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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The day a cat spoke like a lion

It is hard to even write this post, but since this blog was always first and foremost a reflection of day in and day outs of my life, I must. And in time, it won't hurt so much. If you followed our journey on Instagram, you will have heard this by now. But one Apiferian that was left behind, suddenly, was Itty Bitty Etta.

We had all the Misfits in the trailer that morning, ready to travel East. It had all gone remarkably well-even getting The World's Grumpiest But I Am Fine The Way I Am Pig into her travelling suite went much smoother than I thought it would. We were clipping along and ready to depart as planned around 8 am. I just needed to get Big Tony and Itty into their travel area in the trailer-a nifty bird like cage Martyn had built just for them, so they could sleep and have a litter box, and sit on perches and not be in crates the entire time. And I thought, safe.

I had lectured Martyn the night before-be sure you don't let Itty out in the morning-which is her routine. And be sure when we take her out we put her in a crate first to avoid trouble.

I went into the house and there was Itty, perched on the chair, calm, and I picked her up. She was so clam that I made a big mistake-for me anyway-perhaps not for her. I didn't put her in a crate. We got to the trailer, I got inside the tack room where the cats would travel, and she was fine, until I started putting her in the travel suite, which hung securely on the wall. Below me were Eleanor, Cornelia and the four piglets. I felt Itty squirming, yelled to Martyn to shut the door and as he began to shut it, Itty clawed and clawed and I had no choice but to let go, and she was gone, leaving me cut up and angst.

I pretty much broke down. Perhaps it was a necessary thing. I had not really broken down about leaving and maybe that was a final gift she gave me. I blamed and shamed myself the entire next 30 minutes as we gathered the final things to put in the car. I tried some desperate pleas to God to bring Itty back. but I knew she was gone, at least, gone for hours. She would not just show up in a few minutes or head to the house. And she didn't.

As we were leaving, the new owners showed up, which was a blessing as I could tell them what happened. They are already taking in Peaches, the sheep and Doris and June, and the chickens, and they were happy to care for Itty.

It was sudden, and tragic for us. There were no goodbyes with the five pound cat who was found on a rural highway, wet and cold and stick thin at a about 5 weeks old. Martyn adored her, and she him. If I had just let him carry her, I thought. More shaming.

The entire morning drive was marked by the event. We discussed all the possibilities of why and how, and in the end, we knew that the only thing to hang on to was that Itty liked it there, it was her land-she was more attached to the land and sense of place than to us. I truly believe this. But the human and caretaker in me kept seeing her face, hearing her "Meh" and wondering if she felt abandonned by us, the very people that saved her from a rural highway. The ongoing joke all these years was that I rescued her from a highway, but she liked Martyn.

Many have said that Itty spoke loudly and clearly that day-she did not want to go to Maine. But what if? What if I had put her in a crate and she was here? What if it was a stupid mistake on my part and she would have been here if I hadn't made it. Would we all be saying, "Oh look at Itty in her window, she is so content"?  More shame.

I had always had the fear that Itty would be impossible to contain here, and she would wander off and never be seen again. The house also is not as remote and there is a busy road. I had a plan to contain her in a room for a couple months just so she bonded with the house. But I always had a feeling deep inside that we would lose her in Maine. Perhaps, I decided over time, those internal fears were really Itty speaking directly to me.

Another friend told me the story that mimicked my fear-she had moved her cats from one farm to another home some 20 miles away. One of the cats was content, the other eventually bolted out of a screen and she never saw her again. She lived with that fact for a long time. I knew that could have been Itty. I also knew that every time I opened that cage in the travel suite she could have escaped. at any one of the layovers. She was wild that way- you know, Itty was Itty inside, but outdoors she became Big Etta.

So it is sad. Even though we feel like distant family to the new owners, and we know she is safe and warm and fed, it is sad for us. This will be the last time I write about her.