The first time I saw Kitty it my heart broke. On one of particularly cold winter days, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a thin, black and white, short haired female cat hiding in the bushes. She was curled up in a ball, her face, nose and ears were covered in scratches and bite marks and from the tip of her nose and her chin were hanging tiny icicles.
Acting on an impulse I moved forward, wanting to sweep her into my arms and carry her home to warmth and safety. But Kitty was a Feral cat, petrified of humans. At a first sign of my approach she took off faster than a wind.
I noticed her again several times around the building, always around the same time. Few people mentioned seeing her in the area, doing rounds of buildings and houses where people would leave out some food. I started doing so as well, in the hopes that may be one day Kitty will get used to me enough to let me touch her. This continued for 8 years. Kitty would show up all beat up, eat while I watch, but would not allow me to come close. Sometimes she would disappear for a while, than reappear again. Finally, after exhausting all other options, I asked an acquaintance who worked for a Wildlife Rescue to bring a live trap. I couldn’t stand seeing her suffering like this any longer. She was a very timid cat and it was obvious that she was a target for other cats, wildlife and may be even people in the neighbourhood.
After a long, patient wait we were successful at capturing Kitty and releasing her inside my house. She lived with me for 7 years, but the memories of past abuse and the fear of people and other cats has never left her. She never interacted with her cat cohabitants. She would just hide somewhere under a bed or in a small corner, and would only come out to eat, drink and use the litter box. She never meowed and I suspected that her vocal cords might have been damaged by living outside in the extreme cold. She would never allow me to pick her up, or even pet her. She would just run for the cover.
I told her I understood and respected her wishes. To hold her was my need, not hers, and I was OK not having my need met as long as I knew that she is at least safe and taken care of. She had roof over her head, food in her dish, warmth on cold winter days, and my love, even though I could never truly show her the extent of it.
I always said to her: “Kitty. I wish you would purr just once so that I may know that you understand that I mean you no harm!” But there was never a purr, or even a meow.
On the seventh year of living with us, Kitty got sick. She was too weak to run away from me and I was finally able to hold her in my arms and take her to a vet. For the next two months Kitty was being handled daily as I was looking after her, giving her medicine, force feeding her. She stopped trying to run away and was allowing me to care for her, but she was always on guard. Her condition worsened and now I had her in my bed so that I can always keep an eye on her. Finally, at the last vet visit a very difficult decision was made to assist her with her crossing over. When it came to putting animals down, I have always struggled greatly making that decision on their behalf. But it was obvious that Kitty was suffering and I had to be strong for her. I asked the vet if I could bring her home to say good buy. We made an appointment to come back the next afternoon for the procedure.
As I sat on my bed that evening crying and petting her little head, I told her that I understood that she needed to go and she had my permission to do so; that I would be OK and if she was tired she did not have to hang on for my sake. I thanked her for sharing her life with me and trusting me and told her how difficult it was for me to make this decision to put her down, and how I wish I didn’t have to go through with it. I told her that I hoped she understood that she was loved, and that I wished I could hear her purr just once, so that I would know that she understood what I tried to do for her and that she enjoyed her life with me.
Somewhere in the middle of all this I fell asleep. At 4am I heard a faint meow. I lifted my head to see Kitty looking straight into my eyes. “It’s time!” the words echoed in my mind. I took her in my arms and started stroking her fur. Her big green eyes were looking straight at me when suddenly I felt a chill run down my spine. Kitty was purring! Kitty was thanking me for everything I have done for her and telling me she loved me!
As tears came streaming from my eyes, Kitty’s purr quietly faded away, her big green eyes slowly closed and she quietly drifted away into a peaceful forever sleep, dreaming of rainbows and green meadow fields, filled with flowers and butterflies.
I sat there holding her for several hours. I thanked her for sparing me from having to go through with a difficult decision of putting her down. I thanked her for coming into my life and teaching me so much. I thanked her for finally letting me know that she understood what I tried to do for her and letting me know she loved me. But most of all I thanked her for granting me a gift of seeing that dying does not have to be violent, painful and sad. It could be peaceful and serene, and saying good buy to the one you love can leave you feeling content and at peace with yourself.