Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Nikki and me

Posted by Trixter on April 1, 2009


In 1994, when I was 23, Melissa and I adopted a kitten from a stray that someone from work had taken in, and named her Nikki.  She was more neurotic than playful, more stupid than smart, more heavy than svelte.  Her fur was dull, with a dander problem.  Once she was no longer a kitten, she didn’t like being held or scratched for very long.

She turned into a crotchety old woman in about two years.  She now wanted scratching, but only on the sides of her face — and if you weren’t doing it right, she’d bite you as a reminder of the proper technique.  She complained every time you brushed her, making her the only cat I have ever encountered that doesn’t enjoy being brushed.  She no longer purred, even when given a favorite food or scratched in an acceptable manner.

No matter the outcome, time heals all wounds.  It took the both of us about a decade before we had each other figured out.  Some examples from the last six years:

  • At night, I would sit down at the computer, and she’d bug me to scratch the sides of her face (complete with impatient biting).  Sometimes she’d stand on her two hind legs just to reach something to bite.  Then she’d lay back down, either at my feet or under the nearby table.  Clockwork.
  • I could call her name; like a dog, she would come from anywhere in the basement.  (She preferred to live in the basement, even though she had full run of the house.)
  • When guests visited, she was abnormally affectionate and purred loudly.  To mock me, I suppose.
  • When I tried to record video of anything, she made sure to get a word in edgewise to ruin the shot.  You can hear her at the end of the 8088 Corruption google video, for example.
  • When I got up and left the computer room, she pretended not to notice.  Yet whenever I returned, she’d be at the doorway.
  • When we developed a mouse problem one year, she left me mice under my chair until I got the hint that the mounting corpses were not an isolated event.
  • Amazingly, she learned to teleport.  At least, I think she did, because whenever I sat down to watch some TV, she would somehow appear next to me on the couch without me noticing how she got there.

I also found out that if I held her very tightly, as in preventing-her-from-escaping tightly, she would actually enjoy it, settle down, and start purring.  This, after 13-odd years of not purring.  Crazy.  The world’s first autistic cat.

A few months ago, we noticed that the common pet water bottle in the kitchen was getting emptied at nearly double the rate it had the previous year.  We discovered we had a raccoon problem (let that be a warning to those of you with pet doors), and we took care of it… but the water usage continued to be high.  It turned out to be Nikki, who was escaping the comfort of the basement to get additional water when hers ran out.  We then found her pooping outside of her litter box.  Then the pooping slowed to one movement a week, while the wayward urination grew to such volume that it saturated her litter box every day.  I didn’t want to admit it, but recognized this as chronic renal failure.  We’d been through CRF with a previous pet.  CRF is terminal.

Two days ago, I made the heart-wrenching decision to put Nikki to sleep.  My decision was made to spare her the later stages of CRF, which include severe pain, wasting, uncontrollable vomiting, and convulsions, all of which can last for weeks before death.  I wanted her to leave this world in comfort, with dignity.  I spent last night with her doing whatever she wanted to do, which was mostly laying on me and watching TV.  (I am fortunate she enjoyed watching UFC and Adult Swim as much as I do, so we didn’t have to fight over the remote.)  I dragged a string around the floor, which she chased, even at her age.  I let her eat some of my cereal.  She took a nap while I read a book.

We said goodbye this morning.  I had to pull over driving back.

She was 15 years old.  She witnessed my marriage to Melissa, then the birth of my two children.  She was that unique type of cat who acts more like a dog than a cat, as she was somehow always in the same room you were in.  In fact, I think that’s why she preferred to stay in the basement:  Not to avoid the dog, but to be around someone with consistent patterns (me).

Most owners would prefer that their cats not bite their fingers.  I am already missing it.

Nikki in 1994

Nikki in 1994

Nikki in 2009

Nikki in 2009

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51 Responses to “Nikki and me”

  1. Justin said

    I love pets. Cats and dogs. They are excellent companions and can help you through the roughest of times. I only wish they could outlive their owners. Putting a pet of many years down is always a very difficult thing to do. My sympathies to you as you adjust to not having Nikki around and perhaps as you look for a new pet in the future.

  2. Matt Hite said

    That’s the saddest thing I’ve read in a while. Sorry to hear you had to put Nikki down. :(

  3. Michlerish said

    That’s so sad :( Such a difficult decision. Rest in peace, Nikki.

