This wasn’t what I meant

By Mir
February 23, 2010

Every now and then I meet or talk with someone who says to me, “Hey! Remember when you blogged about XYZ? You never gave us an update! What ended up happening?” And then I have to reach back into my brain to access the compartment where I’m storing XYZ, and generally if I never updated on it, it means one of four things:

1) Nothing ever happened. I didn’t update you because there was nothing to tell.
2) Something boring happened. I didn’t update you because the update put me to sleep, and I was there.
3) Something happened that somehow fell outside the bounds of what I’m comfortable sharing, and so I just… let it go and hoped you wouldn’t notice. Sorry.
4) I forgot. Probably I saw something shiny.

The truth is that Option 4 is the most likely scenario, closely followed by Option 1. Options 2 and 3 are less common. And today you get Option 5.

What’s Option 5, you may ask? Well, I didn’t know there was an Option 5 until yesterday. But Option 5, it turns out, is:

5) Something boring happened, followed by something horrible, so first I didn’t update and then I updated to say YOU GUYS, OHMYGOD EWWWW.

But first, let’s recap. Last month, I came to you and said, “Hey you guys, I’m currently overrun by the neighbors’ feral cats, what should I do?” And you, lovely readers, because you are supremely awesome, you had lots of ideas for me. As well as many choice words about my neighbors and also my local animal control folks. Which I truly appreciated. And then I didn’t update because…

… as soon as I wrote the post, the problem just… stopped.

After about a week of the kitty versions of the Sharks and the Jets meeting on our deck every night for some yowling and flicking of itty-bitty switchblades at each other, everything went back to normal. Oh, sure—the neighbor’s yard is still full of cats, and I still occasionally find ONE cat sauntering around our property, but the Grand Cat Convention Designed To Drive My Dog Insane seemed to have dispersed.

“Huh,” I said to myself. “Well that was… weird.”

And life went on. You might even say I’d completely forgotten about it, as the compartment in my brain reserved for CAT ANGER is smaller than you might think.

Okay. So! Life is going along swimmingly, relatively catless, and then yesterday Monkey and I went out on a walk. In the normal course of family life we always use the garage and back doors, but yesterday for some reason we went out the front door. And going out the front door revealed a yellow cat laying in our (yellow; hey, it’s winter in Georgia) grass which we’d previously not seen. Correction: I hadn’t seen it.

“I saw that same cat there yesterday!” piped up Monkey.

We walked towards it and it didn’t move.

“Uh, Monkey?” I asked, trying very hard to sound casual. “Did you see that same cat in EXACTLY THAT SAME SPOT?”

“Yep!” he answered. “He must like it there. Probably he’s sunning himself!”

It was overcast. Earlier it had been raining, and the cat was definitely damp.

I took Monkey’s hand and steered a wiiiiiiiiiide circle around the cat. “Okay, honey! Let’s go!” And off we went on our walk, while I tried to figure out what protocol might be for when you find a dead cat stretched out in your front yard. Perhaps a giant stake, like the ones the reps carry at the DNC to show which state they’re from? Only this one would say “IS THIS CAT YOURS?” Did I need to bury it? Did I need to TOUCH it? My mind raced, mostly with REVULSION.

And here’s the thing: I’m not going to lie, we made a lot of jokes about cat-killing during the Week Of Yowling. I would NEVER hurt an animal, you understand, but I still felt like I’d been clipped by the karma bus. (YOU JOKE ABOUT DEAD CATS? HERE YOU GO!) I felt guilty. Even though I didn’t have a thing to do with that cat’s death. Also, aren’t animals supposed to crawl off into the woods or whatever when they die? Since when do sick cats stretch out on the neighbor’s lawn??

Now, the crazy neighbors with the giant trays of food aren’t the only ones with cats. We have some nice neighbors who have a cat, too. And I was pretty sure this wasn’t theirs, but I wasn’t positive. But as luck would have it, we ran into that neighbor while we were out.

“Hey,” I said, again trying to sound infinitely casual. “Spot’s a longhair, right?”

He looked at me oddly. “Yes, I guess you’d call him that.”

“Big tom? Orange?” I persisted.

“Yeah, that’s him,” he said. And I exhaled. Thank GOD. Not theirs. “But have you happened to see Ringo anywhere?” he continued. “He didn’t come home last night.”

My heart sank. “Ringo? You have two cats?”

“Yeah, Susie brought him home one day. Found him as a stray kitten. She’s just crazy about him. I wonder where he is.”

I gulped. “Is he… yellow? Short-haired?”

