Tag Archives: Cats

Death of a Cat

Christopher, 2015

Christopher, 2015

Life continues until it doesn’t.

Obvious, huh? So much so, why bother writing it? Maybe because I’m not sure what it means.

Christopher died on Tuesday. We had been expecting his death, but it still felt unexpected. The timing was definitely…

I half want to write “inconvenient” here as there is a certain amount of accuracy to it. But there is an unintentional coldness present, too, with using such a word; an uncaring to it that is as far from the truth as one can ever get.

Maybe I can substitute “awkward” instead.

Gary called me at work. Already stressfully behind on bills, including rent, and with little food in the house, Christopher died: on Tuesday, two days before a future paycheck already devoured by red. I borrowed $85 cash from the store director to cover the cost (deepest thanks to him), clocked out, and, along with Gary, took Christopher to Kingston Funeral Home and paid for him to be cremated.

Afterwards, I went back to work.

Life continues.

We had him since he was a little black dot of 7 weeks. An integral part of our lives, his 19 ½ years saw us in three states, various apartments, and up and down circumstances. He woke us up on our 1996 Wedding Day with his “turbo tongue” full of kittenly affection. He was still around for our 2013 Marriage Redux.

Over the years, cat habits formed.

Evenings, he’d patrol our home like a security guard, checking off each room and being annoyed at us if we got up during the night; he’d have to recheck that room. Affectionate in his own way, he’d make a beeline for our heads, wanting — needing — to touch noses before settling on our laps. Later in his life, after we introduced moist food to help with constipation, he developed a clockwork habit of waking me up by standing on me and screaming to be fed.

He loved office chairs, catnip, and shredding nice furniture. He had a talent for opening doors and cabinets. He liked butter, which we learned to keep covered on the table. He had a strange fixation with tape that made wrapping presents – and keeping them wrapped — challenging.

He was lovable, insufferable, and all the adjectives in-between. Then those adjectives started losing their hold except for lovable, being replaced by the new ones old age and sickness bring. Yet it felt like love alone would be a powerful enough word to contradict fate…

Yet, here I am, Sunday, several days later and still trying to properly mourn the loss of our beloved cat.

Sunday, my day off, with a committee meeting and board meeting coming up this afternoon. Grocery shopping somehow needs to be done, as we have nothing for dinner. I have submissions to read for the Mud Season Review, author bios to compile for the Burlington Book Festival website, and I should probably read Go Down Moses for the event I’m hosting at the Kellogg Hubbard Library come this Tuesday.

I have a resume and cover letter, too, that need revised, as they both must be absolutely perfect as I apply for my dream job at the Vermont Humanities Council.

And, of course, my in-progress fiction and poetry awaits my focused attention, along with markets to be researched for submitting completed works…

Life continues until it doesn’t.

Is that a nihilistic expression of the meaningless of life? The ache in my heart feels like it is, wanting me to throw in the towel at the banal absurdity of it all.

Or is it a seize-the-day cry emphasizing the first part and beseeching us to pick the towel back up, dry our eyes, and make the most of this limited time?

I think it just might be both.



I moved a dead cat today.

We noticed it last night, half-curled and not moving pressed up against our house next to the front porch. Half-uncurled and not living, it lay wedged between the porch’s cement wall and a thick bush composed of disorderly stalks that tried but failed to conceal it.

The Mayor’s Action Center has a form to use when such deaths occur on public property like an alley or street or curb.  However,

If the dead animal is on private property, please call the Mayor’s Action Center (MAC) at 327-4MAC to discuss options for pick up.

When the then closed office opened the next morning, I called. The options, as it turned out, involved my first moving the deceased animal to public property like an alley or street or curb…

I thought I might use a snow shovel, its wide blade perhaps best for sliding under the entire body of the unfortunate creature. However, the tight space of its departure confounded such plans. So I settled on a square shovel with shorter handle that could better insinuate itself between bush and porch.

Even with that more suitable instrument, it took some time to shift the body away from the clutches of the now confrontational stalks and coax it into a position conducive to shoveling.

Time enough to notice its mouth open in final scream and baring exposed teeth so sharp and pointy yet oh so pointless now.

Death has weight, you know. It’s quite heavy. I feared I might cut it in half during my graceless exertions and end up making it twice the burden. But I delivered it safely – an ironic adverb for sure – to the curb.

As I drove to work I thought of the one guy – and there is just one guy in the whole city; that is what the mayor’s office told me – driving around all day to pick up remains from alley or street or curb.

I wondered what goes through his mind as he does what has to be done.

I know what went through my mind as I did what had to be done:

Ah, gee whiz,

may you now rest in peace.