Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reflections, September 2008

I can't put it off any longer. I have to get something off my chest. Although it wasn't planned to be on the first day of Spring, we nontheless came to the decision to put our two beloved cats to sleep.

It's the first time after 10 odd years that we've been cat free. As hard as it was to come to this decision, it's nothing compared to the silence afterwards. We've found ourselves looking at the sliding glass doors, where they use to sit in the sun - and they aren't there. I keep expecting to see their kitty-litter tray in the laundry, their water dish near the front door. Last night I came out of our bedroom, and didn't see Panda sleeping on his usual couch.

My husband said he's walking past the kitchen bench, stroking it automatically - as he's missing patting the cats. He was the brave one who took them to the vets. As I was unable to control my spontaneous sobbing, he said I would trigger his emotions if I came to the vets with him. So I stayed home and found their final resting place in a lovely part of the garden. I dug two holes through the constantly flowing tears. They are about 7 meters apart from each other, and they would be happy for the many tiny wrens and finches that frequent that part of the garden.

Which brings me to the reason why we had to do the unthinkable. In all the time we owned our cats, they had never been forced to live inside continually. Since we moved to the bush block it became a necessary arrangement however - for their sakes, and the environments. Eighteen months of extended living inside, and they began destroying stuff while we slept in the middle of the night. I won't go into all the details of what they destroyed and how, but it became increasingly obvious that the environment had changed for the cats - but in nature, they still wanted to be cats.

I didn't want to lock everything up in the house like fort knox, only to then punish the cats when they found something else to destroy. We knew in our hearts this was no life for them, and no life for us. Was it really an option to let them outside, to slowly destroy the delicate eco-system? Whether you agree with our decision or not, it was the hardest decision we've ever had to make. To put to sleep an otherwise healthy member of the family. One morning they were doing what they normally do as cats, by lunchtime, we were burying them in the garden.

Every day now seems to be a reminder of them. I've even toyed with the idea of removing the pictures of Panda from my blog. Maybe I will, but right now I've decided not to. Maybe I'm not ready to let go of them completely yet.

But the whole reason for sharing this news in my monthly reflection, is because it's had an impact on our environment - on the bushland project. We planted two olive trees on top of their graves, and in coming to terms with their end - for the enviornment's sake - I've become more resolute about what I'm going to do to the land here.

I have to plant more trees - attract more wrens, finches, lizzards and frogs. The sacrifice of my beloved cats to protect the environment, is not going to be forgotten easily. Instead, I will dedicate the bushland project to them. They are now permanently outside, watching the wildlife without destroying them. They are feeding the trees that will provide more habitat for the wildlife. They will shade the ground from losing moisture, so the understorey can continue growing to sustain the wildlife.

As much as their life has ended with us, the story of life continues outside. It's our duty to ensure it continues by planting more trees and providing habitat. More than ever, it's now clear what our path is. No more playing with nature. No more pretending it's the right thing to do. Now, restoring this land for the wildlife is the only thing to do.

If we get something out of it, then it's a bonus - but pleasing ourselves for ourselves, is no longer the way to live. We have a responsibility to the animals which share this land and every micro-organism, not to destroy their home. We have a responsibility to our dearly departed pets, not to forget their sacrifice and why.

It's been a difficult beginning to Spring, but the hope still lingers of the promise of new life.

R.I.P our beloved Minka and Panda. We will miss you and remember you in the seasons to come. May your olive trees bring much life with it, restoring the blance.


  1. Chris - what a brave thing to do. It would be so hard to make a decision like that and our thoughts are with your family.

  2. Thank you for your kind thoughts Emily and family.

    We are still remembering them fondly, and whenever I go outside and see a bird twittering away, I think of them. Not in a sad way though because they are still here, keeping us company - only not so physically.

    It's the gift of a treasured pet, no matter how they come to say goodbye. :)

    Thanks again for thinking of us.

  3. Thank you lucky-1. I needed plenty of those. :)


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