I’m feeling sad today, because my cat just died. Fritzi wasn’t really ‘my’ cat, but she lived in my back yard for sixteen years. She appeared one April day with three kittens, wild as a hare. The neighbors adopted the kittens, but the mom was unapproachable, and produced another litter in short order. Don built a large cage with one-by-ones and chicken wire, and we lured her into it with cat food and slammed the door. With the help of a broom, I managed to get her into a cat carrier and took her to a vet who was willing to spay a feral cat. We kept her in the big cage until she was all better, then I opened the door to let her go, thinking she’d get the hell out of Dodge after what we did to her.
But she recognized a good gig when she saw one, and never left. As the years went by, she became much more approachable, rubbing up against our legs and loving a good back rub, but she would never let us pick her up. She seldom ventured from our back yard, savoring her little condo that we fixed up for her on the back porch. When she grew old, she never left the yard at all. In truth, she had a nice little life, and was one very lucky feral cat.
Last week, I could tell she wasn’t feeling well. She was moving slowly, and in a day or two, grew uninterested in eating. When I tried to check her out, she wouldn’t let me get near her. Yesterday (Saturday), I went by the local pet hospital and asked if they would treat my feral cat if I could trap her, which was going to be difficult, since she wasn’t eating and I wasn’t going to be able to lure her with food. As I was explaining the situation to the nice young lady behind the counter, I suddenly began bawling like a baby, great heaving sobs that surprised me even more than they did the poor nurse (is that what you call a vet assistant?) She was very calm and sympathetic and let me stand there and weep for a while, and we decided that if I could somehow get her into a carrier today, I could bring her in on Monday and the vet would look at her.
But this morning, she was already gone. I cried a little bit, but to tell the truth, I was relieved and rather glad that it was over. Don was a brick. It was he who dug a hole in the yard, picked her up and wrapped her in an old towel and put her in a box, then tripped over the garden hose and fell on his face, getting a nice bruise on his chest. I ended up burying the cat, but then he had done the hard work, and I was glad that I was able to do something for her.
So here’s to Fritzi, who was an etherial little presence in my back yard for a lot longer than I would ever have imagined. I don’t ever want an animal again. It’s too hard when they join the choir eternal.
September 13th, 2008
What a poignant post about your cat, Fritzi. Loved it. I read it with wet eyes, chuckling the while. Yeah, here’s to Fritzi, from our feral, Henry, so like her. Almost unapproachable but still enjoying his soft life.
September 13th, 2008
Thanks, Irene. I’m still feeling a bit blue about it and wondering why. I couldn’t “love on her”, as my grandma used to say, but I loved her, and I think she loved me in her own catly way.
November 8th, 2008
My condolences to you on the loss of your cat. We enjoyed the decision of a stray tabby to stay with us when we built our house many years ago. She gradually went from feral to living downstairs with access daily to the outdoors.
She presented us with three litters before we caught her and had her spayed. My mother still has one of her cats and we have two left (both 14)that we love dearly.
How do cats know where they belong??
I enjoyed “The Old Buzzard Had It Coming” very much. Your characters have life and depth. Thank you.