Norman Bates was my little boy. He was only twelve years old when he passed away around 2am on July 10th, 2011. Some may think that twelve years is a decent run for a cat but I always imagined Norman would be an old, old man.

He was an indoor cat, very healthy, playful and social, with a fantastic sense of humor. Norman knew how to make me and my guests laugh. I’d turn around and he’d be in some ridiculous pose, twisted into a pretzel or face-planted down on my bed. He was more than just a pet; he was my best friend and companion, and life just isn’t the same without him.

He died of organ failure of his bone marrow, although the root cause is still unknown. He had stopped eating and became uncharacteristically lethargic. When I came home and he wasn’t at the door to greet me, I knew something was dreadfully wrong. He was in the ER for about a week and had two blood transfusions while the doctors ran all sorts of expensive tests to figure out why he was losing blood. Ultimately, I was able to bring him home and let him pass with me. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I am so thankful that my parents were there with me, my Dad right there on the floor helping me comfort him.

I miss my little boy so much, as do many others whose lives he touched. I miss our call & response routine, him running in from the other room with his favorite feather toy and dropping it on the couch next to me as a “hint” that it was time to play, him curling up behind my knees while I slept and bouncing up to my face as soon as he knew I was awake, him prancing while he was being petted or brushed, and how he’d curl onto my chest and purr-purr-purr like a little baby. He was such a good little boy, he’d even sit in my lap like a human and let me cut his nails. And he always made his way to his litterbox, even when his body was beginning to fail him in his final hours. The only thing I couldn’t break him of was being terrified of the vacuum cleaner; he’d bolt as soon as I touched the handle to the closet it was in.

Prior to moving to New Hampshire, I lived in New York for about twelve years. Norman was born to a feral cat on a horse farm in New Paltz in 1999 and lived with me in the Hudson Valley for about seven years before we moved to New Hampshire together. Before we relocated, he’d travel back & forth with me a few times a year to visit my family. He was a good little traveler.

Now Norman is buried at Animal Heaven in Hollis, NH, which is appropriately located on farm land. His beautiful grave marker was crafted by Adirondack Stone Works in Troy, NY and is made of blue stone. Having never thought of what I would do once Norman passed, the universe blessed me with both of these options and I can’t recommend them enough. Marie at Animal Heaven delivered on everything she promised and exhibited such kindness in our interactions. Jeremy and Tavia from Adirondack Stone Works not only created a beautiful marker, but it arrived at my door within five days of ordering it. All of these individuals aided in easing me through an overwhelming time.

Many people seem surprised that I didn’t cremate Norman. My original instinct was to bury him at my parents’ house (since I live in an apartment complex), but they had buried our family dog in a pet cemetery many, many years ago so we all could always visit him no matter where we each lived. I just couldn’t imagine burning Norman’s body. Instead, he is buried in his favorite bed with some of his favorite toys — including some from his “vacation home” (my parents’/his grandparents’ house). I have already visited Norman’s grave a few times and find great comfort in sitting on a blanket next to his resting place and talking to him. At home, I carry around a pillow with his picture on it.

As far as his name goes, I am a huge Hitchcock fan and when I first saw Norman, he reminded me of how the infamous Psycho character would dress up as his mother — this all white body with a grey fur wig and a dagger of a tail. Trust me, he was no “psycho” kitty; I just have a quirky sense of humor. Like mother, like cat.

Whether you came here as a result of seeing Norman’s grave marker or as a visitor to this site, thank you for helping keep his memory alive. I hope the following series of photos makes you smile like my little boy made me smile all those years.

UPDATE: Since creating this page, I have become a member of the Board of Directors for the Manchester Animal Shelter. One of my personal goals in doing so was to find the silver lining in losing Norman by helping the Shelter develop resources to support individuals and families that are in the process of losing, or have lost, a beloved pet. If this describes you, I recommend you visit this page (which I wrote the content for) on the Manchester Animal Shelter site. You may find this information valuable no matter where you are physically located.

8 thoughts on “|

  1. Even though I only had the pleasure of knowing Norman a few short years, we developed a genuine bond in that time. He was a great friend and we shared many activities together, my favorite of which was TV time. He’d jump on the couch, kick his back leg out and lean back, inviting everyone to join him.
    We played together, sewed buttons, I even mixed cocktails under his approving gaze.
    This is probably my favorite picture of us, and I’m grateful to have been his favorite perch. I miss you, buddy.

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Courtney. I remember how sad you were when you lost Normie and this has been so helpful to me as I deal with the loss of my own sweet girl.

    • I’m so sorry about Scootch, Jen. You know I understand. There is a community of us who “get” it. I had a good cry over Norman last night and he passed about seven months ago now. Be kind to yourself while you heal.

  3. Hello Courtney,

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your furbaby Norman. he was one good looking guy.

    I was at Animal Heaven yesterday visiting the grave of our beloved dog Warrior. He left us in October of 2004 and I try to make it there every October for a visit. He was a 7 1/2 year old Rottie that died too young from bone cancer. We still miss the big guy for sure. We also have a “residency” page for Warrior at rainbowsbridge.com if you are interested.

    And your pictures and story of Norman are wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Next time I stop at Animal Heaven I will surely stop at Norman’s stone to say a prayer.

    Tony Trojanowski
    New Ipswich, NH

    • Hi Tony:

      Thank you SO much for this thoughtful note. I just visited Warrior’s page at Rainbow’s Bridge and signed the guestbook. I hadn’t heard of this site before and it’s comforting to know that I am not alone in the sense of loss I’ve felt over Norman’s passing.

      I will be sure to say hello to Warrior the next time I am at Animal Heaven. I feel so fortunate to have found such a special place to lay my guy to rest. The sense of community that has come from it has been a blessing.

  4. Courtney,

    My family enjoyed our visit to Animal Heaven, and were especially touched by your tribute to Norman. We are so sorry for your loss. We know he will live forever in your heart!

    The Ryder Family

    • Your comment is very much appreciated, John. May I ask why your family was at Animal Heaven? Do you also have a pet buried there? If so, I’d like to pay my respects the next time I visit.

      Thank you for helping keep Norman’s memory alive. -CH

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