It was a sad weekend, because I had to say goodbye to my sweet kitty Naia (pronounced Nye-uh) on Friday.
Naia came into my life on August 3, 1998 as a teeny tiny kitten. I found him by the side of the road when I was out on a work trip for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, doing freshwater mussel surveys on the creeks of central North Carolina. He came bounding out of the weeds by the bridge where we were unloading the canoes, and immediately attached himself to my heart. His first ten hours with me were spent in a canoe, mostly sleeping on my sweatshirt, and he shared my can of tuna fish for lunch.
He was very young, only about five weeks old according to the vet, and was probably dumped at the bridge as an unwanted kitten. His eyes hadn't even changed color yet, and he was so tiny he fit in my cupped hands. I named him Naia after the freshwater mussels that were the reason for the canoe trip, which are sometimes called naiads (harkening back to Greek mythology).
He was a mischievous kitten, and loved to climb the screen door, hunt moths that got inside, and chase ankles and string. He made me laugh all the time, and at night he would curl up next to my chin and try to "nurse" my neck. He was too young to leave his momma, and imprinted on me.
He integrated well with our dog Cobalt, and when Emma came along, he accepted her into the family as well. When I was pregnant, he used to curl around my Emma-belly and purr, then stare indignantly at my belly when she kicked him.
Emma as a toddler was sometimes a trial. On Thanksgiving in 2005, I remember two-year-old Emma chasing him down the hall screeching "Stop running! Stop running!" because she so desperately wanted to hug him and love him and play with him. The bathroom was a good refuge.
When Coco adopted herself into our family in 2009, Naia was 11, getting elderly and creaky. Having a young cat in the house rejuvenated him, and he started playing again. Plus, Coco was usually up for a snuggle when I wasn't available to offer my lap.
Coco, in turn, seemed to appreciate that Naia sometimes needed some help. In the last year or so, Naia couldn't always reach all the corners during his baths, or would get tired halfway through. Coco stepped up and helped him out.
He seemed to be able to tell when I wasn't happy and needed a cuddle. He would crawl up into my lap or onto my shoulder, and purr and purr and purr.
If he was feeling especially cuddly, he would head-butt my cheek then tuck his head under my chin. There really is nothing like that feeling. It was unconditional.
Last Friday, I took him in to the vet because his breathing was very labored. I was not expecting them to find a huge tumor in his abdomen and large quantities of blood in the pleural cavity around his lungs. There was no hope of recovery, and I had to make the choice to let him go. It was awful but peaceful and quick, and I was glad that he wasn't in distress any more.
April 12, 2013
For almost 15 years, Naia was my always faithful, ever comforting buddy. Rest in peace, Naia-bo-baia.