The gods of irony are infinitely cruel at times. When I wrote about our cat children several days ago, I observed that I didn’t have a good current picture of Quincy, the biggest mackeral tabby who can’t stand his brother, Rowdy. There will be no chance to take a photo of him now, as we buried him a couple of hours ago down in the woods. He was hit by a vehicle at suppertime when he bolted across the road.
This too is bitterly ironic. We keep all the younger cats in the house except for occasional visits out in the back yard for several of them. Mungus goes out on a harness, Spunky has no desire to ever go out, and Nibs gets reminded that he doesn’t have any extra legs to spare since playing chicken with a car several years ago. Tigger and Thistle don’t cross the road, and Rowdy and Quincy have always done the stop, look and listen routine. They would go down into the ditch if they heard a car coming. So what caused Quincy to bolt tonight, we’ll never know.
Lowell went into uberprotective mode when he saw what had happened (we saw cars slow down near the house and he went to see what was going on.) He wouldn’t let me go outside, and he went up to deal with the situation. In the past when we’ve lost a cat, I’ve been the one to deal with it, but this time I simply sat down in my office and cried. The poor man who hit Quincy was also in tears; he tried to stop but it happened too fast. At least it was quick—probably a broken back.
There will be some who will say that we shouldn’t let any of our cats out. That’s why five of them don’t go outdoors except with us—only the four oldest cats in the household went out unsupervised. When Quincy and Rowdy and his four brothers and sisters were born in my closet, we lived in another place, in a farm house that was even further from the road. We let them all go outdoors back then, and when we moved here, it was next to impossible to teach them to stay inside. It’s hard enough to keep Simon, Toby and Mungus from bolting out the door when we open it. I’ve already berated myself with ‘what ifs?’ for the last several hours. But I also know that Quincy had a very good life here, that he was loved and pampered and cared for from the moment he was born, and he’s loved now too. I haven’t decided what I will plant in the memory garden for him—a quince would be appropriate in some ways, but I think it will probably be a native tree, because he loved the pasture and the woodlands around our place so much. There’s a big clump of red trillium growing near where we buried him, and it’s peaceful there. He’ll like that.
When we came back up out of the woods, I put the harness on Mungus and we went out in the back yard; me to grub in the garden and he to eat grass and watch birds. I was busy digging creeping bellflower out of the columbines and beebalm, and watching the birds at the various feeders. The ducks that frequent our pond came in to land, and the redwinged blackbirds were up at the feeder with juncos and finches all competing. The Bay is flat calm tonight and the peepers started at sundown, just after we came back indoors. The cats KNOW something is wrong—they always do, and in their wise feline ways they offer comfort.
I think it’s been four years since we lost Tommy Tiger the Crabby Tabby to the road after a raccoon chased him late one night. The next day, we were sitting on the back deck after we’d buried him, feeling very miserable, with Quincy laying nearby. Rowdy came parading across the meadow and the lawn with a great big field mouse. He came up on the deck, marched across to Quincy, and dropped the mouse in front of him. These two ALWAYS fought and glared at each other. Not this day. Quincy said, “thanks”, scooped up the mouse and went off somewhere with it for supper, and Rowdy climbed up on the picnic table to be admired, purring his low, steady purr. And we smiled through our tears, and rejoiced in the love of cats. So it goes tonight, too.