2008-10-09 / Letters to the Editor

Adopted cat dies after shooting

Last summer, I noticed a young black cat in our yard every now and again. He was hanging around the chicken coop, and we developed a simple relationship in which I would yell, and he would bolt into the woods. As the weather turned cooler, we lost several chickens to coyotes, raccoons, and a hawk, and I felt both angry and protective, but I didn't see the cat again.

Then, just after Thanksgiving, I found him curled up in a pile of straw in the chicken yard, sleeping. The chickens were undisturbed, but we baited a big Hava hart trap with leftover turkey had soon had a captive cat on the dining room table, hissing vehemently whenever we came near. Inexplicably, we decided to open the trap and see what would happen… that was when the Cat Fairy must have waved her Wand of Transformation, because the freed feline jumped onto the floor, flipped upside down, and began batting the air with his paws and purring. So much for our feral cat theory.

To our dog's utter disgust, we gave the cat a can of tuna and let him stay overnight; he thought it would be nice to sleep with the dog, but she begged to differ, so he settled into a basket with a pillow in it. The next morning, I let him out and assumed that was the end of it, but that evening a strange squeaking sound proved to be the cat scratching on the window to be let in. Apparently, it was time to buy cat food… as well as to put an ad in the paper, since this was clearly a superior-quality cat who belonged to someone. He was polite, never scratched the furniture, got along with our dog, and knew how to use a litter box, although he preferred to answer the call of nature outdoors.

While we waited for the inevitable phone call, we took him Jamestown Animal Clinic for shots and found out that he was already neutered, but no one at the clinic recognized him. As the days went by, and no owner surfaced, we became more and more attached to him, naming him Jacksonian Democracy, Jackson for short. He evolved from a slightly skittish, skinny adolescent to a slim, athletic adult with a beautiful dense black coat and luminous goldengreen eyes.

Jackson was a quick study; he came to the window of whatever room we were in and asked to be let in, even if it meant climbing up the tree to the bedroom. When I had surgery this summer and was relegated to the couch for six weeks, he would lie on my chest and purr, or stretch out on the back of the couch where he could look out the window and keep an eye on me at the same time. He loved to be petted, and never liked to eat dinner without having us rub his head first. I have always been a dog person, but Jackson made a believer out of me.

He continued to spend a lot of time outdoors, but last week, he was gone longer than usual, and when he made it home, he had been shot in the face with a shotgun. The doctors at the clinic here sent us to the Newport Animal Hospital, but there was no way to save him. So that's the end of my story about the beautiful black cat who adopted us, but I'll always wonder what happened and why, and I'll always be grateful that he came and stayed, even for just a little while.

Sarah Wheaton


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