To The Stray I Couldn’t Save

JustJ

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 5, 2018
Messages
70
Purraise
111
Location
Southern California
I wanted to get this story out, not just as personal guilt but as story that may inspire others to take action. This cat story has a sad beginning, a hopeful middle, and a tragic end. But the reality of it needs to be said.

I’m a college student, I live with my parents and last year I started setting out cat food outside that my picky indoor cat didn’t want. There have been stray cats in my neighborhood years before, and I wanted to do something kind for any lingering ones. Much to my surprise I discovered a stray hanging around the neighborhood that I had never seen before. He was some sort of Siamese mix, skinny, and very frightened. Somehow, he had found my house and the cat food and would regularly come by once he learned I was constantly leaving food out.

Every time I would approach him, he would run away and over the next few months I slowly but surely got him to trust me until one day after he finished eating, he came over to me and started rubbing against me like we had been best friends our whole lives. He was a sweet little guy, loved head rubs, loved to roll around and show me his tummy, and loved rubbing against me. Naturally, I grew very attached to this cat. I fed him everyday. I would give him pets and sit with him and watch the stars and the leaves. Eventually my parents agreed to let him in and I wanted to adopt him very badly seeing as the winter months were also closely approaching.

I tried to bring him in, but when I did he would absolutely freak out, he would scream and claw the door open to escape. I felt terrible, I felt like I was hurting him even though I knew outside is not where a cat is meant to be. So I decided I would take it slowly, I would let him get comfortable coming in on his own terms. And for a while it worked. I would get him in to eat meals and explore. He was always comfortable around me but when he saw another person or heard my other cat crying because I locked him in another room, he would get scared and dash back outside.

I told myself to be patient, one day he would come inside and want to stay forever. But things became more pressing when I discovered he had injured his ear very badly, something or someone had hurt him and he needed a vet. Winter was also brutal this year. Below zero weather for a couple of weeks. He would curl up in the outdoor heated cat house I bought for him (which are great and lifesavers by the way, I a hundred percent recommend) and would stay for most of the night but he would always leave. Against all odds, he survived the freezing weather like the good strong boy he was. But, he never stayed outside my house for more than a few hours. He was a wanderer and I always wondered where he went.

In the warmer weather, he wandered more and I would just barely catch him for when he came by for meal time. But, last Thursday I noticed he hadn’t come by to eat at all which I didn’t think was odd at first since he’s gone days without visiting before but on my way to work as I was driving I found him in the middle of the road. He had been run over and had died who knows when. No words can describe how horrified I was, how I horrified bystanders by screaming and crying in the middle of the road, and how angry I still am at myself.

He had survived a year out here, I thought he was always cleverly careful but I was naive. People aren’t always nice to cats around here and people drive like maniacs. I should have known better. I had him in my house! I should have kept him there! I should have researched cat rescue more, I should have put in more effort instead of making excuses of how extremely busy I am. I had him in my house and I should have kept him there even if he was panicking and screaming! Now it’s too late, and my poor sweet boy who was probably looking for his home this whole time, who was probably heading to my house for our daily breakfast was killed and I can never take that back. I wasn’t even there to say goodbye. I wasn’t able to give him the life he deserved and I will have to live with this the rest of my life.

I called him ‘Toast’ because he looked like an adorable piece of toast. He was the sweetest, gentlest cat. He was full of love and full of life and he didn’t deserve all this pain and suffering. If my story can be a lesson to anyone, it would be 1. Please, for the love of everything, don’t abandon your pets. They aren’t objects, they aren’t toys, they are living creatures who have feelings. They feel love, hurt, and betrayal. And if you dump them outside and leave them, they will die. They will suffer and die brutally, so why would anyone do that? How could a sweet cat be dumped on the streets? He did nothing wrong, all he wanted was a home.
2. Don’t hesitate. Don’t be like me and wait too long, you never know when that chance day will come where the poor cat will be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

thanks for reading, I just needed to get this out there. It hurts so much to know that I failed him. I helped him suffer as little as possible through the winter but in the end I didn’t save him, he never deserved this kind of pain. The people who abandoned him and hit him and left him, are a special kind of monster. If I could have a single wish, it would be to go back in time to stop this from happening. But it’s too late. Now I can’t stop checking the porch window to see if by some miracle it was a different cat, but I know it was him, I know he’s buried behind our house. But I keep waiting for him even though I know he won’t be there.

