A Haiku Farewell to my Feral Cat Friend

This Cat Looks Almost Like Red Did -- But his Red Fur was Redder

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Farewell to my Feral Friend

Brave old feral cat
Runs to greet me at day's end
Roadside on Maui.

White with red-orange fur --
Velvet saddle on his back.
White whiskered strong soul.

Rubs against my legs,
Says 'Thanks, Lady, for the food.'
All his cat friends watch.

Same scene every day.
Other ferals come to eat
Their food as I leave.

Then one day I'm late.
T'is eight at night and dark.
Shining orbs everywhere.

Orbs of light peeking out
From roadside grass and bushes.
Hungry cats waiting.

Now out of the car
Suddenly there is danger.
Sounds of speeding steel.

Where is my big Red?
Forest on this side is his.
Did he cross the road?

If I fed the cats --
Away deep within the trees
I would be at risk.

So I feed these cats --
The colony -- at trees' edge
Where there is safety.

But safety for whom?
Only for me, not dear friends.
Now comes slow motion.

I see his bright eyes
On the wrong side of the road.
Crying, I yell, "Stay."

But he runs forward.
Speeding car with engine revved,
Tire rims approaching.

Precious Red is caught.
Spinning and then flung aside.
Car honking, speeds on.

My car's lights shining,
I run to Red's silhouette.
Is he still alive?

I lift up my friend.
I am grateful to be here.
There is quiet peace.

There upon the road
On the center line we are
Knowing it's his time.

Scented Maui night
'Neath a starry canopy
Just me and my cat.

A teary aloha
As his spirit slips from here
To a gentler place.





More of my Feral Cat Friends

Red, the feral cat, looked like the cat on the right of this photo, but his orange-red fur was a deeper red.
Red, the feral cat, looked like the cat on the right of this photo, but his orange-red fur was a deeper red. | Source
I never got a picture of Red.  This is Lelele, a very friendly feral at a different colony I used to feed.
I never got a picture of Red. This is Lelele, a very friendly feral at a different colony I used to feed. | Source
This is the area where Red lived amonst a colony of approximately 40 cats on the one side of the road (and 40 on the other.)  Most of them have been spayed and neutered through the hard work of caregivers before I moved to Maui.
This is the area where Red lived amonst a colony of approximately 40 cats on the one side of the road (and 40 on the other.) Most of them have been spayed and neutered through the hard work of caregivers before I moved to Maui.

A little note about the poem and Red, my Feral Friend..

I'm glad I finally wrote this for Red. It's probably not quite proper Haiku because some of the sentences are inclusive of two lines of meter. Perhaps real Haiku needs to have each 5, 7 and 5 syllables be complete so that a period ends each 5, 7 and 5 syllables. If anyone knows, please advise me. I've only done Haiku a few times.

It was 2008 that this accident occurred which took Red away. Usually when something upsetting happens, I write. But the night this happened, I couldn't write. I had never held a dying cat in my arms. But I had to express myself in order to sleep that night, so I drew a drawing of me holding Red in my arms in the middle of the road. I can't find the picture I drew and colored, but the image has stayed in my mind. So I have tried to capture the emotions I felt that night.

What I didn't capture in the drawing nor did I attempt it in this poem -- was the awe I felt as I looked into his open eyes after he passed away. His eyes were wide open. The colored irises were like flames floating on the fluid of the eye. (He was laying stomach and face up as I drove him somewhere I could place him.) I've always had a strong belief in things to come after this sojourn on earth, but seeing those indescribable eyes was like a whispered promise of future games of tag in heaven's fields and glens.



I Wish All Cats Could Live a Safe, Protected Life

I wish all cats could have a safe life.  People need to be responsible about spaying and neutering their animals.
I wish all cats could have a safe life. People need to be responsible about spaying and neutering their animals.

© 2012 Pamela Kinnaird W

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Comments 37 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

That's a healthy, positive way to think. I, on the other hand, when I've really messed up somehow or feel that the animal would still be alive if he or she had never met me -- do not usually get quite to that positive point.


Lauhulu profile image

Lauhulu 3 years ago from Hawaii, United States

It's true, I ALWAYS think about what I could have done differently. My only solace is hoping that I get it right the next time around!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Lauhulu, in the comment I wrote above to you, I wasn't clear. I meant to explain that Billy Boy was a stray cat, very skittish, who would meow at our door for food, but did not want to be trapped in a house. With time he might have gotten used to humans, but he was not to that point when we left. So it was thrilling to me and to my dad when Billy Boy actually followed my dad from our place to my dad's house and then stuck around.

But now, of course, we wonder what could we have each done differently.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Yes -- and hopefully, hopefully -- we'll see all of them again one day.

