Monday, April 25, 2011
Half-Cat with my Whole Heart
Last Friday we had to say 'goodbye' again. It really seems like too much. To have to say goodbye to two dogs and a cat in just two years feels like it's just too fast. You barely catch your breath from one and you are getting knocked back again by the next.
But let me tell you the story of Half-Cat.
That was not always her name. She was a hard one to name. She kind of came with the house when we bought it 13 years ago. At the time, we had 7 cats, but we had left them all in the apartment until we could get a little more settled in the house. I was home alone one day in the new house, and I was feeling a little lonely without my cats by my side, when I saw the cutest little kitten playing outside. She was playing with something she could see by the light from the kitchen right outside the sliding glass door. It was January, so it was dark early and very cold. I had seen this kitten around outside and figured that she was either a stray or had been left behind by the previous owners of the house. So, I quietly slid open the glass door and the kitty, in her distraction with whatever it was that she was chasing, fell right into the kitchen. I knew from seeing her before that she was not tame, so rather than try to touch her or call to her and scare her back outside, I quickly flipped a laundry basket over her, trapping her underneath it.
At the time, I was working at a garden center where there were a lot of stray cats, and the owner had taken it upon herself to trap and spay/neuter all the cats she could. I helped out a lot with this, so I had some experience with handling feral cats and I also knew a vet who was willing to work with them. So, with a leather glove on my hand, I carefully transferred the little kitty, (who still had very sharp little teeth and claws!) to a carrier and took her to the vet to be vaccinated and spayed.
As with most feral cats, the doctor stitched her up with a dissolving glue instead of traditional stitches, so I would not have to bring her back in if I couldn't tame her. I let her loose in the bathroom to keep an eye on her for the first few days while she healed and to try to get her a little used to me.
Let's just say that didn't work.
She was so frightened that she scaled the walls and the shower curtain and finally was able to slip out of the bathroom when I was trying to slip in. This was our only bathroom with a shower, and I was very pregnant with our first, so there was nothing for it but to let her back outside and hope for the best.
Throughout the years she stayed close to home and appeared every evening for her dinner, but never let any of us pet her. She was named and renamed by the kids that I took care of, but never let anyone near her.
She was a long haired domestic, so it was so horrible to see her during her shedding months because of course she would not let me brush her at all. Sometimes her fur would shed in great sheets and it would look like she had a little furry skirt on until it finally caught on something and fell off.
I also felt bad for her on the coldest nights when she would sit outside the door and stick her little nose up under the screen door and snuggle in the warm air that escaped through the crack at the bottom of the door. She had a warm bed on the porch with a nice blanket in it, and she used that sometimes, but she just couldn't overcome her fear even though you could tell that she really wanted to.
She was so cute, though, when the other cats would come outside. It was like she was waiting for them and she would run up to them and rub against them and mew her little kitty high-pitched meow. The other cats seemed to like her, too, and sometimes would all sit snuggled together.
Finally, after many name changes, we ended up with the name Half-Cat. We somehow settled on that one because she was always only half ours (and usually the hungry half was ours!). The other half of her was a wild kitty that craved the outdoors and freedom.
On Friday afternoon, my neighbor called to me to come to his yard to see something that 'might belong to me'. And there was little Half-Cat, curled up under the azalea and bulbs that my neighbor had planted beside his porch. She looked calm and peaceful and too still, and I knew that she was gone.
I got a towel that she liked and wrapped her in it and Jimmy and I buried her in the back yard under the leland cyprus. I know she would have liked it there.
It is a strange feeling, losing Half-Cat. She is such a connection with my past and with my beginning and with my personal growth. It kind of feels like the ending of an era. Not so much as I know that it will feel that way when we lose Georgie, Jimmy's favorite feline, but still, it is a loss. She was such a sweet kitty and we will miss her always being on the stoop waiting for us or running from the neighbors yard when she heard our car pull up even though she knew that she was going to stop just a little short of our outstretched caressing hands. Her friendly presence just always being there will be sorely missed.
But don't worry, Half-Cat. You can rest easy knowing that you will always have our whole hearts.