nou nou memorial cat
Cats

RIP Weird, Wonderful Nou Nou, The One-eyed Wonder Cat

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)

And then there was one. For the past 12 years, my cat family ebbed and flowed but averaged four cats. With every loss or addition, the dynamics shifted. It’s a full circle moment. After 13 years, it’s back to one cat again, Odin. His sidekick and ersatz girlfriend, Nou Nou became a cat angel a few hours before the Fall Equinox.

nou nou cat graves rip

The timing wasn’t ideal not there is ever an ideal time to die. I posted a quick notice on Instagram that thankfully almost no one noticed. I wasn’t ready to share my grief. There was no time to grieve with a wedding rehearsal dinner a big family wedding within three days. Two days later I came down with the worst cold/flu whatever that lasted over a month. In Eastern medicine, issues with lungs can reflect unexpressed sadness. Makes sense to me.

By waiting two months to write about the loss, while not in the grips by intense grieving, I can share from a clearer perspective. I’m hoping any insights can apply to other cat lovers whether they’ve experienced cat loss or not.

I posted a short video reel on Instagram from the funeral.

 


nou nou rip poem grave

Anticipatory loss.

You know it’s coming but you don’t know exactly when unless there is an appointment for euthanasia. It results in nail-biting anxiety and worry about doing too Having experienced every kind of pet loss, there is no easy or easier way. Knowing far in advance of a terminal illness, like kidney disease, offers time to prepare, makes changes and hopefully prolong the inevitable.

With Nou Nou, I never expected her to live to a ripe old 20+ age like Clyde or Merlin, but I didn’t expect her to go at age 9. Not when she’d made such emotional leaps and bounds in the past two years. She lived the first year of her life with a hoarder, lost an eye before being rescued. Lived in a cage of a tiny windowless shelter room for 7 months before I brought her home as a foster. Under-socialized with neurological issues, she could be categorized as special needs but I just considered her special.

I met Nou Nou ( first named Vicky) while volunteering a shelter. In fact, I met her the same day, a hoarder dumped a dozen cats. I wish I’d taken her right away. That look says it all but I wasn’t ready.

shelter cat hoarder rescue

We let her be her own weird self even if it meant removing all rugs because she stopped using a litter box. Well, she never really liked using one so puppy pads had to do. Trust me, I tried everything. Most cats are creatures of habit but not Nou Nou. Just when she like a certain food, played a certain way, napped in a certain place, truly any behavior, she’d do a 180. Unpredictable or quixotic was her middle name.

It took almost 7 years before she decided to become a lap cat but always on her terms. I credit her radical shift to holistic healing with several animal communicators.

Shock, Anger, Denial, Guilt, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue

Oh yeah, death brings out a witch’s brew of emotions. Every time is different. Don’t expect grief to follow a text book A to Z pattern or sequence. Expect the unexpected.

Like many older cats she had CKD and it ultimately killed her. It progressed slowly until kidney values plummeted. The vet gave her a few weeks to live but six months later, after the best summer of her life, she was still kicking. Two weeks before she died, something shifted. She was still enjoying her supervised outdoor adventures, but I felt I wanted a second opinion and booked an appointment with Odin’s vet. Two days before the appointment it shifted from a second opinion to possible euthanasia. Nou Nou being Nou Nou had other ideas and exited the day before. Thankfully, I had gabapentin, on hand to administer pain relief. The transition was gentle , natural and peaceful.

What I didn’t expect. Her death to triggered leftover, unprocessed emotions from my mother’s death in 2017. Thanks Nou Nou. Still working on that. If that happens, it’s wise to consider seeking counsel from therapy, pet loss professionals, clergy, holistic healing or in my case, a shaman. You don’t have to grieve alone.

No matter how prepared we are for an imminent death, the moment it happens, time stops. We are stunned into silence and shock. Maybe sobbing tears. Maybe not. My grief will not look like yours. Never compare. It’s all as unique as our cats. And it’s all okay.

I find comfort in creating ritual or ceremony. Every cat of mine gets a funeral of some sort and each time it’s different.

