Elissa Weinberger & Nova

The story I was told at the shelter was she was found alone in a car tire. I remember my college boyfriend really loving this beautiful tortie who reminded me of my childhood cat, Precious. The kitten had a lot of energy and I honestly just wasn’t feeling it. He really tried to talk me out of adopting this young dusty grey, soon-to-be-midnight-black babe; but when he saw how I looked at her and she looked at me, he knew he’d lost the battle. I brought her home and the first week I was so nervous to leave her alone I brought her to class with me. We would hang on the quad and people would flock to come see the baby panther with the, “how to be adorable,” major. I’m the only Jew in my college friend group and I think a part of me probably felt a little isolated when I was 21. So, it felt important that she had a Jewish name that felt cool, a little quirky, matched her personality, and set her apart from all of the Shadows and Midnights of the black cat world. Naturally Nova Scotia Lox was the only viable possibility.

On October 3rd, 2017 I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus after years of mysterious and seemingly unrelated ailments. I spent the entire month in various hospitals away from Nova. When I was admitted to the ICU my aunt bought me this small black stuffed cat from the hospital gift shop and it was such a great reminder of my girl who was waiting for me, who needed me to fight and find strength. When I was finally released on Halloween, Nova was ecstatic, I was anxious. I had a serious brain bleed and seizure and my executive functioning was gone. I couldn’t walk on my own on stairs, I needed help eating, in the shower, pretty much everything required assistance. Nova would walk behind my feet while I walked up stairs, nudging me when I forgot to lift my foot to take the next step. She would knead on my lower left back where my bad kidney is and would sleep around my neck like a pillow or next to me, close enough to touch me with a paw, always vigilant. She gives me responsibility, a sense of purpose and she fills my life with joy. When I take care of her, I take care of myself.

Nova is a really friendly, laid-back cat. She’s also really needy. She loves attention, just like momma, and she could spend hours lying with me while I create new cookie ideas or write, as long as she’s getting a nice ear scratch or chin rub. She has the softest black coat, and when the light hits her the right way you can see she has a little less fur on her skull under both of her ears. She hates when I groom her, though I try often because hairballs are not our friend and have been a problem for Lox. I have her on a hairball formula and it’s been helping a lot.

I “accidentally” drop ice cubes for her, something that used to happen from my parents’ ice machine in our home, and she goes wild. Chasing and pouncing while the floor is quickly coated in water is one of her favorite things to do. Some of her other favorite things to do: knock things over, destroy paper, kill bugs, chase shadows, stare out into the backyard and talk with outdoor kitty visitors on occasion. For the longest time, Nova would ignore her cat bed I bought her and only recently, since I’ve been storing it in a basket in the living room, does she relax and finally use this little bed as her own. Sometimes I think of getting rid of it, but I never would because I know she loves it. It’s ridiculous I know, I’m jealous of a cat bed.

Elissa Weinberger is a nanny and former teacher who resides in Astoria, Queens with her little Lox and far too many cookie cutters. She has started writing a manuscript about her long journey to her lupus diagnosis in hopes of helping others with complex diagnoses and diseases.

Author: girlsandtheircats

Photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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