The poorly cared-for cat in my neighborhood about which I have written twice (The one that got away, The one that came back) has disappeared, according to one of the neighbor kids I talked to tonight. “After he got hurt, he didn’t want to be around people anymore,” she said, “and now he’s run away.”
She didn’t know how he got hurt or what his injury was, although she said she suspected a fight. But we can be sure he didn’t “run away.” He either died of his injuries or was killed.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of neighbors I have: the family that owned this animal but cared for it only in the most cursory way if at all, and a guy around the corner who believes that cats that pee on his property deserve to die and that he has a right to kill them. I suspect this is what might have happened to this kitty, which I learned today was named Tiki.
My neighbor has told me about his homemade gun that allows him to shoot animals absolutely silently while lying prone on the floor of his garage in the middle of the night. If they pee on his truck tires and he can catch them, they die with a single shot. He drops the carcasses in the garbage can and no one’s the wiser. He claims that he only shoots “strays,” not pets. But I’ve also talked with him about Tiki, and he said he would kill that cat the next chance he got even though I told him to whom it belonged. Apparently the smell of cat pee can drive some people to commit caticide (felicide?).
Of course I have no proof that anyone did anything to Tiki. It is possible that the poor cat died of natural causes that even the best home care and the kindest neighbors in the world could not have prevented. But I doubt it. Good owners would have gotten him neutered when he was a kitten (or as soon as he came into their care) and kept him inside or in their yard rather than allowing him to roam freely through the neighborhood fighting with other cats and peeing on everything as tomcats do. They would have kept his long coat properly groomed. They would have gotten his wounds or injuries promptly treated by a vet. This is what responsible pet owners do. This is what decent human beings do for their animals.
I regret not having intervened on this animal’s behalf (for reasons I detailed previously), even if just to take him to the pound. With a little cleaning up and a good haircut, he would have been a stunner and immediately adoptable because of his sweet personality.
I actually haven’t seen Tiki since the last time I wrote about him in February, yet I am deeply saddened to know I’ll never see him again and that I am, if not to blame, certainly complicit in his death simply for having looked the other way when I knew he needed help.