Death of a kitten  

PillsburyCodeBoy 61M
479 posts
8/3/2005 7:02 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Death of a kitten

This is a sad story. It may make you cry. It should make you mad. You have been warned.

My family and I often take in orphaned or abandoned kittens, nurse them back to health, and find homes for them. We belong to a sort of informal network of people in our area who do this. We have soft hearts for that sort of thing. Some say we also have soft heads, as we sometimes don’t know when to say no. But no matter. The kittens are in good hands when they’re with us, and my son, who says he wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up, seems to have a natural talent for taking care of them.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been taking care of a kitten that was about a week old and in pretty bad shape when she came to us. Kittens that young require a lot of attention. They have to be bottle fed every few hours. They also need warmth, which means she commandeered our heating pad for however long it would take for her to get healthy.

She was white and appeared to be Siamese. My son named her Tofu. I’m not sure why he picked that name, but it seemed to fit. He has an uncanny knack for naming pets. He picks the oddest names sometimes for no apparent reason, and yet somehow, after a while, you can’t imagine calling the animal anything else.

We went out of town last weekend, and we couldn’t take Tofu with us, yet she wasn’t well enough to be left on her own, although she had made remarkable progress in the last two weeks. We contacted a friend who sometimes looks in on our animals while we’re out of town. She’s a nice person but something of a space cadet, if anyone still uses that term, and despite being in her mid-thirties, she has only a minimal sense of responsibility about anything truly important. Nevertheless, she’s always done a good job making sure our pets are fed and watered while we’re gone. Unfortunately, she had never kept a kitten that small before and didn’t really understand how different it could be from watching full-grown animals. We tried to teach her.

You know where this is going.

We got home Sunday night. We tried to reach her Sunday night, all day and night Monday, and early Tuesday morning. No answer. When we finally got through to her Tuesday morning, she said Tofu was dying, and she claimed to have no idea what happened. We took Tofu home, where, after a couple of hours of nursing, she died.

While we were trying to piece together what happened, she finally admitted that she went out partying this weekend and didn't pay attention to the kitten. Actually, it didn’t take much piecing together, and we could have figured it out even without the admission. When we finally tracked her down, she was hung over and reeked of booze and pot.

Originally I had a long rant here about what a horrible, stupid, selfish, irresponsible person our "friend" turned out to be. But in the end, it comes down to this:

She broke my son's heart. So she could party. And I will never forgive her for that.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here except to be very careful who you trust your pets to. I just felt like getting it out of my system.

Meanwhile, I gave our pets extra hugs today. If you have pets, I recommend you do the same.

rm_pootle47 60F

8/3/2005 1:41 pm

I'm the same with my dog as I am with my kids. I only trust family to take care of him. I wouldn't leave my kids in a boarding kennel while I go on holiday so I've never done it with my dog. He goes to my mum and dad and has his own little holiday being spoiled.

Not everyone is cut out for responsibility. Some people just don't forsee actions and consequence, but you'd have hoped a woman of her age had learned. It doesn't really sound like she's learned anything from it either. You certainly won't trust her again.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Sad for your son, but this is a lesson for when he becomes a vet. He's going to come across worse things than neglect. Tough job.

rm_jayR63 60F
1884 posts
8/3/2005 3:19 pm

This is sad indeed.

However, you did know she was not very responsible, I think you have to be honest with yourself and accept the blame.

You may not forget what happened but you must forgive.

PillsburyCodeBoy 61M

8/3/2005 7:52 pm

You're right, pootle. We will not trust her again. However, right now it's hard to trust our own judgment as well. We shouldn't have left the kitten with someone we knew was not very responsible.

My son is a very bright young man who will succeed at anything he sets his mind to. But I'm not sure he has it in him to become a vet. It is a tough job, and a love for animals is not enough. It might even be a hindrance if it's not tempered with the ability to deal with the unpleasantness of death.

PillsburyCodeBoy 61M

8/3/2005 7:54 pm

Very true, jayR. There is plenty of blame to go around here. The saddest part is that the ones who were hurt the most, the kitten and my son, were the only ones who were blameless.

Forgiveness may eventually be necessary, but it will be a long time coming.

bemusedgoddess 53M/49F  
71 posts
8/7/2005 11:18 am

I too am a rescuer...and I also know about selflessness and preservation of life. The kitty was a catlyst to open your eyes about yourself and your "friend".
One of the MM/AA members has said that no life is for naught. Some are here only a short time to learn--and to teach us about our lives.
I am so sorry this happened. You are hurt and angry for the kitten, your son and yourself. Some people are unable to be responsible for others, because they are incapable of doing so--even for themselves.
You don't have to preserve the friendship, if that is your choice...But you must mend your own heart. Whenever anything or anyone is abandoned, it rips apart my own heart...I am so sorry for your son and you through this painful event.
Really big empathetic/sympathetic hugs,

PillsburyCodeBoy 61M

8/8/2005 1:05 pm

Thank you, bemused. I remembered that you're a rescuer too, and I thought about you when this happened. This is not the first time we've lost a kitten under our care, but this is the first time we've lost one through carelessness, either ours or someone elses (in this case, it was some of both). I'd like to talk with you sometime about how you deal with the loss. Whatever the reason, it's always hard, isn't it?

bemusedgoddess 53M/49F  
71 posts
8/15/2005 12:09 pm

Pills, I still have the occasional nightmare about abandoning someone or something--pet or animal--in my care. Just last summer I rescued a baby bunny from a hungry cat(!) Unfortunately it was too young and the shock was too much for the poor thing to handle. I feel bad--I know I can't possibly save the entire world...But I'd like to try, even in my own little backyard.
But it's really tough to accept...It's difficult not "Being there" to watch over and protect--and even possibly save a life or even, a soul.
Because if these things, Buddhism has been something that has replaced my previous spiritual/religious upbringing. Life=Suffering...
So let's all make the suffering as minimal as possible--for each other, as well all living creatures...
(Uh-oh...Goddess rant again!)
Hugs and Kisses

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