Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Goodbye Little Brother...?

I've written about Little Brother, our feral cat, before. In the summer of 2005 we saw a Siamese cat with her two black kittens hunting birds in our back yard. We had several feeders and the cats thought this was a good place to catch some meals. We eventually took down the feeders, captured the two kittens, and was that a story! We couldn't ever catch Mamacat. We took the two trapped cats to the vet and had them neutered under a special program to cut down on strays and feral colonies.

We took responsibility and fed the two ferals. At the time we called them Black and Decker, but Black was killed in December 2005 when he ran across the street in the dark and was hit by a car. I buried him. Decker was renamed Little Brother. Another cat showed up a few weeks later, another feral we call Whitepaws. Then Mamacat showed up again. But Little Brother disappeared about three weeks ago and we haven't seen him since.

The life of a feral can be short and miserable. We tried to give Little Brother the best we could. We made a house for him under our back deck, a warm and insulated place where he could sleep and he took advantage of it. We fed him twice a day on our back porch and made sure he had fresh water. During the coldest parts of two winters we made sure the water didn't freeze by putting the water dish on one of those cup warmers people use at their desks to keep their coffee warm.

We never got to touch Little Brother. He was just too skittish. He would never get closer than five or six feet from us; just far enough away that if we made a sudden move he could get out of there. We don't think he was caught by a dog or a person; he was just too wary of other animals and people. We wondered if we killed him with contaminated cat food, but in searching the lists of products Menu Foods of Canada made we don't find the brand we feed our cats, and besides, the other cats ate the same food and they're still healthy.

My guess is that like his big brother, Little Brother was probably hit by a car and killed on a dark night. A jet black cat running across a dark street couldn't beat the odds for long, and Little Brother did wander.

We love cats and we loved Little Brother. We knew we'd never be able to have him stretch out next to us on the sofa or be underfoot when we walked through the house. We knew we'd never come home from work and find him asleep on the back of the couch. But it didn't stop us from wishing we could do more for him than give him a dish of food, fresh water twice a day and a homemade crash pad to stay the night.

Ciao for now.

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