Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tribute to Jilly...Wherever You Are

This post is long overdue. But when you have hope in your heart that the ending to the story will change, you can't write it yet. Six months have passed, so I think that in spite of our not knowing the ending, for us, it is over. Over in a physical sense, but never quite over in our hearts.

Those who follow this blog know that we have a penchant for rescuing stray kitties. We love them so much that calling them cats isn't quite affectionate enough of a noun for these loving little furballs that somehow make their way into our home and hearts.

Jilly and Lily enjoy themselves some catnip!

Some years ago, so long ago that I don't remember if it was 2006 or the year before, a sleek, small gray cat appeared in our pool house. It took some days before this little girl warmed enough to let us touch her, but once we gained her trust, there was no looking back. She was the sweetest thing - so sweet that we named her "Sweetie Pie." And it wasn't long before we realized that some tom cat had thought her to be pretty sweet as well.

As many cats that have come and gone here, never before had kittens been born on our property. But Memorial Day weekend, just four weeks since she first appeared, Sweetie Pie gave birth to four kittens in the attic of our pool house. I was ill that weekend, and it was hotter than Hades outside. But the tiny mews coming from that hot attic called to me to go up there and get them out of the pink fiberglass insulation where Sweetie Pie had given birth.

I handed each of them down to Romie and he put them in a box on the floor below, lined with terry bath towels. Sweetie Pie followed on her own but a few hours later, those kittens and she were gone. In the matter of about 15 minutes, she had managed to carry each one of them back up into that awful pink stuff. So again, I crawled up there and brought them back down. This time, she let them stay in the box.

It was there in that box that she cared for her kittens until their eyes opened and eventually, they ventured out into the world around them. Sweetie Pie was a good mama, always watching out for them, especially if one of the other cats came around, or the kittens got too close to the edge of the pool.

But we really couldn't manage keeping five new cats, so a friend of ours agreed to take them all. We did keep one - Jack - whose spotted cheeks were just too adorable to let go. But in the first week in their new home, one kitten met its fate under a tire and by the end of the next week, Sweetie Pie and another kitten had disappeared.

That left one lonely little kitten, who cried non-stop. When my friend called to tell me, I told her I'd just come and get her. At least she would have Jack, her brother, to relate to. And the name Jilly just seemed perfect.

Jilly somehow managed to jump up here, among all these plants and not
break a single thing.

Just yawning...
After we got to know Jilly, it was likely that she wasn't crying at all. She just loved to talk. Her vocabulary was big and how I wish I'd known even half of what she was saying, because it was clear that she was trying her darnedest to tell us something.

Like the proverbial grandchild, Jilly was smart. One of the smartest cats we've ever had. We watched her methodically pick up a toy mouse in her mouth, jump on the seat of a kitchen chair, drop it, then knock it off with her paw. She'd then jump down, pick it up again, jump up in the next chair and repeat. When she came to an occupied chair (occupied by Baby), she thought a bit and skipped to the next chair in rotation and continued until she'd made two complete circles playing her game.

And she could fetch, too. Just like a dog. Throw her mouse and she'd leap over the couch and get it. She'd bring it back to you and drop it at your feet and we'd do it all over again. Many, many times.

I miss those days - days when we'd call her name and she'd come running from wherever she was on Our Little Acre, talking all the way. It's that talking I miss the most. But I also miss how she loved us - a head butt now and then, a lick on the eyelid to wake you up when she wanted to play. (Ouch!)

Jilly was a small cat, the smallest of any we'd ever had, but she made up for her diminutive size with personality PLUS. It may have been her undoing - we'll probably never know, but one day she was just gone.

For one of the cats to be missing for a day or two wasn't all that unusual, but when a week passed, and then another, we knew something wasn't right. We waited more weeks, and then months, with no sign of Jilly.

We looked and called her at all hours of the day and night and for a mile in each direction. We asked the neighbors if they'd seen her. We even alerted the vet about her disappearance and they agreed to let us know if someone brought in a cat that matched her description. Nothing.

It's now been six months or more, and we've resigned ourselves to the fact that she's likely not coming back. She may have met up with a foe that proved too much for her to escape from, such as the resident Great Horned Owl. And coyotes are known to roam here on occasion.

We can only hope that if this is what happened to her that it was quick and painless. And if she's in someone else's good home now, then we can be okay with that, too. But we still miss her...

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world, they have no voice,
They have no choice.

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm


Darla said...

Oh I'm so sorry. She was such a pretty kitty too.

Victoria Williams said...

It's so very difficult to lose a cat to....who knows? When we came back from vacation one year one of our cats was missing. Our son had been taking care of the house, living here, and everything had been going great. One day Elton was hanging out in the garden and the next day he was gone. Such a beautiful and friendly cat. We tried at the Humane Society for weeks, posted pictures, went around the neighborhood. Nothing.
I feel for your loss.

Jan said...

Awe;-) Sweet and sad. A very beautiful kitty indeed. I hope she's peaceful, wherever she might be;-)

Layanee said...

You have done well by sweet Jilly. Perhaps she is living out one of her other eight lives in a wonderful garden. Cats do have such personality don't they? Hugs to you.

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

I'm sorry to hear about Jilly! Pets really become family and it's hard to be without them when they go. It's very possible that she is in visiting another family for now.

fer said...

So sad to have lost her like that. But I think you might still have some hope. My gram pa used to have one cat that went missing for two years but suddenly came back. no idea where it went

Kylee Baumle said...

Thanks, everyone. When you have so many cats and can't keep them in the house, this can happen. Even though we know that and wish there were a better solution, we do the best we can to make their lives as enjoyable as possible. They reward us a hundred-fold. And it's hard when they disappear like this.

fer, I've read other stories like that. Wouldn't it be great if Jilly somehow showed up here again? I'd be ecstatic.

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