Saturday, June 09, 2007

Last Rites

My little booboy is here! (Okay, at 10 almost 11 years old, he's not so little, but to me, Kaz will always be my baby.) Booboy is back from overnight camp with his school. They do a trip every spring and fall for "outdoor education". Or something like that---maybe it's just to suck money out of the parents? Not sure....

So I've been deep into family time today and yesterday, feeling a bit like Charon...

His first morning back we decided to carry out last rites for our two cats, long ago deceased, but of course, my hubby had never picked up their ashes and done anything with them. Some back story, they were his cats, or more specifically, his ex-wife's cats. They were all he got in the divorce settlement. A long first marriage? Kids? Not quite - she left him 4 months after the wedding, but she still took every last dime, every single stick stick of furniture, and his car. He was left with two of the nastiest, most vicious cats on god's earth. Hmmm, I should amend this, instead I should say that they were loving and kind and purrfect to Mr.Cotta until their last dying breath, and nasty and vicious to me and the kids at every opportunity.

I fed them, attempted to pet them, advocated for them to go to the vet, bought them catnip & treats, barely complained while they bit me & hit me and the kids, (they were declawed so the swipes became hits instead of scratches) aggravated our allergies, and vomited and shat everywhere in our home.

For 11 looooonnng years I patiently waited for the damn little loyal devotees of the first wife to notice that I was not an interloper and that our kids were not annoyances that were leaving soon, but it never seemed to happen. So when the cats died, one after the other, I wasn't very sad. Mr.Cotta was, so I tried not to dance a jig or anything. In fact, he was so sad that after taking them to the vet hospital, he never went back to pick up their remains. Instead of just having them sent directly to the local pet cemetary, he had paid for individual specific cremations for each cat, with little containers, but was too choked up to do the final bit.

And years later when I finally had to go get the little urns, I found out that no one would have thrown them into the garbage EVER. Apparently, not only are pet funerals big business but it is considered undignified by veterinarians to allow beloved pet's bodies to go into the waste.

Now don't get me wrong, if people feel a need to have pet funerals, then I'm ALL for it. Whatever gets us through the night and all---I just can't help but contrast this with the months of legal battles I endured to bury my daughters, and the incredible hypocrisy of a funeral industry that is willing to cremate pets without a burial permit for ooooh say the LAST 30 years, but refuses to help women who have miscarried babies under 20 weeks or 500 grams, the legal definition of a stillbirth here in Ontario. Most fish and birds weigh less than that, but pet owners have never ever had a problem getting whatever they want.

And horses? The police bury their service horses with full funeral honours and go into mourning as if a fellow officer died in the line of duty. Barbaro was given a decent funeral, and no one questioned why his owners would mourn.

And yet, for women who have lost their children...yes, I'm feeling a tiny bit bitter here. Can't, just can't go there....

This morning we scattered THE CAT'S ashes in the woods of the Don Valley. Mr.Cotta wanted to go to the zoo and scatter the cats remains in the bushes around the lion's enclosure but I gently explained there were too many small children around who might wonder why the strange man was in the bushes with the white powder. So the Don Valley it was...

The last words go to Mac:

"Mommy, is it true that some cats sleep in your bed?"

"Yes, Mac"

"Well, don't people get hurt that way?"

"No Mac, most cats don't hurt their owners. In fact, some of them snuggle and purr."

"REALLY, Mommy? Wow...."


  1. It's so ironic isn't it?

    My dear old cat who died about 3 years ago was cremated, and I have her ashes in a small urn in a plant. Yet, when our babies died I found I couldn't bear to keep their ashes....

  2. When any pet of ours died, I buried it in the back 4 acres. But if it was a child...I think something far more dignified is called for.

  3. In the UK you can do what you like with the remains of a child who was miscarried (I think it is a straight 20 week cutoff here). We have never had any remains, but others have buried their babies in the back yard, under a rose bush or tree etc. I don't know whether you could bury them in a cemetery though.

  4. Aurelia, you are too good. I don't know how you could look after miserable cats for all those years. St. Aurelia, is more like it!

  5. Not only do I dislike cats, but I am allergic, so I nominate you for sainthood as well.

    I understand your bitterness of course. There are so many inconsistencies in this crazy world.

  6. See, vets are used to valuing an animal through the eyes of the owner - not their own eyes, not the eyes of society in general - but the eyes of the owner. If the owner draws the line at point X, that's where the line will be drawn. If the owner wants to go all the way, then all the way it is. If the owner wants a proper cremation, memorial service, whatever - that's up to them. As long as the animal doesn't suffer, it becomes an individual decision.

    I guess the medical/human undertaking profession doesn't have that experience. To them, if you're allowed to value a patient/client as less than human - an unborn child who can legally be terminated or disposed of in the waste - then society has spoken and who are you to tell them otherwise (what? you're the grieving parent? by whose definition of parent?).

    To my mind, it's not a big mental adjustment to make. And it's not one people should struggle with.


  7. Too funny about Mac :)

    Congrats on getting the older one back. Did he struggle as you smothered him with kisses? :) Monkey is very snuggly still, but I am told it passes :(.

  8. Mac can come over my house, we have at least have one cat that would purr :).

    Too funny! Kids do say the darndest things and it is ALWAYS the truth.

  9. I laughed so hard when I read this the other day... but dammit, I still can't bring up comments on my work computer! (maybe that's a hint for me to GET TO WORK & quit surfing blogs!)
    I need to post a photo of my Ancient Kitty-cat (19); esp since my ex proclaimed in his Infinite Wisdom** a couple of weeks ago that she was dead! Zach gave his father a very strange look as he explained, "Dad, she sleeps on Mom's head every night!"
    She's not looking bad for a dead cat!
    **he is great at pontificating about things about which he is completely clueless