Requiem for a Cat

Puss Cat

Puss Cat as a Kitten

b. traven

Yes, folks this old guy shed tears for a little, old, feral calico cat with no tail. Off and on she has been around our farm for close to ten years. She has been a little tramp all the time we have known her.  We got her when she was very young along with three other feral rodent eaters, but she split soon after the honeymoon was over.

We didn’t see her for about four years, but then one day she reappeared and stayed around for several years again, before taking another sabbatical. We suspect she was unfaithful to us and was cadging food from neighbors to supplement her diet of gophers, mice, and birds.

I didn’t give her a name because she was so wanton. I just called her “puss cat,” and she would come up to me rub against my leg and allow me to stroke her behind her ears. I respected that love and tried to reciprocate with food in the morning and in the evening. Being a disciplinarian all my life I thought she should learn to eat our food only twice a day and get what she could on her own from the gophers and mice.

Yesterday, we noticed she seemed to have been bitten by some animal on the side of her body, but she was still up for the twice daily cat food. Today Puss Cat did not appear for breakfast but later I saw her lying in the sun and not moving. I walked over and she did not move, but her eyes opened. I relaxed my feeding discipline and brought the morning food to her and she turned her head away.

At my age, 93, I recognized that she had accepted death and was just waiting with dignity for it to come.   I started to cry because I saw that gentle little creature approaching death with such animal dignity.  I hope that will be possible for me.

9 thoughts on “Requiem for a Cat

  1. A feral calico adopted me once. I wasn’t her first human pet, I know, because a vet told me she’d been spayed. I learned this when she became ill, and the same vet told me it was a case of feline leukemia which was treatable, and would only give the cat two more years at most. I commissioned the treatment, and Kitty Cat recovered. But, as if it was scheduled, almost exactly two years later she headed swiftly down hill, disappearing a final time one day when she was barely still able to walk. Like Puss Cat, she was a class act all the way to her end.

  2. Thank you for sharing this my friend. I am sorry you are losing your feline friend, but what a wonderful teaching and reminder to us all. Peace Bill. Thank you for your friendship.

  3. Dear traven, please allow the “dear” I feel close to you because my age is very close to yours, I have a brain that is confused between what life should be and what it is.

    I had just finished reading the commentaries for the article by Jonathan Turley I received today. The subject is about last polls for Donald Trump.

    My head was full with the EU, the failure of Greece, the middle class and the poor, is the government objective to work for the people that elected them or the corporations?, Germany is gladly watching the frail economical situation of the members of the EU, France new president is ready to destroy everything that helped the French people because of austerity, and so on, to the infinite.

    For me it is therapeutically important when my head is going to explode to go out, look for Baby – my beautiful Rhode Island hen – ignore the new disaster she has done with the plants in my personal paradise, and submerge my head in her always clean and nicely smelling feathers. This action has the quality of cleaning my mind.

    Before Baby hen, I had a bantam rooster that even at old age could be held with one hand. He was also called Baby. But he was a world away of the huge hen I have today. My son, seeing how much I missed Baby rooster, who died three years and eight months after the glorious morning I helped him to break out of the egg, plotted with a neighbor to give me a surprise.

    They brought a small Calico cat. Too much work and too dangerous nails. I had to get a home for it. Then Nature gave me a baby hummingbird that fell from the nest in my porch and was covered with ants.

    I cleaned it and started feeding him but I noticed a deformed leg. It loved my left hand palm. And there I kept it almost all the time. It grew and was doing wonderfully well but when I tried to help it to fly it kept falling down. It could not fold its leg inside the feathers. Of course I always had a soft pillow ready in case he fell.

    Hummingbird Mom, a close friend of mine, she had had eight more babies in that same nest, followed my efforts from a nearby branch. I tried to involve her in the training by she just watched my efforts. Around one month later I was reading at my kitchen and it was in a tiny nest I devised from a tiny basket and jump out of it and came to my left hand, made itself comfortable in it and after a while died.

    It was beautiful. Well fed and cared for, it had iridescent green feathers and beautiful eyes. And the beginning of red feathers under its neck. I buried it under the branch with its mother watching me. We talked for a while and then she left.

    Next was a white baby dove. She was starting to learn to fly. She practiced around my head and landed on my lap. Pretty soon I realized she needed more space, so we played hide and sick between my front yard and my back yard. Hummingbird Mom was there watching too and got angry every time the dove flew above her branch. It was a pleasure to watch the exchange, the coo followed by a series of noises that reminded me of a door hinge that needs oiling. Or a violin played by a beginner that uses only two cords. One day she went to a high branch and never came down again. We talked until it became dark. The next morning she was gone. Her cage with the open door was empty.

    For a little while I was alone. But one morning I found my neighbor at my door with a small bunch of feathers in her hand. It was Baby chick. My son had called her and apparently they discussed I needed feathers in my hands. Baby hen was not bigger than a cotton ball. She was two days old. It was love at first sight. The only problem was that she grew so fast that one month later she was already the size of a regular hen. Well, more or less.