I truly hope that he is in a better place, that the cats I’ve lost before can look out for him now. And I really desperately hope one day I can see him again to tell him how very sorry I am for not doing enough and to tell him that there were some humans in this life that loved him with all their hearts.
AA2C97F1-DEA2-476B-9B42-993CA07DC03D.jpeg
3F96252F-2C3C-48E2-9C45-603DC947828E.jpeg
98AD5DE7-2D30-479E-9DF9-37242E4D0D08.jpeg
4FF936BC-3320-421C-AF43-3CEE42F7D426.jpeg
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
12,687
Purraise
15,603
Location
Nebraska, USA
Try not to dwell on his death. I know this is impossible right now because grief is full of all those should haves, could haves. You did what you could at the time to provide shelter and food, he will forever be grateful for that. You had absolutely no way to predict something horrible would happen like this, you have to have intent to do harm to be guilty of something wrong. You had no intent, all you wanted was for him to feel safe and loved. You gave him everything he wanted at the time, he obviously wasn't happy inside. There are so many dangers outside and this horrible accident is one of them. you had no way to predict or prevent this from happening, I hope you can find some kind of comfort knowing you made a difference in his life.
The bond of love you formed with him will NEVER leave you. He will forever be as close as your thoughts and prayers. So send him thoughts of gratitude for having him share your life for a while and add on another love in the future to help that love grow even stronger. You will never get over this tragedy, but you will learn eventually how to get through it. But it takes a long time. You are taking your experience and possibly saving another little life, so the good that possibly comes with this horrible experience will be a start to help you feel better about yourself. These experiences have a way of trying to take over your life. Don't let it. Do not be afraid to open your heart, There is so much horror and sadness in this world we need people with a big heart and compassion like you have to help those little ones who show up. Bless you, for your kindness and for making a difference in his life.......RIP Dear Tost. You will be dearly missed, you will always have a secure place in a loving heart. May the good Lord bless and keep you, until you meet again!
 

Mamanyt1953

Rules my home with an iron paw
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Oct 16, 2015
Messages
25,088
Purraise
41,870
Location
Havelock, North Carolina
Rest you gentle, Toast, dream you deep. You walk in someone's heart forever.

I am so very sorry. But I will leave you with this thought...what Toast knew of "home" and "love," he knew because of you. He lived the life that he chose, and you allowed him to do so, while working on changing his mind. But he DID KNOW LOVE. And he died knowing he was loved. And that, my friend, is worth more than you will ever know.

Those of us who know and care for ferals accept that our hearts will be broken over and over again. That is the way of it. But the joy is greater than the heartbreak, and "our" cats, whether we can touch them or not, will never know a life without love. We accept that all we can do is all we can do. You did very, very well, indeed.
 

solomonar

TCS Member
Super Cat
Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
845
Purraise
717
Location
Romania
Cats are wild animals.
They are equally predators and prey. So they face death every single second of their life.
It just happened that cats expanded their territory into ours. So humans are their natural enemy, not because we want to be, but because we behave like that by default.
The only thing we can do is to care for cats. It is exactly what you did.

===

We are not the Masters, we are arms of Faith, so it is no reason to blame yourself.

"What if"? Nobody knows an exact answer to this question.

Imagine that you didn't do anything for Toast the Cat. Perhaps he would lose the life race on the very first day of the winter. Nobody knows. A successful past is not a guarantee for a successful future.

We assume that stray cats are the abandoned ones. But we never know for sure. Tomcats have an irresistible wish to wander - that is a built-in behavior - so they can escape their homes. I read a study that measured a 5 km (2.5 miles) radius of wandering per night - perhaps an exceptional case, but still. Cats are not domestic animals. They have a mission to accomplish -to reproduce whatever the cost.
Sometimes people just die before arranging for somebody to care for their cats.

===

You have a big heart and a warm soul. Toast the Cat knew that for sure because cats always know.
That counts enormously.

Tears and Love!
 

catsknowme

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
10,365
Purraise
4,881
Location
Eastern California,USA
Your tribute to Toast is very touching. I believe that showing your raw emotions at the accident scene waa a gift to ferals and strays - it probably had an impact on the bystanders and perhaps, now, some of them will be more compassionate, more aware of street cats. Toast knew love and a home. Forcing him inside might have caused him so much stress that he might have gotten sick. One of the best pieces of advice that I got from my father was "when it's your time, it's your time and the best you can hope for is to go with your boots on" and that has sustained me through kitty losses and people losses, including finding my dad dead in the yard, in his chair, under the Sierra nighttime sky, his wolf-dog and his semi-tame ferals keeping vigil.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9

JustJ

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 5, 2018
Messages
70
Purraise
111
Location
Southern California
I’m sorry for replying to all of you so late but it’s been difficult coming to term with my emotions and memories of this horrible tragedy.

I want to thank everyone above who gave a little message for Toast and sharing your own story, they were very powerful. Difficult things to hear, but ones I needed to hear nonetheless.

