Fluffina was his original name, the name I'd given him as a young child, too stubborn to accept my gorgeous new kitten was not a girl like I'd hoped. Later on, as I grew older, I officially renamed him Nixxer, to tell the vets and whoever asked; mostly to save my strong, scarred-up ex-outdoor cat from unmanly embarrassment. I still called him Fluffina in private, though. Old habits died hard. I'd learned to associate the old name with him too much. I couldn't let go. I don't think I can, even now.
He was wiry and muscly. He had a broken, stiffly-healed tail, either from a fight or from having it stuck when a door closed at some unfortunately-timed moment. God, I wished I'd taken more pictures of him when he was still alive. He was my kitty.
He was fourteen or so years old. I've had him for most of my life. My parents and I took him across the Border from Mexico when my second cousin, Rebecca Reyes (then called Rebequita) found him and his sibling inside cardboard box on the street. I wonder if she remembers him? He was my soulmate pet.
He was sick, shaky, and throwing up too much. The doctors said he most likely caught a blood disease.
He continously hopped around the house the last few days, knocking things over and unintentionally annoying us. I feel so guilty. I had a feeling -- he looked so listless, as he curled up to rest the night before his passing. I poked his nose and kissed him, like I did everytime else. I was worried, but he'd been sick before, and gotten over it before. I expected at least ten more years with my fluff.
I was too dumb to remember that animals like to find somewhere to curl up and hide when they die. He kept squeezing into the strangest nooks and crannies he had never shown interest in previously. It kills me to think about.
I'm sorry Mom, I'm sorry Rebecca. I'm sorry, Nixx. I love you and miss you so much and I didn't want you to go.
He was a tough, lazy, sweetheart guy. I remember bottlefeeding him myself, he was small enough to fit in my equally tiny palm. He is still my one match in a pet. Every owner (though I think he held as much claim over me as vice-versa) has had/still has that one pet that they honestly believed they could list as a defining factor of themselves. My Fluffy was that for me.
I can still hear his distinct meow in my mind, and his recognizable little absurd trilling noise he made when he was happy and content. I will never forget them. I am still capable of picking him out of a crowd easily, if he just made a sound. But he never will again.
I could feel it. The entire schoolday felt off. He was fine and asleep when I left for school. He blinked at me and I tapped his head. Normal routine. "Love you, puffhead."
I wanted to dismiss it all like I did when we gave him medication for the potential cyst in his poor nose years ago. It dissolved, he got better then. He did not on 2/5/13, a day I will never forget.
My dad picked me up from school. He was quiet, and when I asked him how the kitties were doing since I left, he wouldn't answer me directly. He was evasive. I have seen my dad cry only three times in my life, and that was one of them.
"I'm so sorry, baby, I just opened the door to check on him -- and I looked down and -- I didn't know how to tell you, I didn't want to tell you right away -- I didn't want him to gooo!"
I thought he was messing with me.
What a backhand to the face from reality, coming home to a seemingly-sleeping, peaceful-looking cat lying unnaturally still on the floor.
He's been cremated. My dad and I picked it up from the veterinarian, 2/8/13. A box with beautiful carvings. I get the strangest feeling in my fingers and skin when I hold it
I'm going to sleep with him next to me tonight, and see what happens. I mean his wooden ashbox to act as a physical connection, a conduit, for his spirit. I don't care what you believe. Catholic, Mormon, atheist or agnostic -- no one can tell me my kitty isn't with me here still somehow. I'll lose my mind if someone does. Especially since I swear to god I caught a glimpse of him hardly even a day after his death. Sitting there next to my bed, ears twitching, bright-eyed and lustrous-furred as always. Did I hear his voice before I went to bed?
I want to make it as easy as possible for him. Not that he can't already come see me if (when) he wants to. I imagine he's busy. I don't think he ever really met my grandmothers, either of them. Grammy was a cat-lover, too.
At least he's not suffering anymore. He was shivering so much...
Shortfurred. A brownish-gray tabby with white. Pale green eyes, pink nose. Round, puffy cheeks. Handsome. He was unfixed -- we never managed to get enough money to afford neutering him in time.
Years ago, back in California, Nixxer... well, it sounds silly to say now, but it was quite a shock back then (to me and my naive self, anyway). He knocked up the next-door-neighbor's girlcat. Her name was Francisca, or something similar. She was a dark-tabby van. Mostly white. Pretty. He had good taste, regardless of circumstances.
A lot of the kittens looked exactly like him, disregarding the random long-furred, fluffy gray one. I almost picked it, instead. By the time Francisca's owners let us anywhere near the kittens (I believe they were mad at us; to this day, I say: screw 'em, nature happens), each and every one of the ones who resembled Nixxer were adopted out, already. I was heartbroken. They were keeping the gray one. They gave us the tiniest of the litter, a boy, whom took after his mother, being mostly white with a patch of dark stripes upon his head, tail, and back of one of his front legs.
