D and I were talking about how to keep Cricket warm as the cold weather descends upon us. We came to an agreement that we would put some sort of container on the front porch to provide a shelter for her. She had sheltered under the deck through the summer, but surely that wouldn't be warm enough for the winter. D's vote was for a cardboard box, but I didn't think it would hold up against the elements. I was thinking we cut a hole in a rubbermaid container (like so). We kicked around the idea of a low wattage bulb for heat, as is used by several chicken coop owners around the internet. D's mom, advised us to keep straw in the box, not a blanket, because straw retains heat easier and blankets must be warmed up against the cold.
It'd have been easiest if we could bring her inside. We very seriously considered it, despite the fact that we're already teetering on the edge of capacity, teeming with animal life. But she and Max just weren't in to eachother. She'd join us on the deck or on the front porch and seek out your hand, or your pantleg, or whatever she could rub up against. She was always so sweet, lifting her forefeet off the ground in order to get more out of the petting you were giving her. Such a sweet-tempered cat, and not a mean bone in her body. Far too sweet to be feral. She loved us too much and too easily to have spent long in the wild. She never clawed either of us, not even on accident. We'd have brought her inside if we could have, and lord knows she tried to come in with us. We tried cracking the door open to allow her and Max chances to sniff eachother in relative safety. We tried bringing Max out to sniff Cricket. We tried bringing Cricket to the windowledge to sniff Max. It always dissolved into hissing and growling.
It's gotten to be sort of like Wild Kingdom in this house, so one of us might invariably ask, "did you feed Cricket?" or "have you seen Cricket?" If you wanted some company you only had to call her, and she'd emerge from under the deck, ready to be sweet on you until you tired of it, because she never seemed to. She listened better than Bobby, that's for sure. And if we hadn't seen her to give her her daily dose of love, massaging her kitty chin and scratching her kitty shoulders, she would make sure we didn't forget. She took to stretching her paws up to the front window and scratching it until we came out, cat food in hand. "oh, there's Cricket." Or she'd meow for us on the back deck "hey, is that Cricket?"
There was no question that she was ours though, our lives-outside-but-we-feed-her-and-pet-her cat. She was as much a part of our daily lives as anything in the new house. She was a witness to most of the outdoor projects, as a furry little cheerleader. She walked right up to our guests, even those she'd never seen before, and she introduced herself. She'd be there by the front door to greet me as I came home from work, or as I left to take the dog for a walk.
We didn't quite want to part with her, though we did try to find her an indoor home. But everyone we know already has a cat (mostly they have two) or else they have intentions of remaining cat-less. We certainly weren't going to take her to a shelter because odds are she'd have been euthanized. So we were happy to let her stay with us, albeit outside. Things might change. But for the present we had cat food anyway, so what's one more kitty mouth to feed?
Monday morning we left for a run. Ran into a neighbor outside, and chatted with him because the dog wouldn't stop barking at him until we crossed the street and let him sniff the man from close up. Then D, and Bobby and I ran as the sun turned bled from blue to orange and pink. Things get incrementally easier, I think. As in, I walk in smaller and smaller time increments. It's still quite taxing to my unaccustomed cardiovascular system. If we had run the other way we'd have found her sooner, though it wouldn't have made a difference.
D was the one who found her, not far from the house in the street. Our sweet little garden-cat was hit by a car some time last night. D went and carried her away from the road. She looked like she was sleeping (insofar that a cat with limbs stiff with rigor can). Anyway, I'm saying it looked like she didn't suffer. We buried her this evening, in the spot by the deck where we first met. It was painful, but we said our goodbyes by her grave. Bobby, oblivious to the solemnity walked around on top of it. Well, he's a dog.
It's all so wrong. D wondered how we might better have protected her. I'm convinced I should have looked harder for a home for her. We'd have never seen her again, but she might have lived a long and happy (and warm) life. I wish we had more photos but I just assumed we'd have more time. She was too young to go so soon, and far too good to have been run over in the street.
So please, slow down and drive safe out there.
Otherwise the cat you could run over might be somebody that someone loves.
And the cat that you save may be your own.
And the cat that you save may be your own.