Nicholas by Ed & Leanne Sweeney / Daddy & Mommy


My name is Ed and I’m grieving terribly at the loss of my angel kitty Nicholas (aka Nick). Hopefully by telling his story, it will pay homage to him, and help others who also may be experiencing grief.

We got Nick in 1999 at at Pet Store while shopping for supplies for our other cat Everest, who was just 9 months old. We were looking at a beautiful Abyssinian cat, who was also quite young. However, that cat appeared to be a type A, as was our little kitten Everest. My wife Leanne and I thought the combination of these two personalities
was not a good idea.

I noticed a black and white (spotted) domestic short hair (who I learned was named Nicholas) hiding in a cage, and many people were not even paying attention to him. In fact, he hid his face and front half under a blanket, all that was showing was his back half/tail. I felt called to him, and asked if I could hold him. The volunteer running the adoption event said the cat’s name was Nicholas (named after the town of Nicholas CA where he was born), and said he was very shy. He begrudgingly came out of the cage, but as soon as she handed him over to me, he clung to me for dear life. He was also very vocal and immediately began to purr. Nick was 4 years old (so we were told – the vet told us they thought he was older because of his physical condition), and we thought he might be able to teach our kitten Everest (who was a biting scratching kitty) a little about how to live with people.

When we brought Nicholas home, we opened the portable kitty carrier, Nick popped up to see where he was. Immediately, Everest stood up on his hind legs and hissed at Nicholas, who ran under our bed and hid for a day. Eventually we coaxed him out and he immediately became a part of our little family.

Nick immediately became my shadow, following me everywhere when I was home. He also served as my alarm clock every morning by head butting me on the chin and purring as loud as his little motor could. Nick craved pets and attention! He loved to hold conversations with me and my wife, and in fact had several different meows that he was use to communicate what he was feeling or trying to tell us.

I am prone to suffering from depression and often got discouraged over the past few years. No matter how low I felt, Nick was always there to express his unconditional love and affection.

I have so many fond memories of Nick. Here are just a few : I think Nick loved Christmas. He was always fascinated with the Christmas tree and liked to sleep under it. He didn’t chew wires or break balls (although he swatted at them on occasion), he just was joyous. I don’t have many memories of joyous holidays from my childhood, but I will always have my memories of Christmas with Nick. We often referred to him as “our little St. Nick” during Christmas time.

Nick loved to sing for his food. We would give our cats a can of cat food on weekends as a treat (they ate dry cat food during the week). Nick would sing on command (i.e. my wife would say “sing” and Nick would meow loudly in his “I’m hungry” voice). Most cats aren’t willing to do stuff like that, and eventually Everest (our other cat)
learned to sing as well.

Nick loved to “make bread.” He would always purr loudly and knead with all four feet, alternating one side to the other. If our laps were not available, he would find our robe or sweatshirt/sweatpants, and make bread on those. he loved to lay on clothes that had our scent on them.

Nick absolutely could not resist shoe laces. Trying to tie your shoes when Nick was around was almost futile, and he was such a little angel you couldn’t ever get mad at him.

Nick absolutely was a terrible patient. He hated going to the Vet more than anything in the world. He expressed no desire to ever leave the confines of our apartment because that is where his people were, and that was where his home was. Although he often was unhappy to get his twice daily insulin shot, I think he knew he needed it, and never held that against either my wife or myself.

Anyway, in August 2005, Nick began to loose weight rapidly and we brought him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with diabetes. He got very sick several times, although we tried diligently to follow a strict feeding schedule and gave him his insulin shot twice a day like clockwork. He was healthy most of the time, but on Saturday, 11/12/05, he refused to eat his favorite meal of Salmon in gravy. Despite trying to force feed him with a syringe, but he grew weaker and weaker. We had been through this a couple of times since August, and because of his disdain for going to the Vet (a previous trip sent him into a tailspin for a week), we and the Vet decided we could treat him at home. We learned to take his blood sugar, and conferred with the vet to adjust his insulin as needed. In the past, such spells had lasted for 5-6 days, and his blood sugar would stabilize and Nick’s life
would regain some degree of normalcy.

During the evening of 11/15/05, I was cradling Nick like a little baby and sitting in “our chair” in the living room. He looked at me with his little brown eyes, and I could see a sadness not present before. Nick looked tired, and was barely able to purr.

In the early mooring of 11/16/05, and I awaken at 5:30 am to care for Nick (he had slept next to me all night in our bed), and he could barely stand and could not walk at all. He also fought me ferociously when trying to force feed him. So I laid him down on his favorite spot in the living room, and planned to take him to the vet as soon as their office opened at 8 am. Nick had other plans – he wanted to die at home with his Daddy, in his familiar surroundings, and shortly after the sun came up that day, he let out a mournful meow and was gone shortly thereafter. I sobbed for hours – the remainder of the day in fact, kicking myself that I hadn’t brought him to the vet earlier in the week (but ever mindful that doing so would have added extra stress that made his condition even worse, or in fact killed him).

Caring for Nick over the last three months became the center of my life. I spent most of my available waking hours caring for him and playing with him, making sure he was OK. While it kept me from being depressed, it didn’t do much for my job search efforts. I think that Nick (through God) wanted to free me up to get my life back on track.

What did I learn from our precious little Nicholas? I learned about unconditional love, devoted friendship, forgiveness (he never complained about getting stuck with needles for his shots, although he obviously didn’t like it )and grace under pressure, to name just a few. During his sickness, Nick never complained, unless he knew he was going for a ride in the car to the Vet.


Ed Sweeney
Sacramento, CA



With all our love, we miss you so much!
Ed & Leanne Sweeney