This is a personal story I wish to share about this amazing cat who came into my life for a (too) brief time. The photos you see are of White Kitty. White Kitty started coming into our garden around October 2015. At first it stressed me out a bit, thinking he would hunt the birds in our wildlife sanctuary. He simply enjoyed watching them once we came to an understanding that I would feed him instead. He loved the path in our back yard (pictured) he would luxuriate in grooming his paws in the sun there and lounging for hours & blinking at the slightly offended doves. Although I had never desired having an outdoor cat because the dangers are so many (outdoor cats live an average of 2 years-compared to a 15-20 year lifespan for indoor only) I could not help myself when I saw that he was hungry and I put out a special bowl for him by the ferns in the shade. White Kitty was completely feral, so at first I had to go inside after feeding him so he would eat. I would show him the full bowl, put it down, then go in. Eventually after months of his he began to eat if I was outside, still keeping a 10-15 foot distance. We settled into a comfortable routine and I grew accustomed to looking for him. We didn't communicate much in words (in fact I thought he was a girl for a while and he didn't correct me) it was very much simply an energetic heart connection. Our indoor baby kitties watched for him too, through the screen door. White Kitty indicated that he liked being outdoors and did not want to live inside.
Last Sunday my husband and I were having breakfast on the deck and noticed White Kitty limping badly and not putting down his right paw at all. He could not put any weight on it. I sent him Reiki and felt him strongly absorbing the rainbow rays of healing, but he needed medical intervention too. Since he was still completely feral we got a humane trap and put it out on Tuesday. I asked White Kitty if he wanted medical help to please walk into the cage. My mom, who has been learning to communicate with animals, added to this message too. I also asked for his permission to neuter him and offer any additional medical intervention necessary. He agreed and walked into the trap that same night. I was elated that he agreed so quickly but also conflicted about having to trap him to help. Even though his "higher self" gave me permission, his instincts were to freak out a bit when he realized he was contained. We covered him (in the cage/trap) with a heavy rug and he settled down. The next morning our amazing vet came and cleaned out and disinfected his wound. She said it was a bite from another cat, probably over a lady cat. He received antibiotics for it, a rabies shot, he was neutered and tested for feline leukemia & hiv. (Results were good 100% healthy.) We kept him in a cozy carrier overnight to recover fully and he got fancy cat tuna that evening. Seeing him under anesthesia looking so vulnerable made me realize how much I had fallen in love with him and that I already thought of him as family, as ours, even though he lived outside. We released him the next day and he ran off, visibly better. I started harboring thoughts that since he responded so well to having been helped medically maybe we could with much love and time be his full time guardians/caretakers, his family. The vet mentioned that approximately 6 weeks after being neutered male cats settle down, and I thought this would mean he might stick close to home instead of the wide territory he was keeping. I posted on facebook to alert neighbors that we were taking care of him and to help me look out for White Kitty.
Another day passed, he ate his food as usual, then on the evening of this past Good Friday there was a knock on the door and it was a kind neighbor, in tears, telling us she just found White Kitty dead on the road. He had been hit by a car and apparently killed instantly by a driver who did not stop. She recognized him from the photos I posted and she and her husband protected his body by detouring traffic until we walked over to verify that it was him. My heart sank, I did not want to believe it was him. It was White Kitty. At least from the physical signs it was clearly instant so he did not suffer. I wrapped him in a big towel and carried him home cradling his empty body closely to my chest. Even though I communicate with many animals who are in spirit, I am by no means immune to the grief and pain of losing a loved one, especially in this case, as it seemed so tragic for it to happen so soon after we had successfully managed to get him medical help and he was poised to live a healthy happy life in our fenced-in back yard. I had been imagining the day when he might lay in the sun next to me on the deck, maybe even allow me to scratch his ears after months or years. All that vanished in one instant. One careless speeding driver, one moment where perhaps something distracted White Kitty from looking at the road. It all changed in an instant.
