Friday, April 20, 2012

Heartbreak - Losing Zsa Zsa

Zsa Zsa
I had another post planned for you, but sadly on my morning walk with Muji I found that Zsa Zsa had been killed by a motorist in front of the apartments.  I know it was just moments before we arrived, because I could feel her body was still warm and soft when I moved her off the tarmac of the seafront road. 

I put her over in the shoulder

It was easy to put together what had happened.  There was a gardener working in the area where she spends most of her time - in back of the apartment building. 

Here he is after he moved around front
It's a quiet area where there is usually no one, as the apartments are empty nearly all week and only a few people come to occupy them on the weekends. The man was giving the hedge a hard pruning with a very loud hedge trimmer.  I don't blame her for being scared.  I hate that sound.  She must have been scared to death as it is likely the first time she has heard it in her life.  They let the apartments go all winter.

The hedges got a hard pruning

They were cut a good 4 feet back at the apartments next door, too.

She likely darted to get away from the stranger and the noise, and instead of going to the apartment building next door where he was also working ( I saw the pile of debris), she crossed the road to get to the more peaceful grassy field.  She almost made it. 

People speed down this road like crazy.  There are speedbumps at this point along the road,  but they are ridiculously ineffective.  Like everything in Cyprus they are watered down to be innocuous so as not to anger the citizens.  People don't take kindly to rules in Cyprus and they are completely disrespectful to law enforcement authorities. 

Speedbump?  really?
Zsa Zsa was a winter kitten, still very young.  She originated up at the apartments and came down to the park to eat for a time, but then she started staying back at the apartments when they began work on the park.  That was also when I changed my feeding times there. Now Nik was feeding her every morning at the apartments. 

In fact, when Muji and I got back from our walk, I called Nik to tell him what happened, and he said he had just fed her this morning.  

She was afraid of everything.  She had just started coming out from the brush to eat with the others at the park before all the changes started occuring there.  I even saw her playing one day with Blabby and Greyboy.  That was a huge accomplishment for her because I only ever saw her alone, except the one time I saw her with her mother who was even more afraid than Zsa Zsa, if that is possible, and they were never very close to each other in proximity:

Zsa Zsa's mother, Sunset

Sunset with Moonpie 
Zsa Zsa on the far left and her mom Sunset on the far right - as close as I ever saw them together
It was more often that I saw Zsa Zsa like this, alone, hidden in the greenery:

Afraid to approach the plate, I usually had to put it in the bushes for her

She was always on the lookout:

Even after she started being brave enough to eat with the others she was still constantly on the lookout:

Let's not get sentimental about this and say, "Well we fed her, and we were her friends, we did the best we could and bla, bla, bla, because food is not enough. She needed protection, shelter, a home, security, and then she could have responded to love, you know, like in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - it holds for all of creation. And we didn't do the best we could. Who ever does the best they could? And no friend would leave a friend out on the streets to get hit by a car. So, no, we weren't her friends. We deceive ourselves when we think like that.

The apostle James wrote, “if a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you
says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their
bodily needs, what is the good of that?” (James 2:15-17).

Are not the animals our brothers?  This wonderful prayer attributed to  St. Basil says they are:

The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.

Zsa Zsa needed security

Zsa Zsa being killed by a car is nothing save tragic.  Because none of us did enough to help her and and all of us could do more to help all the cats.  I am reminded of the opening words to a Jackson Browne song:

Oh, people, look around you
The signs are everywhere
You've left it to somebody other than you
To be the one to care
You're lost inside your houses
There's no time to find you now 

We ask cats to live as wild animals when they are not wild animals.  We say they can survive.  Do they?  Zsa Zsa and Tweeny are evidence they don't survive.   We ask the wild animals of the earth to survive in a world which is no longer wild.  How can they?  What is it we are speeding toward so fast that we cannot slow down, or build safer roads, or look out for our fellow creatures, our brothers and sisters we share this world with? 

The answer is good people willing to take in these pitiful creatures who are trying to live like the wild animals they are not.  The answer is people opening up their hearts and just putting a little more work in their life that they will reap the benefits of 100 times over.  Animals help us grow emotionally, they give us much needed companionship, and we can be completely ourselves with them. 

I went back and got Zsa Zsa after my walk with Muji and Nik and I will bury her tonight. Please say a prayer for all the cats.

Attributed to St. Basil the Great:
For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear with us the burden and heat of day, and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou hast promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Saviour of the world.

I drew this picture for Zsa Zsa back in January when I thought she was lost.

For Zsa Zsa

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)

This one really hurts.  They all hurt, but she was so darn vulnerable and never even stroked or held once.


  1. I feel terrible about Zsa Zsa. Poor baby. But thank you and your husband for doing such a wonderful job caring for feral cats. Our Sunny is a feral cat given to us by a neighbor and his wife. They scout through all the neighborhood looking for any stray cats, trap them and then have them neutered. Sunny was half-feral - a man who had several large dogs also had two mother female cats that had litters at the same time outdoors. They lived outdoors and ate dogfood the first two months of their lives. So Sunny had some nutritional problems for the first month or two, the I started her on Probiotics and she straightened out pretty well! She is the sweetest cat ever. PS I found your blog through your FAA webpage :)

  2. Lessandra, I am so glad you commented, thank you so much. Thank you for giving Sunny a home and the love she deserves. And bless your neighbors for caring so much. I am convinced if we all focused on this problem we could solve it. I am convinced that if we created community sanctuaries instead of leaving this problem to cities and rescue centers where the cats and dogs are out of sight, out of mind, and the facilities are overcrowded and the burdens of the caretakers are great, we could make progress and bring joy. If every community recognized their responsibilty to the animals that end up there, cared for them, created a community haven and sanctuary for them where everyone participated, and adopted them out within the same community - I think we could make this problem personal again, and be on our way to ending it. I think such a solution could become a source of pride for communities, and bring back the idea of responsibility and service that make our lives satisfying and worth living. Yes, probiotics work miracles! And yogurt works wonders, too. We have given it to nursing mothers and the kittens with great results. Thank you, again, Lessandra. Thank you.