Today i was the betrayer. For about a year i have had several feral cats hanging out (living) around my house. Of course, i have encouraged this because i’ve been feeding them. Once i knew they were staying, i had to continue feeding them.
It started with 1 female – i called her Little Fish (LF). Then several more females and a male showed up. It became a sort of comfort after a while knowing i had to get up and put out their food. I looked forward to seeing them and recognized them as individuals. They (wisely as it turns out) remained cautious, skittish, and unapproachable – ie: feral. But it gave me a reason to exist, i was needed. They began to gain weight, their coats improved, and they relied on me to be there. They hunted the birds i feed but (as far as i know) were not very successful. More play, as they were well fed. The first female (LF) disapperaed in time – run off by the newcomers i suspect.
Last spring, one of the new females had 3 kittens. Very cute of course. Unfortunately, they developed the habit of climbing under my truck for protection, to hide, for warmth from the engine. And, you guessed it, one day i started the truck and felt something amiss. Right, a kitten had been sitting near the fan and was severely injured. As i was on my way to a therapy appt., i gently extricated the poor thing from her horror and took her wrapped in a soon-to-be bloody towel to the therapist’s office for help. I was distraught, horrified. My then-therapist came with me (“for support”) to the local veterinary clinic and a friend of mine put her down mercifully. I spent the rest of the day silent and numb to what i had done – dissociated.
After that day i would open the hood and check to be sure the others were not in the engine before i started it. Well- one day – check done, no kittens – i drove off and 2 miles down the main highway i thought i saw “something” drop out of the back of my truck, then disappear. Right. Immediately a car came up beside me and motioned for me to pull over.
“I think a cat fell out from underneath your truck”, he said.
I knew it. Panic, guilt, fear took me. I started to dissociate again but managed to keep it together enough to retrace my journey and tried to look for her. (All three kittens were female). I searched for an hour, knowing she must be hurt and knowing she would never come to my calls. I didn’t find her. Two down, one to go. I became more paranoid about the last kitten. Once, i opened the hood and there she sat – on the engine block. “Please don’t do this”, i pleaded as she sprinted off.
Well, she has survived as have the adults I have fed them all winter and have looked forward to their company, albeit from a distance (their choice, instinct.) Company for me when i step outside for a smoke or when i am feeling sad or alone.
So – now 2 females are visibly pregnant – no surprise. I cannot go through more kittens again. The terror of not knowing (knowing) if i might kill or maim them. I know their lives would be hard, living outdoors, at the mercy of predation, humans, and the weather. I believe that a merciful, humane death will be preferable to this hard, unforgiving world. Like i believe this about myself.
So-yesterday, i called animal control and requested a cat trap. I know they are headed to the local animal shelter for certain death, euthanasia – not adoption. I remain their greatest threat, a betrayer. Overnight, the resident male was trapped He just left with an animal control officer (ACO), “the cause of all the problems”, the ACO remarked ,”well not really”, i thought. “Chill out”, he said to the trapped animal as he loaded him into the van. Same thing i’ve been told when taken away to the hospital by the police. Fat chance. And i will set the trap again tonight for the pregnant females.
Maybe i will dissociate the experience away, i really hope so – tuck it away with all the other bad things i have done.
They were right not to trust me. Stupid, fucking, selfish human.