I never get to sleep in. When I finally get the chance to play opposum for an hour after my normal wake-up call, I get jolted awake by an emergency. No, it wasn’t a client with the bloat of my nightmares. It was my mother. She lives a couple of doors down and often calls for simple things. This time wasn’t so simple. Her dogs were attacking a cat in the back yard. Happy Memorial Day to you, too.
I got dressed and flew over just to hear that the cat was almost certainly dead. She’d seen the dogs fight over its body before she could round them up. Great. Now for the expedition.
My parents’ house is built among a dense copse of native trees and their lush undergrowth. So I didn’t expect to find anything too easily. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Just outside the back door I found the nether half of a kitten. Its skinny, pink intestines were pointing down a narrow gravel path through the foliage, as if directing me to the rest of it.
Now, I see lots of horrible stuff in the course of my work but, somehow, a non-clinical situation gets me every time. There’s something about a stethoscope. gloves and lots of stainless steel that makes it all more bearable. And half an animal is not a thing I ever treat, anyway. It was seriously impressive, this poor, little, eviscerated half of a body.
I cautioned my mother to stay inside (it’s not a thing any animal lover should see) and scoured the yard for the rest. After a couple of scrapes and bruises I found more entrails. At this point I became quite concerned that one of the dogs might have eaten it. A skull, even a twelve week-old kitten’s, is a GI foreign body waiting to happen. And when dogs fight over prey in a pack situation, anything can happen.
Finally, I discovered the rest among a bunch of coral rock. I couldn’t tell if it had died quickly but I guess that doesn’t matter much, after the fact. So I bagged up the kitty and declared the coast clear. The dogs ran out with the exuberance of a pack of wolves looking for another meal. They were doing their dog thing. I couldn’t really blame them.
I’m telling you all of this, graphic detail uncensored, with a point in mind. And that point involves the irresponsible treatment of our strays. Too many of our neighbors (kind and educated though they may otherwise be) feed stray cats with no respect for the concept of trapping and neutering them. Consequently, they proliferate. They’re just doing their cat thing.
In my neighborhood, a high-end suburb with ginormous properties, I see cats on the street every day. They’re either playing Frogger with cars or they’re left on the side of the road as if waiting for me to bag them and stuff my freezer at work with their remains. It’s deplorable.
A couple of years back I stuffed my neighbors’ mailboxes with pleas to please trap the cats and leave them on my porch before 7 AM. I promised to neuter or spay them and let them back out. Can you believe I got no takers? Not one of my neighbors ever left me a cat.
And here I am picking kitten intestines out of the bushes in my parents’ yard. There’s no justice in this world. Perhaps we’re just doing our human thing. In any case, it's something to think about on this Memorial Day.