'A Cat Like No Other': Manhattan Mourns Town's 'Adventure Cat' Novi

MANHATTAN, IL — Everyone knew Novi.

A beloved orange cat, he was spotted often in Manhattan—popping by the Dollar General, strolling into people’s yards, happily trotting around town. His journeys were shared in a town Facebook group—mostly to celebrate a sighting, but sometimes to note his absence.

A town fixture, the orange tabby was known for making himself at home wherever he went.

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Announced by his owners via social media, Novi was found in a neighbor’s yard, and was believed to have suffered a stroke, then losing mobility in his lower half.

“He also had a mass in his left lung,” owner Tony Reed shared on social media. “Unfortunately, he would never regain feeling of his lower extremities.”

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He died Sunday, June 4 with his family by his side. He’s believed to have been 12 years old.

“As a family, we brought Novi home knowing these were most likely our last days with him,” Reed wrote. “We were assured he was not in pain. He put up a good fight, but ultimately it was his time. He passed peacefully surrounded by people that loved him.”

Novi’s appearances throughout town were cherished, with many on social media wishing they could cross paths with him. A barn cat by lifestyle, Novi’s family said they intercepted him from a previous owner before he was sent to a kill shelter. Known by many as “The Adventure Cat,” Novi had a nomadic tendency, exploring his hometown but always ultimately returning to his family. His visits made him the talk of the town. He wore a collar with tags, making his identity clear. He was well-cared for and loved deeply by his family, a reminder they issued often as some worried for his safety.

“What has Novi been up to?” one resident shared on social media, after a lack of Novi sightings. “Do we need to file a missing cat report or something?”

Others spotted Novi near their homes, and took every opportunity to snap a picture of the town celebrity.

“Our favorite neighborhood cat, Novi, has been hanging out by our house the last few days,” one resident shared, then posting photos of Novi lounging on her porch. Another caught the mischievous cat taking a stroll around her pool ledge. Other photos show him splayed by the door of the Dollar General.

Owner Reed first encountered the cat at an HVAC business in Tinley Park, roughly 7 years ago.

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“He was just the friendliest cat,” Reed told Patch. “He would come up to you, he wasn’t afraid of anybody. I’d watch him walk all over the owner’s desk, walk all over his papers, lay on his desk. The business name? A. De Novi Services—his namesake.

“Novi did whatever he wanted to do, no matter what anybody would tell him,” Reed said, laughing.

They decided to take him in when they purchased their home in Manhattan, and they quickly discovered Novi was not happy as just an indoor cat. Try as they might, they couldn’t keep him in.

“I can’t tell you the countless amount of times it’s 20 degrees, he’s meowing and slapping the door wanting to go out, we let him out, he goes out, comes right back in,” Reed said, laughing.

Throughout town, everyone’s awareness of Novi helped him safe—and well-fed, Reed said.

“He ate well, that’s for sure,” Reed said. “Everybody fed him.”

Novi went where Novi wanted, even often hopping into an open window of a cop car—”he just jumps right in,” Reed said. Still, he never roamed too far from home, Reed said, and his outgoing nature suited him.

“If you showed him attention, you showed him love, he’d send it right back,” Reed said.

Reed knew some questioned his cat’s wandering ways, and criticized Novi’s family’s willingness to let him spend so much time outdoors. But Reed can still clearly picture what happened when he tried to contain him.

“We were trying to keep him inside,” Reed said, “and I watched him look me directly in the eye, and urinate in my toolbag. Because I wouldn’t let him out.”

He once did the same to Reed’s wife’s new purse, christening it with a little cat urine.

“It was definitely plain spite,” Reed said, chuckling.

The town expressed its heartbreak at news of his passing.

“I’m so sorry for your loss!” one resident shared on social media. “Had the privilege of meeting him and sharing snacks on the front seat of my car! Rest in peace sweet boy!”

Resident Christy Yates remarked that her daughter was heartbroken to hear of Novi’s death.

“There will never be another Novi,” Yates wrote on social media. “He was so special to us. We are going to miss him. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Our town’s loss. Such a sad loss to our community.”

Reed recalls one neighbor who went above and beyond for Novi, putting a “cat house” in front of their home. It was heated in the winter, and decorated for special occasions—even being decked out in Dunkin’ gear when the chain opened a location in town.

“The town really got to love Novi,” Reed said.

Others said Novi “was such a sweet little guy. He lived his life to the fullest.”

“May he roam the heavens and grant them the pleasure, as he did for all of us,” another wrote.

Novi “was so loved. He will live on as Manhattan’s mascot!” yet another wrote. Others said he should have a town funeral.

“I will really miss seeing him and cuddling with him,” another resident wrote. “I have many selfies with him and will always think fondly of all the times he chose to come and visit and spend time with me.”

Novi’s family acknowledged and cherished his social nature, thanking the town that embraced him so fully.

“Novi was a cat like no other,” owner Tony Reed wrote. “I know many in this group loved Novi as much as we did. He will be missed.”

Yates said she fed him often when he would pop by her house for a visit.

“He was a really cool cat,” Yates said. “He really was all of our cat.”

Reed believes Novi’s life was filled with adventure and exploration, but also the security of a family who loved him.

“He’s also the same cat that when he was tired, he’d come and lay on your chest, and fall asleep,” Reed said. “It was the best of both worlds.”

While heartbroken by his death, Reed is relieved he didn’t suffer, or meet a more tragic, sudden end.

“It was just a really sad day when it happened, but he didn’t suffer,” Reed said. “He didn’t get hit by a car, which was always my number one fear.

“For his age and what he has done—12 years is a long time for a cat that put up a lot of good fights.”

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