Scratch, the last of the three kittens died this morning. Unlike the other kittens, I’d had enough time to get attached to this one. He’d even begun to develop his own personality.
I’m not talking about the first kitten that died of exposure a few hours after it had been born. I’m not talking about the second kitten that I assumed had been accidentally smothered by its mother.
I’m talking about Scratch, the kitten that liked to curl up on my chest, listen to my heartbeat, and sleep. The same kitten that would cry if left alone, but would calm down instantly if I picked it up. The same kitten that liked to have his head scratched and would actively seek out my finger when I stopped.
I’m talking about Scratch, a pet I loved just as much as any other pet I’ve ever owned.
The manner of Scratch’s death was even more upsetting to me than the fact he died.
His mother wasn’t the most attentive thing in the world. I lost count of the number of times I had to physically put her back in the box with her kitten, because Scratch was crying from hunger. I’d lost count of the number of times I’d found her asleep under the kitchen table, while Scratch was still in the box, freezing because of the air conditioning. I lost count of the number of times I saw her push him away while he was trying to feed.
For the past two days, Princess had been making a concerted effort to take him from his box in the living room and put him in the hallway outside. Sometimes she’d stay with him, other times she’d drop him in the hallway and saunter back into the living room.
I just kept putting them back in the box. The hallway has black carpet and sees far too much foot traffic for a pure black kitten, blind and helpless, to be out there.
Anyway, this morning, while Sunny and I where distracted, Princess picked Scratch up, took him to hallway…and sat on him until he stopped breathing.
Then she went into the kitchen to finish the cat food I had put out.
As I picked up his cold and lifeless body, I saw that his eyes had opened. They were baby-blue, like all newborn kittens are.
Despite the fact I’d cared for that kitten more than his own mother, despite the fact I used to get up at least twice in the night to check on him…he never got to see my face.
He never got to see much of anything.
Instead she chose to kill him because taking care of him was just too much trouble.
Her ‘problem’ was simple. She liked being an inside cat. She liked being fed on demand and having a nice warm place to sleep. Usually, a cat who rejects her litter will simply leave. Princess couldn’t do that, because leaving her kitten meant leaving the house. As long as she was inside, I made sure she took care of Scratch.
Leaving meant going back to sleeping on the porch, and only eating every couple of days when I put food out for the strays. She wouldn’t have that nice warm couch to sleep on, and she’d have to share her food.
She wanted to be an inside cat, but she didn’t want to take care of her kitten.
So she killed it.
I love animals, and even though it would have required feeding Scratch every two hours around the clock, I would have weaned him myself. She never gave me that chance.
Princess and Scratch, even though I talked about putting them back outside when Scratch had been weaned, would’ve ended up as permanent residents in my home. Like I said, I loved that kitten, and there’s no way I could have parted with him. I also wouldn’t have conceived of splitting him from his mother.
However, Princess killed Scratch for one simple reason. She didn’t want to take care of him, and as long as she was living in my house, I’d have made sure she did. Rather than leave, she chose to simply take Scratch out of the equation.
The only comfort I can take from the situation is that in the short two weeks of Scratch’s life, I made sure he was warm, comfortable and well fed. If I’d have left him where I found him, Princess would have left him to die slowly of dehydration in the heat.
His life was short, but I’m sure he enjoyed it.
I want my kitten back.