited the results. Later that day she called and told me the worst news. It was cancer and “there was nothing they could do”. The worst thing you can hear from a doctor, the white flag of defeat. So helpless.

She had a steroid shot and it made her feel good and got her eating again. She was so much back to normal at first I think we had convinced ourselves it was all a bad dream and she was better. We had 3 beautiful weeks. We appreciated her more than ever. When she woke me up at 2 am to get into the correct snuggling position I was happy. When she danced and sang on the bed at 5 am on a Saturday morning to get us up to fed her, we hopped up smiling. It’s crazy how your perspective can change. All those things that were once annoying, now we were suddenly so grateful for.

After 3 weeks she started to slide again. This time the steroid shot wasn’t quite as effective. It took longer to kick in and only lasted 6 days.

The last month has been a roller coaster. The best thing was that she could eat anything she wanted. For the first time in her life, all diets were off. It was hard to watch her fade but glad we had time to say goodbye. We agonized over how we would know when it was “time”. A time we never wanted to come. She was a little different this last week but still seemed to have fun and she carried out her normal daily activities. That was, until her last day. On Saturday morning Mike and I separately each saw a look we hadn’t seen before. As if she as telling us the time was near. By the evening she had changed further. We sent a video to our incredibly kind vet so she could observe her breathing. We knew it was bad but still didn’t know if it was “time”. She told us what I think we knew, but having never been through this, needed to hear.

We contacted a vet who was recommended by ours who does house calls. The thought of taking her to the animal hospital in a carrier she hated and having her die scared in a place she despised was dreadful. We planned for her to come the following day. But then, when we checked in on our darling girl, who was now sitting behind the bedroom door we knew she couldn’t wait until the next day. She looked so sad and uncomfortable, a way we had never seen her before. At nearly the same time the house call vet got back to us and although had never met us or Neko and knew very little about her situation was very concerned. She asked to see the video and then said she would be right over. It was 10:06 pm Saturday night. This woman is an angel. We had a final snuggle and said goodbye.

She left our life the same way she came in. A stranger appeared at my door one night and delivered her and now, almost exactly 11 years later, a stranger appeared and took her peaceful body away. Just like that. Swiftly she entered, and swiftly she left. Goodbye my friend. We miss you. We love you.

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Fran Chelico - AWWWWW 🙁 My sweet friend … this made me cry … i’m so sorry for the loss of your fur baby. my heart hurts for you and Mikey
xoxoxOctober 8, 2016 – 3:12 pm

Sasha - Jen, What a beautiful tribute to Neko! Sending you love <3 SashaOctober 8, 2016 – 11:27 pm

Dad - Your pain is my pain. Your tears are my tears. Enjoy the time we have.
DadOctober 9, 2016 – 9:51 pm

Lisa - What a great tribute…. so sorry for your loss .. hugs from TorontoOctober 12, 2016 – 10:06 am

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