Neko – Japanese for “Cat”

Neko – Japanese for “Cat”

Sometimes, life throws unexpected curves. That’s what happened on October 24th, when Neko came into our lives. Before I get to that story, let me give you some background. 

John, Nate, Bonnie & Clyde 

I live in a bungalow in Kenosha Wisconsin with my youngest child, Nate, and two cats – Bonnie & Clyde. Before Nate moved in earlier this year, my older son, John, lived with me. A few months after I had moved into my house five years ago, John saw Bonnie & Clyde outside in the cold several nights in a row, so I opened the door. They ran inside and have been with me ever since. 

Nate moved in earlier this year, and set up a “lair” in the basement where he can hang out, play video games and write music. Clyde decided that this would be a perfect place to mark his territory, and so he did. Twice Nate had to throw out the carpet that he bought due to Clyde’s behavior. Suffice it to say, Nate made it known that he was done with cats – Clyde in particular. 

Another fact about Nate that will come in handy is that he and John both enjoy Anime, and he has been studying Japanese so he can watch without needing to read subtitles. This has been one of his pursuits for over a year now. 

An Unusual Find 

For years I’ve been struggling with my weight, so to try to get myself into shape I walk three and a half miles each day. A few years ago, I had knee surgery and I’m afraid to mess them up again, so I walk rather than jogging. I live nine blocks away from Lake Michigan, so I rather enjoy these walks. 

On that fateful morning a few weeks ago, I was approaching my house at the end of my walk when I heard a strange noise coming from the back yard. I thought it might be a bird, but as I got closer to the back, it became clear that it was no bird – that was definitely the cry of a kitten.  

In the very back of my yard, next to the garage, I have a stack of eight pallets that are remnants of a failed business attempt. The sound was definitely coming from there and as I got closer, a neighborhood tomcat jumped off the top of the pallets and ran off. I looked into the pallets to find the source of the incessant crying, and there, inside the second pallet from the top, teetering on his belly, desperately trying to hold on, was this tiny ball of fur – eyes still closed, ears still down, and shivering because it was about forty degrees outside. 

Enter Neko 

While I reached in to grab this kitten, my mind was saying “What are you going to do with this thing? I already have two cats, and Nate won’t want anything to do with it.” All I knew was that I couldn’t leave him out in the cold, probably to be killed by the tomcat.  

Nate works nights, and therefore sleeps in until well after I leave for work. I had to shower and get ready to go, so I knocked on Nate’s door, “Nate! Can you help me with something?” 

Nate stirred, opened his door, looked down at my hand and said, “You want me to help you with that.” 

“Yes. It’s OK, though,” I said, “there are a couple no-kill shelters in town. I’ll text you their information and you can bring him to one of those. I just need you to take care of him until then. He probably needs to eat (I assumed because he hadn’t stopped crying), but I have no milk or anything.” 

“Fine,” Nate said, and I went to take my shower. 

By the time I came downstairs to make my lunch, Nate had researched what to feed the kitten, “You can’t feed it milk, it needs kitten formula, and he needs a special bottle.” He informs me. “He also needs to be kept warm because he can’t regulate his body temperature yet.” I was impressed how Nate jumped into action, but had to get moving so I wouldn’t be late. 

​I checked around, and found the preferred shelter and texted that to Nate. Then I followed up with a phone call to ensure Nate got the information. “Well, he’s kind of growing on me...” was Nate’s response. 

When my shift was done, I left as soon as I could so I could see how the little guy was doing. As I got into the kitchen, I saw that Nate had created a little nest out of a shoebox and a couple hand towels. “Cardboard is good because it retains heat.” Nate had also taken a couple of his socks and filled them with some dry pinto beans that we had. These, after microwaving for a minute each, served as the heat source. Nate had ruled out the heating pad because there was the risk of overheating the cat, plus the risk of fire. He had bought two tiny bottles to feed him with, as well as a container of formula that has to be kept in the refrigerator. He also found that we have to manually help the cat “express” his pee and poop by rubbing his “private parts”. Therefore, a station was set up in the living room with latex gloves, rags, a pee pad, Kleenex and wet wipes. 

“I named him Neko,” Nate said, “it’s Japanese for Cat.”