  4. Mary said

    What a great cat. We lost our cat Lucy to CRF a few months ago and it was a rough time. I hope a new cat finds you soon.

  5. B. Giguere said

    Sometimes the hardest thing is doing the right thing. I was faced with something similar and understand the pain and loss. But I’m grateful that at least some cats have people like you. Cats are less independent than people give them credit for; particularly when raised in a loving way their devotion can be amazing.

    Take care.

  6. Cheryl said

    I am so sorry about Nikki. Losing a pet can be just as difficult as a human. My sympathy to you and your family on your loss

  7. Jett said

    You did the kindest possible for her, even tho you will miss her terribly. Somewhere there is a cat getting whispered to, make sure you bite him, he likes that!
    I also had a cat with CRF and letting him go nearly killed me, but it was best thing for him (he’d also developed a form of cancer).

  8. Shane said

    I lost my first cat last year; I was fortunate that she lived until she was 19. I had to put her to sleep to avoid prolonged suffering as well; I think we both made the right decision, to allow them to pass comfortably, and to give ourselves a chance to say goodbye. You would probably never forgive yourself if you came home one day to find her gone. My condolences.

  9. Julie G said

    I came over here from @sockington’s tweet…

    I was crying by the end of this post. My thoughts are with you… It’s a very brave and selfless thing to spare an animal suffering that you know is coming, even when your heart wants to keep them here.

    In heaven, the kitties get to catch the lazer every time. ;)
    Gentle Journey, Nikki dear…
    ~Julie

  10. eithrael said

    My heartfelt condolences on your loss. Thank you for loving Nikki enough to spare her the pain of CRF. I, too, have lost a kitty to that. Many purrs, to you, sir.

  11. Colleen said

    My thoughts are with you today. I went thru this 4 years ago with my 15yr old, Sasha. I love how they try to act like they don’t need us but they wouldn’t dare admit they can’t be without us. Each one has their own personality & we always adjust to it. I have a new guy, Erin, & he has grown to be so special & important to me just like all my angels before him. In time a special one will enter your life again. God bless you today & you absolutely did the right thing for Nikki. Tears streams as I write this because I understand your loss as so many who love our pets do.

  12. Jason said

    I’m so sorry. My wife, son, and I just had to put down our cat for the same reason. She was about the same age as Nikki. When the time is right, may the next cat with the appropriate oddball personality find you and your family.

  13. Lisa said

    I am sorry for your loss. I lost my beloved boy to CRF two years ago. Nikki was lucky to have you and you were lucky to have her.

    Rest in peace, Nikki.

  14. iadiedee said

    Oh so very sad. But you loved her so much to save her the pain and lost dignity of such a horrid disease. God bless you and may she have a special place in heaven until you can join her.

    My deepest sympathies on your loss.
    Dee

  15. Meredith said

    What a beautiful old girl. Thank you for sharing her life story.

  16. HotMBC said

    Oh, we’re sorry Nikki had to go to the Rainbow Bridge. We’re purring in sympathies.

  17. I’m sorry to read about your cat. She sounds like she was an excellent companion. Thank you for sharing this, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    My cat (Yoda) is very much like Nikki – he LOVES to interrupt any attempt at podcasting, providing his own opinions. Loudly.

    He volunteered to snort some ceremonial catnip and go on a vision quest to Kitty-Valhalla, although we’re both quite certain that she’s found her way.

  18. Cyd said

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can tell Nikki was a great cat and very much loved and cared for. It is never easy to make the decision you did. We just lost a very special cat 2 weeks ago and it still hurts. It’s funny, because I have a picture of her on my blog laying on the couch with my husband as a kitten too.
    My thoughts are with you.
    Cyd

  19. Lexie said

    Sorry you lost Nikki, she sounds like a totaly awsome cat, she looks like my matilda, and mattie is a biter if you aren’t petting her right also.

  20. Jules said

    So sorry to read about the passing of Nikki. She had a personality that will live on in your heart. The young and old pics are great! I just lost my Grandma’s cat (Grandma has dementia, and is in a convalescent home, so I took in her cat, rabbit and dog 4 yrs ago.) to CRF this past December. He was a grouchy old fart, but I still miss him. He was the last of Grandma’s pets to pass away at 18 yrs old and it’s like a part of her is lost too.

