It feels wrong, somehow

Friday, June 5th 2015

I returned home from the vet’s on Tuesday, with Freya’s carrying cage in my hand. I had made this journey on other occasions, happy to be taking Freya home where she would relax and be calm again. Today, though, the cage was empty and she would never ride in it again. At home, I set about “tidying up”. Apparently, this is something that grieving people do. Why we do it I don’t know. If it is to remove all traces of the lost loved one in order not to be reminded of her by her personal possessions, then I can tell you that it doesn’t work. The empty spaces where they stood speak even more shockingly of her absence.

I emptied the litter tray into a stout plastic bag and put this, together with an unopened bag of litter, in the dustbin. The plastic tray took up residence in one of the recycling bins.

Next, I gathered up Freya’s food and water bowls and placed them in her carrying cage, along with the mat they stood on, and a toy she sometimes played with. For now, the cage went back to its usual position on top of the wardrobe.

Now I had to tackle the food store. Freya has always been choosy about her food and had already suffered an occasional temporary loss of appetite. I had therefore accumulated a variety of brands and types of cat food in my attempts to cajole her into eating again. Packed into the shopping trolley, this backlog half filled it. What should I do with this food? Throwing it away would be wasteful and someone would surely by glad of it. I phoned the nearest PDSA clinic and asked whether they would like to have the food for their in-patients. They said they certainly would.

This solved one problem but now a complication arose – my feelings about thus disposing of Freya’s things. This was Freya’s food and it felt strange to be giving it away, as though I were depriving her of what was rightfully hers. My logical mind knows that it is the sensible thing to do but my emotions take a less coherent view.

There is worse to come, however, in the shape of Freya’s carrying cage, still sitting in its usual place on top of the wardrobe. I have decided to donate it and its contents to one of the animal welfare charity shops. The money raised will help other cats in need so it is obviously a good thing to do. Yet, every time I catch sight of the cage, which has sat in the selfsame spot on the wardrobe for a decade, the idea of getting rid of it seems wrong. It’s part of the furniture, part of Freya and of me; part of of our story. Logic says “Get rid of it” but emotion says “Leave it here where it belongs”.

Yesterday, Thursday, I packed the food into the shopping trolley, hauled it onto the tube and then trundled it from the station at Hendon Central to the PDSA clinic at Church End. One job done.

So far I have not disposed of the carrying cage and its contents. It’s my intention to take the 214 hopper bus to Kentish Town and to hand the cage to the PDSA charity shop there. This journey will mimic the numerous occasions on which I have taken Freya in her cage on the bus on our way to the cattery. I shall return home empty-handed, as from the cattery, though never to return to reclaim the cage or its contents.

Old habits die hard and continue to haunt you after they are no longer needed. I look carefully before sitting down on the settee in case Freya is curled up there. I go to open the net curtains in the bedroom so that Freya can see out. If I get up in the night, I tread careful so as not to step on Freya in the dark.

The lock screen of my iPhone has a picture of Freya looking out with that characteristic expressions of hers. I find it hard to look at. Tigger suggested I remove it for a while and restore it later but this felt wrong, as though I were pushing Freya out of my life. I have left it in place.

The title of this post, then, describes my feelings, irrational though they may be. Passing on Freya’s possessions to others who can benefit from them is the sensible thing to do and yet it feels strangely wrong, like a betrayal. My logical mind knows this is nonsense and that what I am doing is reasonable but my emotions remain to be convinced. Perhaps I’ll wait a while before donating the cage so as to give them time to catch up.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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10 Responses to It feels wrong, somehow

  1. Snoskred says:

    Keep it a little longer. 🙂

  2. Just hold a bit. It is not nonsense. For days after Olde Tiger and then Granny (who visited frequently and we fostered as she became old) left us, I would catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye or see a shadow or feel a soft pat. It’s like they drop for a bit by to reassure us all is fine – and to make sure we are OK. It is not unusual for pet owners to have this happen. There is a closeness that endures.
    Besides Freya may have already notified applicants that there is a vacancy in a good home and she is conducting interview even now before directing her choice to your door. Don’t be surprised.
    She would approve of you giving food to those who need it. She raised you well.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Yes, it’s natural and normal. With the death of a loved one, a part of ourselves is torn away, and we are rendered lame, mentally and emotionally. We learn to compensate but the loss remains. Fortunately, the love remains also and can support us.

  3. Ancient Brit says:

    It’s an awful process to go through and Casey and I send our sympathies to you both. We went through it twice, each event a couple of months apart. The second cat to go, Tom, also appeared to go through his own trauma as he spent about a week looking for his missing companion Angel. They’d been with us for about sixteen years from kittenhood, so both had known each other for the same time. There was no way to tell him that she was gone for good, although I did try, as you do when you’re as doting as we were/are.

    It took me weeks to finally stop myself from talking aloud to empty space, and although we disposed of their litterbox and both carrying cages along with remaining food, we still have their food bowls three years later, and for months after their passing we encountered little stashes of Angel’s favourite toy – plastic caps – that she’d batted beyond her reach under a chest of drawers or some other piece of furniture. I’ve finally stopped opening doors so carefully in case one of them is sitting behind it.

    Our circumstances prevent it for now, but as soon as we can we will bring another rescue animal or two into our lives, and try to do as well – if not better – by them as we did by our sorely-missed companions. In time I expect that you’ll do likewise – you’ll know when the time is right to do so.

    • SilverTiger says:

      If there are two companion cats then, yes, it is sad for the survivor who doesn’t understand why his companion is missing. We at least are recipients of the blessing/curse of understanding. We also have the responsibility of playing god sometimes.

      There will be no successor to Freya. She will be the much loved last of her line. I no longer feel able to bear the anxieties that go with being responsible for a cat or any other animal. I will do what I can to support animal charities.

  4. Mark Elliott says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. As the pain fades, the good memories will always remain.

  5. WOL says:

    I have to take the black one for his required inoculations at some point here soon, and I worry that his anxiety level will be increased by the fact that I took the other two out, and they did not come back. I, too, donated food bowls, carrying crates and some extra food to our local humane society. They are small animals, but the empty place they leave behind them when they go is huge. I did hope you might decide to adopt another rescue, but you know your own life situation best. Again, my deepest sympathies.

    • SilverTiger says:

      We humans are blessed and cursed with the ability to “put two and two together” but cats are free of this scourge. Your cat will be free of such analytical thought and simply be glad to be home again afterwards.

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