How We Live: My Last and Best Cat

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She was a homeless teenage mother of two when I first met her.

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We connected immediately when she leaned in for a hug. Then she rolled onto her back, showing the pretty markings on her tawny belly.

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I adopted Luna immediately, her kittens having already gone to their forever homes. After being ‘cut and chipped’ at the city’s animal service center – meaning sterilized and implanted with a scannable microchip in case she goes missing – the little brown tabby with green eyes has returned home with us. She didn’t peek into the car; instead, lying like a sphinx in her cage, alert and confident that she was heading for a good place.

She was only one year old. We have spent nearly 11 wonderful years together.

There wasn’t much information about our new kitty, only that she had been delivered, young and pregnant, and spent time in foster care before being put up for adoption. Luna was not a street cat. She clearly understood humans and homes, quickly seeking out the sunniest spots to take a nap and galloping around the kitchen to the sound of a can opener. Within two weeks, she had sent a mouse that had infiltrated our house, cementing her status as a hunter.

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The adoption papers said I would keep Luna inside and we did, at first. It was winter and she tolerated being confined for about three months. But deep down, she was a wild thing. She raced around the house and tore the furniture apart with her claws. She scaled the walls and somersaulted into the bathtub. As the days lengthened into spring, she became even more frantic and kept moaning to get out.

I knew the risks of letting a cat out. A lifelong cat lover, I had grown up with these enchanting creatures and had three of my own, all of whom went outside. Two lived to the ripe old ages of 19 and 16, but the third – we never knew her age – disappeared without a trace.

Despite a long search, Luna the columnist's cat has still not been found.  Courtesy, Alex Berenyi
Despite a long search, Luna the columnist’s cat has still not been found. Courtesy, Alex Berenyi .jpg

The debate over loose pet cats is long, heated and international in scope. It is well known that outdoor cats kill billions of birds and other wildlife each year and are more likely to be killed or maimed by cars or predators. According to a recent article in The Guardian, around 70% of owners in Europe and the UK allow their cats to roam, believing that “access to open spaces is considered good for the well-being of cats”.

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The European Union executive even said in 2019 that he was a “strong defender of the rights of free movement – including of cats” and argued that he would not force cats to be kept indoors. indoors or on a leash.

The polar opposite is true in the United States where 70% of cat owners now keep their pocket panthers indoors or allow only controlled access outdoors. Other sources suggest that Canadian cat owners are similar. In Calgary, cats must be confined to their owner’s property.

Luna was desperate to escape to the outdoors, and I guess we leaned towards the European point of view, believing that giving a cat access to the outdoors meant she would have great physical and mental stimulation and a full and happy cat life – knowing that her life might be shorter.

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She became an indoor/outdoor cat: staying mostly indoors from October to April, a fierce cuddler who loved sleeping in my arms under the duvet. But the rest of the year – especially in the heat of summer – was spent lounging in lounge chairs, hanging out in our fenced yard, and exploring a one-block radius of the house. She was extremely capable and careful for such a small beast and looked like a skinny young cat until her late middle age. Our vet once observed, “She really is living her best life, isn’t she?

Yes, she killed things, especially in her early years, despite various necklaces and bells. It made me sick. Luckily, his hunting dwindled over the years and then stopped. She even neglected to catch a new mouse in the house and we had to buy a trap. I love birds and considered taking a birdbath, but decided it was still unwise.

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Then, at the end of August, Luna went out for the night as she always did on warm evenings. She didn’t show up in the morning. Weird, but she had done it before. No sign of her the next day. Or the next day – very unusual. We put up posters, combed the neighborhood and posted advocacy on several community websites. I filed a missing cat report with the city and started obsessively checking their “impounded cats” web page. She was chipped, tattooed and wore a collar and tag. She would surely come back.

No Moon. No word from Luna.

People have regaled us with hopeful stories of cats that have returned weeks or even months after they went missing. But six weeks and counting, I have no more hope. It’s cold at night now and she would hate it. Maybe his luck has changed. There are hungry coyotes and lynxes in the city, even lynxes, lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. It’s a cat-eat-cat world.

We removed the posters a few days ago. I still look for it a hundred times a day, something jumps out at me in an alley, a corner of the garden or on top of a sofa. I miss her calls as she walked upstairs in the morning, a short meow with each step, hoping to find me still in bed for a cuddle. I miss her striped fur, her elegant beauty, her playfulness, her essential feline.

I doubt I will ever have another cat. I can’t stand the thought of keeping a cat indoors, and I can’t stand losing another one outdoors. Luna was my last and best cat. Instead, I’ll probably take this birdbath. Luna would have loved it.

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