Feral Lessons

Why did I ever start feeding it?

Dupee [dop-ee].

That’s what I call it (and “it” because I can’t tell if this cat is a girl or neutered boy).

I don’t know who Dupee belongs to. But whomever it is, they don’t take care of it.

This makes me angry.

I moved into a new house last fall—the property owner told me of Dupee. She pointed to a cat wandering the back yard and asked, “Will you feed it? I’ve been feeding it and want to know it’ll be taken care of.”

Because I love cats—because this woman was kind—I said yes.

No harm, no foul.

Over the next six months I never saw Dupee. I presumed the truth was the cat belonged to the previous occupants. They’d come to their senses and took it with them.

Then spring came. Dupee appeared. It’s face had been mangled badly…a dog, squirrel, raccoon, coyote? The nose—raw hamburger—and it’s white fur-face was caked with dirt and blood.

It was obvious, this cat would die.

But it wasn’t my problem. It hadn’t been around. Somehow it had survived all these months. That cat was someone else’s problem. And I did my best to ignore it and not feel guilty.

In the evenings I would sit with my beautiful Bengal cats; their show-quality coats were silken with perfect leopard rosette markings flecked with glitter. They are lavishly loved, fed the very best food, catered to with $7.99 toys. They have heated beds for when the house temperature falls below 60°F during the winter and spring nights.

During those the wet and cold months of Spring, my mind occasionally wandered to Dupee while my cats lived in luxury, and batted and chased champagne corks tossed to the floor.

{I will not, NOT, feel guilty—that stupid cat is not my problem—it belongs to someone else!}

As spring melted into summer, I kept (to the best of my ability) an emotionally-detached watch on Dupee. It’s face was getting better. How it survived such an injury—fending for itself during a drenching spring that brought hail, biting winds, and a single small snow flurry—was beyond me. Yet there it was in the back yard. Sitting under the pines. Healing.

On a warm day curiosity got the better of me. I set out to inspect the feral. Thinking it’d run away, I approached with caution. Stooping down, I softly called, “…kitty… kitty?”

Dupee blinked back—a blink with both eyes from a cat is a sign of trust. Stepping closer, Dupee got up as if to turn and dart to safety.  Who knows what I said, but I kept talking, softly—sweetly— inspecting the wounds from a distance that had begun to close.

I’d seen enough and sloshed through the rain-soaked grass to the house. Turning back, I looked with pity. But instead I was startled! It was following me! Feeling foolish yet alarmed, I picked up pace – only for it to begin trotting then break into a run to catch (or catch up) with me. My heart raced as I feared it would pounce and dig it’s claws into my legs, scramble up my back, and scratch my eyes out.

Admittedly, I  have read too many Steven King books.

Dupee caught up and swirled my legs, purring, and pawing the ground and my feet. With dissolved anxiety, I cautiously scratched it’s head. The purring intensified and droplets of drool fell to the ground.

That was the day my heart broke for this homeless cat.

That day, Dupee was feed a full meal.

That was the day this feral and I began our friendship.

Dupee comes around most every day, it never runs away, in fact quite the opposite has happened. It runs to me. Sometimes I think I am the only one loving this gypsy cat. But in me, it has found compassion in a world of uncertainty.

Dupee and my heart—are the same creatures. We’ve been loved and forgotten. Cared for, then left behind and homeless. Beaten and mangled and ravished by beasts. Some even saw the wounds—knew the need for intervention and care—yet turned away—it wasn’t their problem. It wasn’t their mess.

And like Dupee—somehow—over the harshest of winters— my heart, it survived. It healed. It has become brave, seeks new friendships, and ventures, and places to trust again.

Dupee taught me to not give up. On myself or others.

Love is a vulnerable hope, a tremendous trust and badge of courage.

If Dupee can do it, so can we.

Copyright © 2009- 2011 Sherry Meneley . All Rights Reserved . soiledwings.com . sherrymeneley.com . soiled wings createHEART create heart truth soulution soul’ution life coach coaching

9 thoughts on “Feral Lessons

  1. WOW – I never realized the evolving relationship behind the ‘stray cat’ in your backyard. *sigh* Beautiful story, beautiful you!

  2. Awhh, I love that! I call animals our gifts from the Gods and I can’t imagine my life without them. It’s true they love and trust when so many of us don’t deserve it. They are the best little angels and you are an amazing testiment to how love can heal and then blossom into great works of art like that. You definately need to put your writings into a book!

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