Never Say Die

cat, nine livesWhen my friend calls me from her home in the northwest, she’s tearful and sad.

“What’s the matter?” I ask.

“It’s Honey,” ‘Pat’ explains. “She’s gone.”

I’m not surprised, but I try to sound shocked and sympathetic. Honey is much loved by Pat, yet she gives Honey the freedom she believes a cat should have. Living in a wooded area, Honey slinks out of the house at all hours of the day and night, but by dawn, she always returns home with a smirk and sometimes a feather or tiny tail in her mouth.

“Let and let live,” seems to be Honey and her keeper’s motto, and for 9 years Honey has lived long and, nine lives

Pat adores the aging feline, who has fattened over the years, despite her roaming adventures.

But the morning of Pat’s call, Honey is not in her customary cushioned pillow on the sunny spot in the kitchen corner. Honey is missing.

I figure she’s probably used up her nine lives.

Pat discovers a service she’s heard about, but never believed existed.

Hunting dogs that find lost, injured, or killed cats.  

dogs, catsThe dogs arrive a day and a half after Honey has disappeared. They search Honey’s home for items to smell – her ball of string, her pillow, her bowl. And then they take off with a bark, their trainer and Pat trailing behind.

They all race through the wooded paths, up the hills, down, over and around, for a mile, the dogs barking, hot on a trail, the humans puffing and stopping now and then, hands on knees, praying they find nothing, but wishing the dogs would stop.

Suddenly, all three animals lay down on a wooded path, panting hard, staring straight ahead.

“What are they doing? Why’d they stop?” Pat asks, looking around for some sign of Honey.

“The death smell,” the dogs’ trainer explains.

“What?” Pat trembles at the words.

“My dogs stop when they catch the cat’s death smell. She’s gone. Probably coyote. You might find her carcass somewhere near this spot, but most likely, there’s not much left.”

My friend trudges home, disheartened, depressed, mourning the loss of her treasured kitty cat.

Two days later, a despondent Pat answers the doorbell – a neighbor who lives down the street standing in the doorway wearing a puzzled expression.

“You missing your cat?” the man asks.

“Yes! Why?” Pat replies.

“I just heard a frantic meow – some fuzzy animal is stuck underneath my garage.”

Pat runs the 200 yards to the rather slanted garage with a dirt hole underneath it. “Honey?”

A responding meow answers back.

A shovel and shouted encouragement soon brings Honey, minus death smell and a few pounds lighter, back into Pat’s arms.

When she calls me with the good news, I want to shout out the moral to this story.

But I don’t, because I’m not sure what it is.

What do you think it might be?

cat, dog, hunt

44 thoughts on “Never Say Die

  1. I’m sure you are going to say the moral of the story is to NOT ever let the cat out, but speaking as a cat owner who has owned cats all her 55 years and also now lives in the country, I can tell you that is easier said than done.
    I have three cats and the two older ones (especially my tabby) will holler and do themselves harm until I let them out. It is not pretty and sometimes the tabby goes “missing” for days at a time; I figure he has a secondary home (less crowded) that he frequents.
    I try to keep them up, but it is impossible and they hate it. With this really cold winter, I’ve been keeping them penned up and its a nightmare until I finally cave usually on the coldest night. They always come back, no worse for the wear and I am always surprised.
    Now, my youngest kitten is a pale siamese and he is not permitted out. But he tries. Everyday.
    Cats were created to hunt (hence the sharp teeth and claws). We well-meaning humans cannot suppress years of instinct no matter how many toys you give them. There are just too many fluttering, fleeting critters right outside the window!


    • No, I promise, I was NOT thinking that cats should never be let out. I’m in awe of people who love cats. I’m a dog person, myself, because I shine in their love and loyalty. To be a cat lover, you have to not mind that they have much more important things to focus on than the human that cares for them – like fluttering, fleeting critters!


      • My baby cries if I don’t give him enough love and attention. I guess what I don’t care about dogs is the smell and the licks! I guess I’m like Lucy in that aspect. 😛 UGH! DOG GERMS!
        But I do adore their loyalty.


    • Yes, I think you’re right. Cats probably have many more lives than nine. And the subtle sense of humor – how interesting! Think they’re laughing lightly at us all, all the time?


  2. As a person who is constantly finding cat poop and dead chipmunks in my yard, I have been having a little difficulty searching for a way to phrase an honest and kindly comment.

    But I’m gonna have to get back to you.


  3. OOOOOOOOOOooo ooo ooo!! Always check under your own house first. Forage very carefully, if at all, under another’s as it it theirs and may hold surprises!


  4. Honey had not had her nine lives, yet. I’m reminded of the line from Steel Magnolias. I don’t remember it exactly, but something like this: I’d rather have one day of wonderful than a life filled with only ordinary days.


  5. I love my kitty….he was 18 years old last May and is healthy. Of course we keep him that way. He goes to the vet if he so much as sneezes. But he is technically our daughter’s cat. She went away to college in 2008 and he still lives with me. We have dogs too and I have to admit they are my first love and I cannot imagine my life without one or two. When the kitty is gone, we are done with kitties….no more litter box etc. Loved your story! 🙂


    • Thanks so much for stopping by here. An 18 YEAR OLD CAT??? Wow. He obviously has not hidden under neighbors’ garages for days. I’m always impressed with dogs who can get along with cats, and vice versa. I’ve never had a cat (thus no kitty litter), because our goldens have never seen a cat they won’t chase.


      • Love Goldens….fostered a puppy last summer for a few days. Golden Rescue found her a wonderful home about 45 min away. My puppies are all indoor dogs and none of them shed. (the cat makes up for that..yet another reason NOT to have any more kitties) I hope he lives alot longer but I am looking forward to no more hair :-/ My guys have never chased the kitties (had one before) they all tolerate each other quite well. I have pics of them all on the couch and bed together 🙂


  6. The moral is: next time, look under the neighbor’s garage first and let the dogs go to the dogs. I’m with Mike, though. The outdoor “barn” cats i had as a child decimated the songbird population around my family’s house.


    • I’m with you. In New England, we had three bird feeders and loved all the birdies who visited our yard. BUT the neighbor’s cat would jump higher than I thought possible to catch those birds. We asked the neighbor to put a bell on her cat. She wouldn’t. 😦


  7. For some reason this story made me think of the movie *Born Free.* A life out in nature might wind up being shorter, but I tend to think being free trumps being absolutely safe. Easy for me to say, though – my couch potato cat shows no interest in going out.


    • Hmmm, I read a dichotomy here. Born free maybe, but stay safe and alive with me!

      I think it must be hard to be a cat lover, and to figure out which is best. My dog, on the other hand, won’t step foot outside unless he’s by my side. I love doggie loyalty.


  8. Laughed out loud! Moral of the story? The moral of the story is that we never know. Life’s so unexpected that just about anything can–and will–happen. We lost most of our cats to nature. Sometimes they were killed by animals (we think) or a snowstorm (yes, probably) but other times the cats just skulked off to die into the woods, wanting to die in privacy. I’ve read that animals like to do this.


    • I’ve read the same thing about animals going away to die on their own – I think sometimes we’d be much more kind to ourselves if we were allowed to go off and die with nature, too, instead of hooked up to god knows how many instruments of torture until the body finally, finally, gives up.
      But that’s sounding very depressing. Moral of the story, as you say, ‘life is unexpected,’ xo


  9. I’d say the moral is to never completely trust a dog to sincerely hunt for a missing cat no matter how innocent and industrious they may appear. The cosmic balance always shifts in their favor when a cat isn’t found. Or so they believe. 🙂

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