For Velvet

Jackson Browne, singer/songrwriter extrodanaire, wrote a song called "Song for Adam" a long time ago... the first stanza is:
"Though Adam was a friend of mine, I did not know him well. He was alone into his distance. He was deep into his well. I could guess what he was laughing at, but I couldn't really tell. Now the story's told that Adam jumped, but I've been thinking that he fell."
This weekend I had to put a little feral down. I called him Velvet, and thought he was female for the longest time. This tomcat hung around my deck for many months, with one other feral that I had neutered a ways back. He was a quiet boy, not blustery or full of the dickens as so many intact toms are. He slept occassionally in my "outdoor animal igloo" and came up for dinner almost every night. The funny thing was, he had a collar. So, hoping against hope... I thought when he left my house, he went home. He would never let me near him.
He kept showing up, sometimes dirty, like so many others, revealing that he may be sleeping in the woods behind my house and that the collar only indicated "former" people in his life. This last week was abnormally cold. It was freezing and in the teens. Outdoor kitties have it hard in this weather. They'll go up into cars, and in other dangerous warm places. On Thursday, a very cold night, Velvet came upstairs. I thought it was another feral, "Stumpy", that I had to take to the vet to remove his lacerated tail, (again probably from sleeping in a car - I'd rather think that than that his injury was caused by one of my species). I nursed Stumpy through that, very carefully (as he was pretty fiesty) for three weeks & then he found a way to freedom well on his way to recovery.
It wasn't Stumpy. It was Velvet... limping, tail down, with a very large lacerated testicle. I gasped... and groaned... more vet bills, trapping and long time careful rehab... oh well... The next night Velvet came up, looking worse, and I baited the feral cat trap with tuna. He didn't hesitate to enter. He was trapped in an instant & even with his injuries, made it known he was very unhappy with this turn of events - hissing & spitting with all his little might. Then he settled down. (I'm sure he was in great pain & sick).
Off to the vets for the work... and another huge credit card bill. The next morning, Dr. Judy finally called me at 12 noon. I had been anxiously waiting to hear our course of treatment. Well, there was none. Velvet had a broken tail, no feeling in his rectum, couldn't pee or poop on his own, severe infection, and fever. Even for a fully tame indoor kitty, this was very bad. Dr. Judy told me it would be best for him to be put down and out of his pain. There was no safe recourse.
I hung up & told her I'd call back... I hadn't had to make this sort of decision in a long, long time & felt that I had trapped this little one only to have to kill him. But, after talking with a dear friend, who had recently gone through a similar choice, I realized for Velvet - a life of pain, infection, and misery in the wild because of his paralysis - even if I could get him through a few weeks - was no choice at all. I made the call - and Velvet went over the Rainbow Bridge.
It was hard... friends come & go so quickly through our lives. Some to travel, to distant places, to death... they do go on... somewhere we can't see right now... and our memories of them preserve their spirit here on earth....
So, very much as Jackson Browne so eloquently wrote in "Song for Adam"...
Velvet was a friend of mine - but, I did not know him well.... and as I sit before my only candle, I think of his dark beauty and know he's back there in those woods basking in the warm sun - a spirit cat - and telling me he's alright.
Photo Illustration "Charcey's Eyes"
@2009 Kim Cady