For the past four weeks, I’ve kept a great deal of sadness to myself. Processing alone and with a few close friends, this loss felt too raw and personal to broadcast on social media. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate.
My beloved kitty cat, Olive, is no longer living. A month ago, I came home very late and she darted out of my house in the canyon. I tried to capture her, but she’s super fast and bolted around the open yard at 2:30 in the morning. Searching for her with a flashlight and a bag of her favorite treats, I didn’t see or hear her. Knowing I had a busy day the next day, I decided to leave my door open with a treat inside, and went to bed. Sometime between 3 and 6 am, she must have come in and eaten the treats and then she decided to go outside again.
Early in the morning, I called for her and searched some more. In fact, I did this all day, and grew more worried as the hours passed. Olive was notorious for loving to hide outside and rest in spots where she could not be seen. But, she also liked to eat, and would come inside after a short while. In my new place, she has been an indoor cat, with short supervised intervals outside.
All day, I could not concentrate, and by night fall, I felt a deep energetic sense that something was very wrong. I posted about my missing black cat on an app for neighborhoods. In the morning, I had a private message from a helpful neighbor. Between 6:30 and 8:30 the previous morning, she looked up and saw a black, fluffy kitty in the mouth of a coyote. It was certainly Olive. And this kind neighbor had the courtesy to tell me so I would no longer worry about her whereabouts. What a shock to read.
My shock turned to deep sadness. A million questions ran through my head, like why did this happen? Was Olive running away from me? Did the coyote make her suffer? Was it really Olive in the mouth of the coyote?
Over the past month, I’ve spent time with close friends and their pets who have comforted me. I realize that Olive died in the best possible way, if she had to die. I didn’t have to make the heart-wrenching decision to put her down. She was not ill and undergoing costly, time-consuming, or scary treatments. She was not hit by a car. Rather, she is truly part of nature’s life cycle and died on a beautiful hill.
A consummate lover of nature, Olive ran at the chance to play outside in the middle of the night. She was trying to be a wild cat. This makes me think about pet ownership and making our animals live by our human rules. Don’t get me wrong: I did everything in my power to keep this loving kitty safe, but I also didn’t want her to feel like she was in prison by living an indoor, sedentary life. I am envious of humans who have dogs; they take their pups everywhere and show them the world. Most cats don’t get to see the sights or play at parks. (Side note: I took a road trip across the country for two weeks and Olive came along.) Yet, when they go outside, they run the risk of being injured or ceasing life, and for the owners, it’s too much to bear.
I really miss Olive. She was my first cat I owned as an adult, on my own. I rescued her from a shelter in Los Angeles when she was six weeks old and only 2.6 pounds. As a kitten, she loved to bounce and ran around very fast. As she got older, Olive loved being brushed and had the softest, shiniest black fur. She would meow and greet me by the door when I’d come home. Taking long naps on my bed or in her perch was her hobby, as was playing (toy) mouse soccer. One of my favorite things was when she’d come into the room where I was and announce herself with a loud meow. I’d call for her and she’d twirl her body around my legs. She loved cuddling in the mornings and being held. She was only seven years old and had tons of energy.
Through all of this sadness, and to use language I would not normally use, I feel grateful, blessed even, that Olive came into my life. She reminded me of loving something and someone unconditionally, even when the annoyances almost get in the way. (Olive sometimes scratched, but I learned to read her eyes and breathing to find her “tell.”) Raising Olive makes me think about parenthood and deep connections with another person: when you love someone or something so much, it’s quite common to overlook the idiosyncrasies and small flaws and only see pure love.
This time has made me think of my childhood pets, and all of the pets who are in heaven and who are loved and missed by their humans. May Olive rest in power and peace.
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