Ron Rosenbaum

A Small Tragedy....

…in the scheme of things., yes. But when I got back to my Chicago apartment, the one the University is renting for me for the duration of my fellowship, the one with the beautiful oceanic view of Lake Michigan, I got a jolt of one-degree-of sepaaration pain.

The building’ handyman approached me and asked if i knew anyone on my floor had a cat. When I said I didn’t know he said he was asking because a cat had jumped or fell from a high window that afternoon and killed itself on the concrete below.

It was an all-white cat, he said. This stirred memories: did I read somewhere, or was it an urban legend that all-white cats are blind? In any case it was heartbreaking because, evidently the owner hadn’t come home, missed the cat’s greeting, started searching frantically and finally come upon the awful truth.

I would not want to be that owner. Spring lasted less than a week in Chicago, it went from winter to summer when I was gone for a few days. Windows are opened to let in the lake-shore breezes. Responsible cat owners never leave home with an open window or a fragile screen, there are too many stories like this one. If you’re a cat owner and don’t take precautions please do it now, before it’s too late.

The image of that pure white cat falling through the air, perhaps blind to the beauty of the world it was leaving behind, the beauty it gave to the world, is almost too much to bear.

“But Hodge shall not be shot. No, no Hodge shall not be shot.”

–Samuel Johnson on the fate of his pet cat during a rampage by a madman cat- killer in London. The heartbreakingly tender line that is the epigraph for the greatest novel of the past century, V. Nabokov’s Pale Fire

May all our beloved cats remain safe.