GRAPHIC. Long post, not suitable for everyone.
Nineteen years ago a cat had a litter of kittens outside a bank. The intersection the bank was at was quite busy and the mother was hit and killed leaving behind a litter of kittens in the bushes of the bank. My mom drove two towns over to our house, got wet cat food and our kitty carrier and put the food in the back. One by one the little hungry guys ran in and the bank ladies in their late-nineties padded suit jackets crawled through bushes snagging all the skittish feral kittens.
The first of those kittens caught was a Siamese-type kitten with a dark mask on his face. Being caught in the bank bushes, he became Bandit. The rest of the litter got lucky, the bank just got a new A/C unit and the box was still in the back. They got dumped in- Free to a good home! And since this was 1997 nobody complained online over the box of cats in the bank lobby for customers to take home.
Flash forward a few years and Bandit only liked one human and even then occasionally bit that person. He was banned from all bedrooms at night for his habit of attacking sleeping humans. Litter box? What litter box? I'll pee on clothes and poop in the shower! Close the door? I'll poop outside the bathroom door! Even if those dumb dogs are outside I'll still go in the upstairs hallway. He was, in short, not the best house guest.
He'd run away when we went out of town and only come home when he heard my dad's voice, despite us calling for him. When he got really old he toned it down some and would sit on the couch with us. (Even if we were not the one human he liked.) We got him a kitten (or us a new mouse catcher, rats became a problem once Bandit no longer patrolled the neighborhood) and he got a new lease on life. He tolerated this little furball at first and then snuggled and played with this new kitten. He got a new buddy and was happier, even if he still had his bad habits.
Boris, his new buddy, is now just shy of two years old. He loves heading out. Occasionally Bandit would follow him into the yard, sniff and wander back in. We'd leave the door open and Bandit would wander in after two minute or less. If the door was shut he'd loudly yowl (he didn't meow, he'd wander the house loudly yowling for no apparent reason, lost, perhaps, confused- definitely) until we went and let him in.
It's July 3rd, Sunday, and Monday morning the trash gets picked up. We head out, take the trashcans out and put them at the curb before bed. It's quiet, and everyone heads to sleep.
Just before five AM, it starts. The two dogs sound like they're trying to tear down our fence and are snapping and snarling, howling, clawing at the fence line. Then a cat, screeching and howling. Inhuman, nearly not of this world. I had one thought- Boris definitely did not come home the night before. Three of us bolt out of our bedrooms and my brother climbs on the fence with the first flashlight he can find, a weak one that does nothing to help look into the neighbor's yard. I haul the hundred pound dog away from the fence so he stops rocking it. The sixty pound one followed my command to get in. I grab better flashlights and my brother tells me, "That's a dead cat, but it's not Boris." He then scoots down the fence in his pj's getting a better view, "Get down. It's Bandit? Don't look."
It doesn't make sense, our nineteen year old cat was supposed to be found in a sunny spot in the den that he likes to sleep in. He had renal failure for years, pancreatic failure, a month ago he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Yes, this cat's death was a known and anticipated thing. No, it was not a five AM wake up because our dogs were trying to rip through a wooden fence to get at our neighbor's dogs because that was their cat. It wasn't our kitten howling and yowling from the fence because it was his buddy down there. The old man could barely get on a bed or couch, sometimes he couldn't and I'd pick him up. Once or twice we had to carry him to his food and he fell over when we set him down. How could Bandit even get over a six foot tall fence?
It didn't make sense. We had to go next door and bang on the door and ring the doorbell for a few minutes to tell our neighbor that his dogs killed our cat and we need to go collect him. The neighbor wasn't even home, just a guy renting a room who's landlord's dogs just killed these people's cat. He wasn't involved but he got a five AM wake up call on the Fourth of July and it wasn't fireworks but the dogs in the backyard killing his neighbor's cat.
We knew it was coming, this nearly twenty year old cat with more health problems than teeth, the one that barely ate and went from a lithe twelve pound killer of small rodents to an eight pound old man who needed help to get on the couch and sometimes got his claws stuck on the rug or couch and cried until we came and unstuck him. He was difficult, a bad roommate, a childhood pet and turned out to be pretty pricey for a Bandit caught in a bank parking lot as health bills came in. He was better than a pack of four dogs at five in the morning, though. We all knew he'd go to bed and not wake up. It was the lie we told a nine and five year old that asked where the kitty was, a week after we explained he was sick. "Bandit went to sleep and didn't wake up."
We told nice lies to the kids in our family and the truth to adults that wanted to know. We haven't spoken to our neighbor who offered no apology for his dogs or sympathy for a lost pet. His renter was more apologetic than him. We sat and watched fireworks and tried not to be angry. I'm still angry. No animal deserved that.