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A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run

April 28th, 2011

The last few days we’d noticed that the resident feral cat “Miss Mama” hadn’t been looking great. While she was friendly and would let us pet her, she was never as tame as an indoor cat, which meant we didn’t see her up close a lot. When the weather warmed she started spending her days out hunting in the woods around our home instead of in the garage, so we saw even less of her. When she was around, she’s follow us around the garden and even took a shine to Lucy, running over to rub on her whenever she spotted her outside.

We hadn’t been seeing much of her lately and figured it was because of the nice weather. When we spotted her the other day we noticed she looked very thin and wasn’t walking very well.

We finally caught her Tuesday evening and immediately knew it was bad. She was weak, could barely walk, and her liver was failing. There wasn’t much we could do, we put out a heating mat to keep her warm and didn’t think she was going to make it through the night. She may have caught a mouse or a chipmunk that someone had poisoned and as a result it poisoned her. Or perhaps she wandered onto someone’s lawn that had just treated it with chemicals, which is also very hard on pets. A sad reminder that often our expedient measures to treat a problem or pest result in consequences that we didn’t intend.

She made it through the night, but looked even worse the next morning and could barely walk. We knew it was time. We carried her out and put her on the side porch to enjoy the nice weather while we made some preparations.

We have a tradition in my family that pets are always buried on the property (all of our previous pets are buried in my parent’s garden). The cats always get a pussy willows planted over their graves and the dogs get a dogwood tree. I set out to decide where I wanted to plant a pussy willow, for this would determine Miss Mama’s final resting place.

While I’m very sad that Miss Mama is gone, I can’t be too sad. Outdoor cats have a life expectancy of 2 years – she was about that old. They have to deal with the harshness of nature and the expediency of humans trying to deal with pests. It’s the price we pay for the joy that animals bring us. I know that Miss Mama had a wonderful year and a half of life here at Chiot’s Run. She had delicious pastured chicken to eat, a warm cozy bed in the garage, the freedom to roam the woods hunting and be a cat. While we would have preferred for her to live a longer life, at least her life here was good.

We still have one garage cat left. If you remember, Miss Mama moved her kittens into our garage last summer. One kitten survived, she’s known as “Little Softie” or “The Sweets”. She’s a burgundy black cat now, full grown. Hopefully she’ll be able to avoid Miss Mama’s fate, she doesn’t seem to wander as far. She was brought to this garage at about 5 weeks old, so this is home to her.

We buried Miss Mama up in the front garden and I’ll get a start from my mom’s pussy willow that is growing over Jeffrey, our first cat’s grave. I placed a bouquet of wild flowers over her grave, perfectly fitting for our wild (yet tamed) cat.

Today we’re very sad still that Miss Mama is gone, but we really appreciate the joy she brought us. As our first garden cat – she was perfect! We’ll miss her chirpy meows, her padding around the garden behind us, the moles she left by the car and the great personality she had. So long Miss Mama, we’re sad to see you go, but happy you chose to spend a year and a half at Chiot’s Run!

Other posts about Miss Mama
Should I Change the Name?
The Word is Out
Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In Case You Were Wondering
Not So Feral Anymore
Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition
Not Chickens But They’ll Do

38 Comments to “A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run”
  1. KimH on April 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Awww… My heart is sad for the sadness in your heart.. She was a beautiful Miss Mama.. Thanks for sharing her story!

    Reply to KimH's comment

  2. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife on April 28, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Oh that’s very sad news.

    As you say though, she had a good couple of years with you – she looked very happy and in great condition – and she won’t be forgotten, so at least that’s something.

    Reply to louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife's comment

  3. Tasha @ Voracious on April 28, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Oh I’m so sorry. She was such a beautiful cat, her eyes were just so lovely. She was lucky to have you, and you her. Experiencing that love and respect, even for a short time, is transformative, and you gave her a beautiful life and a dignified, peaceful passing.

