I was told this week how bad things come in threes; maybe there will be a third September 11th in my life. Today, Bâton is dead. He is in my refrigerator, still, in a clear plastic bag, where I still examine his beautiful paws. As he was an animal who had no rights and was …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Mon chaton qui s'appellait Bâton

Mon chaton qui s’appellait Bâton

I was told this week how bad things come in threes; maybe there will be a third September 11th in my life.

Today, Bâton is dead.

He is in my refrigerator, still, in a clear plastic bag, where I still examine his beautiful paws. As he was an animal who had no rights and was my chattel property, I will say that I was graced to have ever owned such an object of rare beauty. Bâton was the most beautiful of all the felines, and I killed him. I do not deserve to cry, for tears are relief.

At first, I barely glimpsed Bâton, the upstairs’ neighbors’ cat who I catsat during their voyages to their summer cottage. He was tremendously timid and it was all I could do to catch another glance at his startling beauty. I craved to see more of him when we met; now, I shall never see or touch that startling, living beauty again.

Soon, I was offered Bâton. I debated it seriously; I did not want another cat. I had had too good and sad of a time with Binchley to really think about having a second cat again, and I had had opportunities for cats.

Ultimately, I accepted him. He was beautiful, and so timid; I really thought that a worst case scenario would be one wherein we never hit it off, and visitors would catch occasional, startling glances of his rare beauty, darting lighting-quick through their peripheral vision. Ikea could not invent a better decoration.

He was dropped off at my place with a bag of food and his bowls and a litter tray pan. I was his third owner; I resolved to be the last. I was.

I know now I know nothing about cats.

I was determined to make him a bolder cat; foolishly, I did so. One part of me wants to sentimentally ask for his forgiveness; however, I renounce any. I made a fool’s error, and I do not deserve my pal’s forgiveness, because forgiveness is a confederate of trust, and Bâton cannot trust me any longer.

I worked so industriously to gain his trust. I fenced off every single hiding area in my apartment when Bâton arrived; he was frightened and anxious as he paced and roamed, searching for a safe spot. I had been told by a member of a cat rescue how to do this, to teach the cat that there was nothing to hide from (how wrong that ultimately became!). Eventually, Bâton did turn around and start to strut instead of sneaking. When I finally removed the cardboard coverings over all the hiding spots, they became a sometimes playground for Bâton, and only rarely a refuge.

I wanted to get to know Bâton; I hoped we would both grow and learn from each other. Perhaps in a way we actually did so.

I never wanted a cat. Honestly, it never crossed my mind to have a cat until I found a kitten in the garbage. And it never crossed my mind to have a cat again until I was approached to take Bâton. I admire cats and admired Bâton deeply; his prowess at catching mice stunned me, for he would kill up to five a day, and I had had no idea before then that I’d even had mice. Oh, though I am not a person who often thinks how nice it would be to possess a feline, I do regularly envy their incredible, surprising attributes.

We aggravated each other; in so many ways. I picked him up when he didn’t want to be; I knew that he secretly liked being petted and I was a bad owner of the Alma variety from Tiny Toons who desperately wanted to teach him to accept and enjoy human attention.

He did. He became social and very much beloved by many visitors. His personal transformation was impressive; his adaptability was strong and admirable.

I grew to prize Bâton; he grew to be my window muse. I invented the Beware of Guardcat banner window specifically for him.

Perhaps I ought to have made a video of it; I thought at the time it was location-specific for viewing. Today, I wish I possessed some footage of it. I measured the open, see-through band in the paint to fit Bâton’s eyes, so that lucky passersby might catch his roaming, gleaming china-blue/albino-pink eyes prowling back and forth, left and right, peering through the banner which matched Bâton’s beautiful fur. It was a fun effect; he was an excellent partner in art crime. Bâton loved to gaze out that window and examine the world.

In my defence, I killed him with kindness, by allowing him to roam outside. I was a fool, I see now. Responsibility and kindness sometimes clash. I wanted so badly to treat him kindly. I know that a responsible parent shouldn’t indulge a child with too much candy; why, why did I indulge Bâton so?

There are so many outdoors cats in the neighborhood already, and I know how badly my cats wanted to go outside.

I knew there was a risk; I weighed for a long time Bâton’s potential happiness outdoors versus his potential longevity indoors, and the value of longevity alone versus the value of happiness alone, and I consulted other cat owners.

I took the risk to let him be happy and pursue his dreams; I never dreamed that the end would ever come so quickly. I was a fool to think it couldn’t have happened three minutes after letting him out the window; I was a fool to assume he would have years of potential happiness to weigh, instead of seeing months, or days or hours.

I do believe that Bâton was happier outside; I do believe he appreciated and welcomed the change. He became almost instantly healthier in my view. I do believe the outdoors satisfied him and his curiosity enormously. I wish I had found him a better home in a quieter neighborhood with a safer world he might have explored longer.

I foolishly trusted him; he delighted me by, seemingly, remaining in the bushes up the street a great deal of the time, where I thought he was mercifully content to lay and watch. I thought that was enough for him; I remarked on it. Perhaps I was not grateful enough for it.

