The last few days we’d noticed that the resident feral cat “Miss Mama” hadn’t been looking great. While she was friendly and would let us pet her, she was never as tame as an indoor cat, which meant we didn’t see her up close a lot. When the weather warmed she started spending her days out hunting in the woods around our home instead of in the garage, so we saw even less of her. When she was around, she’s follow us around the garden and even took a shine to Lucy, running over to rub on her whenever she spotted her outside.
We hadn’t been seeing much of her lately and figured it was because of the nice weather. When we spotted her the other day we noticed she looked very thin and wasn’t walking very well.
We finally caught her Tuesday evening and immediately knew it was bad. She was weak, could barely walk, and her liver was failing. There wasn’t much we could do, we put out a heating mat to keep her warm and didn’t think she was going to make it through the night. She may have caught a mouse or a chipmunk that someone had poisoned and as a result it poisoned her. Or perhaps she wandered onto someone’s lawn that had just treated it with chemicals, which is also very hard on pets. A sad reminder that often our expedient measures to treat a problem or pest result in consequences that we didn’t intend.
She made it through the night, but looked even worse the next morning and could barely walk. We knew it was time. We carried her out and put her on the side porch to enjoy the nice weather while we made some preparations.
We have a tradition in my family that pets are always buried on the property (all of our previous pets are buried in my parent’s garden). The cats always get a pussy willows planted over their graves and the dogs get a dogwood tree. I set out to decide where I wanted to plant a pussy willow, for this would determine Miss Mama’s final resting place.
While I’m very sad that Miss Mama is gone, I can’t be too sad. Outdoor cats have a life expectancy of 2 years – she was about that old. They have to deal with the harshness of nature and the expediency of humans trying to deal with pests. It’s the price we pay for the joy that animals bring us. I know that Miss Mama had a wonderful year and a half of life here at Chiot’s Run. She had delicious pastured chicken to eat, a warm cozy bed in the garage, the freedom to roam the woods hunting and be a cat. While we would have preferred for her to live a longer life, at least her life here was good.
We still have one garage cat left. If you remember, Miss Mama moved her kittens into our garage last summer. One kitten survived, she’s known as “Little Softie” or “The Sweets”. She’s a burgundy black cat now, full grown. Hopefully she’ll be able to avoid Miss Mama’s fate, she doesn’t seem to wander as far. She was brought to this garage at about 5 weeks old, so this is home to her.
We buried Miss Mama up in the front garden and I’ll get a start from my mom’s pussy willow that is growing over Jeffrey, our first cat’s grave. I placed a bouquet of wild flowers over her grave, perfectly fitting for our wild (yet tamed) cat.
Today we’re very sad still that Miss Mama is gone, but we really appreciate the joy she brought us. As our first garden cat – she was perfect! We’ll miss her chirpy meows, her padding around the garden behind us, the moles she left by the car and the great personality she had. So long Miss Mama, we’re sad to see you go, but happy you chose to spend a year and a half at Chiot’s Run!
Other posts about Miss Mama
Should I Change the Name?
The Word is Out
Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In Case You Were Wondering
Not So Feral Anymore
Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition
Not Chickens But They’ll Do