Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The passing of Gillian

So last night, Nancy sent over a Craiglist post for a lost sheep in Spencer. I ended up in the lost/found section of Craigslist, and as I do, I checked out the lost/found cat listings, to make sure none of the lost cats had turned up in my place, and none of the found cats were any of my past adopted cats.

I found this ad:

we are very sorry to report that we found a cat--not living--on rt.96 very close to Rogan's corner gas station...we found her (i'm assuming it was a female) on 10/10...we took her home for a loving burial......go to the PET section for a full description..the post is titled: FOUND date is the same as this one: 10/21----craig's is not letting me post the same in two catagories so not including description can contact me for whatever help i can be...

Which is near the South Hill cats. So I scrolled through "pets"...

this is not good news..i'm very sorry to say we found a cat in the PM on 10/10 that had been struck by a car a very short time before we arrived...the cat was not alive...we took him/her home and gave the cat a loving burial...the cat was 3 or 4 colors so i assume a female...she was beefy, about 13 or 14 lbs.--black tiger stripes on a mixed color background of light brown; light gray and white hair flecks......white hind legs, white front paws....white bib and muzzel with stipped mask around eyes and ears...very big gold eyes and a black ringed racoon tail---very beautiful....this was on rt. 96, very close to Rogan's Corner gas are welcome to contact me and we can make arrangements which might help you to deal with this...again, this is news i hate to bring to anyone who loves their pet....

Gillian. I knew it was Gillian.

I emailed her photo over to the person who posted the ad, and they wrote back a lovely but very sad note that they were certain it was she, and they asked her name, which was extremely touching to me, and pretty much destroyed me emotionally. It is incredible what simple things indicate kindness from a stranger.

You see, there are so many people in the world who would just drive by a dead cat in the road. How many people would stop on a very busy highway (four lanes!) to pick up a cat, carry her home, bury her in their own yard, and then post on Craigslist to try and find the owner? How many people, once confirming the identity of the cat, would write and say "We would like to know her name?"

I emailed Mark, because since leaving IC I only feed Gillian on weekends, and he confirmed this morning that he hadn't seen her in about three weeks, but that there was another cat eating at the feeding station.

Gillian showed up at Ithaca College about eight years ago, with two kittens, one of whom is Leo, who is still here with me. She was feral. I sort of just casually asked the grounds supervisor if he wouldn't mind a mouser in the barn, and he said "sure," so trap/neuter/return was born at IC. Gillian has been living amongst the tractors, trucks, buildings, and a passing history of recyclable chairs, desks, and other interesting items for eight years. Periodically she would be spotted sleeping in the sun on what had once been a plush office chair.

We named her after the past president's wife, Gillian. Mrs. Whalen used to have a horse at the barn, and she was a terror (in a good way) at making sure that horse was cared for, and periodically ended up at my dispatch desk at Campus Safety to contact the vet when the horse needed care. It seemed fitting, after she and Dr. Whalen left IC, to have a "Gillian" in the barn.

Over the years, the farmhouse was torn down, the barn was tightened up and used for storage, but Gillian remained. Her feeding station has moved from place to place depending on how things got shifted, but she always found it. She was never sick, never injured, but I always worried about the day when she would just disappear, like all ferals do, victim to one awful thing or another.

I worried that the current wildlife control contractor might truck her off someone if someone complained about her.

I didn't always see her on weekends, but now and then I would sit in my car and wait after filling the bowl, slamming down the top on the feeding station, and yelling "kitty, kitty, kitty!" and she would come sauntering calmly out for her dinner.

Eight years is a good long life for a full feral cat, and a car is probably the best possible end she could hope for. That she was actually picked up, carried, home, and buried in someone's yard is something short of a miracle.

I took the day off today. I found I really couldn't function. The loss of Gillian is also a loss of a bit more of the connection with IC.  I trapped over 130 cats on that campus since 1988. I expect I'll go trap the new cat, and if he's friendly, he'll go to the TC SPCA to find a home and the feeding station will be packed up and brought back to Wildrun.

And there will be no more weekend runs to feed Gillian.

Rest in peace, little girl.


Brian said...

That was a very touching story. I'm sorry for your loss. It is a wonderful thing you do feeding and caring for these cats.

Chrissykat said...

Good good karma will come to those incredibly thoughtful people who picked her up & dignified her existence. People like this restore my faith in humanity.

Connie, Orlando said...

Tears, of course. But knowing what happened to her is better than wondering years & years later what happened to her & imagining the worst. Amazing how compassionate those folks were. There are some terrific folks on this planet and you've just met another one.

((((Hugs)))) to you.

Jenny W said...

Oh my. I am so sorry for your loss of Gillian (and she represented) :(

meowmeowmans said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for caring so well and so much for the cats.

san said...

I are sorry to hear about Gillian. Like you I am always touched by people who ask after the community cats that I look after. When they don't see a partcular cat, they sometimes ask me what had happened to him/her and sometimes one or two would offer me money or even their time to look after/feed the cats. There are also people who do not care at all when I tell them that their pet cat (that they ahd allowed out in busy streets) had met with an accident and died. So I really appreciated your touching story and the people who had helped Gillian.

CindyLu's Muse said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, and so deeply touched by your story. You're right, Gillian probably met the best fate for a feral - yet I'm sure you're heartbroken regardless. God bless the people who would go to the lengths they did for her, and you!

Meg said...

I'm so touched by the people that laid her to rest so lovingly, and of course that you knew who it was. Your strength and sensitivity continue to move me.

Rest in peace, Gillian.