Odin helped in his own way.

odin cat grave

Nou Nou is buried next to Clyde and Domino. She let me know her preferred spot well in advance. I just didn’t think it would be a year later. It’s weirdly comforting now to have this image. You might not be ready to even look at old photos or videos for awhile. Take your time.

cat visiting cats grave

I don’t know any cat lover who doesn’t have a ton of photos. It may be too painful to look at a cute video at first but later, it will be a sweet nostalgia. All the memories add up because as they say. “What is remembered lives.”

Nou Nou was her happiest in a wild spot by the lilac trees. I like to think she’s having new adventures in the great beyond.

adventure cat nou nou

Her final catnap in the garden as she drifting in and out of consciousness.

final catnap in garden

The documenting serves a useful purpose during grieving and that includes writing or journaling. I strongly suggest it. Write from the heart. Let it rip. If you’re worried someone will see it, you can always delete or tear it up later.

Memory is wonky while grieving

I don’t know about you but my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Do you remember what happened three Tuesdays ago? I don’t. During the shock and heaviness of early grieving, I find memory gets wonky at best. If I think back to what exactly happened the day Nou Nou died, I couldn’t tell you. That’s why I suggest during the first 24 hours to jot down the details. Trust me, you’ll forgot much of it if you don’t. This not the time for fancy words, punctuation or full sentences. From the “just the facts, ma’am” approach you can write a proper blog post or whatever later.

I’m sharing for the first time, my unedited, stream of consciousness notes as an example. See it at the end or this post.

I’ve written about grieving often and sometimes the most meaningful posts are from the cat’s perspective like:

Dead Cats Communicate in Mysterious Ways

Merlin The Cat: Life After Death

20 Life Lessons From Black Cat Clyde In Kitty Heaven

How to Create a Pet Memorial Garden in Your Backyard

Nou Nou held her own at this blog but she was allergic to posing for photos or cooperating in any fashion. Gradually over the years she tolerated being photographed and in recent years some cute Instagram reel videos. This was a popular one that show her funny way of walking in the garden.

 

nou nou lap cat

weird cat nou nou

So many memories and changes over the years. Nou Nou was always the only female and exerted her influence. I’ve always said that female cats rule the roost no matter what and that includes ruling over dogs. Through out the years her heart belonged to Odin. It was unrequited. Sure he’d sleep her sometimes, lick her ear or kiss her but these crumbs of affection were rare.

We’ve all heard of bonded cats who care for their ill friend but not Odin. When Nou Nou was ill she smelled bad and he ignored her. It was painful to watch how thrilled she’d get if he even walked nearby. It doesn’t matter now. She’s no doubt cavorting with good pal, Domino in kitty heaven.

9 lives of nou nou cat

Cats Go To Heaven But Visit Us On Earth

It’s a lovely sentiment to think we will be reunited with our dead pets but I’m re-thinking the “Until we meet again” concept. While we might be reunited in the future, our dead cats are very much around in the present. If you want to connect and communicate more deeply with your cats dead or alive, consider taking a course in animal communication or at least read up on it. There are plenty of YouTube videos too.

until we meet again cat paw

I had not one but three of my animal communicator friends reach out to say how ecstatic Nou Nou was on the other side. And I agree. I can feel her exuberant tail standing tall, that glorious feeling of freedom to run around normally without infirmity, illness or age.

Visitations or ghosts?

Nou Nou wasted no time showing up. It takes a lot of energy to take on a physical form like their cat suit which is why ghosts or apparitions are rare. Sounds or things moving like paw taps or common. The first couple weeks after she died, I’d pass the sofa we spent so much time together, I’d call out loudly, repeatedly and mournfully “Nou Nou, where are you?” After awhile, I could “hear” her annoyance and “Here I am. Stop moaning.

cat grave with lantern

My other cats have visited in the form of cardinals but of course Nou Nou had to be different. A few days after she died. I’m lying in bed morose when I hear a loud, insistent tapping on the window next to my bed. I look out and a woodpecker is tapping the window wanting to come inside. Nou Nou!

As the weeks flew by (no pun intended) I called out to her less and she felt I didn’t need her as much. I still fight the automatic urge to cover a sofa armchair with plastic every night before going to bed. She had a thing for perching off the arm of a chair and peeing. I miss her but not that!

Domino_nou nou-cat friends
Nou Nou and Domino, together again.

