Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kittens - Free to a Good Home

Today I learned that my friend was dead.

He had died, alone, poisoned, on the side of a street. For at least a day, he lay unclaimed on the top of a manhole cover. I wasn't there to comfort him. I wasn't there to tell him I loved him. That I still love him. Eventually, people would have come to trim the hedges around where he lay, and they would have tossed his body into the garbage, not caring that he was (is) loved.

But a set of unrelated and uncanny events led us to his final resting place, and we claimed the body of Bodhisattva Kinkytail and brought him home for burial, beneath an apricot tree alongside my ancestral shrine.

Bodhi and I had met by chance too.

A sign had been posted on the corkboard in the office building where I worked, declaring boldly: Kittens! Free to a good home. There was a picture of Bodhi, his nose stuck inside a slipper. I told Madelein I wanted to just 'have a look' at the kittens. Nothing more. Just look.

There were five kittens in all. I went straight to Bodhi, and picking him up in one hand, where he fitted so perfectly, I lifted him up to look more closely. That was when he touched noses with me and I turned to Madelein and said, "This one's coming home with us." She laughed. Of course he was. There was no way I was just going to LOOK at kittens. Come on. Get real.

Bodhi's adventurous spirit showed itself really early on. He pounced on anything that moved and was keen to make his way outside, into the world.

He turned out to be a great adventurer and lover of fine organic (rat/mouse/bird) cuisine. He even brought these morsels in for Madelein and I to share. Of course, we declined. He loved nothing more than adventure, finding his way up trees, onto our roof, going on excursions around the neighbourhood.

His spirit, it turns out, was much larger than what his body could contain. It was only after he had left us that we felt how empty the house felt. His spirit took up a room, a house, a garden, a neighbourhood.

There was a magnificent intellect that hid behind his eyes that seemed to hint at something beyond feline. He had a playful, self-assured presence. He was more like an elegant jungle cat than a house cat, although there was always the twinkle of mischief on his face.

 He looked so small when we buried him. It seemed impossible that the heart of a tiger could be housed in something that tiny. But it had been.

Indeed, the earthly realm has lost a great spirit, and heaven has gained one.


  1. Oh what a shame, it's sad when we lose a pet. Am thinking of you.

    1. Thanks, Jan. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

  2. So sorry to hear about Bodhi. I know it doesn't help, but I'm sure he knows you love him and you gave him a great life. I do believe that animals, especially pets, will be in Heaven or will be Resurrected by God. Buddhism teaches that animals can be Bodhisattvas, or even Buddhas, who have taken that form to help others. If I was still Buddhist, I'd say that he had formed a relationship with the daimoku via you, and will be on Eagle Peak with the Buddha.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. I appreciate your kind words. I believe the same.

    2. That's why I don't let my cat outside!

      Cats have a spirit, too, and we are still alive after we die! I had an obe in the 1990's. If it's any consolation. So, I know what happened to ME!

      I was at a Petco when a bird was called "bird brain" and the bird didn't appreciate it. So he waited for the children to turn the other way, SQUAWKED as loud as possible, and laughed, afterward. So, he knows you love him!

    3. I still let my cats out. I don't feel comfortable keeping them in - they are designed to hunt and roam and I can't prevent them from experiencing what gives them joy.

      Bodhi's loss was difficult and it still is in some ways.

      I agree - they do have spirits and are very aware of how we treat them.

  3. Our Siamese went missing last month but we do not know what happened to her. There are coyotes out there, so I'm afraid that's what happened. We miss her spirit around here. Sharing your sorrow.

  4. Many years back, when I was still in college, a stray kitten came to my terrace and into our lives like nothing ever had. For more than a year he gave us unending moments of joy and I came to believe that he was the cutest thing in the world. Then suddenly one night Biling (as we called him) vomited and died — I never came to know how or why... I have had several cats at my place after that. With each one I tried to be more detached, so that I didn't have to relive those agonizing nights that I had to go through after Biling's death. Of course I failed. Most of my tomcats died in fights with other cats during the mating seasons. Most of them just went out and never came back. One female cat was bitten by a street dog while she was nursing kittens. I had to take care of the kittens after she was gone. This series of events has left me a deeper and different person. It was to overcome these pains that I had joined Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism in 1998. I am sure Bodhi came to your life to teach you something. Hope you are able to create Value in your life and do justice to Bodhi's presence in your life...