  21. arual said

    Nikki sounds like she was a great kitty who certainly be missed by eveyone who knew her. She knows you will always love her.

  22. We are so sorry to hear about Nikki. God has Nikki playing right now at the bottom of the Rainbow Bridge and now she has crossed over. Just think Nikki will be there when you cross over to greet you. How precious the memories and we understand how hard it was to make the decision to send Nikki on her journey to the Rainbow Bridge. God understands your pain and sorrow and we will be praying for restoration in your life now to fill the void of missing your baby.
    In Jesus Holy Name

  23. CaroleJ said

    What strikes me most is your unwavering belief in her goodness, bites and bad behavior included. And despite all the bad stuff you complete appreciation and love for her. She was a lucky cat. Too bad these traits don’t exist in more pet owners, the euthanasia rates would go down. I lost a dog in Jan to cancer. He was 10 when I got him and I had him 3 years. He was a “biter.” I made the effort to work with this behavior. Through it all, and looking back on it, he was an incredible dog. No regrets on NOT giving up on him. hats off to you and Nikki.

  24. Jeanetet said

    Goodbye sweet Nikki – Say hello to my crochety girl Stolichnaya Pasha Kitty Meow over the ranibow bridge. I think the two of you will get on famously, you sound so much alike.

  25. kat8163 said

    I’ve been through something similar & feel your loss.
    You did the right thing & yet I know it doesn’t ease the pain, but you’ll always have the memories of your baby.
    I can see the way you wrote about Nikki & knowing all the slightest details of her mannerisms, tells us how much you loved & cared for her.
    I know she knew you loved her very much, because you went beyond the call of duty as a pet owner, she was truly your baby & you her parent.
    My deepest sympathies…Much Love & Peace, Kat

  26. PatDaz said

    I just clicked over from Sockingtons Tweet also. What an awesome cat, Ms.Nikki was. Adorabe as a kitten and elegant as a lady.
    Not only have I been an animal rescuer since age 5 (no joke! over 1/2 century now!), I just turn to mush when it comes to animals and at present have 2 dogs, 9 cats (lost both of my Siamese last year from heart disease, 2 weeks apart), a Koi pond turtle and over 50 Koi!!! Having had many FurKids (and scaley, shelled and feathered ones also), I know the loss and pain you are feeling now….I have experienced this many, many times. Grief is a part of our lives, so just let it flow as you need to..the road is bumpy at times, but you will make it, I just know.
    And…. always remember…..you loved Nikki and she loved you unconditionally. She knows you had to do this and she thanks you so she did not have to suffer, for taking care of her in this very unselfish way, just to go to sleep peacefully, after 15 wonderful, blissful, loved and much cared for years with you. She is completely well now, playing with all of our babies at Rainbow Bridge. You will see each other again one day, I believe this from the bottom of my heart.
    Also remember the good times, the crazy times, the one-on-one times……just as Nikki is remembering them…..and you, especially you, the one stable person in her life that loved her so very much.
    Don’t be surprised if Nikki sends another kitty your way…..these things have been known to happen quite frequently. Accept graciously and thank her for her thinking of you and her generosity.
    May your pain lessen as the days go by, may you remember the good times……may you have peace…….and thank you for being such a wonderful Dad to Nikki.

  27. Chick said

    PeaceOut Nikki! I get it big time. Lost the best friend of my life, Norman, at 13, his brother Ed at age 18 and the last brother Clyde at 19. They were all from the same litter. Maggie the adopted sister also at 13. They seem to live longer these days, for which I’m glad. Now, we have a 4 y/o Arlo, who is my husband’s “first cat” (he always said we had 4 cats, one for each tire! – he was just kidding, but not by too much;) I knew when he had his own tiny kitten, his cat gene would be activated. Oh crap! The man’s a STUPID cat guy now, with his Arlo, and our autistic Lilly (sounds much like Nikki!) who’s 2, and the latest addition of brother and sister duo Newman and Abby at 6 months. Holy cow! I still miss the old crew – and always think how much they’d appreciate the antics taking place today. Ed did manage to groom Arlo to be “boss of the house” before he moved on, but no one could ever fill Ed’s “benevolent dictator” shoes that somehow seems to work so well with a cat house. Blessings to Nikki and the family left behind. And know that filling that spot left empty isn’t replacing Nikki, but is giving a home to someone without, and may very well be more important to your existence than theirs. Meow friends.

