7) Curiosity Didn’t Kill This Cat

Notes From Tha Cove  – Curiosity Didn’t Kill This Cat

By Bill Boyles

So I’m just going to warn you from the start, a cat dies in this one. And it’s not pretty. So if that’s going to bother you, please stop reading. I didn’t kill the cat, there was nothing I could have done, and the mores about animals are different in Samoa. I don’t want to hear it, so don’t waste your time emailing me or whatever. So I can’t really date this one, but it if you put my feet to the fire I would guess late in 1998, maybe early in 1999. It was after they gave us the new uniforms, I can remember that. I was living on Sinalele Beach. My family had taken in this little kitten. It was very very young. It came from the village above the beach, but it had wandered down either because it was an orphan or because it had been driven off by its family. It only had three legs, you see. One back leg was totally mangled below its knee, and it ended in a stump. I have no idea how that happened, but I will say that both the staff and the villagers often found it funny to throw puppies, cats, and kittens off the cliff. Why, I do not know. But that is one way the cat could have ended up down on the beach. Anyway, whatever reason the cat was down on the beach, it was, and my family had taken it in as a sort of pet or mascot. We would all chip in a little of our meals for it. We pet it and loved it. We named it “Tripod”, for obvious reasons. I don’t know how long we had him, but it was definitely long enough for us to get attached. I’m not really a cat person, but he was so little and so cute, and I do love animals in general. He wormed his way right into my heart, cold as Paradise Cove had turned it, and I think the rest of my family was the same way. There was just one little problem. We weren’t supposed to make the cats and dogs into pets, and we definitely weren’t supposed to have Tripod at all. And if we got caught, bad things were likely to happen to us. So we kept him a secret as best we could, and we were aided and abetted in our little conspiracy by certain staff members who were kinder, and more lenient and understanding than others. All too soon, however, our secret was revealed. Word came down from above: Tripod had to go. We were fine with it when it was told to us. He was a nice little cat, kitten really, and we wished him well. But then it was explained to us that Tripod had to die. We were close to refusing. The staff pointed out his missing leg, which was looking kind of gnarly and not healing well. We still balked. Finally, we were told flat out we had to do it, or else. Or else in Paradise Cove was never something you wanted, never something you played games with. It sucked for us, and it sucked worst for Tripod, but he was going to have to die and apparently we had to do it. We discussed different ideas for killing him, in order to make it quick and painless. Someone suggested bashing his head in with a big crock, crushing his skull. Someone suggested wringing his neck like a chicken. They weren’t going to give us a knife, so cutting his throat was out. We went on and on. Eventually, we decided that drowning him was best. We decided to tie him up inside a plastic trash bag with several large rocks and throw him in the ocean. He started to freak out when we put him in the bag. We threw the bag into the water and it sank, but after a moment he popped back up, swimming furiously. We realized he had clawed through the trash bag. We didn’t know what to do. Finally we decided to do the same thing again, but use a heavier and much more durable empty rice bag. So someone waded out and got him, but him into the new bag with the rocks, tied it up, and sank it. But again little Tripod popped back up. The will to live was incredibly strong in this little kitten. I was dying. I seriously wanted to cry, but of course that would have been a huge mistake. At this point we were totally stymied as how to do this. Some of the staff and kids began throwing rocks, trying to hit him, but they missed and he just kept paddling around. It was really getting ridiculous. The staff started to get pretty pissed and started yelling at us to kill him. We didn’t know how. Things were getting pretty tense. Then one guy from my family figured out how to do it. He waded out into the water, grabbed little Tripod, and held him underwater by the tail until he died. It was pretty sad, but mostly I grateful I wasn’t the one who had to go do it. I think that would haunt me badly. Just being a small part of this whole crazy story haunts me. But it was him or us, and in Paradise Cove that was never a question, just like it would never have been a question for little Tripod. That’s the story of killing the cat, and this was Notes From Tha Cove.

3 Responses to “7) Curiosity Didn’t Kill This Cat”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    I am a cat lover and just wanted to say please do NOT feel bad for what happened with Tripod. You weren’t a kid who goes around looking for animals to harm. After much distress you and your family figured out the most humane way to end Tripod’s life…saving your own!

    Reply

  2. Macha Says:

    This absolutely breaks my heart. For you and for Tripod. It wasn’t your fault. It was the fault of the people who did these stupid, inhumane things to both of you. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of this.

    Reply

    • Caiti Kingsbury Says:

      That is aweful. I just found this site. I was in casa by the sea from June 26th 2000, till my 18th birthday, March 17th 2001. One of my least favorite memories there was that of one of our meaner “mamas” (staff, this one a shift leader or whatever) and what she did to a litter of kittens. Life there was depressing as you can imagine, and for a few days a mama cat and her kittens were coming over our fence and gracing us with joy to see them. A few days later we had our shift change and the “mama” in charge coming on, saw the joy the cats brought us, stuffed them into a pillow case, tied it off,and threw them over our wall where there was a steep cliff, jagged rocks, and the Pacific Ocean. We knew their fate was sealed.
      Same woman yanked me from my top bed onto my hip. As I’m aging I’m having troubles with that hip and wonder if it was from that day. It popped in and out of socket during my pregnancies and I would not be surprised if one day I have to replace it. After yanking me from my bed I spent the day in Room Restriction (R&R) facing the wall while sitting cross legged facing the wall. Later in the day the staff dumped me, and all my stuff, in the sandiago airport five days before my flight. In my “exit plan I was supposed to be put up in a hotel my mom paid for, and cash and a cab to take me to the airport. I was left far from the entrance with 40 bucks and had to abandon my stuff. So much more to tell, but want to talk to survivors. Maybe some I knew? One girl that I knew that was there died of cancer just a few years later, and I know no one else.

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