Thursday, March 29, 2012
A Cat Mommy's Guilt (Blogging, smoking and crying)
I wasn't going to blog today. I had decided today was one of those days where I said 'screw writing' and took the entire day off from it so I could nurse my cat to health. But I'm a writer. It's how I express my emotions. And Freya needs to rest without my constant hovering.
Today those emotions are relief, happiness, and trepidation topped with an avalanche of guilt.
My sweet kitty Freya has suffered a collapsed lung. I'm heaving great sobs of shame as I write this. My head throbs from the hourly tears I've cried since I learned of her injuries.
I've been letting Freya off her harness. There is nothing she loves more than exploring outside and chasing birds. And we have a small problem with swallows trying to take over our attic. I thought, "One doesn't keep a mouser tied up, why should I keep a bird huntress on a leash? Besides, it makes her happy."
Yesterday around lunch, I checked outside, which I do frequently, to see if she wanted to come in. She was waiting silently by the door. She came inside without a word. Very unlike her. She talks a lot for a cat. She was FILTHY.
"Oh my God, Freya," I said. "What did you do? You SO need a bath. You're not getting out of it this time. Where were you?" Not a peep from her. I continued to babble at her about what a mess she was. She was walking funny.
You know how cats have that effortless grace when they walk? Freya made it look awkward-like she was tiptoeing gingerly. She headed downstairs. She'd descend two steps, stop and rest. Two more and rest.
An awful thought stuck me, and I don't even know where it came from. Someone once told me that animals look for a dark quiet place to die. So I brought her back upstairs to watch her. That's when I noticed she was breathing heavy--and with every breath her flanks quivered. We left for the vet immediately.
When they told me it was a collapsed lung, I knew it was my fault. Nobody could tell if she'd fallen, or been attacked or hit by a car, but it doesn't matter because it's my fault for thinking SHE would be okay roaming unfettered. SHE was a smart cat.
But I think my friend Colleen is right. Knowing how Freya avoids traffic and strangers, this was probably not an accident. I remember the mark on her back--One long muddy curve in the precise shape and width of a bicycle tire. Somebody, perhaps one of the many kids in this neighborhood, or maybe my crude and creepy next door neighbor, went after her and deliberately hurt her.
Pure speculation. Nobody knows what Freya endured before limping her way home.
When people find out that Freya got hurt because she was wandering freely, they say 'lesson learned' and 'at least you got her to a vet in time'. It isn't that comforting unfortunately. This mistake could still cost my precious angel her life. She's not out of the woods yet.
I can't help feeling this is probably some kind of karmic butt-kicking. This is for all the times BEFORE I had a pet (Freya and Sully are my very first pets ever) when I would roll my eyes and think "It's just a pet...Why get so upset over some animal?"I can guarantee you I'll never say THAT again.
But yes, there are lessons learned here.
1) Trust my instincts with my cats. Rhonda is right. They will tell me what they need.
2) Never think it can't happen to me/my pets. Just because cats are intelligent, doesn't mean the people around them (including me) are.
I never had children, so I guess i never really learned this one before, but...
3) Sometimes keeping the ones you love doesn't always mean doing what makes them happy, but it's doing what is RIGHT for them--for their own protection. I need to be a more responsible pet owner. For Freya and Sully's sake.
I'm just praying it's not too late.