Elegy to a Feline Companion

Updated on February 17, 2018
KatWin profile image

Over 30 years in human services working for and with people with developmental disabilities. Retired, I now write and quilt for fun


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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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 9 days ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      @Kathy, may I say one more thing? I am sending warm thoughts and prayers to and for you. Let me know if I can be of help.

    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 9 days ago from Florida


      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It was a hard loss for all of us. Blessing to you too.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 9 days ago from Ohio

      I can feel the pain of your loss. I'm very sorry. I hate when I lose a cat. Blessings to you!

    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 12 days ago from Florida

      Thank you for your kind words. Pet definitely become part of the family and with their own unique personalities.

    • JenniferWilber profile image

      Jennifer Wilber 12 days ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      I'm so sorry for your loss. It's always hard to lose a family member. This is a beautiful poem to remember your cat who was taken too soon.

    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 13 days ago from Florida

      Thank you Ms. Dora. Loved your recent story The Navel String. Kathy

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 13 days ago from The Caribbean

      Seems that you have touched and admired the very essence of this nine-life creature. Beautiful ode!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 13 days ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Kathy -- you are certainly welcome. Keep up the great work.

    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 13 days ago from Florida


      Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words!


    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 13 days ago from Florida


      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. We currently have 4 cats living with us-2 are ours and 2 are our son's cats. It is almost tranquil.:-)


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I am not a poet. Prose is my thing, but I can certainly appreciate quality when I see it, and your poetry is quality indeed.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 13 days ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Love it, Kathy!

      And what makes your poem even deeper is the fact that I have five cats and they are very special to me, as I am sure yours are as well.

      Keep up the fine work and have a safe and peaceful night.