ORIGINAL POST DATE APRIL 2011
I haven't shared this yet. For over a week now, one of my cats has been missing. She just vanished one night. We have scanned the property and beyond. We live in the country though. There are coyotes and
lots of other things around not good for cats. But she was experienced at this life so I just don't know...
I have mentioned her on the podcast - my less than friendly, former stray, Queen of the house that tricked everyone in the local animal foster program into believing she was prego 11 or so years ago until she found her way to the ultimate sucker (that would be me by the way). So, I took this cat in and weeks later, by the time the vet said this cat isn't pregnant she is just fat, I was willing to say - well, she's not very lovable or
cute I guess I'd better just keep her. We named her Tally. But we only referred to her as Tally in combination with some direct order to STOP doing something. Tally, STOP fighting with your brother! Tally STOP pushing the dog out of his bed! Tally STOP being so cranky! LOL. Instead we called her The Communist (because she moved in and took over....everything) or more affectionately Big Girl (because she was, well....she was fat. Like, really fat). We always suspected she was supplementing her diet with good old fashioned hunting and killing and also had possibly made some poor old lady down the road believe she was all alone in the world and needed scraps. She was, after all, a really good con artist. I like to think she had a slow metabolism. I have no medical documentation of this it just sounded like a good excuse.
She became as big a part of our family as the more lovable cuddle-happy members. She had her own way. She preferred outside to in. She demanded it at 3AM most nights with a distinctive scratching on the bedroom door that would send me flying out of bed in a comatose rage. I'd throw open the door prepared to yell or kick her down the stairs and she'd already be gone, waiting at the front door as if to say oh hurry up please you know you aren't gonna do anything like that so just grumble and open the damn door. And I would, faithfully. All of this Sam normally slept through. As a result he really liked her. LOL. And she
him. He was always the first one she sought attention from. Sam claimed her at some point as "his cat" he says because I forever remained secretly pissed at her for tricking me into "adopting her as pregnant" years
If you were outside, she'd be there. She learned to survive outside and it was always her favorite place to be. She would follow you to the pond to feed the fish, she'd sit with me on the porch of the shop while I recorded, she'd guard our front porch like it was a fortress. You could call her like a canine when you were done doing whatever it was you were doing and she'd come bobbing along to follow you in. And every morning, after her late night wanderings, when the dog and I would go out to take care of his
immediate matters, she'd appear from the woods, chirping softly and rubbing my leg. She completely destroyed several of our front porch banisters. She had claws you see and she loved to work them on the wooden banisters! As a result several are shredded. I used to bitch at her for it. If I'd catch her I would clap loud and yell TALLY STOP IT! There is that name/command combination again... Yet, today, in the rain I
glanced at one and the tears bubbled up. I think I'll talk Sam into not fixing that one.
She had a best friend. Our big golden retriever/lab mix. He died suddenly several years ago. During their lives together she would spend the evenings kneading his chest like a loaf of bread while they lounged on this rug they shared and he'd just take it. That dog knew no protest, even to cat claws.
So, tomorrow we are going to our pet cemetery on the hillside. I have a box. It holds a picture of her along with a toy - the last one she was playing with actually the last day I saw her. I remember tossing it around our rec room for her. She played like she was a kitten that day. Also inside is a candle to light her way. And a spell jar for her journey - catnip of course, sage to protect her, oats as an offering and an apple seed for her rebirth. Clippings from her favorite sleeping beds/rug are also included as well as a piece of old collar that belonged to her dog friend. I have been saving this for several years, intending to bury it with her body when the time came. A little part of her buddy to keep her company along the way. As it turns out, we have no body, only these tokens and our memories of her.
So we'll take those things and I'll wish for her spirit to follow us up the hill to that little spot under the big tree. Sam will dig a resting place. I will talk to her and placed those memories of her in the Earth. Somewhere she is making that journey back to being a part of what we all came from. I know for certain she was brave because she never knew how not to be. I know for certain she was loved despite not being a "nice cat" and I know for certain she loved us as well.
**as an addendum to this post, we did find her some two weeks after I wrote this. She had been near us the whole time. As best we could tell she had chosen her place to die. Behind our garage we have a storage
space under roof but otherwise outdoors. We keep some random fencing material there and some gates from old farm and garden fences. Leaves tend to collect in between them and she had made a bed in those leaves between two fence gates and passed on to her next world in silence and with us unaware. She was 12 years old so it is possible that it was just her time and she chose to have it be on her terms. Or she could have been injured somehow and went there to recover or hide. We will never know. My first thought was that if she were truly hurt, she would surely try to make it back to me and that being so close she would have somehow attempted to get my attention on the many occasions we looked for her. But, perhaps that is
just my selfish human nature believing that surely her life somehow revolved around what I would think she would have done. Sam was the one who found her and he took the burden of dealing with it upon himself, placing her body in the same spot that we had buried her things. When I arrived home he was just finishing the placement of the rock mound on top of her grave. I ran all the way up the hill and of course sobbed like a
good baby while he held me up and then we sat for awhile and talked about her and her life. I'm glad we found her, even though we will never know for certain what happened. My first instinct of self loathing because she died alone will never leave me. That is my rule, see. None of my animals will ever die alone. But, again, perhaps that is what she chose. She always did have a way of outsmarting me ;)...
***as addendum to the addendum we later found the scavenger coyotes had completely overrun her grave, tore out every rock and had taken her body. This was leading into winter and I had to wait until the spring to search for anything that may have been left. About 100 feet from the pet cemetery I found what was left of her bones still wrapped partially in the plastic and material that Sam had buried her in. I have those bones and they will be recommitted to the ground in her spot, along with new tokens of her life. May you (finally) rest in peace Big Girl.