One Pet Death Impacts Everyone in the house

Even one death, changes everything. Cats are territorial creatures with complex relationships their humans know little of. With Nou Nou gone, I worried how Odin would manage being the only cat. He knew what was going on at every point before and after she died. He was a part of the burial and sat by her grave. You’d think given how he treated Nou Nou, he wouldn’t grieve but he did. When his other cat friends died, his way of grieving would be to act out or be more anxious or restless. This time he was out of sorts and looked sad. He visited his “girlfriend” neighbor more often and was more affectionate with me. He normally never sleeps with me but does and simply needs more attention.

A few months before Nou Nou died, she developed a new habit while watching TV. She’d spend a few minutes on my lap, then shift over to my husband, back and forth all evening. Now Odin, who observed the behavior but never participated, does it sometimes. He gets all the attention now and that seems to please him.

odin cat and Joe

The Temptation To Adopt Again

It’s increasingly common to adopt sooner than later after a pet dies. It’s tempting and natural to want to fill the void. I have to admit, I was tempted. My husband thought Odin would like a new kitten to play with. We perused shelter listings for a cat that could be “The One”. There were a few contenders (how could there not be) but reality set in and I’m glad we didn’t make a rash decision. Adoption is a 20+ year commitment for a young cat or kitten. Even an older cat is a serious commitment, we aren’t prepared to make. That said, if the cat gods want us to adopt again, it would have to be an extraordinary fated event.

For now, as much I miss Nou Nou, I know she’s happy where she is and that’s good enough for now.

