Sometimes the Cat Doesn’t Come Back

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It’s 4:50am and the owls just got a cat. Not that the actual time matters but just so you know that it’s still really dark and the neighbourhood cats wander at all hours. The great horned owls hunt 24/7.

That kitty had a fairly quick death it only yowled twice and then it was just the owls calling back and forth. The great horned owls are expert hunters, their silence gives them a huge advantage, they have incomparable night vision and talons sharp as razorblades. It’s actually one of the advantages of having a beloved pet taken in the wild, it’s a quick death not like getting run over or having a disease. The only thing is you don’t get to say goodbye.

When I first moved here I had a fabulous black cat name Kitty. She had the marking of a black infinity symbol on the roof of her mouth and luminescent green eyes. She killed 22 mice the first month here and her tiny body grew big and strong in accordance with the surroundings. Occasionally she taunted the owls, she knew they were her nemesis. One day in the early afternoon I could hear the great horned owls calling back and forth really close to the house. I went outside and Kitty was sitting on a table about 40 feet away in the forest and above her were five owls all in a circle staring right down at her preparing for the kill. I called to her that she better come in because she was just being ridiculous and tempting fate. She jumped off the table and wandered casually over to sit by the pond. The owls left after a while but I often wonder if they remembered that brazen move.

She got into a scuffle with a racoon once. I only discovered it after she retreated into the studio and I noticed a lump growing on her head. She let me look at it and there in the middle of the lump was a claw stuck right into her scalp. It had abscessed. I told her that I’d have to take her to the doctor the next day if she didn’t handle it herself. At some point in the night I woke up to a yowl from her but let her be. In the morning she was just fine and the wound was weeping. It seems she scratched at it and opened the wound to release the pressure, I found the claw on the studio floor next to where she had been sitting. I cleaned the wound and she was fine after that.

She truly was an amazing cat but she’s gone now. She always slept at my head and was really polite about her night movements. If she left the bed she’d walk down the side of my body and jump off the end, never would she just clamber over me. One early morning in May, 2007 she made a sudden movement at 4:30am, enough to wake me. She then walked right over my chest and ran through the cat door to outside. That was at 4:30 in the morning and that’s the last time I ever saw her. I grieved her for a long time. She was such a wise and gentle companion.

I’m not sure who got her, maybe an owl, maybe a racoon, perhaps a coyote, don’t know. My broken heart still misses her sometimes but what I know for sure is that being killed in the wild is quick and I use this thought as a tool to comfort me when I think about her.

Somebody’s kitty won’t be coming home for breakfast. That somebody will eventually knock on my door and ask if I’ve seen their cat. I will have to tell that somebody what I heard and watch with certainty as their heart breaks with the possibility. It’s not an absolute, just a possibility. Cats go missing all the time. My friend’s cat just returned after going missing for a full year so anything is possible. The only thing I know for certain is that some cat from somewhere became owl food this morning and that someone from somewhere will have a broken heart today.

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