Author: Cornish, Rick

Nancy’s Gone
When I got home from Stockton the evening evening before last, Lynn reported in her matter-of-fact way that I’d gotten some CBA mail and it was next to my computer, that a woman from San Bernardino called me about a job I’m doing for her, that she’d taken Sidney to the vet and his foot was looking much better, and that she’d brought Nancy along to the vet and left her there. “So, Nancy’s gone,” Lynn said, reporting the final item of news almost in a whisper. I turned quickly to glance at my wife, but she was looking away. I could tell she wasn’t crying but that she would if our eyes met.

I’m personally not a big fan of cats, but losing Nancy to cancer on Tuesday was, in some ways, nearly as tough on me as it was on Lynn, the protector and champion of all cats, great and small. I think partly the loss I feel is due to the history Nancy and I shared. (Lynn brings all our cats home…..I’d brought one home in my entire life, and that was Nancy.) And second, the end of her was sort of like the end of an era. I guess when you’ve had any pet for going on twenty years and they up and leave you, it feels like an era has ended.

Back in early 2003 I wrote a short ‘Welcome’ column about Nancy the old Tabby cat. I’m going to re-post it today in her honor.

I’d taken a friend to the Humane Society in Santa Clara; she’d rounded up about a half dozen feral kittens in her neighborhood and was hoping she could find them a home. As I stood waiting around for my friend to do her business at the front counter, I wandered into the Lost Cat room. I’m not a huge cat lover—or even a liker for that matter—but I was just sort of killing time. As I walked by each cage peering in at the captives one by one, a yellow and white tabby locked eyes with me. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE. PLEASE. THEY’RE GOING TO KILL ME TODAY! I swear to you, it was as though the cat was screaming the words at me, and with just here eyes. I read the note clipped to her cage. Yep, she was due to be put down that day.

I went home and told Lynn about the telepathic episode and she, being the huge cat person that I am not, naturally concluded we had to adopt the cat, and right away. Pointing out that we already had three cats didn’t seem to carry much weight. Neither did reminding her that I didn’t even like cats, or that it was probably too late anyhow. My wife told me to call the Humane Society and tell them we were on the way and, as is my custom, I obeyed.

Half hour later we were seated in the office of the “Animal Adoption Coordinator”. After filling out three pages of forms which required both our signatures, we were given an addendum to sign. “This is necessary,” the Animal Adoption Coordinator explained, “because the adoptee, the cat in question, has been de-clawed. You must sign a witnessed stipulation that at no time will you allow the cat out of doors. And that you will keep all doors and windows and other means of escape closed to prevent the cat from exiting the dwelling.” “But that’s impossible”, I said, “we have three other cats and two dogs and all of these animals spend time out of doors. We’ve got a doggie door for the dogs and open windows for the cats…these are in-door/out-door kind of pets. And they like it that way.”

The Animal Adoption Coordinator arched his eyebrows and sighed. “I don’t think you understand, Mr. Cornish. This feline has been de-clawed. She has no means of protecting herself. Outside in the elements the cat would be defenseless, probably killed within a few days. It must be kept in-doors. This is Humane Society policy.”

So the Animal Adoption Coordinator and I argued for a while. I could tell Lynn was starting to come undone. She’d already named the cat. Nancy. Actually, Nancy Ann. I tried reasoning. I tried pleading. Finally I took a different tack.

“Okay,” I said, “let me re-cap where I think we are. The cat in question is scheduled to be killed today, right?”

“Euthanized, yes”, said the Animal Adoption Coordinator.

“And unless we sign an agreement to keep all of the doors and windows of our house closed at all times, you won’t give us the cat, right?”

“A witnessed stipulation, yes”.

“And you’ll kill her today, right?”


“Yes, euthanize. And that’s Humane Society policy. H-U-M-A-N-E Society policy. Right?”


“Okay then, “ I said calmly, very, very agreeably, “I’d like to speak with the H-U-M-A-N-E Society person-in-charge.”

Without speaking the Animal Adoption Coordinator got up from his chair and left the room. He was gone a long time. When he returned he was caring the cat in question. He handed her to Lynn.

Nancy Ann came home with us in 1989. Lord only knows how old she is now. But she still gets around, and she seems happy enough. She’s never tried talking to me again, telepathically or otherwise. Guess she figures there’s never been another good reason to.
Posted:  5/11/2005

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