As I’ve been sorting through my photos from this big TN-“remove” I see the photos of all those hopeful cats outside the door, round-eyed waiting for their person to bring out the food. I took those photos last Thursday, the day I set up the traps in the garage so the caretaker only had to open the door on Friday morning to start trapping cats.
Seeing those photos again as the rescue is nearly finished, I thought about the 20 years of cats this caretaker had seen outside the door, looking up at him in trust, waiting for their food. Looked for them to show up and greeted them like friends. He would never see them again like that. Even on that night, he would not be stepping out of the door to cross the breezeway and enter the garage to feed them, all those happy tails in the air as they trotted along side and raced ahead, talking to them as they took their places, a relationship shared only by him and those cats, and no one else.
There is a lot of loss in rescue. Even though the goal is to bring cats to safety, often cats don’t survive their ordeal, many kittens die, cats fostered and socialized to sweet bundles of joy are adopted by another family and leave, cats no longer show up outside the door waiting for their caretaker for one reason, or another. Even though these cats are moving to a place they will likely end up loving, both they and their caretaker will experience the loss of the routine they shared and loved, and they will lose each other. The cats will have another caretaker and another routine, but will endure the fear and uncertainty of being trapped, their surgeries, the move, the loss of all they’d known. The caretaker will have no cats outdoors at all, the entire routine will be only a memory.
Even as I am satisfied with what I’ve accomplished in safely trapping the cats and getting them through their surgeries, finding a safe place to move to and getting them there, I recognize that I am leaving a lot of loss in the wake of that accomplishment. I talked with the caretaker about that, and his family, and recognize their loss, though this was what they’d wanted, and was the right thing for all involved. I handle the cats gently, speak softly to them, keep them covered to feel more safe, and keep their environment as calm and quiet as possible.
On this day, which began with honoring those who died in service to this country by decorating their graves, a tradition had also developed when people also honored their ancestors and other loved ones who had died and decorated their graves too, and it’s become a time to set aside for memorializing the love that endures loss among the verdant flourish of spring flowers.
Just some thoughts on Memorial Day.
The Memorial Kitty this year was festooned by this lovely arch of daffodils, which has never happened before. I watched as the greens grew this year, leaving that little window to the kitty’s face, then as the daffodils bloomed all around that little window I was enchanted. As they slowly lowered their flowers day by day until they were arched in this position right above the window, I was obsessed, photographing them nearly every day until finally they had settled one day into this. The next day the flowers were faded and curled and the magic was gone. But I think it equally magical that it was only as the flowers began to fade, and just at that last moment, they were at their most beautiful.
Read more thoughts on Memorial Day:
Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!