this month our cat, nala, passed away. anyone that has experienced this knows that its not a small thing, losing a “pet”. its family.
nala was an oriental shorthair, which i had never come across until i met my husband. i had one housecat growing up – a stray kitten that my dad totally did not approve of – and i loved it, very much. but that cat was nothing like nala.
when kolton and i started dating, she seriously made me uncomfortable. she didn’t just look at you, she LOOKED at you. a blink-less, slightly cross-eyed gaze saying “what are you all about?” and she made it very clear early on that she was kolton’s cat. she wasn’t sharing love with me or anyone else. over the last five years, that changed (a little).
when i couldn’t find her all i had to give was a “pst” and she was running to my feet. slowly i became (more of) a homebody because i enjoyed being home with just her. she sat and watched me as i cleaned, cooked, watched television, read books, and edited countless videos. in-between all this it was her life’s mission to find the warmest spot in the house. it would change from year to year: behind the couch next to that one heat vent, particular sun spots that would spin around the house as the sun went down. and when we put in heated floors in the bathroom? OH MAN. she would come outside in the warmer weather while i gardened or grabbed the mail, usually ending with conking out on the porch.
she had about thirty different meows. the hungry one, the “wake UP!” one, the open the freaking door one, petmeholdmekissme, and the silent “merphs” from when we got back from vacation because she was a little miffed.
over the last year or so, her hearing failed as well as her kidneys (renal failure) in addition to an over-active thyroid that was making her so skinny. we knew she was getting old, but she didn’t let you know it. she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like always. but a few months shy of her twentieth birthday, her already tiny body got tinier. her hearing went completely, as well as her sight, and she stopped eating.
its difficult to write, but we know that it was the best time for her. she would have only lasted a couple more days with no food, and the only time she would lay down is if we held her. she was restless because she couldn’t find a safe spot due to her blindness. in general she just looked miserable.
like most animals, she has always hated going to the vet’s office. like, HATES it. freaks out in the car, freaks out about the cold exam table, the strange people, the other pets, everything. when we finally decided it was time to say goodbye, we couldn’t imagine putting her through that. so we did some research and found an at-home euthanasia doctor. it was so, so great. and i highly recommend this route to anyone that finds themselves in this position. her name was dr. barnes, and i called her late saturday night pretty much in tears because nala was in such a bad state. she answered on the first ring, was so calm and so sweet and assured me we were doing the right thing for her. i was shocked when she said she was available to come the next morning under such short notice.
with home euthanasia, you’re the boss. and i like that. we got to choose when to do it, how to do it, and where to do it. in that situation, that was the only thing we really could have asked for. dr. barnes and her technician were so kind; they pet nala, let us ramble on about how she was the best cat in the world, and didn’t put her through any unnecessary examination.
i took these photos early sunday morning. at the time, it seemed morbid. honestly i was waiting for kolton to tell me to stop and put the camera down. but looking back, i wish i had taken more. i wanted to capture the tiny details that made nala, nala. the veins in her see-through bat ears, her tiny rabbit feet. even though i knew she felt miserable, she still was just a beautiful animal. period.
nala went in peace and calm at 10:35am on sunday, august 18th. it was a grey, rainy morning that made it feel bitterly fitting. kolton and i were both with her together, chose a spot for her together, and buried her together. when we told our family and friends, we received so many cards in the mail, i was shocked. and i’d love to include what dr. barnes’ wrote:
“Dear Stanley Family,
We are so sorry for your loss of your beloved friend and companion of 19 years, Nala – she was obviously a treasured member of your family. Nala was a feisty and strong little girl who loved greeting visitors and making them feel special by purring ‘just for them’, running and jumping around her house like crazy, maintaining her own territory separate from dogs that insisted on briefly living in her home, chasing mice and exploring outside, encouraging you to wake up by putting her face about 1/4 inch from your eyeball and just relaxing at home with her family. Nala’s longevity is a testament to the full, rich, worry-free and love-filled life that you gave to her – she deserved nothing less.
In the end, when she was very weak and not herself, you made the kindest decision for her. You put Nala first and spared her from suffering, distress, further decline and ever having to become an emergency. Nala passed away with peace and dignity, with her family beside her, in her own home.
Though you will miss her dearly and your home (and life) will not be the same without her, we hope you can take some comfort from your many, many wonderful memories of Nala.”
we love, love, love you nala.