Monday, September 1, 2008

The one where I try to act responsibly

I completed the back-to-school shopping with Mr. T on Saturday. Like his mother, he shops with a chip on his shoulder and by the 2nd store he was done. (I know because I poked him with a fork while asking him to try on another pair of jeans.) Mr. T wants jeans with snaps (something not made for anyone older than 4, buddy) and we trekked through a grand total of SIX stores before conceding that point and settling for button-fly jeans. Two pair, two pair of cargo pants, six shirts and a pair of shoes (Heelys, against my better judgment, and the only pair he'll have all year so he'd better a) not grow or b) have money saved to replace those shoes if he does) later we drove home.

I returned to learn that Mr. D brought Mr. B and Mr. G up to check on the pumpkin patch where they found a kitten curled up against our neighbor's fence. "It's hurt," Mr. B explained, showing me the kitten now resting in a box atop a rolled up beach towel. "I think an eagle got it, it's back leg doesn't move," Mr. D explained. "It purred when I picked it up--I didn't see any marks on it, but it's hurt pretty bad."

"The V's have a bowl of poison in their garden for the raccoons, maybe it got into that" I suggested. "I'll call the vet."

On Saturday the vet is closed. Five calls later I reached the humane society--only open until three. I told Mr. D I could bring the kitten in--have it looked at and get it treated.

"Let's leave it overnight and see how it does," he argued. He doesn't like doctors or hospitals.

"But if it's sick and can be helped, we should do it now. Besides, it's a holiday weekend. No one will be open again until Tuesday."

"What if it can't be helped?" He also doesn't like death.

I looked at my feet and mumbled, "They'll euthanize it."

From his glare I knew he didn't want the kitten brought in. Mr. B kept expressing his concern, further ripping my heart apart. I remembered finding a kitten by the side of the road while in high school. My mom and sister were bereft and it fell on my shoulders to drive it in to the vet. A few years ago Mr. D brought a baby bunny into the house--he'd found it while mowing. I had to convince him that wild rabbits make bad pets and we released it amid hysterical sobbing (the kids, not Mr. D) the following morning. I'm the Pet Killer. Not by choice. By reason. Someone has to be the grown up. I knew Mr. D would throw me under the bus when it came time to explain the kitten's fate to the kids. But I couldn't let a suffering kitten continue to suffer if it could be helped ... or could be put out of it's misery. What would be the compassionate act?

I looked up cat care on the internet--Violet the Semi-Stray Cat has always been healthy and hale so I'm more clueless than George W. Bush at a Mensa meeting when it comes to feline knowledge. Pale gums are a sign of shock, I learned, so I carefully and tentatively checked the kitten's mouth. Grey gums. My stomach churned and reeled with despair.

I returned to Mr. D and explained what I thought was going on. Mr. D comes from people who don't like to discuss death and suffering--denial of mortality is more their approach. He unhappily agreed to let me take the kitten in.

Mr. B didn't want to say goodbye to it--that's how sad he felt. I grabbed the cardboard box with kitten and the checkbook--just in case.

All the way to the humane society the kitten meowed in a surprisingly loud voice, telling me it's short life story I thought. Every last detail of it's furry little life. "Poor thing, hang on. We're almost there," I told it. "Be strong. We'll find out what's wrong with you and get you some help. If you pull through, we'll name you Rocky or Rambo and give you a good home. Depend on it. You're a fighter. You'll be fine." I choked back a sob and watched it reach it's front paw towards the edge of the box. Please let it be a broken back--according to that's something we can fix.

The people at the humane society were kind and helpful--but certain the kitten (4 months old, I learned, but I forgot to ask it's gender) had been poison. It exhibited all the signs.

I filled out paperwork, repeating over and over that if there was anything they could do...

"Call us on Tuesday when we have a receptionist."

They made it clear that it was probably going to die within hours.

"But if it doesn't! I can pay--we have money to treat it. We'll give it a home!" I felt bad that I hadn't petted it a final time to say goodbye. They'd taken it to an examining room and I thought I'd get to see it again. Bedside vigil while they checked it's vitals?

"We'll make it as comfortable as possible."

The humane society is underfunded, full of compassionate volunteers and employees. They're doing their best.

I drove home feeling grief mixed with anger. (Stage 2? I forget. I already bargained...) Damn the farmer up the road with all his farm cats. Get a few of them fixed, already. I plotted to catnap a few and take them to be spayed and neutered on my own dime. Poor kitten. If you can't be responsible with your pets--even a farm cat, you should be held accountable, you bastard. We have stray cats on our property all the time and this is the second one we've had to deal with directly. I know they're all from the same source--they're all black and white. At the very least I might make a house call and tell them about it.

I tried but failed to be mad at my neighbors who are just trying to keep raccoons out of their garden. I couldn't be mad at Mr. D for taking the kitten in and trying to help it. It would have died in our house if I hadn't taken it in. I'd taken it in just in case.

Meanwhile, I'm calling my lawyer Tuesday and signing over power of attorney to my more reasonable best friend, just in case Mr. D would have me hooked up to life support for 134 years in the event I eat raccoon bait or get hit by a semi. And I'm calling the humane society on Tuesday, just in case.


  1. Oh, poor kitty~and poor you, too.
    Teaching the kids about the 'cycle of life' is not fun.

  2. Keep us posted!

    We had to do a kitten rescue a few years ago and it was so stressful.

  3. That is rough.

    I know you're sort of joking about the life support thing, but . . .
    I have a friend who will have been on life support for 3 years today (coincidentally), after a car accident. Her grown children and all of her friends know (because she told us) she would never have wanted this, but this is the choice her husband has made. It's truly heartbreaking, especially for her younger children.

  4. I'm sorry! It's no fun having to be the adult--it happens to me too!
    I'll be thinking about you and the kitty too!

  5. Hugs to you. If this one survives, name it Orpheus: it's been to hell and back.

  6. Oh ow. Unfortunately, I'm the pet killer around here myself. Hubby can't bear to let them go, even if they're suffering....

    Thinking about that poor kitty.

  7. I'm so sorry for the kitty and the sadness.

  8. I've had to do the same - it is heartbreaking. I'm saying a little prayer for poor kitty (and that you never get into the racoon poison either ;))

  9. That is tough. I'm like Mr. D. in this area. So it's good that you were the big girl and did what had to be done.
    Still, it's rough and I'm hoping the kitty made a miraculous recovery...

  10. Oh. I'm so sorry. You did the right thing, even though it sucks being the one who has to step up to the plate in these situations. Please keep us posted, and please do something kind for yourself. You need it.

  11. Poor sweet kitten. Maybe you can stuff that farmer's mailbox with pamphlets about getting one's pets spayed or neutered.

    Rough weekend. Sorry you had to go through all of that.


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