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when animals leave their families

08 May 2012

When Dogs and Cats Leave The Family

Life is all about perspective.

Sometimes you’re the one doing the hitting. Sometimes, it’s life hitting you back. I think this works regardless of which rung you inhabit on the World Ladder of Mammals.

Yesterday morning, MW hit a cat after dropping OD off at school. Seen another way, the cat ran out of a vineyard and encountered MW’s car. The cat then hit the rear left wheel.

The cat did not fare well.

MW’s medium-sized SUV weighs just over 3,100 pounds. The cat was probably 16-18 pounds. It’s a messy affair when a cat and a rolling SUV meet.

Pet Insurance When You Really Need It

For this cat, his life immediately became a feline-centered cautionary tale about the value proposition of life insurance. “Protect your family” and what not.

It you’re a cat newly struck by a car, your family will need support to get through the coming summer, especially if the little ones haven’t yet perfected the stealth of mice capture. Unless you return soon, the family will start to miss you and the young are going to miss their dinner. It’s kinda like a Dickens’ tale of animal world woe.

One minute, you’re a feral master of a vineyard and all the birds and mice passing through. The next, you’re a bloodied shag rug with fluids matting your black fur into an oozy clump.

The Good Vet Evaluates

With the help of a couple of other Moms who’d just seen the peace of their post-dropoff rituals interrupted, MW hurried the wobbly and snarly cat up to TGV. One of the Mom’s even provided a blanket and pillow for the cat to bleed on while riding in the back of the car.

The diagnosis from TGV was grave–a crushed chest and internal bleeding. Without an x-ray, who knew what else was wrong inside? MW said that the cat’s determined will to live was pretty amazing. Despite being completely thrashed physically, it hadn’t forgotten the primal instincts that it had no doubt drawn upon many times to survive. She said it appeared to want to fight anyone.

Sadly, the future isn’t bright for injured and feral cats. They have to be neutered by law. The convalescence would have been weeks/months. And the cat would have to return to the wild because feral cats like this one can’t be officially adopted, especially one with a jaw far larger and stronger than any house cat MW had ever seen.

If you’re imagining the injured cat, think “Animal Safari” cat rather than the playful stars of Whiskas commercials. TGV recommended. A decision was made.

And so an animal that had run beneath chardonnay grapevines only three hours earlier was laid on its side, further sedated, and euthanized. The sparkle in the most flourescent green eyes MW said she’d ever seen went out.

Family Separation

It wasn’t a happy morn for MW, but it started me thinking about the issue of removing animals from their families, which is what happens when you get a puppy.

Consider the dead cat. Did his family, or girlfriend, or cousins and aunts trouble themselves with the question of where Dad/Cuz/Uncle had unexpectedly disappeared to?

3-week old great dane puppy

almost famous: luna (aka purple girl) at three weeks

Minimally, I hope they concluded that blindly charging across the road 30 yards from a school, and 30 minutes on either side of school drop-off time, is nuts.

How do dogs, in their way, process absence like this?

Luna was Purple Girl until she became Luna. We brought her home after just eight weeks of bonding with her Mom and four siblings. She never met her Dad, an absentee father so typical of too many contemporary families.

Missing Their Siblings

Maybe the siblings Luna left behind asked themselves,

“Hey, what happened to the girl with the purple collar?

I was asleep. When I awoke, she was gone.

Do you think she’ll write to us?”

Fortunately, Purple Girl has been able to see two of her sisters and one brother twice in the past year. And the sister in Texas? Last month, Luna watched her perform envy-producing obedience tricks on a YouTube video. She (Luna) barked happily.

Through planned play dates and a bit of technology, Luna’s family has been able to remain as close as dogs can. It’s a better life than the ones led by feral cats in the vineyards near OD’s school.

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