Eulogy for a Feline
Monday morning I was loading the recycling into my car in the driveway. Savannah had just left on the school bus. My neighbor was mowing her yard, and she stopped and yelled at me, asking if we had a white and gray cat. I said we did. She showed me to her spruce tree, where Kelly Cat lay outstretched on the ground. She hadn’t moved at the sound of the mower, which alerted the neighbor that something was wrong. Kelly was still warm and soft to the touch–no rigor mortis. I felt her all over. There were no broken bones, not a drop of blood, no sign of trauma at all. But she wasn’t breathing and had no heartbeat. I put her body in a cardboard box in the basement. I called Stacey at work to tell her. I made sure to get home before Savannah so that I could tell her. Tears of grief and disbelief. She was Savannah’s favorite cat: her Baby, her Pooky-Schmooky.
June 18, 2005
Kelly cat came into our lives shortly after we moved to Illinois in 1993. Apparently, she came with the house. She immediately ingratiated herself to us by miscarrying her partly developed kittens on our doorstep. I was opposed to cat ownership of any kind. She was an outside cat at first. Her family membership started with little things, though, like getting food from us. That first winter, Stacey was insistent that we let her spend the night in the garage on the coldest days. She knocked down a bunch of insulation. She started spending more and more time in the house. I had to admit defeat when I put a litter box in the basement. She got into the habit of lying next to me in my easy chair, and sleeping with Savannah at night (often under the covers). She liked to sleep between Stacey and me when she could squeeze in. She could purr loud enough to be heard across the room. She never became completely tame, however, always maintaining a slightly feral side. She would disappear for two or three days at a time in the early years, presumably on hunting expeditions. One day, we came home to find a half-eaten deer mouse on the living room floor. I guess she had to leave evidence so we’d know she was doing her job. She wasn’t opposed to our killing her food, as on this occasion when Savannah shot a sparrow out the back door.
January 2, 2007
She endured our many moves, and was never dumb enough to get lost (unlike Boots), but she did walk back to our old house a couple of times after we made the short move to the current house (the first time, after the tornado). The hunting wasn’t as good in town, but she’d still manage a mouse, young rabbit or rare bird every now and then. When we moved back into this house (the second time), Stacey was putting the China into the buffet one day. The sliding door was open, and Kelly came in with a baby bunny and proceeded to eat it right on the dining room carpet as though it was the most normal thing in the world. I remember the screaming.
She was spayed at some point, to prevent a repetition of our initial encounter, and endured a number of trips to the vet for shots, etc. Most recently, we took her in for an abscess. When the vet shaved her hip, the tracks of many old scars were evident on her skin. She must have had quite a few battles out there. She never could tolerate other cats. She used to kick Boots’ butt at every opportunity, at least until he was lost and found. After he healed up from his injuries, he became top cat. I guess he’d had enough of her guff. He’d chase her around or stalk her just for fun.
She started out known just as “Cat,” when we only had one. When Boots joined the family we had to have a real name for her. Savannah chose the moniker “Kelly Cat.” It’s not like she ever learned it. Yelling “CAT!” was adequate to get her off the kitchen counter. Curiously, she would come to whistling. We don’t really know how old she was. She was obviously an adult when we met her, and did not grow any more, except for those fat folds of skin that hung down her sides (fat laps) in later years. We figured she was at least two years old when we got her, so we always just assumed she was the same age as Savannah. We had her almost 14 years, anyway. Though she was found suspiciously close to the road, I could find no evidence that she was hit by a car. It seems more likely that she died of some sudden event, such as a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm.
October 25, 2005
We dug a hole in the back yard, up against the woods in an area that I had cleared last week. More tears. Over the top I planted some cat mint, which a kindly person had given me earlier in the day when I mentioned our loss. A cross will follow. Later I saw the first ever Indigo Bunting come to our bird feeder. The word must have gotten out in the bird community: the mighty huntress was dead.
Indigo Bunting, May 7, 2007
Eulogy for a Feline