Sunday, May 31, 2009

Unknown Soldier

Life has a funny way of showing you things sometimes. It's not always at a key moment in your life either. Sometimes it's as if fate is telling you, "Remember this moment. You're going to need it later." Or maybe you won't. Who can really say. This mortal coil is nothing if not a mystery.

I should have known something bad was going to happen when Leslie called me on Thursday. She inform me she made vet appointments for two of our cats and the dog all at the same time. Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. She didn't call the vet and simultaneously make three pet appointments. She called the vet, and made one appointment. For three pets. Visions of ripped t-shirts and fur-covered car seats flooded my mind. I don't know why she got the idea to do such a thing, but the pets needed it so I agreed.

Herding all of the animals into the car wasn't as difficult as I feared. Friday was allowed to roam around as she liked. We only own one cat carrier, so we had to determine which cat was most troublesome and needed to be contained. We decided to let Prickers go free range, and stick Ninja in the box.

Everyone was loaded in the car and we were pulling out of the driveway when I noticed a small tan lump at the end of our front yard. I pointed it out to Leslie and she stopped the car and thought we should get a closer look. Before I had even opened the door I had a sneaking suspicion what it was. I wanted to get a closer look to prove to myself it wasn't what I feared. Unfortunately it was exactly what I was afraid of: a small tan-colored cat. As we approached I saw the telltale swarm of flies it and I knew what to expect.

It was a small house cat, about the size or Prickers. There were no signs of what caused its death. I felt my eyes begin to get that familiar tingle where I might start sobbing at any second. I asked Leslie if she was okay, waiting to see if she was going to cry and I'd take that as a cue I could stop holding back. She never cried, so I didn't either.

Should we bury it? Is there someone we could call? We knew we had to do something, but with a car full of animals and an appointment steadily approaching, it would have to wait.

While at the vet we told them what we found and asked what was the best thing to do. He told us we should call animal control and they would come and remove it. That seemed like the logical thing to do because if someone was looking for it they could call the the city and possibly identify their missing pet. I called on the way home and the woman informed me in a very cold and unloving manner that we would have to wrap the animal in two trash bags and leave it on the curb to be picked up on Monday. Leslie and I agreed that wasn't the right thing to do. They would pick it up and cart it off to some landfill where it would never be seen or heard from again. Its parent would have no chance of having it identified. The decision was made to take matters into our own hands.

We unloaded all of the animals out of the car and before I had given it much thought Leslie was in the backyard digging a hole. I went out and helped her get it to an appropriate depth. We then wrapped the cat as the animal control person had suggested and gently placed it in the hole and covered it up. I kept wondering if I should say something, but my atheist ideals reminded me there was no point.

We began to wonder what may have happen to the cat. It wasn't emaciated so it didn't starve. Since we live in front of a pretty busy road Leslie's guess was that it got hit and made it into our yard. It didn't have any tags, but then again neither do our cats. How do we know this wasn't a cat that was primarily indoors and somehow snuck out? The only thing I can take comfort in is knowing that if it was owned by someone, or even if it was a simply a stray that walked the streets, it was given a proper and respectful burial.

I wish I could say this is the first time I had found a dead cat outside a house we lived in. The other story is too sad to retell and did end with me crying. I can't help but wonder if one day I'll need the memory of what occurred on Friday. Maybe it was just a hackneyed 'all life is precious moment.' What I do know is that all life is important to someone somewhere, and I cherish the time spent with my pets. And maybe this will help me forgive them for the attrocities they commit in their litter box.

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