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On the Dying of a Cat

I was excited by the sudden addition of a kitten to the farmhouse. This is a house with rats and squirrels in its roof. It’s a complex society with a ramshackle hierarchy and every night, we hear the harried scurrying of rodents in the roof.

The kitten will grow into a cat called a mouser. Specifically trained to hunt and kill rats and other rodents. The workers brought him in claiming his need for a home as his mother had died.

CB fished out the box the pressure cooker came in, lined it with some comfortable baby blankets and set the kitten in. CB’s mother named the kitten Bagheera. Appa declared the kitten a girl.

Bagheera was not in good shape. Luckily, I had a dropper from E’s medication and we started drip feeding the kitten diluted milk. Within a day, Bagheera was lapping it straight from the saucer.

The next day it was egg yolk and milk then egg white and milk. Over a week, Bagheera was eating an egg a day. We also found out that he was a boy. Bagheera found his voice and made his presence known with loud meowing. He made his pleasure known with equally loud purring. He grew sharp and active.

He even grew a little potbelly.





Then one morning, he woke up, threw up, and refused to eat. We thought maybe he ate something and was feeling off so we didn’t force him to eat. He became quieter and more lethargic.

The next day we took him to town to see the vet. The ‘vet’ looked like a volunteer student. She gave Bagheera a deworming shot. It doesn’t look like its working.

Bagheera is still alive and meows every now and again but he has spacey eyes and smells funny. CB says that’s the smell of death but I think it’s just his vomit.

He drinks little bits of milk and water but doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite. His thing to do is to go outside and sit on this one tiny piece of newspaper with his face way too close to it. It looks like he's pondering death. Either that or he's deathly fascinated in gold jewelry.

Yesterday, he climbed up and sat on my shoulder, in my hair. Today, he isn't readjusting himself even if placed on his back.

I want him to fight and come out stronger but then I read about fading kitten syndrome and it looks like that’s what he has. He was such a boisterous, loud kitten and now, he’s fading.

I guess we'll need to find ourselves another mouser. Two days of no meowing and the rats and squirrels are back. CB and I crack silly jokes about the kitten dying but the truth is it hurts. The harsher truth is that a job is not being done and the cat is not earning its keep. A mouser is not a house cat. It is only loved if it does its job of keeping a check on the rodent population.

The harshest truth is that this kitten's life is not worth a 2-hour drive to a proper vet with a surgery room. I'm surprised what a mild word that despite there being livestock and animals on nearly every farm here (and there are quite a few farms around), there are no medical experts to attend to these animals. 

Our cities are brimming with barely qualified veterinarians eager to operate on the newest inbred purebred for thousands of rupees. Our village with its cows and goats and chickens and dogs and cats and turkeys doesn't even have one.

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