Just yesterday we received the awful news from my parents that one I'd loved near my parents' home and they took over the responsibility of feeding him and sheltering him when we left our house -- he was attacked and has not been seen since. They had a shelter for him out on their porch and he could also go under their sundeck. He had actually followed my dad home from our place -- three blocks away -- when he knew we weren't coming back. So even though my dad had been feeding him every day and leaving water (which would freeze within two minutes if Billy Boy didn't get to it soon enough -- and he had the shelter we'd built for him, but still he followed my dad to Dad and Mom's house through the deep snow one day and there he stayed, outside, just wanting safety and some love. They invited him in often but he wouldn't go in. My dad thought about taking him to the Humane Society 60 miles away, but the last time we did that, the cats were adopted out to a farmer so they were still out in the elements. But the night before last, my mom and dad awoke to a terrible scream from an animal. It might have been a big owl that got him.

It's so painful to lose an animal. It's so important to have hope of seeing them again beyond this mortal veil.


Lauhulu profile image

Lauhulu 3 years ago from Hawaii, United States

Also, I feel like it made their life meaningful in some way...not just an animal who came and left without much notice. They will be remembered if we honor their lives (and in addition that represents so many more of the unnamed ones).


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Lauhulu, yours are my sentiments exactly. Writing and painting about the animals and birds we have loved and lost does not completely wipe out the pain and sadness of missing them, but it does alleviate it somewhat -- for periods of time. Thank you for your comment and time.


Lauhulu profile image

Lauhulu 3 years ago from Hawaii, United States

Every animal I've come to know has been meaningful in some way. I live on Molokai and I could adopt probably an animal a week. What a nice tribute! I feel like if I could write, paint, or otherwise pay tribute to each animal in some way then maybe I have honored them...do you know what I mean? It's one of the only ways to alleviate the sadness of losing them.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, rajan jolly. That's kind of you.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very touching ode to Red. Really beautiful. Voted up, beautiful and sharing this.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, Olde Cashmere.


Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

What an enjoyable poem Pamela. Thank you for sharing this, very beautiful. Voted up, interesting, awesome, and beautiful :)


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Yes, I believe he is. Thanks, Pamela-anne.


Pamela-anne profile image

Pamela-anne 4 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Pamela I'm sure your dear furry friend "Red" is running around heaven no longer in fear of the revving killing cars that on earth never end. Thanks for sharing take care.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you for reading and for the votes and the share.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

A beautiful memorial. You really capture both your feeling and the scene of this tragic day.

Sharing this one, voted up and beautiful.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, lindalou1963.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

No doubt in my mind about that either. Thank you so much, Angela. I love it when you stop by. Have a great day.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

How beautiful and how sad. Your blessings are many for your ministering to these cat babies. There's no doubt in my mind you and Red will definitely meet again. Wonderful, wonderful Hub. Best/Sis


lindalou1963 profile image

lindalou1963 4 years ago from Texas

Beautiful poem... so descriptive and so sad


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

wrenfrost56, thank you. I'm just glad he went quickly without more than two minutes' suffering.


wrenfrost56 profile image

wrenfrost56 4 years ago from U.K.

Sorry to hear about poor red, it's hard to lose a pet, especially if they have been run over. Beautiful piece of poetry in his honor though. :)


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

I'm so glad you liked this hub, tillsontitan, and that you could feel what I was trying to express. I believe animals go to heaven -- as you've mentioned -- because the scriptures talk about this in several places. Thank you for taking the time to read my attempt at haiku -- and for all the votes.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Yes, you must get the mom kitty fixed as soon as possible. Female cats die a slow, difficult death from too many pregnancies. If you contact your local humane society, they probably have a trap they can sign out to you and show you how to use it. A little wet cat food at the back of the trap and newspaper to hide the middle area will lure the kitty in. I know you can do it with just a carrier, though. I've done it four times. But it sure makes the blood pressure go up when you scruff that cat and go to lift her into the carrier -- wow! When the cat realize what's going on, it's a scary moment. But if you do decide to borrow a trap and trap her -- which is easier -- be sure you cover the trap with a towel immediately so she can calm down while being transported.

I'll be thinking of you.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Lucky Cats, that's incredible that you found a way to transport 30 cats to California. I know what you mean about the worry that goes along with the feeding and the seeing. I'm glad you have a partner who loves cats and can work along with you. Contact me anytime through my profile page. I see I can't contact you. Best wishes for the hot summer ahead and in all that you strive to do with the kitties in Kansas.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

It is hard to read when you're crying but I managed to finish this hub. In spite of what happened Red was lucky to have you. His sad ending will hopefully be a peaceful beginning for him (if animals go to heaven).