His eyes weren't the greenish malachite of his father's, more of the plain yellowish green his momcat possessed. His fur was longer and siliker, still short, but definitely not as a skin-close as Nixxer's. Beggars couldn't be choosers. I had a new freakin' kitten, man. I was ecstatic.
Francisca's owners promptly shut us out of their lives afterward. Goodness gracious, they did not like us. Turned out they were actually planning to get 'Cisca spayed soon, and suddenly BAM! Pregnant! Oh well. Good riddance.
Reminiscent of my stubbornness with his father, I insisted that this kitten had to be a daughter. Most of our pets had been boys. Tina the easily-frightened, literal scaredy-cat was the sole exception (as well as the gigantic, lovable Rottweiler-Retriever mix Tonka who'd died of a stomach tumor years before). I wanted another girl. I dubbed 'her' Snowflake. Mom was complacent, she was used to me. Dad and I argued about it for weeks until he forgot to care anymore. He just settled for referring to the new guy as, "Hey, you! Git off'a there!", or the ever more eloquent, "HEY, YOU. YEAH, YOU. FUCKER, COME LET ME HARASS YOU FOR A SEC." Or simply, Cat.
Misnaming felines seems to be a tradition in this family.
This occurred after my parents' divorce. Snowflake spent the first few years of his life at my mom's apartment in Lemon Grove, San Diego, CA. He got along well with his pops, back then, and the two other cats who shared his space. Blackie and the LittleOne, both appropriately horribly and non-masculinely titled Daisy and Princess. They must have been so gender-confused.
My dad and I took Tomgus, his cat, because he was old and couldn't live in the crowded apartment that was my childhood home and Juliet Lozano's (my mom) current abode. His full name was Thomas Augustus. As you can guess, that was my dad's decision and not mine. I hadn't even been born when Tomgus entered our family. He was twenty-something when he was euthanized due to kidney failure. He was older than me.
After that, we took Fluffina in to our Lakeside place. My dad grumbled about the name occasionally. I brushed it off. I had been ignoring those complaints steadfastly for years. This was no different. We lived like that for awhile. Mom started expressing her concerns again about being able to feed so many cats on one budget. We almost took the LittleOne -- but Mom was too attached to him. She sometimes called him Hitler for the tiny little brown mustache mark on his muzzle. If Snowflake had been the runt of his litter, the LittleOne was even tinier. He looked like he could've been related to Snowflake, except where Snow's main body was all-white and markingless, the LittleOne had big white black spots across his back and sides. Four of them. He was undersized and frail. Nearly inaudible mew.
So, Snowflake it was.
The Fluff-Man and Snowy had gotten on just fine in the past. We didn't expect the unbelievable shitstorm re-introducing them would cause. I guess they didn't recognize each other anymore. It was understandable. Almost two years since they last saw one another? Cats may have good memory, but think of how much their scents must have changed in that time, living in two completely separate sorts of apartments.
At all times, we had to keep one upstairs and the other downstairs, switching them out every once in a few days to make sure they didn't grow bored and try to venture about the house on their own. Kind of tedious. It was worth it.
They never did learn to get along. I wish they had. Father/son issues, I suppose...
Somewhere along the line, I matured. I never stopped saying "Snowflakey," or "Fluffina-kins," but I began to understand renaming was entirely necessary.
For Fluffina, I played around with Bao and Baoki, Chinese words meaning "treasure." I don't know what was going through my head, either. I was, like, eleven or twelve, shut up.
I do not know where "Nixxer" came from, nor if it has any special meaning in some obscure language out there in the big wide world. I can't find it in me to care. That became his name. Snowflake became Mack. LittleOne became Mick. Blackie was Kiet -- I especially don't know how that one spawned, it has yet to stick even now.
My paternal grandmother Linda died when I was thirteen, and a few months later as a fourteen-year-old (if I recall correctly?) came the Great Move to Texas. We took both cats with us. The car-ride lasted three days and it was a grueling task keeping the two of them, Nixxer and Mack, from just killing each other. We may have secretly booked them into hotels that were explicitly animal-unfriendly.
Unfixed and testosterone-influenced, they fought like hell every opportunity they got. Poor, homicidal babies.
We arrived in Harris County eventually. Once again, with the separation.
It became more apparent than ever before that Mack was indeed Nixxer's kid. Around this time, he made a habit of creating the exact same trilling noise Nixx was famous for. Their vocal ranges were very individual, but there was no way that one sound-effect wasn't inherited. Yes, I know, a lot of unrelated cats are alike, but it makes me feel better to view it this way.
Nixx was cool. He was mellow. He was spry. You couldn't guess how old he truly was.
Then he started coughing up distressing hairballs, not like the usual.
You know the story from there.
In the end, I still have a piece of my baby. I have one of his snowflakes. I have Mack. We're going to take damn good care of him. I still have my baby in a way that's tangible -- my baby's baby.
When I die, I want to be cremated. I want his ashes mixed with mine.
Thank you so much for reading. I love you all, please talk to me. I need to hear from you.
~Celeste Angela Pichowsky.