Monday, July 13, 2020

When Destinies Lie Elsewhere

Ms Josefina von Chubs was getting ready for bed at the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium. It had been a long day. She had slept and slept, eaten, slept and slept some more. She was worn out. She stopped by a window first, though, and peered outside. The night was growing dark; the long summer day was far into its twilight now. But she saw a light in one of the farther buildings. She was certain it was coming from a window in Dr Bellen’s study.

Josie climbed down from her cat-tree and walked over to the administration building. The air was warm but stirred now and then by a slight breeze. Sleeping would be a pleasure tonight. But first, she wanted to see why Dr Bellen was working so late.

“Josie…” Dr Bellen was surprised to see the senior client of the sanitarium at his open study door. He was at his desk, not working, but sitting quietly, with a cup of tea. “What are you doing here?”


“I asked what you are doing here!” the doctor repeated, more loudly.

“I was getting ready for bed. It’s been a long day. I’ve slept and slept, eaten, slept and slept some more. I’m worn out. I---”

“Yes, yes, I understand,” Dr Bellen hastened to interrupt her. “Is something wrong?”


“Turn on your hearing aid!”

Josie, who was growing deaf with age, switched on her hearing aid, pausing immediately afterward and inquiring whether it was usual for cats to wear hearing aids.

“It’s just for purposes of the narration…” muttered Dr Bellen.


“It’s doesn’t hurt for a short duration.”

“Oh. Yes, I suppose not. What are you doing here, Doctor? It’s late. You should be in your cottage.”

“I know. I was thinking about Sunrise.”

“The sunrise?”

“Sunrise. The cat who was here over the weekend.”

Josie nodded. She had seen the frightened orange cat admitted to the sanitarium. He was part of a feral colony, and had been trapped so that he could receive veterinary care. She was certain he had been released already.

“You’re correct,” Dr Bellen told her. “He was allowed to go back to the colony.”

“Was there something wrong with the procedure?”

Josie was aware that feral cats sometimes were brought to the sanitarium, where they were attended to by the veterinary staff. They were given injections to help them fight infections and diseases, and they had operations. She was never quite sure what the operations were for; medical details confused her.

“No, everything went well. Sunrise is a healthy fellow, about two years old.”

Josie looked at Dr Bellen, and walked further into his study. She sat on the couch that faced the fireplace, which was empty on this early summer night.

“You don’t seem happy about his care,” she said.

“Oh, his care was first-rate,” replied the doctor. “I just… I wish he could have stayed here. I think he would have liked it here, after a while.”

“Undoubtedly,” agreed Josie. “Why did he have to go?”

Dr Bellen took some time before responding. He brought his tea over to the couch, and sat near Josie. He offered her some treats, which she immediately devoured. There was no sense in talking to her while she was concentrating on treats, so Dr Bellen waited until she was done.

“The truth is, Sunrise could have stayed, but he was quite unsocialised.”

“You’ve stated before that almost any cat could become socialised…” Josie pointed out.

“It’s true; I believe that. But it often takes a very long time, and requires the person involved to spend so much time with the cat that he can frequently do little else. Working eight or nine hours a day makes it difficult. Then there is the matter of a room for segregation, though in fact it’s more helpful if the shy cat can reside in the human’s bedroom for the process.”

“It sounds like the sanitarium doesn’t have the resources for socialising ferals.” Josie nodded. She feared this was the case. The Cosy Apartment was a marvelous place for a cat already accustomed to people. She knew that shy cats needing to grow used to humans required different facilities.

“We don’t. We don’t have the staff, and the staff don’t have the time.” Dr Bellen sighed.

“But you’ve had to let other ferals go back to their colonies before now…”

“That’s true, too. But Sunrise reminded me of someone…”



“But Raleigh was already socialised,” reminded Josie. “He needed a refuge, a home, not the facilities a feral requires.”

“Oh, I know. Sunrise simply had the same sad expression that Peachy had. I think he would have liked it here.”

Josie sat silently for a minute, while Dr Bellen drank his tea. Josie started washing her face, which she did sometimes while thinking. At length, she looked at the human again.

“Do you remember Tungsten?”

“Tungsten?” Dr Bellen was surprised at the mention of the cat. “Why, of course I do. She was the Cosy Apartment’s first client.”

“Yes, that’s right. My, that was a long time ago.” The time that had elapsed since Tungsten had left Idylland had been five years, a very long time indeed to a cat. “I recall when she left, just before you accompanied her to the station.”

