By Liah Greenfeld
My mother just turned 85. Her mind is sharp and her will is strong, but she is ill and tired of life, and has been dying, I feel, since my father’s death almost eleven years ago. She has breast cancer, which she does not want to treat, and barely walks. She was a doctor. Therefore, she does not see doctors. But she still lives in the large apartment she shared with my father and their last cat and insists on taking care of all her daily needs. Since the cat died – at the age of eighteen – three years ago, she lives completely alone.
For many years, from long before she retired at 73, a part of her routine has been feeding alley cats in her neighborhood. She lives in Israel where though one very rarely sees homeless dogs, homeless cats proliferate, eking their meager existence on the streets. Those who survive their first year around garbage containers of apartment houses, which are their natural food source, usually live for another two or three years, and, among them, my mother’s cats are an exception – some of them have reached the age of ten and even more. But kittens are very vulnerable, most of them die before they ever venture with their mothers on their scavenging expeditions – even cats my mother feeds at best succeed in raising one kitten out of every litter.