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December 8, 2010 / Zoe

R.I.P Henry.

This is going to be a hard post to write. But I’m going to start at the beginning. Seems logical.

Henry was a foster kitten of mine. Well he was briefly mine, but the call of the wild was too strong for him. He arrived at the end of August, at the same time as Morgan, he was rescued from the same University Campus as she was but I don’t think they were related. He had been with another foster carer though, so he wasn’t as wild as Morgan. I knew he had been a bit of an escape artist with the previous carer, but when he slipped past Matt returning home from work at 5AM, less than 12 hours after he arrived, I have to say I was a little impressed. Matt is very careful coming in and out of the house, all our cats are strictly indoor cats and he’d never had anyone escape on his watch before.

I was unsure if he would even stick around, he was here for such a short while, so he didn’t yet associate us with food. He had always returned to the previous carer after a couple of days when he got hungry. I tried having food in the house with the doors open, but since I never even saw him I figured he was gone. Gone where, I wasn’t sure. I fancied that maybe he was making his way back to his old home.

It was over a month later when I was closing the curtains in the evening that I saw him. He was just sitting, as casual as you like, on the front path. My jaw literally dropped. He looked good too, fat and sleek, just like a 6 month old kitten should look. Someone was obviously feeding him. He was oblivious to me watching him, so I watched gleefully as he frolicked in the grass and groomed himself. I couldn’t decide what I should do. Obviously I should try to get him inside, but I had no idea how. I just knew I needed him to stick around the house. The moment I opened the front door he loped breezily over the fence and was gone. I put food out, and a towel for him to sleep on in the shed. I had the idea that if I could corner him in the shed I could be able to grab him. No such luck. After that evening I would see him once or twice a week, and after seeing him I would put food out and watch him eat. I moved the food closer to the door, but at a certain point he would come no closer. He was completely on to me. I soon realised that when I heard the dog next door barking that a second later he would pop over the fence. I used to so look forward to that moment. For the last two months that has been our routine. Me trying to trick him, and him being far too clever for that.

This is the only photo I have of him. I quickly snapped when I first saw him out the window to confirm that it was him, and not another black and white cat with a stripe on his nose. He really was stunning.

Yesterday I got a devastating email that was like a kick in the gut. Henry had been taken to a vet near here after being hit by a car, and had passed away. They were able to find where he came from by his microchip. I’m not ashamed to say that I shed more than a few tears. I have dealt with a lot of animal death in my 23 years and for each life I have cried genuine tears. The realisation that I would be having no more evening visits hit me when I was closing the curtains last night. I hadn’t realised how special seeing his sweet face had become to me.

Of course I feel guilty. Could I have done more? Probably. I could have hired a proper cat trap to catch him. Would he have been happy? I don’t think so. He was truly a free spirit. He was never going to spend his days snoozing on the couch and chasing stuffed mice. No. Henry needed to be free.

I got a call today from the organisation I foster for asking if I would like to collect his body from the vet, otherwise he would be cremated with all the other pets with no homes. Of course I organised to collect him immediately. Every animal deserves to be loved, and every animal deserves to have a dignified goodbye.

I took a box to put him in but it wasn’t long enough, so I held his body wrapped in plastic on my lap for the car ride home. The first and only time I held him. The cold from his frozen body seeped through the plastic and into my hands, seemingly to act as a final reminder that he was indeed gone. I buried him next to our sad roses. Maybe his body will help breathe life back into them. I quickly looked at him when I placed him in his grave. There was his sweet face, looking as ready to frolic in the grass as ever.

What I’ll never know is who was feeding him other than me, he was still as sleek and beautiful as ever, so someone out there was caring for him. I’ll never be able to thank them. And they will never know where he came from and why he isn’t popping over their fence any longer.

Rest in peace, dear Henry. You were loved. May you be a kitten chasing butterflies through the clouds for eternity. xox

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9 Comments

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  1. Fiona / Dec 15 2010 5:25 pm

    Oh geez. I am so emotional since getting my first kitten by accident (a stray) I dunno why she is making me so emo…Unfortunately I just read this blog post and now I’m bawling. Oh well, better out than in! Thanks for sharing your love for cats. People like you are special. 🙂

  2. Amiee / Dec 13 2010 3:45 pm

    It was lovely you gave him a dignified burial. I met Henry once at his previous carer’s house and obviously he was just a free spirit. RIP Henry.

  3. Circe / Dec 11 2010 9:49 pm

    This is very sad, and I’m very sorry for your loss.

  4. Lily / Dec 9 2010 3:14 am

    Some kitties just refuse to be indoors, you did the best you could and obviously someone else did too. He was no doubt a happy kitty. One of our kitties had to go to kitty heaven this year, we’d had him for 12 years (indoor only-all of our babies are indoor only like yours) but this past year he just got too sick and he was in so much pain so we had to have him put to sleep. It was one of the hardest days of my year. I miss my Howie and sometimes wonder what more we could have done for him. But I know that he had 12 happy years with us after someone dumped him in front of my daughters summer school. He was such a sweetie.

    • Zoe / Dec 9 2010 3:57 pm

      I’m so glad I haven’t had to make a decision like that yet. That must have been so hard, but better for Howie.

  5. caren / Dec 8 2010 11:15 pm

    Oh, I just shed some tears with you. Sweet Henry (my favourite boy name), he lived free and knew he had a friend in you. You are such a loving person! Thank you for being someone who looks out for our feline friends.
    Your Henry reminds me of my Charlie, a homeless cat who also didn’t want to be domesticated but that I and a neighbour of mine cared for. Charlie, too, was hit by a car. I cried so much & I still miss his handsome face.
    xox

    • Zoe / Dec 9 2010 1:12 am

      😦 Poor Charlie. Henry and Charlie are both excellent cat names, I had another foster called Charlie. He was very handsome.

  6. Stefany / Dec 8 2010 7:45 pm

    I feel a bit tearful after reading this 😦 he looks just like one of my old cats. I think you did what you could and some cats like you said have just got natural outdoor and wild spirits. I’m sorry to hear that tough, it’s never easy losing an animal. I hope you feel better soon xxx

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