The other day I broke a cardinal rule of mine. A need arose where someone needed training in a fairly advanced form of healing to try and help a cat who is dying. The cat’s owner does not believe in vets but rather believes in administering human painkillers and no amount of persuasion, literature on the subject or common sense will persuade him otherwise. Unfortunately, I am not flavour of the month with the owner so I couldn’t go in and physically help.
For non-pet owning readers, giving a cat aspirin or paracetamol will poison and cause the animal’s liver and kidneys to fail as well as causing gastric and mouth ulcers (aspirin). The animal takes around 3 – 4 days to die and does so in considerable pain and distress. Pharmaceuticals for humans should never be given to animals, unless under the express direction of a vet as human and animal physiologies are so different.
So there I was, racking my brains as to what to do. Ritual and request will only take you so far. I am not near enough experienced with lethal herbs to be able to concoct something that will give the animal a quick, painless death and I am probably only capable of making things a lot worse. We also, for various reasons, cannot currently call in the RSPCA (who in this instance would probably do the right thing and put the animal down). And then it came to me – train her.
I have a big problem with this. I’m one of those crabby people who get very annoyed at fluffy bunnies running around with fairy wands, dressed in velvet and lace and Doc Marterns, calling themselves witches and dabbling with things they really shouldn’t. Completely excusable when you’re 13, less so when you’re 40.
I will also not willingly add to the tally of fluffy pseudo-witch teenagers or train a child in something which I consider to be serious, potent and not to be messed with, only to have them use it to score points or enhance their reputation. As it slowly became known what I did, I have had more than a few requests from teenage girls to train them up (thanks Buffy and the slew of witchy films out over the past 10 years!). My answer was “go away and read up everything you can about nature, the seasons, elements and the various forms of healing – and come back to me when you’re eighteen”.
Strangely enough it has ensured that my gaggle of local wanabees has reduced to zero over the years. I’m not trying to make it hard but I do expect someone who wants to pick up the craft to be serious about it.
There I was, sitting on the fence. The girl in question isn’t young – she’s 20. She’s a bright, intuitive girl. She also was someone who knew next to nothing about what I did.
She came round and we had a cup of tea. I asked her if she knew what I did and she said she had some idea as M had told her about bits and pieces. I broached the “W” word and explained as simply as I could what I thought part of the problem was and how she might be able to help.
I gave her a two hour crash course in the basics. She picked it up very well, far better than I thought she would and she responded sensibly, not in any over the top way. I was very relieved.
However, we are still left with the problem, which is an aged, suffering cat who won’t die easily, probably because of the attachment his owner has for him and who won’t be taken to the vet for a dignified end. My “student” has been guided to give the cat permission to go and, with the cat’s permission, break the attachment and be released to die quickly and in peace.
I am not sure what creates such an attachment in an environment which is essentially abusive. It is a common psychology in human relationships and it seems to be common in human-pet relationships as well. I do not know how blinkered you have to be to ignore basic medical proof and pursue a course of action that is tantamount to cruelty in the extreme, all the while espousing to love the animal in question. It is harder to deal with than outright abuse.
There is an honesty in someone lashing out at an animal in misplaced frustration that is missing in these cases. Here, the psychology is far creepier and verges on sadism. I find it impossible to understand and unbearable to think about. What I’d like to do is put the owner down instead of the cat.