He brightened. “That’s him! Have you seen him?”

I tried to think of what to say. “He’s sunbathing in our yard!” piped up Monkey.

What to say? “Uh. Yes. He’s sunbathing in our yard, and he’s overbaked to crunchiness, actually.” No, that wouldn’t do.

“I think you’d better come with me,” I finally managed. And we walked back together, and that was how I got to watch our perfectly nice neighbor extract his dead pet from my yard, because I have Bad Kitty Karma.

Monkey was only a little traumatized. Actually, he was fine until the neighbor went to turn the cat over, and then he was completely freaked out by the cat’s stiffness, and first thought that meant the cat was resisting and therefore still alive. Oy. But we came inside and talked though it and everything was okay.

But about an hour later, Chickadee was about to take Licorice outside—her hand was on the back door—when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Craning to look out the window, I saw two enormous black dogs I’d never seen before, roaming around our yard. One of them only had three legs, and both of them had collars, so I assume they were pets, but HELLO, what were they doing in our yard?

Clearly the Animal Gods are angry with me. I repent! I’m sorry I complained about the cats. I hope the renegade dogs found their way home.

I gave Licorice an extra treat to try to rebalance my pet karma, and I hope it works. Because that was just a very weird day in the animal kingdom here in our yard.


  1. Lori N


    and, Sorry for your neighbors loss.

  2. Lori N

    And wouldn’t you know, I’m first to comment on the dead animal post. Off to give my new puppy treats in an effort to stave off bad karma!

  3. meghann

    Well, since Lori posted first and took the bad karma hit for us all, I can post now!

    -poor kitty. :(

    -And, cats go into heat in cycles, so I hate to break it to you, but Catapaloosa may return to your yard sometime soon.

  4. The Other Leanne

    Okay, this was a little weird and sad but I was handling it right up to the part where the neighbor turned over the stiff cat, at which time MY cat evacuated the entire contents of his stomach. Clearly, he was greatly upset and would prefer no further updates.
    PS-it’s likely the kitty yowling stopped because all females have been impregnated. When the kittens arrive, give one to your neighbor.

  5. JennyM

    Let’s turn this situation around to your advantage. I’m seeing a ticket booth and a small fee to view the Stray Animal(s) of the Week. Neighborhood entertainment and a little extra dough for you (new boots?): everyone wins!

    (Poor kitty, and poor Susie. And now I’m off home to dispense a few treats.)

  6. RuthWells


    Right before Snowpocalypse 2010 hit the eastern seaboard, our dog located a…. carcass… near our neighbor’s house. I am 99.999% sure that it did not get removed before the snows came, and I am VERY LEERY of what we will find then the snows melt….

  7. StephLove

    I’m sorry for your neighbor and that Monkey was a bit freaked out.

    I steered my almost 4 year old past a dead cat on a snowbank by the side of the street twice yesterday (same cat). Fortunately it was gone today and she never noticed it.

  8. Little Bird

    Those two enormous dogs might be the reason the cats have quieted down…

  9. Em

    Not to be vulgar (ok, to be a little vulgar) maybe your problem subsided because of the dead kitty. Maybe he served as a warning to the rest, in which case I think you have stumbled across the answer to your wandering dog problem.

    (Kidding, of course! Off to gorge my dog on treats to undo what I just did.)

  10. Chuck

    I remember some book growing up called 101 Uses For A Dead Cat. I have a weird sense of humor but even so, I never found that title very funny.

  11. Burgh Baby

    Just for the record, it’s OK with me if you don’t give any more kitty updates because, um, EWWW! Also, awwwww! Poor kitty. :(

  12. Half Assed Kitchen

    Awww. Ick. Bummer. Sad. Poor kitty. Poor you.

  13. Colleen

    I’m think I’m about where you are when it comes to them in terms of how I feel about stray cats. I hate having them around the yard and I have no issues with letting the dog chase them out, but I couldn’t personally hurt one (don’t worry, neither would my dog). During all the torrential rains back in late fall there was a cat laying (lying?) under my car. Usually they run away right away, but this one did not. My son went to poke and it only moved a little to another spot. I finally had to have him guide me while I backed up without running it over. Poor thing was pretty close to death. We wrapped it in a towel and took it to the closest vet so they could put it to sleep. Both my kids (6 and 12) were with me. They were pretty sad but glad I didn’t leave it in the rain. I like to think it was the humane thing to do, but I admit to feeling a little guilty when the vet asked me if I wanted to them to try and save it and I said “no”.

    Anyway, sorry you had to go through telling your neighbor about his cat. That’s the worst feeling.