    Reply to Tasha @ Voracious's comment

  4. Jennifer Fisk on April 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    What a pretty girl. It is sad she is gone. While her life was short, contrary to popular belief, I think cats are happiest when they are allowed to be outside doing cat stuff. Mine are indoor/outdoor for the 6 months of bare ground and are much more content then.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  5. Jessica on April 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Miss Mama was a beautiful girl, and it sounds like she had a beautiful life with you. I love your tradition of planting pussy willows for cats and dogwoods for dogs. So sweet.

    Reply to Jessica's comment

  6. Rhonda on April 28, 2011 at 8:20 am


    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  7. Katrina on April 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Oh, so sorry to hear about Miss Mama. Losing a pet that you are attached to can be very difficult. I love that you bury her on the property and mark it with a plant. It’s a wonderful idea.

    Reply to Katrina's comment

  8. Penny Gibbs on April 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I am so sorry for your loss :( , however, I love your burial traditions- what a wonderful process to celebrate a little fuzzy life. Thank you for sharing all you do, and for her story.

    Reply to Penny Gibbs's comment

  9. kristin @ going country on April 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Aw BOO. Our outdoor, mostly-wild cats often meet a bad end of one kind or another. You can either keep them closed up in the house, safe, but not really living like a cat, or let them out into the big, dangerous world, where bad things happen. It’s sort of expected, but no less sad when it happens.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  10. Kaytee on April 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Sorry to hear this news. It’s really tragic to think that it could have been a neighbor that caused her to get sick. I’m sure all the animals around your property appreciate that you keep it chemical free and safe for them to roam.

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

  11. Anne on April 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I’m very sorry to hear about Miss Mama. She looked just like our Pandora. I know she had a lovely life.

    Reply to Anne's comment

  12. Songbirdtiff on April 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I can’t help but cry when I read that someone has lost a pet. My animals are so precious to me. So sorry for your loss.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  13. Brittany P. on April 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Rest in Peace Miss Mama. What a beautiful cat you were.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  14. Donna B. on April 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I teared up while reading this at work! Susy, I’m so very sorry for the loss… I will very much miss seeing Miss Mama.

    To this day I am angry when people bait and poison “pest” animals to benefit their own lives – hence why I choose not to!

    And I adore the idea of the particular trees to befit the passing of your pet. When my boyfriend’s parents cherished dog passed I gave them “black” columbine flowers to plant with her, their “Black Knight”.
    You still have Lil’ Softie to keep you company! ♥

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  15. Melanie J. on April 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I’m sorry for your loss, and thankful you posted about it because it gave me a different perspective about the first cat I lost 3 years ago…instead of kicking myself for not doing enough, being able to say that I gave him a good life while he was here. Also love your idea of planting pussy willows or dogwoods where they’re buried. My sympathies.

    Reply to Melanie J.'s comment

  16. MAYBELLINE on April 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Dang it.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  17. Kathy on April 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I relate to your pain–I have recently lost my dear chocolate lab and the guard llama for my goats. I have found some comfort in reading this:

    I wish you many happy memories of your dear Miss Mama.

    Reply to Kathy's comment

  18. Misti on April 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Aww, sorry to hear about Miss Mama! :( *hugs to you*

    Reply to Misti's comment

  19. farmgal on April 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I am so very sorry for your loss but it does sound like you have provided a wonderful home for Miss Mama, and she has left your with a living legacy of her in the terms of her little one.

    Reply to farmgal's comment

  20. Chicago Mike on April 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Miss Mama was a lucky Kitteh to have such a great place to exist.

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  21. Nancy on April 28, 2011 at 11:59 am

    She was very lucky to have such a good home and life. There is peace in that.

    Reply to Nancy's comment

  22. Tommy on April 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    A great tribute! Very touching.

    Reply to Tommy's comment

  23. Vegetable Garden Cook on April 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

    Reply to Vegetable Garden Cook's comment

  24. Charie on April 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I’m so sorry! She was beautiful!Lovely tradition in your garden you have, that way you will always remember her.

    Regards, Char

    Reply to Charie's comment

  25. Jacqui on April 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I first started gardening about a year and a half ago and was rummaging around the internet for information on how to grow things. That’s about the time when I happened across your blog – you had just written the first post or two about Miss Mama and her little kittens. I immediately connected with your compassion and have been reading every day since. Your blog is the highlight to my day and one of the few things I look forward to in the morning :).

