I really don’t want to write this. It is somehow very hard. But obituaries are never easy so I will give this my best shot.
My cat Loa died early Sunday. She had a long struggle with an illness. We fought the good fight but it eventually got the better of her and we had to give her the final mercy.
Her death has given me pause to think about why I am involved in the thankless, endless, heart rending job of animal rescue.
Loa was, in fact, a rescue. I did some research and found the shelter in my area with the highest kill rate. I went there and found Loa. Rather, she found me. She stuck her paw through the cage and insisted that I take her home. The first of many demands she compelled me to satisfy.
Loa was not just a pet. She was more than a companion animal. She was a friend ( one who gives assistance; supporter).
When I suffered a grievous injury that left me in bed on my back for a couple of months, she stayed with me the whole time. She left only to eat and use the cat box. When I had to move back and forth across the country, she went with me without complaint. She was a constant in my life during a time of chaos. She was with me when I was lonely. She kept me going when I was despondent. She was one of the only things that kept me sane.
Our adventures were many. We went through good times and bad. She lived her quiet life with my fluid one. She was a dark and ephemeral and she had the ability to disappear even beyond what her blackness allowed.
Loa are the spirits of the Voodoo religion. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles. They are intermediaries between the Creator, who is distant from the world, and humanity. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service.
This was a creature capable of love, caring and other emotion. She always knew when I was sick, depressed, tired or not in the mood to mess with cat. Granted she was a princess who made many demands and complained when they were not met. She was her own cat and behaved as she saw fit. But that should be respected not resented.
Every dog and cat shares this ability to love and care. Dogs butchered in dog fights and tortured in puppy mills are horrible wasted sources of love. Cats, who seem to be heir to the worst types of cruelty, and are regarded as being disposable, are all capable of creating and sharing happiness with people.
Yet humans don’t care. We look upon animals as lesser species that we can abuse or kill at will. The sad thing is that we can.
People always chide me with “You care more about animals that you do people.” Yeah, I do. There are laws and strictures in place to protect people. There are social programs to help them out. There agencies, administrations and departments by the dozens lined up to help people- most of them funded by tax money.
There is nothing similar for animals- those even more helpless and dependent on humans. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are making strides but there is an overwhelming amount of work to do. Working in a shelter is hard, stinky, noisy and heartbreaking. You know that some of the animals will never find homes. You get attached to and then miss the ones that find homes. The work is never done and for each one that leaves, another comes in. You try not to think about the ones in kill shelters- the three million dogs and who knows how many million cats that will be euthanized because there is no place for them.
It is clear to me why I do what I do. It is for all the Loa’s (canine and feline) that are out there wanting to provide unconditional love for nothing more than a bowl of food and a scratch on the ears. I do it retain my humanity, to pay something back for the life- I have been given and to satisfy my need to champion the weak and innocent.
Now I have another reason to get out there and help my furry friends: I do it for Loa