I know Bâton had adventures and new experiences outdoors; I know not all of them were great. I saw him bullied around by a bigger cat up the street; he ran when I approached. Perhaps I should have stayed away. I once glimpsed him darting along the property wall behind our buliding, and I was surprised, but he was in a safe loop between buildings, too narrow for most humans, built up over and back from the traffic. I was secretly thrilled at how brave and exploratory he was, though I hooted and chased him to try and make him think twice the next time.

I always wanted more for Bâton; I never had enough. I had him at a time when I was counting dollars more than spending them, and when my life ran on irregular schedules, and when I didn’t organize the right time to spend with him. He was a curious and fun cat; I wanted to get him a friend. I found Saavik in the street by coincidence, spayed and looking for a home. They never got along famously, but they got along and they interacted and occupied each other.

I didn’t even consciously realize it was September 11th that morning; Carrie Richardson called me with the news, and hoped the city wouldn’t remove him before I returned home. How relieved I was that he was dead; how ashamed I am that I couldn’t have afforded to help him properly if he were mangled and alive.

How I rushed home as soon as work was complete; how anxious I was that I should claim his little body before he was taken away.

I made it in time.

How my heart leapt; it was a sudden, immediate death. I had to pull on a cigarette butt to remove it from some ocular tissues stretched out of his eye socket. His splayed, flat leg was stiff and difficult, however when pressed in the right way, it easily folded back underneath his chest. I carried him home. I hugged him and he was still warm.

I am a fool, I know. I was surprised to think he had crossed over King street. I had thought, however naively, that he was too timid to try.

I killed him; I am both ashamed at my naivety, and proud of this very timid, shy creature who grew to be more courageous and adventurous than I ever really conceived he could be. I know now it was wrong, however I partly think I would do it again, to let him be happier than longer-lived. I would choose differently next time; I know I would select the safer, longer option. Yet I know I would weep, when he died a natural death in the future, that I had never allowed him outside into the life he had so craved.

O, how I feel love and longing and fondness and regret and pride and sorrow and chagrin as I type this; how moved I am by the thought of the evenings Bâton would curl up by me feet, and the memories of him darting in the window suddenly after going missing for several days, the regret I have of trying to toilet train him to show him off; how struck I am by how profoundly attached we grow to such nearly-affectionless killers.

How I shall miss my miniature Himalayan snow puma, who was so much more than the most beautiful of his special feline species. When I would hold Saavik in a towel wrapping and make her screech and shriek in fury while I clipped her claws back, how anxious and distressed Bâton would grow, wailing and circling in dismay and pleading. Bâton was also a merciless killer and torturer; he could profoundly shock me.

I resolved many times to Bâton, personally, vocally, to never pick him up again, and to only pet him from above. I broke my promises. I didn’t mean to; it always just happened. Perhaps a special collar of a certain color would have helped to remind me.

I hope I grew enough out of our time together.

I shall find a new home for Saavik; how I shall miss hers and their presences. I shall try to find a home where she may roam outdoors more safely than here, where her world can be explored and enjoyed with less risk.

I have always, always believed that automobile traffic should be majoritarily located underground, along with the bulk of wiring currently on poles. I have always been opposed to the concessions so cavalierly offered to automobiles.

I cannot have a pet any longer; how I shall miss an animal.

I don’t wish to confine my pet to the indoors of a small apartment; I accept now that my aims are incompatible with the design of the world I live in. To learn this, I have murdered my beloved little friend, and I shall learn it well. So often I have thought what excellent and ideal urban pets cats make for the city; now I see how totally, totally wrong I was. The ideal urban pets are probably hamsters and gerbils, and rabbits.

I grew to love Bâton so much; I failed to act responsibily enough to protect him. How foolish and ashamed I feel; I know I made so many mistakes having Bâton, and how much I regret giving him a home tonite. How I believe he would have been happier if he had had to wait longer to find a different third forever owner.

I tell myself that he was happy rather than long-lived; how I fool myself.

How clear my failure is to me tonite; I know now, and ask myself why I didn’t see it before, that Bâton himself would have chosen a longer life over a more excited life. How powerfully I see now that I made the wrong choice for him, going against all the logic and instincts known to us about animals and thinking and self-preservation.

There is no “cat heaven”; there is no “heaven”. How I have squandered a great opportunity to see and know and actually touch true beauty.

I am a fool; I know nothing. Such a joy is gone to me now; I am in the debt of Bâton now, forever. How I shall miss him, and how I shall try to honor the memories of my time with Bâton, from now on. I grieve for the loss of a little companion knowing that things could have been different.

How I shall miss a fellow creature who regrettably grew over time to trust me. Merci, mon petit chaton qui s’appelle Bâton; comme tu me manqueras a jamais! Je t’ai trouvé aussi beau d’esprit que je te trouvais beau en ton forme depuis le premier moment que je t’ai vu, mon pôte! Tu as mérité mieux que moi, petit frangin, petit singe blanc et orange, petit chaton, petit félin des montagnes. Adieu, adieu, adieu, je ne te verra plus. Je t’en pris, me pardonner, si tu t’en toujours peux. Adieu.