I know he is in the light now. I understand that it was his time. We lovingly laid him to rest the next morning with flowers from our garden. I know he (in spirit) watched us honor him the best we could. I communicated with him the next day. It still hurts so much. It hurts for what could have been but wasn't. It hurts because I wanted more time to show him how much we loved him. I wanted White Kitty to have years of sunshine and good health and lounging. I wanted to give him special tuna treats. Despite my tears at the physical separation I am also grateful. Grateful that he at least knew he was loved. That we were able to show him how much & to take care of him even if only briefly. Grateful that love always matters and our souls are connected. Grateful for the many lessons he taught me, for learning that I can't control outcomes, for overcoming my fear of taking action in the physical (as well as energetic) realm to help him, grateful that he will continue to visit our garden in spirit and that he will still be in our lives even though it is not how I envisioned it. Grateful for the signs he promised and has already shown me. I have seen white cats everywhere today, on a scarf, a pillow in a display window, a sticker on a bicycle basket and on a post from a favorite museum. Thank you White Kitty for adding so much to our lives, even though the end broke my heart, it is already growing stronger because of you. I love you forever.
Thanks for reading about my story in White Kitty's loving memory.
One of the big issues that affects companion animals is boredom. It may sound trivial but it is a pretty big deal. When an animal is bored and/or lonely, just like humans, this can lead to depression, lethargy or destructive behavior. As with anything else, always remember that animals have rich inner emotional lives, like us. We adore our furkids, but the reality is that many of us have to work outside our home at least five days a week, 40 + hours. This means that when we get home, exhausted and only wanting to eat and sit on the couch, kitty (or dog, rat, bunny etc) has been home alone and is in desperate need of attention and playing. You have a whole life/career outside the home, they only have you.
From your cat or dog’s perspective, the reason for needing to play is twofold:
1. They want to play for fun, to alleviate boredom and because there is an instinctive desire to chase, hunt, scratch, dig etc.
2. They can sense your energy and want to elevate your mood, they want to engage you in an activity that will lighten and help you as well. From an energy perspective they are more aware than most humans.
When you consider what your cat needs, think about/research what a cat (even a big cat, like a lion) does in the wild. They have social interactions, they run, they hunt. Obviously indoor kitties don’t get to really “hunt” except maybe an occasional insect, but this is where environmental enrichment comes in. This is a concept that is regularly used in zoos and other establishments where wild animals are kept in captivity. The goal is to create an environment filled with activities that replicate what they would want to do in the wild. It is well worth looking it up online and/or buying a few books about it. (I am researching books now and will post in my “recommended books” section soon.) For example, we recently purchased these little robotic insect toys that are battery operated, and our kitties go wild “hunting” them. They stalk them, chase them, throw them in the air and basically do all the things they would do if they had captured live prey. This satisfies a very deep instinctual need. When our first cat sons were older, I noticed sometimes they would want to play before eating, in a way recreating the natural order of hunting before devouring their food. Some cats like running wheels (like the wheels traditionally seen in hamster habitats, but big enough for a cat.) Because our animal companions are very intelligent (remember intelligence should never be measured by human expectations) even interactive play should be challenging and adapted to your furkid. For example, dangling a ribbon for my cat son gets boring for him after a while, and he prefers the ribbon to disappear under something, like a pillow, so he can dive under it to retrieve it. There is no “one size fits all” method of play. The ideal is to spend enough time with your animal and try different things in order to see what they respond to. There are also things you can do when you are away from home, like leaving treats hidden in places for them to find (there are treat dispensing toys too.) It is also wonderful if possible to adopt two (or more) animals instead of one so that they have each other for companionship while you are away from home.
Dogs also have strong instincts that shape their preferred method of play. For example dogs that love digging can be intellectually stimulated by hiding treats in areas of your garden where they are allowed to dig. (this will save the plants you want to keep, too.) Some dogs love to play fetch and others need to play in water, in which case you can provide a kiddie pool and sprinklers. Be careful if they eat their toys to supervise this so they don’t ingest anything dangerous. Dogs need to walk and/or run daily too, preferably with their people, or with a dog walker if you don’t have time everyday. Both dogs and cats feel a need to be in sunshine and nature. This is easier to provide for dogs if your cats are indoors only, but there are still options. Cats can have outdoor enclosures (catios) or temporary screened in play pens. Some also like to go out on harnesses/leashes or in cat strollers. At the very least provide open windows for fresh air (with strong screens so they can’t fall out.) I focused on cats and dogs, but all companion animals need this, whether you have rabbits, birds or rats. Animals that live in cages need even more one-on –one time outside their enclosure to combat boredom and depression.
Part of being a great animal parent is to provide for their emotional happiness as well as their physical safety and health. Please make sure to allow time to play and to enrich their environment. They will understand if sometimes you simply are very busy, but in that case talk to them and tell them when you will be able to play. For example:”I’m sorry I have to type up a presentation for work right now, but in a few hours, when I finish, we can go to the park.” Most importantly, when you do this, always keep your promises.