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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Death of a Kitten Named Little Gertie

I had just knelt beside the feeding station in order to clean the feeding dishes and to put out some fresh food, milk, and water when I saw it. It was a tiny black and white female kitten lying prostrate in the leaves midpoint between the feeding station and the makeshift shelter that I had built for her and her four siblings a few weeks back. My heart sank to my feet and I cried out in anguish, "Oh, no!"

I looked away hoping against hope that what I had just seen was an aberration but when I looked down again the kitten was still lying motionless in the dry, brown leaves. When I scooped her up in my arms I noticed that she was still warm. I placed her against my chest inside my winter coat and for a minute I thought that I could feel something moving within her tiny body. It could have been the final contractions of her lungs, her last heartbeats, or even a soft purr. I tried to revive her by scratching her tiny head and by giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but all of my efforts were in vain.

I hurriedly completed my ministrations at the feeding station and left for home with the kitten still tucked inside my coat. As I was leaving I spotted the mother cat and another kitten waiting in the woods for me to leave so that they could visit the feeding station.

Home is about twenty minutes away by foot and all along the way I was praying that somehow against the odds the tiny kitten would revive and live. There were not any marks on her body so I assumed that she had succumbed to hyperthermia; the thermometer had been down to around twenty degrees overnight. Since she had collapsed only about a foot away from the shelter, it is even possible that she had been startled by my approach and had had a heart attack while attempting to flee. I do not know what actually happened.

Anyway, as I trudged homeward my hopes began to dissipate as the warm ball of fur resting against my chest first became lukewarm and then finally cold.

Once I got home I placed her on the carpet still hoping that the warmth of the house would revive her. It did not. After about an hour she grew even colder and rigor mortis started to warp her once agile limbs. I wanted to wait until sunset before burying her but since all of my hopes for her recovery were now gone I instead went out in the yard and excavated a shallow grave. I fashioned an impromptu coffin out of a handbag and placed her inside it. I then placed the handbag inside the pit and covered it over with humus.

Since it is so important that all animals have a name, I posthumously christened her as Little Gertie. It is a diminutive form of the old German Geretrudis from which the popular girl's name Gertrude is derived; more importantly, the suffix (trut) means beloved. I will prepare a grave marker with her name on it later. That will ensure that I never forget her.

To the best of my knowledge, Little Gertie was between eight and ten weeks old. It must have been late August or sometime in September when I first spotted her and her four siblings, all black and white like her and their mom, frolicking in the woods between the motels and the train tracks down the street. I have noticed her mother hunting in the tall grass for several years but Little Gertie and her siblings are her first offsprings as far as I know. With Little Gertie now gone I fear that only one kitten is still alive in that I have not seen the other three kittens in several weeks. In addition to the cold weather and passing trains, there is a busy six-lane highway on the far side of the motels and people, especially kids, are often cruel to cats. She also could have been intentionally or unintentionally poisoned; there is a lot of antifreeze on the ground and pavement this time of the year.

I feel bad that I was unable to do more for Little Gertie. I am not an advocate of TNR because trapping is not only traumatic for feral cats and kittens but it also greatly contributes to their distrust of humans. Moreover, shoddy sterilizations and unnecessary vaccinations kill tens of thousands of cats each year. Worst still, desexed cats are returned to the wild where they are still subject to human and animal predation as well as the elements. If Gertie and her mates would have permitted it, I would have gladly taken them home with me a long time ago, but they were far too fearful of me to ever allow that to happen.

I have always found it tragic that the only human caresses that feral kittens and cats ever receive come after they are dead. If only it were possible that they could somehow be made aware of the fact that loving homes are waiting for them... These were the thoughts that raced through my mind as I buried Little Gertie.

Her tousled black and white fur smelled of the forest which she called home and to which she has now returned forever. Sadly, she will never see the snow or ever feel the heat of summer again. Nor will she see adulthood, experience love, or become a mother. Worst of all, she died never knowing that she was loved.

She is with me now, just outside my front door, but this is not the homecoming that either of us ever wanted. Good-bye, Little Gertie. I will miss you.