I awoke this morning a little after seven. As is customary, I laid there quietly listening to the sounds in the room — the snores, the little dream barks, the deep breathing. This would be the last peace and quiet I would know once my feet hit the floor for the next few hours as I work through my morning chores — emptying litter boxes, feeding everyone, and cleaning the yard.
I heard Layla meow rather loudly from her cat carrier in the bathroom. Twice… or was there a third meow? It was an odd mix of moan and meow. A bit louder, but the same sound I heard from her twice last night.
How grateful I am that Ike spotted her yesterday evening and alerted me to her whereabouts.
After I rise in the morning, I stumble down the hall to turn on the stereo and get some coffee. Then I stand in front of the dining room window and check on Otis and Layla. Their cattery is just outside the dining room window.
Wednesday morning, I saw Otis, but no Layla. I kept looking, but this feeling came over me that Otis was there alone. So I went out to check, and sure enough, there was no Layla in the cattery. No signs of any trouble; no signs of an escape route, but no Layla.
For two days, I looked everywhere for her, called her name, checked the road often to be sure she had not tried to cross it and something happened. I talked to neighbors. I looked out the windows with my binoculars often and went for frequent walks looking and calling her name.
It rained a lot yesterday. Layla is a very smart girl, so I felt sure she would be hunkered down somewhere dry.
After the rain stopped last evening, I again went out looking and calling her. I was in the very back of my property. My dogs were also in the very back, but inside the fenced part of the yard. I went to again check the road. There is a vantage point in the very back that affords a long view. Thankfully, no cat in the road or along the sides of the road.
As I was coming back across the yard, Ike started barking and looking at a specific spot outside the fence. Because he was so insistent, I gave his bark more attention.
There is a small pole barn of sorts in that part of the yard. Open wood slates with an old piece of weathered plywood on top. I looked all around it and saw nothing. But Ike would not stop. So I checked in and around the few things inside and behind a piece of wood that was leaning against the back of the shed, I saw a furry back.
Layla is similar in color to a rabbit or a squirrel, so I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first. When I got down closer, I saw it was Layla. She seemed stressed, but she looked okay; I was elated!
I ran to the house to get a cat carrier. She has all her claws so I was not going to risk getting clawed and losing her on the walk back to the house.
I put her in the carrier with little trouble. I walked the long way around to the front through my neighbor’s yard. We stopped by the cattery. I was thinking of releasing her back into the cattery because I wanted Otis to know she was okay. But she seemed a bit weary and uncomfortable. Not knowing what happened that caused her to leave the cattery a couple nights before, I put her back into the carrier and brought her in the house. I put her in the hall bathroom with food and water and closed the door so she would not be disturbed.
I visited her several times to talk to her and pet her. She seemed exhausted and stressed. She seemed to have a sore leg, but she still used it. She seemed stressed, but I did not detect that she was distressed. I thought a night of safe sleep would help her wonders.
This morning’s quiet was broken by Layla’s meows. “Ah,” I thought, “my baby is awake.” She rested in comfort and safety last night. I wanted to give her a good look over this morning and see if she needed to go to the vet. So I got up to go see her. When I looked into her carrier, I could tell by her stillness that she had just passed. There is a difference in the energy that surrounds a living body and one whose spirit has left.
My baby Layla passed away. And I am blanketed in the solemnness.
Life is like a hike through the wilderness where every so often we come out from the bush and find ourselves on a cliff. We are left to think, “now what? Where do I go?”
Before I buried her, I took Layla to Otis so he could have closure; so he might understand. He was so happy to see her yesterday evening when I first found her. I am hoping that seeing her helps him to understand why she is not coming back; why neither of us will ever see or hear or feel her again.
I have no idea what happened. No idea how or why she left the cattery, where she has been for a day and a half nor what caused her death. But sadly, those answers would not change anything. So I just let go of the questions.
She died “found” and in the house with her family. For that, I am grateful.
Otis and Layla were left behind when their family moved out in December 2007. They are foreclosure babies. In February 2008, they were diagnosed as Feline Leukemia positive and the vet wanted to euthanize them on the spot, but I couldn’t do it. So I built them a cattery where they could live freely, yet be safely away from other cats. You can read more about them at these links: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ].
What do you think?