I shouldn't be surprised. I sort of prepared for this three years ago when our paths first crossed and I decided to give a stray cat some food. I should know better - the life expectancy of a feral cat that survives as a kitten is less than two years, while a house cat usually lives anywhere between 15 to 20 years. It's just realistic facts.
When I first came across 'Bastien I was already feeding another stray cat I named Charlie. Charlie looked like he was about two days away from death of starvation and roaming the streets. I just felt compelled to feed him. He got close to me because of that hunger. I guess Sebastien saw that one cat trusted me and he was getting food and he made his way towards begging for food as well.
He didn't look as starved, though he was a very fluffy cat, so I couldn't really tell. Poor little dude had a lot of hair. During the winter he would be tangled up with leaves and just about anything else. But they both sort of hung around and accepted each other and didn't fight or anything. They figure that there's enough food for both of them and just sort of chilled around the area come night time.
So I had these two cats. Sebastien already seemed like an adult cat. He must have been at least a year or two by the time he came into my world. Charlie looked younger.. or at least he looked more in need of help from food. I wanted to eventually see if they would be indoor cats so I could adopt them. Charlie liked sleeping and hanging out inside but once it got dark he was at the door and wanting to get out badly. Sebastien did not want to be inside at all. He freaked the hell out and did not like being an inside cat.
Charlie and Sebastien
My best guess was that he was traumatized somehow. He had to be someone's pet that they didn't want or they abused before as he could potentially be high maintenance to keep clean and all that. So I gave up on the idea of domesticating them. They were going to be feral and with that came the idea that something bad would happen to them causing their lives to be cut short.
One night I went out to put some food out and found Charlie dead from a dog mauling on the side walk. I was horrirfied. It was not a pretty sight and I had grown attached to the cats. I cleaned it up and buried Charlie in the island in the middle of the road near where he would always hang around. I tried to clean the blood off the floor with some water but later when Bastien showed up, he knew something was up. He sniffed the floor and I could tell he was shaken up. Even though he didn't see the body, he smelled the blood and I suppose scent and was on the ground. Bastien was rolling in it and was def. in some sort of angry mood as to what had happened.
I felt terrible because, as I've written about Charlie before, he was sort of MY cat in that he claimed ownership of me and followed me around. Having given them the chance to be indoor cats and them refusing, I didn't know what I could do. Sebastien took some time to come back to normal and was never really the same. Very hesitant and very scared towards people. Which was a good thing. Having me feed them really did make them trust people more and not everyone has their best interest.
Then there was times when he would go missing for a week or two. Off on some strange adventure or seeking a mate. I don't know. I would worry that he died somewhere but then a couple of days later he would come back. Often times injured. Often times with a limp or some cut. But he knew that he could count of the food always being there.
Eventually he got into better moods to how he was before Charlie died. He would roll over and expose his belly to get belly rubs and would squirm around all content like. Time was really showing on him. He had this ragged look on his face that matched how beat up he was. He was constantly walking with a limp. Though it seemed like he would hang out in the back of my place a lot. Just chilling there under all the brush.
I would occasionally break the night tradition and if I saw him during the day I would take him a can of cat food and he would be pretty damn happy about it. Sort of just had him around. If he wasn't going to be an indoor pet, I would at least make sure that he could have the freedom to do what he wanted without the concern on where his food was coming from.
So when I went outside to drive to work today and I saw a cat in the road... well, my heart sank like a stone. I've gotten this scare once before. A white-ish cat a couple of blocks down. I had to do at least a double take to see if it was Bastien before. This time I knew it was him from the matted fur. I have no idea why he would go out to the road. There was nothing that ever really caused him to cross the street, really.
I dropped everything, grabbed a shovel and picked him out of there. I tell myself that at least it was quick. I tell myself that he lived at least 3 years without the worry of who would feed him or finding food. Yeah, there was a couple of weeks when I didn't see him and I got it in my mind that he died somewhere. At least now I know. At least I know for sure what happened and I'm not going to be spending nights wondering if he's okay...
I buried him out in the back where I would always be able to see him during the day just lounging about. I figured it was the best thing to do. Really just feeling a bit down from all this. And yes, I did name him Sebastien because of the band. Piss off! I like the music and even if it makes me emo, I don't care. He just reminded me of the band or something.
It really doesn't help that it is Be Kind To Animals Week
Join the event that’s been celebrated every year since 1915 -- American Humane’s Be Kind to Animals Week. In this annual tradition, we commemorate the role animals play in our lives, promote ways to continue to treat them humanely, and encourage others, especially children, to do the same.Yeah.. make me feel better, why don't you, news article. Perhaps it should be common practice to celebrate and have the mentality to be kind to all animals every day of the year. Not just one week. I guess the idea that Sebastien did live a much longer life than the average street cat brings comfort. At least 3 and some years with me and who knows how long before that. He looked beyond beat up. Limping and his face was always in a state of raggedness.
Be Kind to Animals Week is celebrated with shelter information and resources, special American Humane merchandise, and the annual Be Kind to Animals™ Kid Contest that recognizes children who go above and beyond to create a better world for animals.
I'll miss the little guy. It's not to say that there aren't plenty of other stray cats out there. Yeah, I seem to never run out of them to feed. But it's just a bit saddening to think that the second cat that I opened up to here has passed away. I knew this day would come since I started feeding them..
??? - 2010