Yesterday we lost a beloved member of our family. What made this loss particularly difficult to deal with was that another beloved member of our family was responsible for his death. This, of course, makes it much more difficult to deal with. Yesterday Eric the ghost fish was murdered by our cat Phoebe.
Eric the ghost fish was our family’s favorite pond dwelling pet. Sure the other Erics in the pond are nice fish, but Eric the ghost fish was our favorite. Yes, all of our pond fish are named Eric.
Eric the Ghost fish lived an exciting and interesting life. He was a real eye catcher when we saw him in the aquarium at Pets Mart. We don’t know why we called him a Ghost Fish, the name just sort of stuck; he was very pale, almost transparent. He was the only long finned pale gold fish in the tank, we just had to buy him. So for the princely sum of a buck twenty five, (2009 dollars), we purchased Eric, along with a dozen or so lesser gold fish for our pond. He seemed so small at the time, only about a half an inch from nose to fin. We tossed him into the pond during late spring and he seemed so happy. When winter came he was one of only four gold fish to survive the gladiatorial combat that takes place in the pond each year. The other gold fish died from all sorts of diseases, funguses, worms, parasites, and choked by algae. The strongest survived.
When winter came we moved the remaining four Erics to a ten gallon fish tank inside our home. By then Eric had all summer to grow, since our pond is over 300 gallons and plenty of room to play, they each grew to over two inches long. By the end of winter the Erics were four inches long and ready for action. We moved them back into the backyard pond once the ice thawed. Once again they were happy and contented.
One evening my wife and I were watching television in our basement and our cat Phoebe sauntered down stairs meowing with delight. Phoebe is a cat with her heart on her sleeve; she always lets us know exactly how she is feeling at any given moment. The sounds she made coming down the stairs were familiar to both of us, it meant that she has something that she is so proud of that she wants to share her accomplishment with us. It was quite an accomplishment indeed. Phoebe, like many cats, cannot stand the touch of water. But she somehow managed to capture Eric the Ghost fish! She brought him down stairs and plopped Eric right down on the carpet. “What the hell is that?” my wife exclaimed. “Looks like a fish” I replied. “Bad kitty!” He seemed to be perfectly fine, other than being, well, not wet. I carefully carried him back to the pond and reintroduced him back to his world. He swam away, seemingly eager to share his exploits with his friends. They probably thought it was just a fish story. Sorry about the pun.
We were still amazed months later that Eric the Ghost fish was still happy and contented, swimming around without a care. However, apparently fish have a shorter memory than cats. Phoebe once again braved the water and managed to snag little Eric. This time her cat instincts took over and having learned that fishing equals bad kitty, she played with Eric rather than share her accomplishment. Poor Eric, you never had a chance.
We really can’t be angry with Phoebe. She was simply doing what cats do. Namely hunt, maim, torture, and finally partially consume her toys. My wife is still angry. She still worries about the other Erics in the pond and the potential of encountering Phoebe. I attempted to reassure her that I believe that Phoebe and Eric the Ghost fish had some kind of falling out that caused this entire incident. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it could have been the harsh words that caused Eric’s ultimate demise. “Bad Kitty” can have disastrous consequences.