  14. karen

    I’m laughing and I’m not… poor cat..and you got hit with the karma stick for sure :-) I do feel sorry for Monkey quite a bit, it’s shocking enough for adults.

    AND..just to put an end to the bad Kitty karma thing… I HOPE… you didn’t throw a few jokes around after the incident..even in your subconscious.


  15. Heather

    Aw :( Why’d it have to be one of the NICE well loved kitties? Sad.

  16. Tracy

    That’s horrible. And that Monkey, gotta love his positive attitude…sunbathing. Poor kitty. What happened to keeping up with your pets and NOT letting them roam the neighborhood. I love my puppies way to much to just let them roam. Might be why that one dog only has 3 legs.

  17. Amy

    I was once a caretaker for the grounds of an estate that had a large pond in the middle. One day I came home from my other job (I’m a science teacher. And we lived on the grounds at the time.) to find my husband completely unable to process or deal with what he had found earlier–a dead, bloated cat floating in the pond. We had no idea whose cat it was, and there was no way to ID it, so we had to bury it. Actually, *I* had to bury it because my husband nearly threw up every time he laid eyes on it. He dug the hole, and I retrieved it from the pond and moved it to the hole. It was completely awful and disgusting.

  18. Stace

    Thats horrible. Stiff kitties are not a good lawn ornament. Hopefully the Animal Gods get bored with sending strays into your yard and forget about you, I wouldn’t want you to find the kind of stray in your yard that I did last year…a Cow…yes…a cow. Im still not completely sure what I did to piss them off..but I’m hoping whatever it was they stray cow made up for it….

  19. Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

    You know, they say that black cats (crossing your path, yada yada) are bad luck. But a three-legged black dog? I don’t know…you either don’t want to break any mirrors or you really, really should play the lottery.

    (Poor little sunbathing cat.)

  20. Beth R

    @Tracy: I firmly agree with you about not letting your pets roam, however I do have to object to the assumption that it was an accident, etc. that cost the one dog their leg. Especially in larger dogs, the majority of tripods have lost a leg to osteocarcinoma.

  21. Sheila

    My neighbors had an ex-squirrel situation on their front lawn last summer. As they were away, I tried to do the neighborly thing and remove the carcass so they would not come home from vacation and have to deal with it. Like I said, I TRIED to do the right thing, but each time I got near the squirrel with a shovel to scoop it up, my hands got clammy, a bead of sweat broke out on my upper lip, and I actually got dizzy. I could have used Monkey there to reassure me the little guy was merely taking a nap.

    Turns out, I needn’t have worried about what my neighbors would have found upon their return. A hawk swooped in and took care of the removal process for me.

  22. Flea

    Compost! For the flower bed!

    I mean, that’s so very sad and horrid, Mir. I’m so sorry.

    We’ve a couple of neighbor cats marking our front porch for about three weeks and I have no pity on cats who don’t belong in my yard, stray or otherwise. Stinky!

  23. Karishma

    ohhhhhh oy. that’s awful. and HOW does the crazy keep finding you?!? Em might be right, the body of that cat might have triggered some kind of survival instinct in the other cats, and now they’re just avoiding your yard. who knows?

  24. Nicki

    Wow. I swear only you. Okay…and probably me. But mostly you. Sorry. Stinkin’ karma…

  25. Dawn


  26. Brigitte

    Hee, Stace, we haven’t had a stray cow but we did get stray chickens once (who wanted to peck my toes when I was trying to grill supper, maybe we should have had BBQ chicken).

    I don’t think the dead cat could have served as a warning, as my sister’s late father-in-law tried that on purpose with squirrels, hanging grisly little corpses from his peach tree to keep them away. Never worked, but he kept doing it. Twisted sadist, rather glad he’s her “late” father in law!

  27. Aimee

    Oh no. Ugh. That’s… not awesome. FWIW, though, I think you handled it well.

  28. Katie in MA

    I nearly doubled over with “tiny little switchblades.” But the rest…ew. I think you better hit the kids up with treats, too, just to be on the safe side.

  29. JennyM

    Oh, and I meant tickets to see LIVE stray animals. Taking money to show people dead animals is definitely wrong.

  30. mom, again, again

    we lived on a corner lot for a while and that made us responsible for a lot of unleashed pets/strays that ended up dead in our yard. Very unfair. We’d always call whoever it was that was supposed to come take dead animals away, but sometimes they took so long my husband would just bury them on the far side of the house where I never went. Someday someone will have reason to dig there and wonder WTF? was going on.

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