My 5 year old daughter has a habit of feeding the neighborhood cats which has resulted in more than a few kittens being dropped off in our garden. Of course, once fed, they are practically adopted since you can't get rid of them anyway. Thankfully, nature (and the fact that we live just off a main road) has settled on an attrition rate that means we usually don't have more than a 2-3 at any one point. Her other habit is to give them all girls names.
Enter Jane. The scrawny little ball of black fuzz that greeted me at the door one day expecting my immediate affection and I shuffled past without as much as a glance. I learned later that he had been christened Jane. We had another discussion with my daughter about gender but Jane it was and that was that.
Soon Jane had become somewhat more substantial ball of fuzz and I came home one day to hear my wife lament about his tail. "Did you see it? It's horrible, the poor thing! I'm going to take him to the vet tomorrow morning!" I went out to find him in the corner of the rabbit cage, listless and nursing a bloody lump. It was as if his tail had been skinned and quite disgusting actually.
"I'm afraid we have to amputate", said the vet the minute she saw him. "There's no way to prevent infections so the only choice is to remove it" I received frantic calls from my wife every so often updating me on antibiotics, painkillers and neutering. "Wait a minute, why are we castrating the poor fellow?" I asked. "Well, the vet said that he was such a nice cat and that he would need to be taken indoors to recover from his surgery and that we should just go ahead and adopt him properly and that the only reasonable thing to do in that case would be to neuter him." I know what I was thinking at the time, but to their credit, they did not completely take advantage of the situation.
Two days later, the patient returns home and takes up residence in our kitchen. My complaints about the smell and general hygiene issues were met with drooping eyes and puppydog faces about poor Jane's predicament. At least his name is more appropriate now, I thought to myself. The next 10 days were filled with guests turning their noses (and sometimes stomachs) at the sight of his/her shaved and sutured derrière, chasing said derrière up and down the stairs when he/she escaped the confines of the kitchen, the discovery of random baby gifts ending up in his/her cot (wasn't that the baby's blanket? yeah, but Jane was cold), my mother repeating the word najis endlessly, and my own funny feelings and dreams that I attributed to having a black cat in the house with us.
The final straw was when he decided that his potty was not cutting it and came down to the kitchen to find a massive stain on the floor. Poor Jane had to go out again and that was final. I figured I had done my good deed, shown plenty of tolerance and he/she was only going back to the garden which was not so bad. How wrong I was.
The sad epilogue to this tale (pun intended) happened a few weeks later, when I came home to find the housekeeper saying that Jane was doing something unnatural. "What do you mean unnatural?" She could not answer but soon pointed me in the direction of the garden. I looked out to find Jane sitting underneath another of the garden cats who was happily plowing away at Jane's tail-less behind. I stood there in shock and could not but feel bad for the role we had played in the scene that was playing out before me. Poor Jane...
Ballad sung to the theme of Lou Reed's 'Sweet Jane'