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.