Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Farewell, Sweet Feral Friend

Domestic Partner and I are a little sad this week. We lost one of the feral cats that had been born in our backyard, the one we simply named Brownie. She hadn't been living in our yard lately, but we would see her now and then while walking the dogs. She would meow at us, as if in recognition of the humans and canines associated with the backyard buffet of daily kibble.

We found her rain-soaked body in a far corner of the yard, next to the brick wall that separates us from our neighbors and under our pomegranate tree. A bit shocking to see was her rear end split open, just underneath her tail, as if she had exploded from within. It was a wide but clean opening, revealing a lot of pink inner flesh but with hardly any gore. The rest of her body was intact, including her hind legs, so it didn't seem that she had been attacked by a dog or possum, or even hit by a car.

We wondered if maybe she had been poisoned.

It made us sad to find Brownie like this. We also wondered if there was anything we could have done to prevent her unnecessary and early death. She was just eighteen months old. I knew it was Brownie by her tipped ear, the point of her right ear having been nicked off by the FixNation clinic when she was spayed for free, so that if she was ever caught by animal control they would recognize the symbol for an already fixed cat.

Brownie was almost ours, which is why Domestic Partner and I were upset to find her dead. She had been a friendly feral kitten, even allowing us to pick her up when she was about a month old. Her fur was such a pretty golden brown, with distinctive stripes along her torso and legs. Smaller stripes formed the classic letter M design on her forehead. But we had already taken in her weaker, runty sister, which their mother had abandoned. Brownie was healthy and already socially outgoing, so we figured she would have a better chance surviving as a feral cat.

Now, we regret not having taken the chance to prolong her life.

Brownie was never really ours. She was skittish as an adult, and she would dart away if we got too close to her. We know that we can't save every needy animal out there, even in just our neighborhood, but we are still sad about losing Brownie, we're not quite sure why. It's just that she could have been ours. We almost took her in to be vaccinated and domesticated. That friendly little kitten could have been safe and happy inside our house as an adult, honoring us by placing her trust in us.

And I guess we betrayed that potential trust, that bond that could've been that Brownie wasn't even aware of. I think that's what hurts a little, useless as it is anthropomorphizing any animals, even friendly felines.

We buried Brownie in the backyard dirt, under the branches of the pomegranate tree, branches that are already turning green from spring's rebirth.


Cheryl said...

You did not betray Brownie's trust. You gave her a great life, even if it was a short one. You loved something and set it free, as they say. RIP, Brownie.

Peter Varvel said...

Thanks, Cheryl. It's especially comforting to have that reassurance from a Team Gato Mama.