“I recall it, too.” Dr Bellen seemed to be seeing something that was farther away than five years.

“She talked to me at that moment. I asked why she had to go. She thought I was rather silly to ask, I know.” Josie almost smiled. She and Tungsten had disliked each other when they had first met, but then grew to be quite tolerant of one another.

“I don’t think it was silly,” said Dr Bellen.

“Tungsten told me that her time at the sanitarium was up, and that she had an appointment to keep elsewhere. Where is Samarra?”

Dr Bellen smiled. Tungsten had always had a good sense of humour; an erudite sense of humour.

“It’s in the next land, over the mountains,” he answered casually.

“Tungsten explained that each of us can do only so much. You helped Tungsten stay at the sanitarium for a long time, and she enjoyed her stay here. She liked you very much.”

“I liked her very much, too…” said Dr Bellen.

“She knew that if you could have kept her here, in decent health, longer, you would have. She said that General Wolfe once stated that ‘war is an option of difficulties’…”

“Tungsten quoted General Wolfe? General James Wolfe?”

Josie nodded.

“I find it hard to believe that she quoted General James Wolfe…”

“Do you want to hear my story or not, Doctor?” The cat frowned.


“She must have read it somewhere. I think…I think what she meant was, we can do only so much. And when we do one thing, it often keeps us from doing another.”

“I could have kept Sunrise here, and worked with him,” Dr Bellen explained.

“And that might have kept you from devoting time and effort to many other cats. That would have hurt them and their chances. You could have helped Sunrise, but you could also have helped many other cats in that same time. And would Sunrise have been happy in all the time it would have taken to socialise him? And would it have worked out?” Josie stared at the cold fireplace and, after a moment, added, “I don’t know what will happen to Sunrise. He may live a long time, he may live a short time. But what you did for him will improve his life, and that improvement - better health, a stronger chance - was something he never had before.”

“Part of me will always regret not keeping him.”

“Tungsten never said that the options we choose are always easy to live with. They should just be the best we can choose. And...she told me those choices don’t make our destinies; they only serve them.”

Dr Bellen laughed.

“Tungsten was pretty smart.” He put his hand on Josie’s shoulder. “And so are you.”

Josie rubbed her face against the arm of the couch, which always made her look as if she were embarrassed, and blushing.

“Do you have any more treats, Dr Bellen?”

“I’m sure I have a few in a drawer here somewhere…”


  1. I think that's one of the hardest things for people who are in care roles, whether care of non-humans or of humans: It's not possible to do everything for every Being. We do our best, we help as much as we can, then we have to let go and let the Being's destiny play out. Turn them over to a Higher Power.

    Harder to do when someone reminds you of another, though, and emotions become jumbled.

    Be at peace in your heart, John, knowing you have given Sunrise, and all the others, a much better chance of a good life than if you (and others) had not intervened to help.

  2. We've felt that pain, and empathize with Dr. Bellen's unsettled feelings.
    This was a lovely post; well-written, and full of emotion.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. We have the capacity to help and care for these wonderful creatures.
    It must be difficult to not keep each and every lovely cat you rescue.
    I see cats on the loose here about, and want to give handouts, but just
    can't encourage them all to live about outside. I always hope some of
    them belong to a human and are just out for a walk. Your 4 cats will
    enjoy all your attention and Sunrise will not be a father. It is a
    win win for all.

  4. Yep, that's always a tough decision to make, but we've made it often too.

  5. I am glad that Dr Bellen had the opportunity of a meaningful talk with the Sanitarium's Senior resident, Ms. Josephina Von Chubs. It seems her attention was drawn purposefully on this soft evening. It was meant that she see the light shining from the study window and that she attend to the Dr herself. She has of course, gathered wisdom through the years, and her keen observations served her well throughout. Knowing that Dr. Bellen was regretting not keeping Sunrise was something Ms Von Chubs knew from the start. And knowing that Raleigh is missed for his singular gift of sweetness he brought the Sanitarium was a given. And Princess Cammie was an Institution in the Sanitarium. A difficult adjustment for the Dr and the rest of the family when they both went to the Station and fulfilled the other appointments waiting for them. She, Ms Von Chubs was the perfect one as Senior, to comfort the Dr as he sat and tried again to get through the sadness of Princess Cammie and the good Raleigh having gone. And Sunrise too; although he yet may be seen again. The good and caring Dr is fortunate to have you as an advisor, Ms Von Chubs. You are thanked. You are loved.