It’s very hard for me to not feel guilty about what happened. Because I know I could have done something, I had him in my house a few times, albeit 2 or 3 in the morning when the house was finally quiet so he was less scared to come in, and maybe I should have shut the door and kept him there even if he screamed and cried. But like you said catsknowme catsknowme it could have stressed him out to the point of sickness, and could have still lead to his death. So who knows?

But is hard to live with the guilt of ‘I could have’. Because I’ve lost so many cats in such a short time, it makes me scared to have another in my life. Four years ago, I went to school in another state in another city that has a very bad stray cat problem. I couldn’t save the beautiful female stray who would come to the dinning hall to look for scraps of food and would give birth to a new litter of kittens every few months. I couldn’t save my own cat two years ago when he had gotten sick with some bizarre idiopathic disease that I didn’t have the money to keep up with his worsening health. And I couldn’t save Toast, this sweet abandoned cat who was so close to deciding he wanted to stay inside.

If it wasn’t for the cat I have now (the littermate of my other cat who passed away two years ago) I don’t know how I would have pulled myself together through all of this. I love all my cats like they were my own children, so when they pass away and my friends and people around me are like: “you’re still sad about that? It’s just a cat.” I know they don’t understand. So I come here to share my story with other cat lovers who truly know what it’s like. It just hurts so much to see all these squirrels,racoons, and opossums killed on the road and to think someone thought of my cat so insignificantly as well.

Then I see all these lovely videos online (like the Dodo) of these amazing people rescuing feral and stray cats, bringing them back from the brink of death and it makes me feel worse knowing I had the chance to do the same but couldn’t because of my fear and complacency. Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 , feral rescuers must have hearts of steel to see the pain of loss of these sweet creatures every day and still continue doing what they do. I personally know I’m not strong enough emotionally, but I’m so grateful that there’s other people out there who still love and help strays as much as they can.

di and bob di and bob I really hope my love and care for him meant enough to him, and I hope it was enough even in those last hard moments of life he had. And I really do hope one day after this life that I can tell him I’m sorry and give him my love once more. Whatever comes after this life, I’ll do everything I can to find all my cats again. Until then, I hope he knows I will never forget him and I’ll always miss him.

catsknowme catsknowme I’m sorry about your father,he sounded like a very wise man who lead a very interesting life. I’ll take that piece of advice as well and try to keep those boots on. I know there’s still a lot of cats out there like Toast that still need help. And maybe after all this failure I can finally save one.
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
12,687
Purraise
15,603
Location
Nebraska, USA
My heart hurts so much to know you are in such pain. I know it all too well. My beloved Chrissy followed me onto the road. I didn't know she was there and she was killed in front of me. I still suffer daily and know of the guilt you speak of. Losing a cat can be just as hard, if not worse then, losing a relative. I have lost both and cats can be even more devastating because they are so innocent and all giving. Don't ever believe anyone who says " it's just a cat". They obviously have never lost a loved pet. Pity them for not knowing that kind of love, I do not even want to be around that kind of attitude when they can't support someone grieving so much. Bless you for loving so much to hurt so bad. PS I still cry when I see a cat laying on the road, 9 years later.....
 

Mr. Meow

Special needs cat expert.
Super Cat
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Messages
752
Purraise
2,096
Location
Ohio
There's no doubt in my mind that Toast is watching over you, just as you watched over him.
I want you to think about something. You had the mindset, the heart to put out food in the first place. That love of cats brought Toast into your life. Without that first step, he may have never had those meals, those head bumps, those belly rubs. He knew you loved him. Do not lose that passion, that heart, that love. It will lead amazing cats into your life that will change you forever and no matter the outcome, a day of bliss is always better than a lifetime of suffering.
Put that heart, that drive, that love to good use. Losing a beloved pet is never and will never be easy, not in Toast's story, not in the story of a cat who never had a bad day in it's entire life. Don't let that pain keep another beautiful soul away from you.
We're always here for you, just a message away, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on. You're among family.
We love you Toast.
 

catsknowme

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
10,365
Purraise
4,881
Location
Eastern California,USA
JustJ JustJ Please know that your TCS family understands your grief in the most intimate terms. In this culture, cats are second-class but the ancient Egyptians revered cats so much that families who lost a cat could show the loss by shaving their eyebrows and they would receive condolences; the family would be exempt from civic duties and would get workleave. The Norse vikings kept cats both at home and during expeditions; cats were given as wedding gifts. Both the Egyptian and Norse cultures were significantly advanced, giving us inventions like toilet paper and navigation. So please know that in mourning Toast, you are in good company.
 
Top