By Kathryn Evans
I have tried to imagine what you were thinking as you lined up the sights of your air rifle on his body. I presume he was clearly visible, perhaps standing on a fence, his black fur silhouetted against the morning sun, the white patch under his chin clearly visible as he held up his curious head to see what you were doing – for he loved people and he would not have been afraid. He would not have fled until you pulled the trigger and the pellet sliced through the middle of his body, causing the catastrophic internal bleeding that killed him.
If your imagined task was to get a clean kill, well, you hit him, your aim could have been better, but your shot did take his life. Don’t imagine you are a good marksman though. He was a big cat, almost fully grown. A big black cat presumably standing still. A four year old could have taken that shot and hit. My son could have when he was a small child. He could have, but he wouldn’t have done, because he was brought up to respect life.
There are reasons why we shoot animals. We shoot them for food and because they are pests. I have no problem with the former but have always struggled with the later. In fact, I am the kind of person who does not blame the fox if I failed to protect my chickens from his hungry gaze. It is my job to protect my animals – though I never thought I would have to protect my cats from a person like you.
Why did you do it?
I assume you didn’t plan to eat him as his bled out body was left in our drive way for my husband to find. Although it could have been one of my children. I am deeply grateful it was not.
Perhaps you are a breeder of birds, and feel unable to properly protect them with a fence. Maybe that’s it. Maybe he was worrying your birds. It would have been no trouble at all to find out who he belonged to and request we put a collar on him with a bell. Or rats maybe? Perhaps you are a great defender of rats? We do have a lot of rats around here. Well sadly, you got the wrong cat because Pike was excellent at catching tiny voles. That was about it.
Let’s assume you did not do this in an idle moment to give yourself a bit of a thrill. To boost your pathetic ego. Let’s say you truly imagined you were a great defender of tiny voles and you decided you must take vengeance upon the evil scourge of the cat. Well let me tell you about Pike, the cat whose life you took.
Pike was a rescue cat. We had him from a kitten and he was just over a year old. He’d had a lot of illnesses in his short life, probably due to poor nutrition when he was very tiny. I had nursed him through each of those illnesses and he was starting to look like the young strong cat he should have been.
Pike did not know he was a cat. He just thought he was a member of our family. He shared a bed with my Labrador. He would roll on his back to have his tummy tickled and would climb on laps for cuddles. He would nuzzle my fingers, for I was a surrogate mother to him and he would try to suck them as a small child might suck on a dummy. He chattered away to anyone who would listen – he was particularly vocal if he’d caught a tiny vole. That was enormously exciting.
He would crawl under the duvet of my son’s bed, or curl up with my other cats, even if they didn’t want him to. He would insist on being loved. He sought out affection from everybody. He would have done so from you if you had not shot him. He wasn’t very bright to be honest, but he was funny and friendly and beautiful and he was loved.
When you shot him, you tore a chunk from the heart of our family. You damaged my children’s faith in humanity. You hurt us.
I know I will probably never know who you are but I know who you are not. You are not kind. You are not a warrior. You are not a hunter. And in case you didn’t know, what you did was a crime. The police are investigating, though I doubt you will be caught.
Of course, worse things happen. People break into schools and take the lives of children. They strap bombs to their bodies and kill innocent people. If that’s the scale you measure your crime against, I am sad for you. You are not a good person.
You are the cause of somebody else’s pain.
But you can change that.
Everyone makes a choice of how to live their life. Live yours better.
PS To all the wonderful people who have shared this post, here’s a little thank you. Pike, A Short Life But A Fabulous One
Kathryn Evans is an author and farmer’s wife. She lives on a strawberry farm near Chichester, with her husband, two children and a host of furred and feathered creatures. More of Me, published by Usborne, is her debut novel. Agent: Sophie@sophiehicksagency.com