Nick & Nora

In my book, I didn’t write much about Nick & Nora. Maybe because I can share chickens but the cats? Too close to home.

We adopted Nick and Nora 17 years ago. 2003.

Best cats ever.

Nora. Her fluffy-tailed presence, perky and bright-eyed, was a simple, happy one. Her purr resounded as she approached, fair warning that she was on her way and ready for attention. Her meows, when she bothered, were petite, more like an excuse me. Here I am. She preferred to trill when she wanted you to turn on the shower or a faucet so she could partake. She was a Lady, her tail undulating in a breeze of love and joy.

She died last year, Oct. 3, 2019. Bladder cancer.

Yet even in death, she brought joy because Nick was thrilled to have our unadulterated attention.

I still look about for Nora’s fluffy tail. On occasion, there is, in the corner of my eye. But no.

And Nick? Let’s put it this way. He is lying on the dining room table in this photo. He knows perfectly well he isn’t supposed to be there.

 And maybe he did miss her because Nick began to lose weight. He lost interest in food. But he maintained his strict oversight and direction of humans. Every morning, and sometimes throughout the night, he would meow, progressively louder and more insistently, until I tossed aside the bedcovers and got up to feed him. Or, at the least, pet him. The 5:30-6 wake up calls had a different tone. He had a way of making it clear that the day was a-wasting. When finally I arrived in the kitchen after freeing the chickens—imagine that! Putting chickens ahead of cats—he would take his position on the kitchen step-ladder stool and oversee my espresso-making, knowing that at one point, I would cave and let him lick the measuring cup of its few drops of milk.

Helping Carl was far more satisfactory. Over the years, the tiniest nib of butter had grown to be four bites, in total measuring a teaspoon. But by then he was over the age of 15, 16 so whatever. At that age, you can eat everything with gusto.

Except he had lost his appetite. Trying to entice him to eat became a stress as he lost more and more weight. From 9.4 to 8 . . . 7.2. Skin and bones and ever attentive and alert, except when asleep. His paw on my arm as I typed. Or his body in full recline on top of my head at night. Jumping up on my desk to sit on whatever I was writing. Meowing with gusto from where he sat in the middle of the house, knowing the echos of his demands would attract someone’s attention sometime, preferably now. And if not, his paw falls would replace the meows as he thumped through the house, looking for a human, now that  Nora wasn’t around to torture.

Many cat haters took to him. He had a dog personality, the way he kept company. 

He stopped keeping food down last week. A mix of liver failure? Kidney failure? His heart murmur had gotten noticeably worse from one ER visit on Thursday to the last one on Saturday night. We arrived at 7:40PM with Nick, a miserable cat who couldn’t take four steps without crouching down, as he used to when expecting a hairball. Four hours later, the ER technician took him in. The vet called a few minutes later, agreeing that it was time.

He died just after midnight.

The house now has auditory paw falls to join the hallucinatory fluffy tails. And however heartbroken, I remind myself how very lucky we were to have such a pair of cats for as long as we did. It was they, in so many ways, that made our house home. 

Nick’s grave:


With Nora and Agora.