Saturday, December 31, 2016

Timothy's Garden

Timothy's grave

We named our garden "Timothy's Garden" after a very special cat. This is his story:

Timothy was about four or five months old when he arrived at our garden cat habitat. He didn’t come alone. He brought a dead squirrel and a very live little brother (I guess) who could leap from the roof of our house to the roof of our garage, a distance of about six feet.

After the two kitties ate the squirrel and made a nest inside the shed wood pile, they came to me to see what was for supper. Instead of feeding them, I took Scooter to our vets to give away and kept Timothy in our garden. Both cats went into serious loneliness and did nothing but mope around in deep sorrow. Nobody wanted to adopt either of them and after a month of watching them go into deep despair, Grampy and I brought Scooter back to the yard. Talk about a family reunion! This was a classic. Both cats ran into each other, jumping and playing, chasing each other, climbing trees, and eating the best cat food money could buy. Once word got around the cat kingdom, our cat population reached four with half a dozen day visitors.

A few weeks later, a mamma cat and her four kittens moved in with us. I think Timothy had put up a “Welcome!” sign by our front gate. Regardless we didn’t try to adopt them out; we just enjoyed them. Life was good that summer in spite of the heat and humidity.

Timothy was a Class A plus feral cat but learned little about houses and vehicles. He had no idea what a cat door was and ran from it every time I tried to push him through. Finally, in desperation, I held him one day then grabbed the door with one of my fingers, pulled the flap back and pushed Timothy through. After months of this exercise Timothy finally pulled back the flap with one of his claws and walked through.

Timothy loved his mamma and kitten cats, playing with them and watching over them faithfully. I pitied any poor animal who tried to approach them without Timothy’s permission. But all that changed one hot summer night when a wild dog got into our yard to go after Mamma and her kittens. Timothy fought valiantly but he was too small and the dog too big. We rushed him to animal emergency where he died an hour later.

The cats were in total shock that day as they searched for their big brother. Winston and Little Bit wandered over all the yards in our neighborhood, crying and calling out but Timothy never replied. Scooter hugged the fence not only for that day but for many days to come. Mamma cat and her kittens sat on our window sills and cried. It was several days before they gave up their search except for Scooter who refused to stop.

He walked around the yard as if in a trance, constantly searching for any sign of his big brother. He looked under bushes, climbed trees to search the branches, crawled under our sheds and inside our garage but his efforts were useless. Sometimes he sat in the middle of our yard and howled long sorrowful mawo's as if asking Mother Nature why she hadn't helped Timothy win that fight. Apparently he never heard an answer since he then plodded from yard to yard, mewing in those soft trills cats make when calling to each other. Getting no reply, Scooter returned home, crawled into the porch and stared out the windows, hoping and maybe praying for Timothy to return.

At the end of the second week, when I thought Scooter was at death's door, he wandered aimlessly to the southwest corner of our yard where I had set up a manger scene with life-sized statues of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus sitting in an open space surrounded by small bushes under an oak tree that created the illusion of a shed for animals. I hadn't been able to find any camels or sheep, wise men or shepherds so I had added plastic geese, squirrels and a cement puppy.

The animals had never paid any attention to this spot before but Scooter seemed drawn to it. He sat down near it, taking in every bit of the scene. After what seemed like an eternity, Scooter got up, trotted to the house, ate his food and slept on a table in the yard. His morale improved and every day for the rest of his life he first visited our little tree chapel. He took over Timothy's job of watching over the other animals and protecting them when necessary.

Then, two years later, Scooter died protecting some kittens from an aggressive feral tom cat. I like to think that there is a heaven for animals and that Timothy greeted Scooter at the gates to Cat Heaven and said, "Hey Little Brother, you did good." And Scooter said, "I was just imitating you, Big Brother." And that was how we named Timothy's Garden."

Posted by Diana for Margaret

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