Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Loving Memory Of Mrs. P

Mrs. P with her friend
Blaze sitting behind her

I have to admit that feral cats are my favorites. I love their resourcefulness and independence and their ability to not just survive but to thrive in what most of us would consider the harshest conditions. So I considered it a real honor to know Mrs. P and count her among my friends.

Mrs. P and I met when her trapped-neutered-returned colony was supposed to be relocated. The cats were old, and we wanted to keep them together, but we were having a hard time finding a barn home for eight cats. We were desperately negotiating with the property owner -- and getting nowhere -- when one of the feeders suggested moving the cats a couple of blocks away to her backyard.

On moving day, seven of the cats willingly went into our traps, and after a quick detour to a vet clinic to update their rabies vaccinations, settled into their new home. But Groucho, a handsome orange and white guy with a sporty white mustache, refused to go into a trap.

For two weeks, he and I met in his little patch of woods every day for food and a few moments of conversation. I was sad that he was all alone, and I worried about what he'd do if we didn't manage to trap him by winter because the cats' shelters had been moved to their new home.

Then, one day as I was walking along the path to the place where Groucho ate, I discovered another cat! Mrs. P, his lifelong friend, was back! Over the next week, all of the cats returned to their old home in the woods.

Even if no one else was there, Mrs. P always met me at the street and jogged up the path ahead of me to the feeding station. She was always tiny and frail looking. But over the next few months, we could see that she was losing weight. With aching hearts, we watched her gradual but steady decline. Sometimes we talked about what we could do for her, but our hearts always told us to do nothing. If we had been able to ask her, she probably would have told us to let nature take its course.

Last week, a feeder found her in one of the shelters. She looked comfortable and content, like she'd fallen asleep and life had quietly slipped away. Today, a friend and I scattered her ashes around the shelter. She's home again, and she's outside with her friends. For her, that's the perfect ending to a long, and we hope happy, life.

Here's her handsome
lifelong friend Groucho.

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