    I’m not the sappy kind, but thank you for taking care of these little guys. The fact that there are people out there willing to take such wonderful care of our furry friends, ‘wild’ or not, makes me believe that the world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket. And of course, I’ll miss reading about Miss Mama.

    Reply to Jacqui's comment

  26. Herb Bennet on April 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I’m not one to cry but your story has created a few tears here. The tender way in which you wrote about her was very touching and it warms me that there are people like you. May peace be with you and Miss Mama. Om Shanti Om!

    Reply to Herb Bennet's comment

  27. Jaye Whitney on April 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’m so sorry that you’ve lost Miss Mama. Your words of her are a fresh and sincere reminder of why we love our animal friends and family.

    Thank you for sharing Miss Mama with the rest of us in the past and with her passing. May she rest in peace in your hearts.

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  28. Margaret on April 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I’m so sorry for your families loss. It is never easy when we lose one of furry family members. I hope your grief is quickly replaced with all the happy memories you have of Miss Mama.

    Reply to Margaret's comment

  29. Lee on April 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss Susy. Take care.

    Reply to Lee's comment

  30. foodies at home on April 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, a pet a part of the family and it’s always sad to see them go.

    What a beautiful tradition you have to say goodbye.

    Reply to foodies at home's comment

  31. Jinger on April 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I am sorry to hear of your news, but I must say if Miss Mama picked your home to live at for the last 2 years she was one smart Mama. She was beautiful – it is never easy to lose a family pet. Little Softie is beautiful, I have never seen a cat with those colors!!
    LYL Jing

    Reply to Jinger's comment

  32. Christine on April 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Poor girl. You gave her a good life.

    Reply to Christine's comment

  33. goatpod2 on April 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Our barn and outside cats have lived more than 2 years, we have had some for probably 11-12 years now since moving to the country!


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  34. glenda on April 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Tears from me. I have always loved cats and live with many. You gave her a good life and a respectful end. I care for a couple of colonies of feral cats. They are about 10 years old and one little cat is 3 years old. But you are right there are so many dangers for them. I wish they all had safe homes. As others have also said Miss Mama was BEAUTIFUL!!

    Reply to glenda's comment

  35. Sincerely, Emily on April 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    oh man! She was a good girl and I am glad that she spent most of her life with you all. I love the photo of her looking into your eyes (green eyed cat). You have many wonderful photos and great memories of her time with you. Having Miss Softie around it nice. I love that you call her a “burgundy black”! I have never heard that term and it is so true of her color. That is what my Cinder looks like (black with red hue). Love it “burgundy black”!! Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  36. Missy on May 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss, my friend. Whether they are indoor or outdoor animals, they touch our hearts and when they are gone our hearts hurt. We were talking briefly this weekend about losing Ollie and it made Shaun and I both cry AGAIN. It’s been 8 months and it is still fresh. With you spending so much time outdoors, you naturally got very close to Miss Mama. Sorry, my friend. One less kitty to watch cat TV at night. =) I’m glad you still have Lil Softie and the Luce to keep you company in the gardens.

    Reply to Missy's comment

  37. Mary on May 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Your pets should be indoor pets, not outdoor. Indoor live longer. Do you spay the stray animals you feed? I hope you spayed “little Softie.”

    Reply to Mary's comment

    • Susy on May 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      We keep our domesticated cats indoors, but Miss Mama and Little Softie were just feral cats that moved in. They’re “pets” in the sense that we provide some food for them and they’re allowed in the garage, but they’re left to roam and hunt like they would have naturally. We did trap them and have them spayed but they’re way too wild to bring indoors.

      Being indoors does have it’s downsides, it limits their ability to be cats as nature intended. You have to decide what you want for your cat. Long life or a more natural life for them. I find my outdoor semi-freal cats are much healthier mentally than my indoor pets – both because they’re doing what cats love to do and they’re eating their natural diet. We have one cat that we might make an outdoor cat because he seems to long to be outside. He was a stray that showed up on the porch a few years ago. Trying to domestic outdoor cats isn’t always a success!

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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