Saturday, July 07, 2007

Our Pet Cemetery Grows By One

In the wayback of our half-acre yard we have a substantial pet cemetery. The ground was consecrated only a few weeks after we moved in when our fluffy white rabbit, Snowball, didn’t make the transition from his comfy cage inside the air conditioned house to his custom-built hutch on the side of our yard. In the years since, we’ve buried Lady, a four-month-old German shepherd mix who drowned in a freak accident in our spa (and I mean freak accident); an amazing alligator lizard with a tail 12-inches long who couldn’t adapt to life in a reptile habitat inside the house (the only thing my kids learned from this was that outside critters live best outside); my gorgeous rooster who strutted and crowed like a prizefighter; two sister cats we’d had since they were kittens (Funny Face and Mariah); and my beloved Bichon Frise, Handsome, a rescue dog who became my shadow and dearest companion.

Yesterday we had to put down our beloved, 18-year-old cat, Neesa, mother of Funny Face and Mariah. Anyone who has loved a pet can understand the waves of grief and sadness we felt yesterday and will continue to feel in the days ahead.

Neesa has been a part of our family since we lived in Orange County immediately after returning from our years in Japan. Like the best cats, Neesa, adopted us. She came to us in a family way and gave birth to six kittens in the attic of our house. Only days after her litter was born, good mother Neesa, found an opportunity to move her litter to upscale digs inside the house. Here’s what happened.

My daughter, Elisabeth, only three years old at the time, had a cradle full of stuffed animals on the floor of her room. The two kids and I had just returned from a large grocery shopping trip and I’d parked my van inside the garage and left the door into the kitchen wide open while I shuffled bags of groceries from the van inside the house. The phone rang, so I paused my unloading, leaving the door open. A moment later I saw Neesa run through the kitchen and disappear into the back of the house. Back in 1991 I didn’t have a cordless phone, so I stayed yakking into my wired handset in the kitchen. A moment later Neesa ran back into the garage and I didn’t give it another thought until I saw her run back in. This time I noticed a tiny black kitten hanging by the nape of the neck from Neesa’s mouth. I put the phone down and followed her.

Neesa, in her motherly way, had taken the open door opportunity to move her kittens, one at a time, from the attic space to a comfy spot inside the house. She dropped the little black darling right into Elisabeth’s stuffed animal sanctuary where the little mewers blended right in.

Smitten with this little example of animal instinct, the kids and I watched as Neesa moved all of her kittens into Elisabeth’s room and nestled in among the stuffed animals to nurse. I moved some of Elisabeth’s special stuffies from the new kitty nursery and we let Neesa and her litter stay there until it was time to find homes for the kitties.

Elisabeth gave Funny Face her name because she had a black dot next to her nose that made her look, well, funny. The three all-black male kittens we gave away to friends. My sister, Robin, took Mariah for her daughter Darah. After Robin found she was deathly allergic to cats, we took Mariah back and kept her until her death about a year ago at age 16. Funny Face preceded Mariah, passing peacefully at the age of 13.

We weren’t exactly sure how old Neesa was, as she was fully grown when she adopted us. When we had her spayed right after she weaned her litter, the vet said she was young, probably about a year old. This makes her about the same age as my son, Jonathan.

Neesa has been a part of our family for so long that Elisabeth and Jonathan don’t remember life without her. She’s buried now in the pet cemetery where her two daughters lay.

The photo above shows (l-r) Neesa and Mariah posing on their thones in front of our house in early 2005. RIP: Neesa, Funny Face, and Mariah.
If you've ever lost a beloved pet, feel free to share a memory here. Simply click the blue COMMENTS link below.


Joy said...

Your little cemetery appears to be similar to ours ... including our precious beloved Bichon Frise 'Madrigal'.

-'Joyous' Gaile Avent

8th Annual Southeast USA Bichon Bash
Symphony Hill Retreat
October 6 - 7, 2007
Good times, good friends, precious fluffs!

Visit the .....

jenny gardiner said...

Sorry to hear about your kitty. At least she lived a long life. We had to put down our 22-yr old kitty last year. After all that time we had to do it in a hurry. I had to go to my friend's mother's funeral, so my husband rounded up the kids from school and took them to the vet where the deed was done. I always regret I wasn't there for Hobbes, but it would have been cruel to make her wait any longer as her rapid decline was just too much for her. Preceding her was our 19-yr old cat and our 10 yr old dog.
It's never easy, but when they have to be put down, it's usually better that they not suffer any longer.
Glad you were able to be there for her before you had to go away. Here's a hug!

Julee Ann said...

I have been feasting on your informative blog and delicious sidebar lately, so thought I'd say hello. I'm a big fan of blogs that can turn daily life into an interesting read. Good job.