  6. This really hit home to me. Many years ago, there was a stray we were feeding in our backyard. After one Fourth of July, we found him in the alley behind our house, limping very badly. We thought he had been hit by a car, but when we brought him to the vet, we learned someone had shot him in the leg.

    The vet thought he would probably live, but he would be left permanently paralyzed. We didn't know what to do. He wasn't a feral--he was a very sweet and affectionate cat, who obviously once had a home. We would have taken him in, but at that time we had seven cats, and just could not handle another, particularly one who was paralyzed. And we didn't have a spare room where he could recuperate on his own. Even if he recovered, it was obviously unthinkable to send him back outdoors, and no one we knew wanted him.

    My family decided that given the circumstances, the only thing we could do was ask the vet to euthanize him. After all this time, I still feel guilty about that--I had become very fond of the cat, and would have loved to be able to keep him--but at least we were able to give the poor guy a humane end.

    I understand what a hard decision that was for you, but I agree you couldn't do otherwise. May Sunrise have a good life, even if it is one he's fated to live in the wild. At least he'll have a regular food source, and once he's fixed, he'll be much less likely to get into fights.

    1. What a sad end for that little stray, but I'm glad you and your family were able to see him on his way, and out of suffering. There are so many to help...

  7. while you CAN wonder what if; never let it overshadow what you DID for it hard, yes, but honestly, I've known people who attempted to bring in a community cat, only to discover that bringing them IN, was far more devastating TO the cat, then letting them go back to the colony. this is cod's truth. the neighbors who used to live across the street from dai$y attempted this. I guess if you continue to see sunrise; maybe, just maybe, he will become socialized to the point where he could be brought inside.......this story is amazing by the way....let me know when you put together a collection of your "fictional" posts, I'll buy a copy !! ☺☺♥♥

    1. Yes, some just don't want the indoor life, and if it's the outdoor life for them, then perhaps it's best that they are feral, but with food and clean water provided. In any case, it's often the best we can do for them...

    2. That’s true. For the past 4 years, a former feral kitten has lived in my backyard. Outside, he’s completely socialized: friendly and affectionate. But he wants no part of staying in the house. He’s willing to occasionally come in and look around, but within minutes he insists on going outside. I worry about him, and wish he’d agree to stay indoors, but so far, at least, this is what he wants.

    3. I hope very much that one day he will decide to nap inside...and then to stay for supper inside...and your boy

  8. Your story really hit home to me just as it did for Undine. Many years ago, I was going out to dinner with some friends, and as we arrived at our restaurant, we came across a small black cat. He was socialized and came right up to me and let me pet him. I wanted to take him home so very badly, but I lived in an apartment building that did not permit pets, and that notwithstanding, I already had one "illegal" cat. Therefore I had no choice but to leave him and hope someone would see him and give him a good home. That was 45 years ago and to this day, I wonder what happened to him. John, all we can do is our best. You had Sunrise "fixed" which gives him a chance for a better life. Also, you're giving him access to food and shelter at the Cafe Cozy. Meanwhile Josie, Tucker, Renn and Neville are able share your love and attention. Returning Sunrise to his colony was a hard decision to make, but I think you made the correct one.

    1. There are far too many in distress and too few to help them. I am afraid that it will always be that way.

  9. Both Ms.Josefina von Chubs and the late Ms.Tungsten are very wise. When I saw Sunrise, another ginger, I did wonder if he would actually be released again.
    As you say though, it would take a lot of time and your company to socialise him.
    Even though he has tugged on your heart strings, he now stands a much better chance than he had before.

    1. And, who knows? Perhaps the paths of Sunrise and John will meet again someday...

  10. Ah! Bless! Just got home..Had to go
    to the next big town, to get my yearly
    pacemaker check..the fifth one, so, it's
    working o.k...! :).

    So l've just read this amazing..amazing..
    amazing..l think of a word in a mo..!
    Lovely! Has always been a favourite word
    of mine to use..!
    I don't read books..Patience..or lack of
    it..if there are pictures, drawings etc..
    I can manage that, but, pages and pages
    full of words, no, not for me..
    My favourite saying.."I'll wait for the
    film to come out"..

    Oh! Always love the comments to..But these
    are a bit special to..Love Them..! :o).

  11. Ah...the wisdom of a cat. It's sad that Sunrise couldn't stay but we hope he lives a furry long life in his colony. Purrhaps there is another orange kitty out there looking for a home.