The cat on my front porch looks like death. Often, my husband and I stop as we pass to make sure he is still alive. His bobble head sits atop a decaying body. We are certain he has picked our home to die.
A couple weeks ago, my husband stopped a few houses down from ours and pet him for a moment on our evening walk. Since then, the cat has not left our front porch for more than a couple hours, earning the name Daddy’s Kitty.
He stays for the thirty seconds of love he gets a few times a day. We found out an old lady down the street feeds him. However, he hasn’t gone away, day after day, and we have realized maybe he isn’t going to her for food anymore. Now two small plastic dishes sit on our porch, as well as an old dog bed where he keeps watch over our home at night.
We did not want a cat. We have two dogs who bark whenever they realize he is out front. We have a small baby who probably should not be exposed to whatever Daddy’s Kitty carries on his matted fur. At first I was afraid to even touch him. He cannot come inside our house. Still, somehow, he adopted us, not the other way around.
So, each time I step outside, I look death in the face. Daddy’s Kitty is hard to look at without contemplating suffering and mortality. No one seems to want him anymore, yet all he wants is love, his old purr box still sputters to a start at the slightest caress.
Daddy’s kitty is old, forgotten, and ugly. Yet he craves love and is not afraid to show it. Last night I lay awake and felt empathy for all the creatures on this planet, human and otherwise, who are like Daddy’s Kitty. Lonely and suffering. The thought was overwhelming.
Some neighbors regard him as a pest or parasite, a metaphor for how many see the dying in our culture. Death is uncomfortable to be around. It is easier to ignore or make it disappear. But Daddy’s Kitty is still here, still living, still wanting to be acknowledged, loved, and kept company.
And, who am I to end his suffering if it is part of his journey, part of the life we all live and the end we will eventually face? I was thinking about how there is suffering in birth yet how hard we fight the suffering that comes with death. I get it, but I also wonder if somehow we are trying to avoid an essential element of existence.
For now, Daddy’s Kitty is still purring and I do not feel it is my job to make him stop. I just wish I could ease his suffering by giving him a bit more love, but my hands are literally full. I am still fantasizing about some sweet old lady who will come and rescue him to a life of air conditioned Fancy Feast.
If nothing else, I am grateful to Daddy’s Kitty. He has reminded me of life’s duality and the importance of finding peace in the uncomfortable. He has shown me that even when we feel like we have nothing else to give, the smallest act of kindness does not go unnoticed. After all, Daddy’s Kitty is still sitting on my front porch because my husband stopped for thirty seconds to acknowledge him.
Every abandoned animal needs somebody like you. Never stop caring.
Thanks Mark. There are just so many!
So beautifully written Olivia. You know the passion and love I have for animals and I think there are a few humane options for this kitty. He is definitely suffering with most likely many ailments, some probably include external & internal parasites, upper respiratory infection, possible renal failure, and any number of feline diseases. Without proper veterinary treatment or humane euthanasia, he will continue to suffer whatever ails him. He chose you for your kindness. He now leaves you to make the final decision on his fate if he chooses to eat/drink from your porch. He may only need some antibiotics, round of vaccinations, and parasite control, but this is unlikely all he needs as a stray cat. Perhaps your veterinarian could help with him or a local shelter. I believe animal control would simply pick him up and not give him any remaining chance or support, they would simply discard him since he is not a kitten. I truly admire your kindness in giving him attention and food. He is a smart cat to have walked into your life!
Thanks Shandell. We’re in the process of seeing whether a no kill rescue group will take him. I really don’t feel he is ready to be put down as there is still a happy spark in him but he would definitely benefit from being cleaned up and given a loving home. I’ll keep you posted!