Sunday, 25 November 2007

R.I.P. Postal

Some Sundays are better than others.

I never even got around to describing how the latest kittens came to be with us and, already, I'm writing an obit.

Sometime in September we were walking the dogs in the village when two little girls came along with a box. You just knew it held kittens and so it did, four of them. One was a short-haired grey tiger, one short-haired and solid black, one a medium-long calico and one a long-haired marmalade (ginger). When I asked how old they were, the little owner said 2 months. I said, "How about three weeks and they're too young to be taken from their mother." She didn't deny the three weeks, but insisted the mother, just a kitten herself, had rejected them.

Life with nature in the French countryside is . . . educational. Animal birth control consists of drowning the newborns. Knowing what was in store for these, we took three of them. The other child took the fourth.

Nick wasn't thrilled, but I made a deal with him: He wouldn't complain about the animals I bring home and I wouldn't complain about his complaining. As my previous post shows, he gets over it.

We brought them home, bought bottles and formula and started feeding them. There is a trick to feeding three kittens with one bottle. Loudest kitten gets to suck for half a minute or so. The bottle is then passed to No. 2 Noise. Both assuaged for the moment, you feed the third and start the rotation, again. Amazing to remember that I could hold all three in one hand.

They thrived, they began to eat their raw meat, and after 3 or 4 weeks, they rejected the milk.

I waited for them to tell me their names. After a couple of misunderstandings on my part, the tiger was Mr. Pibbs (or Pibbles, named after a group of Pit Bulls), the ginger tom Postal (because he was as sickly cute as a postal card), and Miosa, after a friend. (She forgave me.)

Eventually, I let them go outside for limited periods. They still got locked up if we left the house and at night. Still, Mr. Pibbs developped an unhealthy interest in cars, so when some cat-lovers came to look at our house, we sent him away with them. Mio and Postal didn't seem to notice.

Maybe I sent the wrong kitten away. Today, just as Nick and I were opening the gates to go running, Postal got hit by a car. He convulsed and died on the way to the vet, but I doubt the vet could have saved him. We came home and Nick dug a grave in the field and I put Postal in it.

I've never wanted to touch one of my dead pets before, but somehow I wanted to today. It felt more like a proper goodbye.

Then we went for the run we'd been going to have before the accident. Running soothes the mind and spirit, at least enough so I could write this.

No, the car didn't stop.

R.I.P. my big, beautiful, huggable boy.