If you’re the monster who murdered our beloved cat, well done. Well done for shooting a defenceless cat with an air rifle. For leaving it to die in the rain. For making it crawl back home in agony, to be discovered outside our gate.
Well done. I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself.
It takes a special kind of person to take aim at a cat. To notice the collar around its neck. The collar that says he has a home. A home where he is loved and adored. A home he worked so bloody hard to get back to.
You know what you have done. You know that the shot didn’t kill him, but you were quite happy to let him die a slow and agonising death. Heck, you may have heard our calls, as we searched for our missing cat.
What you don’t know is how much this cat meant to us. He was more than a cat. He was a companion. Part of the family. An essential part of our unit.
I desperately want to wake my children this morning and tell them that yesterday was a bad dream. It won’t be long before they hear the tinkle of Skomie’s bell as he skips up the stairs and plonks himself on the bed demanding cuddles.
We’ve done our best to protect our children from the evils of the world. To preserve their innocence. To allow them to enjoy their childhood without fear or threat. It was one of the reasons why we moved to a village in the country.
You’ve given them a life lesson that the world can be a nasty place. They know this by watching the news, by listening to the radio, and reading the paper. You’ve brought the nastiness closer to home. Thank you for that.
I’m sure you can sense the anger in me. One minute I’m crying, the next minute I’m staring into the middle distance, remembering our little cat and his delightful ways. The pain is laced with anger.
This was a needless death. When we discovered him, partly obscured by long grass, he was bedraggled, confused and in pain. The purring replaced by shaking. The sparkle in his eyes replaced by fear.
Although we can’t be certain, it looks like he had to crawl back home via a forest and a stream. Pellet lodged in his spine. Without the use of one of his back legs. With a bladder the size of a grapefruit. He came home seeking comfort. He came home for help.
We couldn’t give him that help. Despite rushing him to the vets, and earlier signs that he could be driven to Bristol for neurological surgery, we had to make a painful decision. Little Skomie was put to sleep yesterday evening.
Just thinking about it hurts. You had no right to take Skomie away from me. I’ve lost a little mate. A companion. A sounding board. He may have been small, but he filled a massive part of my life.
He had so many irreplaceable characteristics. Like the way he’d insist on walking alongside us as we ventured up the lane to feed the goats. More often than not he’d insist on being carried back – his little legs not quite up to the challenge of a round trip.
You know how cats knead with their paws for comfort? Skomie never quite got to grips with this. Instead, he’d lay on his side, with his paws kneading fresh air. First the left paw would go up, then the right paw, then the left, etc. The purring and look of satisfaction on his face told me everything about the way he was feeling.
He had a special way of stopping me from writing. I’d hear the bell as he made his way upstairs to the office. He’d jump up from the left side of the desk. Never the right side. Always on the left.
He’d turn. Stick his bottom between my chest and left elbow. Front paws stretched across my left wrist. Back paws stretched over the keyboard. Then he’d raise his head, looking at me in a way that said ‘you weren’t planning on doing anything for the next five minutes, were you?’
There were other things. Like the way he insisted on being held. Like a monkey stretched out on a branch. Legs splayed out in all directions. It didn’t look comfortable, but the purring told me it was.
He never wanted to get down. I completed an entire game of rounders with Skomie on my left arm. The batting went reasonably well. Even the running was acceptable. Catching was a different story.
I’ll also miss the way he sat on my lap. On his back. Legs pointing to the heavens. Head on my knees. Such trust. Such a feeling of contentment. So happy.
He just wanted to be with us. Which is why he worked so damn hard to get home. My heart aches when I think about how much pain he was in at the end. How hard it must have been to crawl back to safety. How cold and wet he must have been on the three nights he was missing.
Knowing that he’s no longer in pain provides a crumb of comfort. Not being able to say goodbye or to give him one final stroke of the head hurts more than it should.
We’ll probably never know who killed our little cat. I guess it doesn’t matter. We have the memories. In time, thoughts of Skomie will be laced with happiness, affection and laughter. For now, those thoughts are tinged with sadness, hurt and anger.
He was just a cat. There are millions of others that look just like him. But as anyone who has ever owned a cat will tell you, they become much more than that.
Skomie didn’t deserve to die the way he did. His life had been filled with love, trust and happiness.
Well done for cutting that life short. For making our rural idyll feel a little less idyllic this morning.
Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to wake the children. It wasn’t just a bad dream.
RIP Skomie. Missing you already, mate.
A big thank you to Michelle at Westmoor vets in Tavistock. We cannot thank you enough for your care and compassion. It’s good to know that Skomie was in such good hands when he passed away.