    Baby is a female. It is just the opposite of the Baby rooster. She is independent. She lets you know when to caress her. She loves Irish Cheddar cheese. And she flies like a RAF pilot! So I had to cut the feathers of the second wing. The one that goes under the external wing. I consulted my handy man who grew in a farm and instructed me how the whole wing system works. The problem is solved.

    And just by talking of my pets I have cleared my mind. But traven, my question is, are we living our lives as we should? We created societies that are conductive to the failure of the human being. Life does not make sense if it is used only to desig weapons and have wars all supported with the taxes we pay.

    Yesterday my son sent me videos of the last technical achievement for topography. The SX-10. It is incredibly accurate. The quality of its photos is unbelievable. It is super efficient. But wait, we still have not found a cure for cancer, MSM, Alzheimer’s and all the many ills that affect humans. We have not learnt to respect other countries, or how to communicate with them. Our education is every day taking steps backwards, we have only one home in space and we are unable to keep it clean. We discriminate or better said we use discrimination to achieve other purposes, the most important of them to keep us divided.

    Why are we so ignorant of History? Why don’t we learn of our past errors and stop repeating them? Why do we allow others to manipulate us for profit? And what is profit? A piece of dirty paper that we call fiat money? Money without any real value? What could happen if everybody awoke from this nightmare at the same time? Why do we need more nuclear weapons? We already have enough nuclear weapons to disintegrate the planet to small grains of contaminated garbage!

    Noise outside! Birds must be fighting!

    I went to check. My black figs are ready to be picked up, so I have a band of black birds having a big lunch! I only feed and water, and prune my fruit trees. Birds and squirrels and possums and raccoons eat the fruit of my work. But those are the events that make my life useful to nature. And that is my best reward.

    I will seat outside and plea with Baby to allow me to enjoy the softness of her feathers!

    • Anonymous. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I understand your frustrations in a world that has left us behind. No one talks to each other in person anymore. If you can’t say it in 15 words or so on an electronic device you can’t communicate with anyone. A couple go out to eat in a restaurant and rather than look at their partner and exchange intimate conversation they are both looking at their device and texting.
      It would be hard for me to relate to a chicken after having eaten its relative at dinner. I find my solace in the ‘Zen of Pruning and Tying’ my grape vines. I look at each plant as a surgeon must look at their next appendectomy. How can I make this plant more productive by cutting off this cane and tying that one down for next year?
      But to each their own. Whether chickens, humming birds, or grape vines it’s better than belonging to an exclusive golf club and having Donald Trump yell “fore” for you to hurry up.
      Thanks again for reminding all of us that chickens can be friends and humming birds can be personally friendly.

  4. Wonderfully written piece and comments here. I have learned much about peace and acceptance from the numerous feline friends in my life. I have learned about their intense loyalty, even remaining way beyond their time to allay my pain of their leaving. They have come back to me even then to hover and check in on me till assured of my readiness to move on beyond my grief and emptiness of their having transitioned to another plane. Our animal companions show us that death is not to be feared but accepted. Perhaps it is because they can and do see other planes and know there is nothing to fear and that peace and freedom from pain awaits their spirit once they leave the body.

  5. traven–Thank you for a lovely piece. I’d guess a coyote was responsible for the fatal wounds. Even here in “peaceful” Connecticut, those critters have moved into suburban and closer-to-urban communities. The species who claims to “know himself” (homo sapiens sapiens) has made such an unholy mess of the natural world that the price to be paid going forward is incalculable if not unspeakable. We oldsters should be grateful we won’t be around for the worst of it, but that’s small comfort if we have offspring in the world who WILL suffer. And I’m afraid I have to say the past several generations, including mine, are to blame, for not having “drawn a line in the sand.” I’ve been “speaking truth to power” myself for the last half-century; unfortunately the powerful who run the show don’t bow to mere words. They’ve needed a damned good thrashing (a partial paraphrase of a Beatles lyric) for a long, long, long time now!! Please note that I do NOT advocate surrendering to despair over the state of affairs, but rather fighting the good fight to the end.

  6. traven – beautiful and heartfelt!

    We too had a feline that adopted us. It became my baby daughter’s first animal friend and allowed her to pull and tug while she crawled around as a baby. They became close friends for over 10 years. While Meow would spend the day outdoors, every night my daughter would call Meow and they would sleep together. One evening we came home and as we pulled into the driveway my young son came running and said he can’t find Meow. I saw my daughter’s face change. She quickly got out of the car and went into the woods around our house. There she found the remains of old Meow, a bit of fur and shreds of her body. Old Meow was no match for her predator. My daughter learned the lesson of impermanence and cherished memories. I too felt deeply the loss of dear Meow!

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