My cat is dead.
I have recently learnt that my cat is dead.
It’s strange because I completely forgot that I actually had a cat until coming across a cat-related article today. The main difference is that my cat couldn’t be smoked, injected, or taken orally. At least not without the aid of either cremation, complicated synthesising processes or exotic dietary habits.
The cat was the only pet I have had which I would consider a real pet, bar the possible exception of a rabbit which used to love eating dandelions and, according to my Dad, was apparently mauled to death by a dog. Thinking back now, this seems somewhat of a suspect occurrence considering it took place a couple days before moving from our first family home in the winter of 2000 to a downsized bungalow with little garden space.
Whilst I do not hate any animal (bar Cornish seagulls, although they are not so much an animal as the reincarnation of a Satanic plague) I find myself entirely indifferent to any animal’s death. Even if it is my own pet having purportedly been mauled to death by a dog, or, in the case of my cat, passing away peacefully, albeit in a bed of its own fecal matter from the last breath of an exasperated bowel. I find the concept of investing emotion in an animal somewhat disturbing, as if somewhat grooming closeted unconscious bestial tendencies. Coupled with the common necessity of interacting with the animal’s excrement in public, we should probably be investing awareness in the horrifying increase of public bestial scatophiliacs in our local parks and and on council-grade beaches.
I believe I inherited this animal indifference from my Dad who, despite expressing particular fondness for the cat, had only a year or so ago suggested we have him put down as there was rarely someone home to look after him. After explaining that if such a ‘returns’ process existed we wouldn’t have ‘retirement’ homes and unless the cat was ill a vet was unlikely to agree administration of the sodium thiopental necessary to encourage its cardiac arrest, we decided to entrust his care to a neighbour. I had to request this favour personally as Dad was adamant that we should still take the cat anyway, as if he expected we might be lucky enough to encounter a sorts of veterinary Harold Shipman. He later admitted a desire to go merely to see the conjoined sheep’s head they kept preserved in a jar at the local vets.
I have only once ever attempted to actively kill an animal, and I was both dejected and alarmed as to how difficult the task proved to be. The Australian mynah bird would consistently swoop us in the back garden to the point we had to wear bike helmets whilst hanging out the washing. It would even attack me whilst riding my bike on approach to our house. On requesting suggestions of how to dispose of what became my arch enemy for the best part of an Australian spring, whilst I was generously offered the use of air rifles, potato launchers and spear guns there were inevitably those who deemed such vengeful intentions as cruel. The basis of their accusations was that the animal was most likely defending a nest.
Let us review the word ‘defence’. To defend is to ‘resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger’. I have never attacked a bird in my life, bar a seagull which we have already established is not a living thing. Proposing this mynah bird’s actions as defensive was an ignorant fabrication and I suspected these people of tendencies toward public bestial scatophilia, making a swift note to avoid shaking their hands or engaging in excrement-related conversation with them in the future. As it was in fact – by definition – me who was carrying out the defensive action, I bore no guilt in the prospect of leaving its offspring orphaned by excessively forceful means. As it happens, I caught the bird in a towel as it made an attack run during the hanging of bed-sheets and other non-garment related paraphernalia. With the bird unconscious I pinned the body under a stone in a bucket and left it under a slowly running tap.
I had to call my Dad to ask what had happened to our cat, Lucky. ‘He’s still there, he’s buried in the garden’ was his response. Promptly followed by the after-thought ‘he’s not alive’, just in case I assumed he had acquired the sadism of the veterinary Harold Shipman he so avidly sought to encounter that year or so before. ‘He died in his own shit’, I was reassured, ‘strange, though; he was usually a clean cat.’ That was the extent of my father’s mourning. I decided to throw out the old tins of cat food from the back of the cupboard.
Lucky was probably a good fifteen years old, which I would say is more than enough time to get to do everything a cat could possibly want to do before passing away in its own filth. My cat never attacked without the taunt of an adequate level of playful bullying, in which case he never actually attacked me at all, only defended. Much like myself, though non-violent, he was not a pacifist. Which is why I’m glad that my cat died peacefully and with dignity, albeit soiled in his own excrement, whilst the mynah bird was murdered wastefully and humiliatingly with its soggy drowned body clothes-pegged to a washing line to decompose in the sun of a waning Australian spring. It enjoyed a week of hanging before a house inspection was scheduled, at which point I relocated the jerky carcass to a bird feeder filled with the remains of rotted bread I had soaked in undiluted eucalyptus oil in a previous poisoning attempt.
Over the next couple of weeks, when Dad returns home from a few months at sea, we are building a new driveway. Whilst we could leave it elevated and cement over, we have chosen to dig up the garden along with Lucky’s body in order to keep it flush with ground level of the extension. I’m not sure where he’s buried so it should be a surprise.