It started off as a normal Thursday morning last week: regrettably waking up and leaving my bed, showered, dressed, ate breakfast, made my lunch, and out the door I went. And then I heard a cry for help.
It was clearly a kitten crying out, but he was nowhere to be seen. The cries were coming from underneath my car, but there was nothing. I was beginning to believe it was a ghost kitten or I really needed some mental help.
I called out to him, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…” and eventually, he jumped down out from my axles up in the car. He was a kitten who looked to be about maybe a month or two old with round blue eyes and a snow-white face that turned grey closer to his ears. He was precious as can be.
I ran back to the house to show my grandma and sister, all praising him with adoring eyes. Because we have our dog, Chewie, who loves terrorizing cats, we wouldn’t be able to keep him. So my grandma, being a former cat owner of probably 50 in her lifetime (not much of an exaggeration), gave the innocent kitty some ham and he hung out on the patio for a while, while Chewie was inside.
That was the last thing I knew about him before going off to work.
It was the highlight of my day. I texted friends about him, I told co-workers, and I posted a photo with him up on my shoulders to Instagram and Facebook. He got quite a bit of attention.
Some of the comments read:
— “He’s soooooo cute!”
— My friend Alyssa to her stepmom: “Karen, Bucky needs a buddy!!!!”
— “AWWWWWWWW!!!!! Keep him!! Keep him!!”
One of my friends jokingly started coming up with names for him and I repeatedly told him to stop giving me ideas because naming him would cause me to become attached to him. Truth be told, one look in those beady blue eyes was enough to reel you in. But if I were to keep him, I liked one of the suggestions — “Clyde.”
That day was very strange because I was also covering the story on the stolen beagle puppies from Piqua. The theme of the day seem to be about saving baby animals. Or the intent was.
I came home from work after seeing cute baby beagles that were saved from harm hoping to find the kitten I saved still out on the patio. I instead found a small hole topped off with loose dirt in our yard.
“He got ran over,” my sister said. I felt unexpectedly depressed with the news. Some may say, it’s just an animal; how could I react so emotionally after spending maybe 10 minutes of life together? But it’s not the fact that he was just an innocent, cute little kitten; it was deeper than that to me.
I couldn’t get over how ironic everything seemed. Had that kitten not cried out to me, I could have killed him that morning unknowingly. But he was heard, and I saved him, only for him to be killed later that day. Why did it have to happen that way? After sharing his existence with my friends that morning, and the attention and potential love that was there for him, why did he have to go?
The lives of the beagles were thankfully saved, but the life of this kitten, who was saved that morning, was not destined to be saved later that day.
His death made me think about other deaths happening around the world; that’s just not fair. Innocent lives that have died at the hands of ISIS, the thousands lost during the Nepal earthquake, or young lives being stolen through sex trafficking daily.
Today, somewhere in the world, a transgender teen will commit suicide because no one she knew valued her, yet a cancer patient, through a successful fundraiser that reached hundreds of people, will be saved because he got enough care and support to be saved.
That kitten could be alive today if he had a home and he was valued. I somewhat blame myself that I didn’t try harder to find a home for him to live a happy life that I felt he deserved. We suspect the kitten was abandoned because the family that he had didn’t want him, or couldn’t have him.
Clyde’s death made me also think about the value of a life. The Daily Mail reportedly said fans who sued Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, for emotional distress after the singer’s death were awarded one euro each by a French court. The internet-famed grumpy cat Tardar Sauce reportedly rakes in millions from merchandises and advertisements, all because enough people think her appearance is amusing.
And then there’s Kendall Jones, who has grabbed national attention by killing exotic animals for conservation efforts. She has had both criticism and praise for warding off these animals. In an interview with Bill McGrath, Safari Club International’s legislative counsel, Kendall explains that due to successful repopulation of endangered species, there are basically now too many of some, and they must be hunted to keep the numbers down.
With the current population of humans being about 7 billion, by 2100, it is expected for the population to exceed 10 billion, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. I’m sure if there were another intelligent species that were bigger and more powerful, they might hunt us to keep our numbers down, too.
I’m frustrated by the imbalance of care for lives because what makes one life more valuable than the other? If it is alive, it matters. It has a purpose. We need bacteria to break down organic matter. We need bumblebees to give us food. We need Monarch butterflies, flowers, and sunsets to remind us why our planet is so beautiful. That kitten reminded me that innocence exists in small packages.
Ask yourself: what lives do you care about and why? Do you care based on something’s size, beauty, fame, or relevancy? Do you care for the right reasons? I guess the moral of this story and what I’ve taken away from the short time I had with Clyde is to always care and care more; something or someone that was once here can be gone only hours later. Appreciate the lives you encounter because there wouldn’t be a life worth living without them.