From my journal- Raw, unedited notes.
Nou Nou- June 2013 – Sept 20 2022 – the first 24? hours
Last weeks fussy about food, drinking more water. Alternating lap time watching TV. Week ago peed on Joe’s bed (a first). Spending more time under lounge chair in back yard. Seemed okay but changes in vocalization little Keeko sounds, squeak a bit louder. I felt her teeth were bothering her and last week opening licking motion more like a painful mouth sore. Time to make vet appointment. Decided on Klainbart for second opinion and possible treatment. No appointment until Wednesday Sept 21 at 2:30. Found a bottle of Clyde’s chicken flavored gabapentin liquid. No cause for alarm but she went off all food. Even roast chicken, warmed up, puréed soft you name it. Ordered Churu which kept Merlin going another 6 months. Initial gobble then nothing. Barely ate a tsp all day and not much water yesterday. Signs of dying. Didn’t want to snuggle and stayed in Clyde’s old cubby. The death corner where Domino died. Every few seconds a brief cry. But would she go naturally? Regular appt now euthanasia.
I felt restless couldn’t sleep. Did a shamanic journey to her helping spirits who said she’s ready to go, wants to be outside in the garden and not die at the vet’s and give two dosages gabapentin 4mg twice that day 4 4 double death in Chinese. I had given 2mg yesterday. She was slowing down drastically. Around 3am Joe wakes me up, I’d just fallen asleep saying she crawled upstairs crying, he tried to give water and she disappeared, little did I know she was under my bed by my head. I woke up at 7 sensed her near and there she was. Tried coaxing her out.. Nothing she kept moving Had to pull her out. Cold paws. The last bit of energy I saw from her. I carried her to the laundry room where we’d set up a sub q station like we had for Clyde. plan to give water. Syringe feed gaba and hydrate. Accepted a little water no food and the 40 gaba. Added crystals. Her eye smaller actually got small maybe a week ago. A sign. Sub q felt too invasive and I carried her in The tiger snuggly to garden. Beautiful warm sunny day not too hot. Added crystal clusters but flies swarming covered with mesh carrier top of sleepy pod. I played calming ride music and checked on her every few minutes while I continued my big clean and decorating kitchen dining within table and bench Steve gifted us before moving to Seattle. I wanted to create a new space in this time of transition. Removed the massage table where Clyde was euthanized. Huge about a deep cleaning and steam cleaning floors. Started last week exhausting back ache but felt good. I also colored my hair a smoky blue gray. Not perfect but okay. So much to do before the wedding. Death trumps all. I thought she would exit outside but by 5 the meds wore off and she perked up from her slumber. Gave the second dose and brought her in to the cubby Her breathing very shallow and thought she was dead . The question was would she die before her vet appointment? Going to an emergency clinic felt wrong and invasive. Meanwhile Odin’s cat friend neighbor Shmurka went missing again all night but returned that morning. I made cocktails and dinner. We watched tv taking turns to check on her comfy in the cubby 10 feet away. Felt very anxious couldn’t focus last episode of Safe and first episode of Paris 1900. Felt she was ready to go. Played chakra balancing video for her to ease the passage, and shortly after she left around 10. She’d peed a bit and I wrapped her in an organic cotton tote bag/ burial shroud. Messaged Cassandra and sent photo to cousins WhatsApp. Exhausting. Processing. Tarot. Angel cards. Bed 1ish. Teary but not sobbing like in the past. Felt like a clean death natural and my shamanic journey validated.
I loved that little weirdo and glad she had a great last year of lap time and garden time which she loved. It’s a void and when one door closes another opens. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.
At bedtime lights off, phone on, a moth lands on my arm out of no where. I’m sure was it was her.
Next day sunny warm auspicious day for a burial. Joe dug a grave next to Clyde not very deep but same as others and it’s okay. Played Buddhist funeral chanting for hours while I cleaned rearranged furniture so good to remove pissy plastic. Time for Persian rugs again.
Exhausting but at least I didn’t have do frequent checks every few minutes like yesterday because she’s dead. She was so cold so quickly and fast rigor mortis. One hind leg up in a playful pose. How did that happen? snipped some fur and whisker for memory box. Shocking how dry and desiccated she was. Eye closed naturally. Canines exposed in macabre grimace. While Joe was out a bike ride I felt free to emote cry release Nou Nou where are you???Give me a sign. Wailing Doing prayers in 7 directions. Heard a cardinal. A meow but no visuals. Soft Nou Nou voice annoyed, I’m here. Thank you.
By mid pm felt ready. Arranged an altar candle lantern sage smudge. Took photos video. Played shamanic drum and didgeridoo music. Simple ceremony. Drummed. Cried. Ended 4:14 The 4 again like 40 ml 40 gabapentin. Upset the vet texted appt confirmation. Weird. Joe said his goodbyes and I wrapped her up. The simple linen tote bag was perfect. Joe placed her in the hole and covered her and went to smoke a cigar. We grieve in our own ways. I stayed and drummed. Gathered moss for the mound like I did for Merlin. As i moved a piece of furniture I found an old photo of Merlin and me wearing Santa hats. A sign from him. Joe had a vision of Domino licking Nou Nou. Happy and healthy. I wonder if she has two eyes in spirit. I felt anxious more than other times and crying more. Not sure why but I feel it has to do with my mother. Had a glass of Prosecco sat outside with Joe reminiscing about the little gray shapeshifter always speed walk running. The only time I saw here walk slowly was two days ago here last time out by the maple tree Odin stayed close knowing something wrong she came back to the front and she walked a bit slow and wobbly into the house for the last time. Probably the gaba.
We watched TV so weird knowing she’s 10 feet away but underground. Heavy rain. Hope she isn’t all muddy soggy. I try not to think of her decomposing.
Autumn Equinox. Summer is over. Slept poorly up too early 7ish exhausted from all the physical work and grieving. Back pain. Went back to bed pm. Grieving is exhausting but the body remembers then forgets until the next time.

31 Comments

  • Pawesome Cats

    I’m sorry to hear of Nou Nou’s passing, you have written a beautiful tribute. It’s never easy to let them go. I hope your grief is easing and the memories of your time together are bringing you some comfort. Sending you love and hugs xxx

  • BellaDharma an BellaSita Mum

    Deerest Miss Layla wee are furry sorry fore yore loss of Nou Nou…….
    Yore sirvice for Nou Nou was so amzin an sweet an touchin…..BellaSita has teerss streemin down her face…….
    Grate Aunty Mingflower had CKD an it took her away to Purr Land inn March 2006.
    An Aunty NYLABLUE inn November 2013…..
    Wee hopess yore memoreess an fotoss an videoss are a BIG comfert to you now an furever.
    An Odin pleese watch over yore Meowmy OKay!
    ***purrss*** BellaDharma an {{{hugss}}} BellaSita Mum

    Pee S: Miss Layla mee been with BellaSita Mum 4 yeerss an 2 monthss now an just this yeer, mee beecame a Lappy Nappy cat!!! 😉

  • Erin The Cat

    We are so sorry that Nou Nou has left his current body and, for the time being, this realm. Such an incredibly difficult post to share and write. I am sure that we all meet again if our lives have been kind, generous and supportive to others. And as you say, a fated event may well bring you another companion, friend and confidant. Till then, good memories from kind acts and great days will be your guide and support.
    Healing purrs
    ERin

  • Amy Harlib

    Reading this made me weep. I have loved a succession of wonderful cats – their lives are too short, the Cat Goddess calls them home too soon, but the special love a feline friend is worth the grief of their passing.