Kelly Spencer said...

Hi Carolyn, Dave, Elle and Jonny,

We sure can sympathize losing your dear cat. Losing our Sammy cat over 2 yrs ago, when we were out of town, was hard, but we knew we couldn't let him suffer longer. He'd been sick.
Hardest of all was losing my Glory dog 7 yrs ago. She was 14 and we had to put her down too. We can surely relate. We have our own pet cemetary in our back yard also!

Sure hope we get to see you in CA. We arrive July 24th.

Love, Kelly Kevin and Christina

TR said...

I liked your story. We've had cats for 38 years, though I grew up with dogs. In 1978 we rescued Ivory (black and white shorthair) and Aurora (calico mix) from an animal shelter. Ivory was alert and wanted to come home with us, but Aurora was diseased, abused, and nearly dead. We had to take both. It's another story how Ivory helped us heal and civilize Aurora, who became a great hunter and friend. In her last year, she had only 3 good legs but could still catch a quick mouse. When Ivory died at age 13, she curled up under the shed behind our house and went to sleep. We found her the next morning in peaceful rest, and buried her on the overlook near our house. Aurora died the same year in Laurel's arms, her nearly useless legs running like they hadn't in years. It was a run towards the light, without pain or anxiety. She ran until she got there, and died peacefully. She is buried next to her best friend, Ivory. Thanks for the invitation to share.

CSUF Rock Star said...

We had to put down our three-year-old purebred golden retriever, Dante, after he had gotten into some rat poison in our neighborhood. Only our mother was with him at the time, but he was a good dog and we missed him. We don't really have the backyard space, though, so he wasn't buried at our house.

You sound like you've had a veritable petting zoo at your house over the years. Rabbits, dogs, lizards, roosters, cats.... Have you ever considered raising peacocks? Flannery O'Connor style? That would be so cool....

The Matrix Has You

Devon Ellington said...

Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of Nessa. They always live in our hearts, but we still miss the physical presences.

Love to you.

Beautiful memories of your beloved family member.

Aleta said...

our hearts go out to you and your family.

LA Burton said...

I'm so sorry for your lose. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

What a sweet post! Thanks for sharing this. -Richenda

Nienke Hinton said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Neesa, Carolyn. What a beautiful girl she was! I know your pain as my sick kitty, Cairo, died recently.
The mind picture of the kitties with the stuffed animals brings me great pleasure. Here's to memories.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn - this is Karen here to say I am sorry you lost your kitty. I lost my kitty, Stephanie, at age 10, last year from liver failure. I thought that being a totally indoor cat would keep her with me for 20 years.... And, as you know, I have lost many doggies too. It is so very hard. I still cry over animals I lost 20 years ago, so you can image how I must (not) be coping over my kitty. I still have Julie the shepard mix, who will be 8 next month, and Lola, the boxer, who is 2, but my sleeping partner, the one that meowed for me to come be with her and who cuddled in my arms every time I went to the bathroom... well, you know. I'd like to tell you that time heals, but that is a load of crap. Tee hee
Love to you and all, Karen

bellevoce said...

Yes, we were all sad. It is very weird not to have her around anymore and so sad to think of her laid beside her daughters. :(

And AJ, there are peacocks in the yard behind our own. :)

Donna Bradley said...

Dear Carolyn, Dave, Elle & Jon; Mark & I are so sorry to hear about Neesa. I know the feeling of losing a dearly loved pet. We recently lost our cat, Sam. He came with the home we bought 6 years ago and we joyfully accepted him as part of our home. He died naturally at (we think) 17 years. He was a terrific mouser up to the end! I still miss him, especially when I got out on our front porch in the evenings. He was always there to say hello and spend lots of time with me. Hugs to the family, Carolyn!

Stacy said...

I haven't lost any pets (except for hamsters and fish) but I'm so sorry about your loss. That's an amazing story with her bringing her kittens in one by one. What a character!

Lynn Sinclair said...


You already know the story about my 16 year old cat, Chowder. Reading your story and those of your readers is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. There are many things I'll remember about Chowder, but those last few moments before she died...well, that always chokes me up.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll be back here again.


EJ said...

Hey, Carolyn, sorry it took me so long to get over here and read this. Since losing Feral, Doubtful and Mooch nearly back to back, well, I think you understand.

I can well understand your feelings over the death of Neesa. They showed in your words. I hope you know that you have my most heartfelt sympathies and hugs.


Third Mom said...

So sweet - belated sympathy to you. our current cat, Saja, is probably not too far from the next world. He's 15, which gives him a few more years, but he's slowing down.

We used to have an aquarium, and every time a fish died (which was often), the kids would have a funeral and make my husband bury it. What we never told them was that the cat would dig them all right back up.