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Skitty’s Realm

January 22, 2011

Skitty's Realm, Oil on Canvas 28" x 22"

Early last summer we were introduced to a set of four small kittens which had been abandoned under our neighbors deck. Our neighbor had already named three of the kittens. Sophia, the friendliest of the bunch. Sammy, the male and roughest of the crew. Buddy, a beautiful long hair kitten. The fourth, went nameless. She had long black fur but was very timid and stayed near shelter. She was the last to emerge and the first to sprint to safety. Very skittish. Her eyes were crossed, her eyesight was not good and she seemed to have trouble eating hard foods. My wife suggested that due to the kittens skittish nature, Skitty would be a good name. It stuck. With her other challenges, of the four, Skitty was the one with special needs.

Throughout the summer, the four kittens enjoyed a non-hostile environment between our yards (except for Clawed occasionally playing “Chase the Cat”- but then, the kittens teased him back, so all was fair). If you were out doing yard work or visiting in the yards, the kittens were sure to crash the party. The kittens were mostly on their own except for some occasional food scraps. The first two through the yards were Sophia and Sammy followed by Buddy. Eventually, when all was safe, Skitty would make her way around. As we watched the kittens develop, it was clear that Sammy and Buddy were the hunters of the group. Sophia could fend for herself. And then there was Skitty, making due with whatever was leftover from her siblings or perhaps digging in the ground for grub worms.

As the summer ended and school began, my wife  de-stressed at the end of the school day by heading into the yard to see the kittens. Sophia was quick to get into Helen’s lap and enjoy some attention. When the lap became available, Skitty would carefully make her way over and gently assume the lap for as long as Helen would allow.

By mid-September, Sophia was no longer with us. A pack of dogs down the street had gotten hold of her. Neighbors to the south of us were taking a shine to Sammy and allowing him to become their house cat. Our neighbor to the north was fond of Buddy. And then there was Skitty.  Skitty could be seen tagging along with her siblings. Often we would find her perched on our deck watching as the birds (and squirrels) visited our feeders and bird bath. Just watching and waiting for Helen to get home from school.

Although we broached the subject of opening our home to another animal, we just could not bring ourselves to do it. We already have a bird (cockatiel), dog and I suffer from allergies to cats. We had hoped to find friends or family that could accommodate Skitty, however, no home was to be found. As winter came on and we hit the single digit temperatures, our resolve was weakening. We pondered whether we could at least give her some space in the basement during the cold weather. Clawed was already becoming calm whenever Skitty was around and maybe my immune system could adjust to this cat.

Last Friday evening, as we left to do the grocery shopping, we saw Skitty sitting in front of our garage. She gave us a look as though she was hurt that we leaving rather than spending time with her.

Monday morning, as I finished taking Clawed for his walk, I heard my neighbors voice calling me. He held a box and said that they found Skitty on their deck that morning. I looked into the box and saw Skitty. She was covered in snow and meowing but laying very still. Though still alive, she was in pain. Something had gotten at her.  She was injured and wet with blood.

Helen and I gathered Skitty and headed over to the vets office. Skitty was still giving the occasional meow as we got into the examination room. However, just before the doctor entered the room, Skitty’s back legs twitched and we noticed that she stopped breathing. The doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. Though her heart was still beating, it was very weak. Skitty was not going to make it.

In the days that have followed, our habits have gotten the best of us and remind us of Skitty. As we pass our kitchen windows, it is still instinct to look for her on our deck, watching the birds and waiting for Helen. As we go into our yard to exercise Clawed, we can’t help but be on the watch for Skitty, before Clawed notices her. Clawed still noses around by the bushes which Skitty used as shelter. But she is gone now.

Time will heal, but for now, we mourn. Good bye Skitty.

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