The Story of Old Feral
Hello… here we are being spiritual!
I’ve been away for a month. I did a few extra videos before I left and did a few on the road, and also took some of my time traveling to think about my blog. I decided that I still want to make video blogs, but occasionally also want to do a text blog. So I decided to do the first one today.
I have recently been in a loving relationship with a feral cat. It was so wary of humans that I was only able to catch glimpses of him as he moved around the property. It was a long cold east coast winter this year. When spring arrived, the cat looked as if he’d been fighting more than the season and not too successfully.
Encrusted sunken eyes, a sore looking mouth, together with a festering chest wound, meant he was in need of intervention. That was my plan. I thought I would live trap him and get him attention. He scuttled away when he heard a door open. I could never get near him.
Over the grey, bone chilling spring, I watched him wander his territory and go from lean to thin, his fur, once white, now filthy. A sick cat doesn’t use the energy to wash.
It is now turning summer. I continued to put out food but he no longer can manage to chew it. He is very wobbly, and is bone-sticking thin. His dying body is made more obvious when viewed against the backdrop of the vibrant green valley, with its wide blue skies and sweet birdsong.
My dad would have shot him at the first sign of such illness. He would have considered it a kindness. “Put him out of his misery,” was a common statement of my childhood. I learned it painfully and early. As a child I disagreed, but now I admit, I thought the same thing more than once. From a spiritual perspective, watching the cat struggle to walk around his territory or gingerly gum his food is my opportunity to practice accepting “what is.”
Once I would have viewed this experience with depression, frustration, helplessness. The cruelty and frailty of life laid out blatantly before me would have been unbearable. I am learning to release the assumption that I know what any situation means. In doing so, I release the judgment and bitterness such judgment brings. The cat’s hold on life is inspiring. He doesn’t give in to his body; he naturally accepts life as it appears.
We are friends, at last. After trying him on different foods, most of which his sore mouth could not manage, I discovered that ground raw meat is something he can take and keep down. I offer him that with a bowl of milk twice a day. He croaks a meow when we meet. Still he wheezes and sneezes through the meal and lays down to slurp the milk (no teeth as far as I can tell, makes lapping it up a messy endevor.) Hes not a pretty sight.
So Old Feral, declining, obviously moving towards his death, continues to learn, and continues to teach me. He trusts the love I offer him through food, my voice, and my energy. This last week he slept near the door and greeted me eye to eye. He calmly waited as I approached with food. I decided not to breech his trust by capturing him.
A few nights ago I heard the coyotes yipping and screaming after prey. I wondered if they’d found him, and I still do. He would be a small and unsatisfying meal and, at the same time, if they did end his life, what grace it would be to free him from a body that no longer served him well.
Old Feral did not come for his morning feed again. Neither has he been here this afternoon. I imagine I see his wobbling gait and hear that croaking meow. It is his eyes, though that I won’t forget. How wonderful is the spirit of love that shines out the eyes of animal or human. I gratefully bear witness to his move from fear to love. I know it to be the greatest gift one can receive.
His afternoon food is being devoured by the birds and again his dish of milk congeals. Life is what it is, on this peace-filled valley day.