  28. Jann said

    Your memories of Nikki will be with you forever. She is already waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, where she is as healthy as she could be. She knows how much you love her; it is evidenced in your beautiful tribute to her. When the time is right, another cat who needs love will find you and make you his/her own.

  29. Celeste said

    What a lovely tribute to a special cat. I know how much you miss your friend. But how wonderful that she knew that she was loved for 15 years. Not all humans ever have that.
    Rest in peace, Nikki. You are a great guy, Oldskooler. Hang in there.

  30. Jen said

    Came over from sockington on twitter also. I am so sorry for your loss. It has been four years since I lost my RJ to CRF also. I feel for you. I am sorry for your loss. I was crying too by the end of the post. I remember having to make the same decision. May you never forget the good times.

  31. Rev. Liz said

    I’m so sorry about Nikki. My 19-year old cat, Amoreena, died January 19, 2008. Teddy the Beagle and I still miss her very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  32. Julia said

    I also clicked over from @Sockington’s tweet. Nikki and you were blessed beyond measure to be part of each other’s life.

  33. Melissa Leonard said

    Love you. :-)

  34. Angie said

    I am so sorry to hear about this… I hope that, eventually, you can let another cat into your heart.

  35. Jan said

    Hugs to all of you. Like others who’ve posted, I’ve been there too — lost Moxie to CRF in 2006 at age 15. I made the same decision you did. We managed it for about 10 months that she was comfortable and enjoying life, but when the vet said she was approaching the end, as you described could happen, I saw no reason for her to have to endure any of that. Like you, I had to pull over on the way home because I couldn’t see to drive.

    Thanks to you, Nikki knew only love and safety and plenty for her whole life. You were both so fortunate your lives crossed paths like they did. I hope (and bet) she visits you in your dreams.

  36. Trixter said

    I want to thank everyone who commented, both from Sockington’s twitter and elsewhere. 36 hours after leaving the vet, I was still broken up and doubting that I had done the right thing, but all of your wonderful comments have helped me come to terms with what happened. I don’t know how long it will take me to feel better, but your kind words have brought a smile to my face for the first time in 36 hours. Thank you all.

  37. leatherartist said

    She will be waiting for you down the road. Sound like she knew who her human was and loved you. You most likely meant the world to her and sounds like it went both ways. Keep her in your heart and memory and she will live on.

  38. Janneke said

    Sad!! She looks just like my Cypie, (dutch for Tabby) whom i’ve had put down over two years ago, after sharing 16 years of life with all its ups and downs, mariage and devorce. I still miss her every day.

  39. lynn said

    So Sad. Thoughts are with you. The ultimate gift of love is to be prepared to let go. Nikki will love you even more for sparing her any further suffering. When the time is right, she will see you meet another cat in need of your love.

  40. mcdg said

    I’m another follower of Sockington. I am very sorry for your loss, but allowing Nikki to go in peace and with dignity is truly an act of love…just as giving a home to the kitten of a stray was. My cat Claudius was quite adept at teleporting. He is probably sharing sneaky secrets with Nikki right now.

  41. Emily S said

    I’m so sorry to hear about you losing Nikki… I was also crying when I came to the end of your beautifully written post.

    It was a brave and lovely thing you did to spare her those last weeks of pain and loss of dignity. It’s clear in that and in your writing how much Nikki meant to you and she’s lucky to have had a human such as you!

  42. A N N A said

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been there, don’t wish it on anyone. Losing a pet is a different, piercing sort of heartbreak. May you feel peace, soon.

  43. Erwin said

    Saw the link on twitter via sockington. Sad story, but well written! I had several losses of pets in my life and I know how painful it is. but you did the best thing for her imho.

  44. Kellene said

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Our cat, Cara, suffered kidney failure one year ago. When you started talking about the water disappearing and the excess urination, I knew exactly what you were going through. We even paid a nurse to come out three times a week and give Cara fluid injections under her skin. She hated it and wouldn’t eat anything. It was the hardest thing I had to do to take her to be put to sleep, but she was wasting away to nothing and we had had her for 16 years. It will be painful for a while, but time will heal that hole you have in your life and your heart. We still have one other cat — named Nikki!!!

