Friday, November 03, 2006


i have been dreading writing this for a long time, but i knew i had to do it. it's a big part of my life, after all. it's the most notable news.

this is me and niles.

at the risk of writing this and sounding like crazy cat lady, let me explain. this cat - this cat... amazing. this little guy came into my life about 6 years ago, when my girlfriend and i decided we wanted a pet. having pets all my life but being severely allergic to kitties, i sneakily told her i couldn't handle it, then decided to get shots until the holidays. by then, we were ready for little kitters mcchristmas.

amy and i decided that we wanted an unusual case - not some cat from petco, not a kitten. a cat that wanted a home, one that needed us. i worked at a coffeeshop here called intelligentsia on broadway as a barista, and one day, a frazzled vet named nikki came in and ordered a drink with a thousand shots.

does anyone here want a cat?, she asked, half joking. she had flyers in her other hand with cutouts of a small tawny guy on it. i sort of perked up and said that we were in the market, but i didn't know. well, i should warn you - this cat has feline leukemia.... so he's sort of special needs, she said. he got hit by a car and someone brought him in, and i tested him. we're going to have to put him down in the clinic if no one takes him, but i can't bring myself to do it. he's the best cat i've ever met. i have seven days to find this guy a home.

my warning bells went off and i looked at his face. i loved it. he looked awesome. super cute, three years old. i promised her i'd come in and meet him and see for myself.

i drove to the burbs to go see him, and by this point, i'd seen a lot of cats. i walked into a vet's room, standing and waiting, cold steel tables and sterility surrounding me. someone brought him in and placed him on the table. here he is, he said, niles. i'll give you a few minutes to get acquainted while nikki is coming.

i smiled at the kitty and liked him right away. i sort of pet him a bit, and turned around to start reading a book on feline leuk that they had left for me in the room. niles saw me turn, and jumped from the cold steel table to the countertop and stood, looking over my shoulder to seemingly read with me. i loved him. he was playful and fun - smart, cordial, but not a lap cat. just cool. this cat was nothing but cool.

we decided to take him.

we were warned and warned again. leukemia cats die fast, they are sickly, they have hard lives, he'll only live a year at most... we knew. we didn't care. it was a true case of giving in, yielding to love for no matter how long. a year of good life is better than never knowing any.

niles lived six years.
six years beyond the time everyone thought, said, and "knew" he could.
he has been my only constant in this city. he has been through my sickness, through breakups, through moves and successes and dramas and loneliness and in every case - he was a friend. like, not just a pet, but a real, real friend. every time i've been alone he never left my side. every time i felt sad he'd do something super funny. and every time i didn't know what i needed, he figured it out and gave it.

about a week and a half ago, my roommate jon called and told me niles wasn't doing well while i was flying back from columbus. niles had recently been diagnosed with cancer as well, and even though he was strikingly healthy to the naked eye, he suddenly experienced rapid weight loss and couldn't eat much. he was on a thousand drugs, and since he wasn't a good candidate for chemo, we knew the end was near. i rushed home and skipped everything that night, and prepared for the worst and hoped for what seemed to be his 54th life. we stayed up together and i cried a lot. amy and i talked on the phone incessantly and knew even though we aren't together like we were when we got him, we wanted to finish it together. the next day came and niles became weaker by the hour. i called the vet to tell her i needed to do something, and she said to make him comfortable and as long as he wasn't breathing funny, that i should just wait. within minutes, he began to wheeze. she said it was time.

barring whatever or whomever it is for, playing god for anything seems like a real mistake. i sat on my coffee table staring at him with two friends. i don't want to do the wrong thing, i said. how will i ever know what you want? i just didn't want to give up on him without him saying yes. yes. now. he began breathing harder. i grabbed my towel from the bathroom and wrapped him up. thinking about putting him in some fucking carrier seemed cruel. distant. we were friends. i wanted him to see, know, and understand everything.

walking out of my apartment was one of the hardest things in the world.
we ended at the beginning - in a cold, sterile vet room on a chrome table. only this time, instead of guessing i'd love him, i knew that i did.

i held his paw.

i've seen a lot of things die. it doesn't matter how much you see.

we walked out of the hospital past what seemed like a million healthy pets, leaving him behind. we stayed in the room with him for a bit and were all emotional, switching between tears and laughter of how great he was. it felt bad to leave him there. i told the vet assistant who came in to ask what we wanted to do with remains that i was determined not to be craisins old lady, so i had decided that we wanted his ashes put into a precious moments figurine. she laughed. we've seen it all, she said. she had a great disposition of being just jokey enough to make us feel better, and still so respectful and kind as he laid there. i just didn't know what to do but pretend he was in on the joke.

tara & amy came over and we watched bad tv all night because no one felt like being alone. my roommates were upset and we all sort of did bits and then busted into tears while i dumped litter boxes and water bowls into the trash. within hours, i got countless texts, phone calls, and e-mails. it seemed like everyone in improv knew this cat - and liked him. a fucking cat.

a fucking bad-ass, cool fucking cat.

i fucking hate that he's gone.

to niles.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still think about you China kitty ! He was a funny mofo. Thinking of you lots TD...


1:12 PM  
Blogger Kathe said...

TD, I am so sorry for your loss -- what a beautiful post, though. I know how hard this must have been on you. Brava for welcoming Niles into your life and giving him those six years of happiness and quality TD love. :)

1:53 AM  
Blogger rn_buffoon said...

Losing a pet is like losing a family member TD- here's to Niles.

He sounds like a one-in-a-mill...

5:20 AM  

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