Curse of the Basement Cats   1 comment

My calico, Katie, died in February of this year.  I’ve been quite amazed that I haven’t had any dreams about her since her death, at least none that I recall upon awakening.  I had my first one last night, and it was reminiscent of the frequent ones I had after Mandy died in 1994.

To set the stage, a bit of background is in order, although these are facts I’ve mentioned before in other posts.  My wonderful pair, Katie and Bubba, were feral kittens, born under a neighbor’s porch in South Minneapolis in 1994.  There was a little feral cat population going on in that inner city neighborhood at the time.  Their mother, simply known as Mama Cat, was a feral cat.  We had a feral male cat whom we called Splotch because of his patches of white and black who I believe at one time was part of a mess of cats populating freely in the house across the street.  They were just left to roam, jumping in and out of open windows of that house and receiving no veterinary care such as spaying or neutering.  Eventually, Splotch was just wandering the streets, earning his title of Alpha Tomcat.  It’s possible that he fathered at least one of my kittens in 1994 and no doubt contributed to Mama Cat’s litter that was born around Labor Day that year.

We put our house up for sale in September of that year, a couple of weeks after Mama Cat’s second litter of that year was born.  I had just officially taken Katie and Bubba into the house.  The house sold quickly and we moved Thanksgiving weekend to the house that we currently live in 13 miles away.  As the time to move drew near, I worried more and more about Mama Cat and Splotch.  Mama Cat still had one of her kittens with her from that September litter and I had never been able to get near to this kitten, as much as I wanted to.  I was not going to trap her and take her away from this kitten.   Trapping Splotch wasn’t even on my radar.  I was inexperienced in the care and management of feral cats, knowing far less then than I do now.

What I did know was that I had been a steady and dependable source of food for them since that winter of 1993-94.  I always put out a large bowl of dry food everyday.  During the time when Katie and Bubba were kittens, I put out a large 10 ounce can of cat food every evening that whoever got it was welcomed to have.  I knew that I was pulling this reliable source of food out from under them when we moved in November.  I did all that I felt I could do at the time — told neighbors of the plight of these cats and asked if they could spare a bowl of food now and then.  I felt horrible about leaving.  I even went back a couple of times after the move and put food out in spaces other than the porch of the old house because I knew that the new owners didn’t like cats.  I remember sitting in my car in the alley behind the old house with tears running down my cheeks, pounding the steering wheel in frustration because there was nothing else I could do.

The “basement cats” dream started.  Stray cats were living and breeding in an old, dark, musty basement in this dream.  They were just left to fend for themselves.  They were like hobos, camping out wherever they could to get in out of the cold and the rain or snow.  I have no idea what they were eating.  Whose basement was this?  It had some characteristics of the old basements in the house I grew up in and later the house we lived in for 17 years in South Minneapolis.  I might have been living in that house with the feral cats in the basement, but I seemed largely unaware of their presence.  Their presence would startle me at odd times.

The startling thing was when I would discover my deceased cat, Mandy, living in the cellar with these cats.  She died in September 1994 at the age of 18 years and 7 months, just two months before we moved out of our South Minneapolis home.  In these dreams, I had neglected her, forgotten about her, but there she was, living a life of neglect in the damp, ugly basement with these other forgotten cats.  These were horrible dreams.  I had them intermittently for years after she died.

My first recalled dream now about Katie five months after her death was a similar dream.  It took place in an old house with a back stairway that spanned several floors, leading down to a dank basement.  Cats were everywhere, hiding in nooks and crannies, milling about in the neglected spaces of the basement area.  I was searching for Katie and Bubba.  These cats were obviously interbred with many similar markings.  There were many calicos, most of them bizarrely colored.  I was looking for that special calico, the one with the very pretty markings and the little black nose, the one that was so beautiful she would surely stand out from that motley crowd.  I finally thought to call for her for she surely would come to me if she heard her name.  I wandered among the hoard, calling, “Katie-cat!  Kaaatie-cat!  Katie-cat!”  I thought I saw her a time or two, but I was never sure.    I just felt she was there somewhere.  I never found Bubba, either.  I thought I saw him, a large, fluffy white cat with that beautiful plume of black for a tail, but when I picked him up and turned him to me, his face was a gray-marked face of another cat.

I always feel so empty and distraught after these dreams.  I feel like a neglectful cat-mom, losing her cats, forgetting about her cats.  In real life, that would never happen.

What kind of dream I’d love to have is one in which Katie comes to me, whole and healthy and beautiful, and tells me that she’s forever with me, that she loves me and will always remember me and what we shared.    She’s always warm and safe and loved in my heart, never abandoned in some dark recess of my frail and forgetful mind.

In memory of the happier times when my family was all together on a Sunday morning:

Bubba and Katie with Mom



Posted July 31, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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One response to “Curse of the Basement Cats

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  1. Hi- I do not own cats but my dream is also of weak and sickly ferrel cats living in the basement.( not mine but I seem to be in the house . I remember thinking- I forgot to feed them… but I was surprised by their pesence. It is a disturbing dream. I have had it two or three times.I have read somewhere where the basement represents trhe subcoscious mind. I thought today that maybe there are issues living in my subconscious of not a healthier but a weaker me and perhaps I need to look at what those issues are.

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