    Sincere Rainbow Bridge (I do like that image of the afterlife) condolences for Nou Nou who will be cherished and will live on in your heart forever.

    Love and Empathy,
    Amy

  • Marjorie Dawson

    I am sorry you lost Nou Nou but she did make me laugh about being irritated you missed her while she was having so much fun. I need to make one of those altars for Dash, I never really let him go.

  • Mickey's Musings

    So dorry Nou-Nou crossed her Bridge.
    No matter how long they are with us, it is never long enough.
    It is harder when they are fairly young.
    Long or short, We think she had a wonderful life with you and knew she was loved.
    Purrs Julie and mum

  • meowmeowmans

    We’re so sorry for your loss of your special and beloved Nou Nou, Layla. It did make us smile a bit to read the communicator said she is so happy on the other side.

    We wish there was something we could do to lessen your grief, but know there is not. Please know we send love and all good energy to you, Joel, and Odin.

    XO

  • Little Miss Titch

    Its never easy when they Leave us and I am sure she will still come to visit you when you least expect it, just like Speedy does,and Thumper and Caramel…They all visit from time to time and Little Miss Titch see’s them, you can tell by her behaviour that she can see them. Its nice when they do visit. Hugs Rachel and Little Miss Titch

  • Andrea

    Sounds like NouNou left in her own time and her own manner. I’m sure it was to her liking. You mentioned anticipatory grief. That’s what I’m struggling with right now. BW Huckleberry is beginning to show me signs that he might be ready to leave me. He’s one of my 14-yr old “kittens.” How could he leave me so soon? I will be down to 2 cats then, Gooseberry, BW’s half-brother and Tourmalina, Gooseberry’s feral mom. It’s just so quiet and sad around here.

    Please do take care of yourself and do what is right for you. You’ll get through this and one day, if it is meant to be, without any effort by you, the absolute perfect fit cat will come to you. I just know it.

  • Mugg Muggles

    So sorry to learn of Nou Nou’s passing. Your heartfelt tribute brought both tears and smiles.
    R.I.P. sweet Nou Nou. Give Odin some ear rubs from me. ((HUGS) 💕

  • ellen

    Lovelt remebracences of Nou Nou it is never easy. We too are down to our ‘final’ pets, it seems to fortell of our own mortality. Life is fleeting. Hugs.

  • Skeeter and Izzy

    The agony is in the watching and waiting and holding and trying to take away the uncertainity and possible pain. Soft words and gentle touches while trying not to rage and cry because you don’t want them to stay because of you. I have stroked and held and loved so many thru their passage from this world to the next……………….it never gets any easier. It seems that the ones that take the longest time to show their true self are the ones that hurt the most when they leave.
    I find it almost unbearable to have a baby disappear and not know what has become of them.
    We are all different in the way we mourn and cope but we are all the same in the pain of loss .
    There is the blackness of the darkest night that can swallow you whole for a while but then that beautiful light from the heart of the tiger that lives in the soul of each cat shines thru that darkness and kisses your soul and you know that it is ok, they have made their journey safely.
    We didn’t see anything about her passing but we knew in our hearts that she was gone from the bonds of her earthly vessel.
    With all of our love and hugs that we hope you feel.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang and always and forever The Angels >^..^^..^<~

  • Pam

    Layla I know I’ve been out of touch for ages – and I wish I hadn’t….you’ve gone through a lot of loss since “the old days” when I remember vividly Merlin’s passing…….Nou Nou needed you and you gave her what she needed. I think that’s the thing we need to remember – we “served” them well while they were here and they gave us all that they had to give in return. It works…..I have moments when I still grieve losing Sammy. I just wanted to say hello and tell you I am sad to learn about Nou Nou. I send you a big hug……

    Love, Pam

  • Leah

    Layla I’m so sorry to learn of the loss of Nou Nou. It is always so hard when a kitty leaves. I wish you the peace and comfort of good memories. Hugs and love.

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