  45. […] Nikki and me In 1994, when I was 23, Melissa and I adopted a kitten from a stray that someone from work had taken in, and named her […] […]

  46. Pam said

    I am so sorry about Nikki. I know, from experience, that telling you “she’s better off”, or “she’s with her other other family, now”, . . . .(you get the pic),that none of that will help with the loss and pain that you are experiencing now. I know that I will be having to make that same, very difficult, decision, in the not to distant future,for my 12 yr old, Keetin. Nikki was a very lucky lady, to come from such a loving home. God bless and God speed……another cat/animal lover

  47. Emma said

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I like everyone else here, lost a furry loved one. I got Cleo when I was 11 and she died 3 years ago, in my arms, when I was 25. She was loyal only to me; even when I returned home to Oz from London for 3 years, she went straight back to sleeping under my covers, as if she’d been waiting. I still cry, as I am now, at the thought of her final days, but one thing that comforts me – she visits me in my dreams, all the time, even now – I know Nikki will visit you too.

  48. Susan said

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have lost cats, dogs, birds, fish and hamsters. It is never easy, but her is a beautiful story written by a man named Dan Atchen about his dog. It does help.
    Bless you.

    DO CATS GO TO HEAVEN?

    My little kitty passed away, no more to breathe a sound.
    I held him for the last time, then entombed him in the ground.
    Day and night I wept so much, in tears I thought I’d drown.
    I searched my soul for comfort, but no peace therein was found.

    In great despair, I hit my knees and then began to pray.
    “Father will I ever see, my cat again someday?”
    I raised my eyes and saw an angel standing near a gate.
    I sensed an inner peace I’d never felt before that day.

    The angel smiled and said to me, “Oh man of little faith!
    God sees every bird that falls; He knows your kitty’s fate.
    I have met your little cat, I saw him pass my way.
    Your precious cat is still alive; he just walked through this gate.

    Paradise is lovelier than you can comprehend.
    No pain or grief, no tears or fears, and life will have no end.
    God gave to man His only Son, to cover all his sins.
    So why would God withhold from you, your pure and loving friend?”

    The angel took me by the hand and said, “Now come with me.
    A glimpse of paradise I’ll give, to you so you can see.”
    Through the gate and o’er the Rainbow Bridge we did proceed.
    Through green valleys filled with flowers, rolling hills and trees.

    “Wow, so this is paradise!” The place was filled with joy.
    I saw my kitty playing there, with dogs and cats and toys.
    He also had some kitty treats, and food that he enjoyed.
    He’d made a lot of new friends there, including girls and boys.

    Then I saw a child come near, and hug my little mate.
    She said to him, “I love you so,” and kissed him on the face.
    The angel said, “The child just crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.
    Now she needs a little friend, to love and help her play.

    God’s love for her would be enough, in that make no mistake.
    But in His love, He knew full well, the child would want a mate.
    This is why God called your cat unto this splendid place.
    God’s entrusted her with him, ‘til you pass through the gate.”

    I pleaded, “May I hug them both?!” The angel answered, “No!
    You’d violate a sacred site, and now it’s time to go.”
    He led me back across the Bridge and through the gate to home.
    He left me there with new-found hope and peace within my soul.

    If someone ever asks what happens to a pet that dies,
    Just give a gentle smile of joy and look them in the eye.
    Take their hand and comfort them and tell them not to cry.
    For petss don’t die, they simply cross a bridge to paradise.

  49. Lutiana said

    *Sigh* it is never easy to put down a pet. 14 years is a good run for a cat, and it sounds like those were pretty good years for her.

    She is in a better place.

  50. Kate said

    Thanks for sending me this, Trixter. It never is easy when you lose a family member, and a pet is exactly that – a member of your family that asks for the most basic elements of survival (food/water, shelter, and affection) and in return, provides you the type of unconditional love that humans just aren’t programmed to give.

    I hope my cat lives through the night so I can take him in and let the vet end his suffering. I tried to do it yesterday, and the vet felt he had a good chance of recovering, so we decided to wait until Monday. I’m beside myself now, seeing that his suffering may be extended because I didn’t want to make a hard choice. It is good that you made that choice for Nikki. It was a final and selfless gift.

  51. lryqdr said

    gSDD5R mmaopxvibivg

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