This was a lovely haiku with so much feeling and your explanation about the haiku and the cats were both inspirational.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

Oh Pamela! I feel you pain through and through. I'm so glad you wrote this for Red and bless your heart for taking care of these beautiful animals. The dread you felt as you heard the vehicle approach and could not stop Red, is one I dread too. At least the cats here are in this apartment complex. I intend to try to get Mamacita and her two kittens fixed this week. Two of the tomcats have worn Mamacita out totally and won't leave her alone. I just wrote a hub about the animals here, so I know exactly how you feel. It is a very hard life for them. I hope that once fixed, the population will become more stable. I won't even attempt to catch the males... I don't have a trap, just a carrier. Voted up and across. xxx


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Pamela, I know that horrible heat is so tough on strays/abandoned animals. I lived in SE Kansas for 5 years....there; the heat is incredible..as well as being extremely humid. For hears, Al and I along w/several other friends fed/watered and spay/neutered as many as we could. Most ended up at my little farm sanctuary...and I've brought 30 w/me to California...something most cannot do but I am fortunate in that I have enough area to build shelters and catteries. The remaining ones we've rescued are still in Kansas..I'm on my way there pretty soon to relieve al and see my beloved furry family. It tears me up to think of all the animals in that searing heat w/no reprieve, no consistent source of food or water...I lobby the other people there to pick up where I left off....it is extremely hard to see/ to know. Bless you for doing so much for the colonies of ferals...this is such a huge undertaking..and the worry that goes along w/it. We have now reached a point where we cannot take any more...and this is difficult because...there are Always more. Heartbreaking. Take care and enjoy your resbit from this...we must recharge from time to time otherwise; it would be almost impossible to continue. You are fantastic and I am very honored to know you through HP's....


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you so much, Lucky Cats, for all your kind words. I'm not on Maui right now. I've been visiting family in Arizona and soon I'm heading for Canada again.

I was so dismayed to see feral cats here in unbearably hot Arizona the other night. I used to always have cat food and fresh water in my car on Maui. I find my adult daughter carries cat food and dog food and water here in her vehicle in Arizona. There are so many stray dogs and abandoned dogs here in this terrible heat. It is heartbreaking.

I know you love animals. I'm sorry to learn that you have had some sad losses. It's good that we write. I think it helps our hearts. I am looking forward, though, to a short reprieve in Canada.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Pages-By-Patty, thank you for stopping by and reading. Yes, the controversy over free-roaming cats will always continue. As long as the cats are fed, monitored for health and also spayed or neutered, they do very well alongside the other wildlife. Two of the colonies I was feeding had 20 or more chickens and roosters in the same vicinity. Chicks would be born and they would be fine with the cats around because the cats were fed. We kept trying to lure the cats away 100 or 200 feet for feeding, however, because the little tiny mites on the fowl would really make life difficult for the cats if they got a batch on them.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

kat11, thank you for taking the time to read my poem and for the vote.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

WillStarr, that is really nice that the feral cats can live in and around your home and that you have had them spayed or neutered. Thanks for visiting.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Jelliebean, You're in Scotland. How nice. I haven't met anyone on here from Scotland. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Thank you, too, for clarifying that haikus' rules are actually more complex than I realized, so I agree -- anything goes.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Oh, Pamela...you know how deeply this touches me....I so relate to your sad story of love and loss of dear Red. For years, you have been such a wonderful, caring person to all the abandoned animals on the islands. I hope that writing this poem helps to close the wound for good and leave just good memories of how you helped this old cat; and the image which assured you as you gazed into his eyes. This is very sad, Pamela...I know this loss...and it cuts deep. Thank you so much for caring; feeding and being a source of constant support to the beautiful animals of the islands. such a huge shame that we (humans) still haven't gotten it together to stop uncontrolled pregnancy among animals...that have been dumped or abandoned. UP Beautiful and Awesome! Thank you so much, Pamela...your friend for animals, Kathy


Pages-By-Patty profile image

Pages-By-Patty 4 years ago from Midwest

Your poem and story truly depict the hardship of a feral life. A feral's life span is generally half that of an indoor cat, so for Red to have reached "old man" status is quite a testament to your commitment to him.

Thank you for your story and for your compassion toward free-roaming felines!


kat11 profile image

kat11 4 years ago from Illinois

Awesome poem voted up


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

We made a deal with an organization that neuters strays. We trapped five feral cats and the vets neutered them. Our part of the deal is to feed them, so we have four cats that call our yard and hiding places home (one died of unknown causes). We are rewarded by the occasional rub on our legs by ‘wild’ cats. It’s enough.

RIP, Red.


Jelliebean profile image

Jelliebean 4 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

So sad to lose a friend. How lovely that the cats have someone as caring as you to look after them. I'm touched. As far as haikus go, from what I have learned, the rules of haiku are quite complex for comparing to how we form our words in English. So I say 'anything goes' in art and the poem speaks for itself. Beautiful xxx

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