Yes, it’s a somewhat subdued Feline Friday after the loss of Ms. Kili on Wednesday afternoon. That’s a photo of Mr. Toby welcoming you today. I’ll get back to him later in this post.
We have many strong memories of Ms. Kili.
One, of course, was the morning we rescued Kili and her sister, Ms. Wally. You can read a longer version elsewhere (see link’s on yesterday’s post), but the short version is that we were stuck in slow moving traffic town bound early one Saturday morning in January 1998. We could see cars driving off on to the shoulder of the road as they got to the front of the line. Then it was our turn. And there, in the middle of the lane of traffic, was this kitten, facing off with the approaching cars in a defensive posture, paws raised like she would fight the first to approach. It was only about a second before Meda launched out of the car, ran over, scooped up the kitten, and jumped back into the front seat, quickly evaluating its condition.
It was the kitten we later named Kili, after the rescue on Kahekili Highway. And just a little further along the road, there was another driver stopped and holding a second gray kitten. When we stopped to talk, he told us that someone had been dropping kittens out of a moving car. And when I offered to take “his” kitten with us to the vet, he willingly offered her up.
So there we were, two kittens richer. Kill and Ms. Wally were an investment that benefited us for the next 18 years.
And then there was Kili the huntress. During her prime, the empty four acre parcel in front of our house in Kaaawa was her hunting ground. She kept a constant vigil for mice and rats, and would proudly bring them back to show us.
One night in particular sticks in my mind. It was late afternoon or early evening in late 2002 or early 2003. Meda and I were preparing dinner, and Ms. Kili marched through the cat door with a large rat dangling in her mouth. She walked right into the kitchen, where were were joined by the kittens, Duke and Toby, and the older boys, Leo and Lindsey. At that time, Silverman wouldn’t have been hanging around the house.
In any case, Kili deposited the rat on the floor right in front of the refrigerator, in full sight of the male cats. Then she just turned around and strutted back to the living room. She was clearly offering them a lesson, delivering some prey so the young ones would have a chance to learn something about the hunting world.
Well, the rat turned out to be very much alive, and scampered out of the kitchen and down the hall. The male cats, young and old, ran for cover, retreating to a safe distance. Not one went in pursuit.
And the rat remained, hiding in the house, eventually taking refuge somewhere in our bedroom, until several nights later when Kili woke up in the middle of the night, leapt off the bed, and quickly dispatched said rat, as if to say, “Well, if you guys don’t know how to hunt, let me show you how it’s done.”
Years later, after Kili retired, Annie took over the huntress role. Most of the boys never got into it.
I’ve wondered out loud here before about how our animals react to the deaths of others in the family.
This time it was Toby who displayed a definite change in behavior that corresponded with Kili’s death.
When we came home from the vet without Kili, Toby didn’t appear to greet us. Nor did he come out to the kitchen when I started serving up dinner for the cats. That was a little odd.
And when I went looking, I found him settled on the base of the cat tree. It’s the spot where Kili had spent most of Wednesday, before our 3:30 p.m. appointment with our vet. He didn’t want to come out. I eventually had to leave a dish of food down there so that he could get something to eat.
And then, at 1:30 a.m., I awoke to find Toby on my chest and starting his old routine of rubbing his face on my beard. He used to do this when I would sneak in an afternoon nap, but hasn’t done it for years. But there he was, in the middle of the night, getting close to me in a way familiar to and somewhat unique to him. My thought at the time was that he was lonely, and this was a way to overcome that.
I don’t know. The two behaviors were unusual, and the timing coincided with Kili’s absence. Too bad the cats can’t talk.
–> See the rest of today’s Feline Friday photos.