It Takes a Village — To Bury a Cat

Soaking up the Sun, in our house

Alex slept in a sunny spot in our front yard, as she always did on cool bright days. A dark grey cat, soaking up the sun.

A dog raced out of some bushes.

He killed her.

Alex was Queen of the Cul-de-sac. A rescue cat, sweet and harmless. A bit of a moocher, known for visiting neighbors and snoozing nearby as they did yard work or even going inside for a nap.

We were out of town when this happened, but our next door neighbors saw it happen. They reached us by phone as we were moving our son into an apartment for his first real job, some five hours away. It was all over so fast. Likely the dog snapped her neck with a viscous jerk of its bastard jaws.

We were out of town for a couple of days, setting up our son, and our daughter, who attends the University of Georgia and has a house with friends, was in town and found herself with the awful duty of burying our cat.

She didn’t do it alone.

When time came, several neighbors came to help her bury Alex and even share stories of how she’d visit, hang out, how sweet and loving she was. A snuggler. A napper. A ready snack vacuum. It takes a village, it seems, to bury a cat.

We weren’t there, but the owner of the dog came.

Apologetic. His dog had escaped in the past. He’d learned to dig under the fence, so they had an electric fence as well, but it had failed after some storms a few days earlier but they didn’t know it. He apologized to our daughter and she let him know just what his dog had done. He may have gotten that from the neighbors all being there. I hope so.

He also asked to speak to me on the phone.

I declined. We were in shock. I said I’d talk to him when I got back into town.

I never called him. I have nothing to say. I don’t care about your fucking fence, I don’t care about your fucking dog. You murdered a member of our family, a cat who slept at the end of our bed most nights until I woke and tossed her out into the garage (where she had, yes, a heated bed. I told you. Queen).

Clearly I am not my father, otherwise there’d be a dead dog or an owner unable to eat solid food for a months. Back home Tennessee, growing up, this would have ended badly for someone, that someone being the dog owner. Instead the guy will get an Animal Control citation (they saw the dog, chased it to its house, have sent a citation to the owner). I’ll make sure he gets whatever the maximum wrist slap there is to get in situations like this. We even mulled over a civil suit. After all, we’d just spent $800 on oral surgery for Alex.

So we’re in shock still. There’s no cat on the car roof every morning, looking in the kitchen door from the garage, anxious for breakfast. No tradition of in-and-out after that meal, then she finds a warm place to settle for a while. No cat racing to tell us hello when we get off work. No snuggler on cold days and nights, no silly chaser of bugs and leaves and those little plastic ties from bread. Our son was devastated. He’d been home for quite a while as he job hunted and Alex and he bonded in their full days together.

She was a rescue cat, one we readily adopted. But we couldn’t rescue her from a killer dog.

Fuck.

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