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Elegy to a Feline Companion

Over 30 years in human services working for and with people with developmental disabilities.

Colors, not bent, not refracted, fly

The pupil, dilated peephole to the world, receptive

and images sink in gray matter, the memories

surface over and over: bright green eyes.

Orange, brown and black, a smudged palette

of fur, failed survival assets

dream shadows capture and hold my soul, my pillow-cradled head

rises to another silent morning: two minus one.

The number of lives forfeited by you--nine.

For the road always was Russian roulette

and lethal car. Instantaneous, but lingering subtraction

allegedly only an error in calculations: chaotic equivalent.


Smudge was the name my son picked for this cat. Smudge’s fur was a mix of orange, brown, black with a little bit of white thrown in. She looked like someone has carelessly finger painted the colors together. She was an affectionate cat that followed my son around the house when he was home.

Local Animal Shelters

Approximately, 1.6 million cats are adopted each year from shelters. There are so many more cats available for adoption.

Smudge was a shelter cat. We went to the shelter to see the cats and maybe get one. When we walked into the cat area of the shelter some cats stood up and began to watch us. Other cats continued to sleep. When we walked by Smudge’s cage, she reached through the bars and touched our son on the shoulder. We had been adopted. There is no other word for it.

Life Span of Cats

Smudge was an indoor-outdoor cat. We had a pet door in the kitchen door, so she could come and go as she pleased. When our son was home it pleased her to stay indoors. But we lost her early to a car accident as she was crossing the road. Apparently, she misjudged the speed of the car. It was a tragedy for all of us, including the driver of the car.

It turns out the average life span of outdoor cats is 5 years. For an inside cats, the estimated life span is 13 to 17 years. Based on this knowledge we have chosen to keep our current two rescued cats indoors.

© 2018 Kathy Burton

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