For those of you who may not be familiar, I’m not just a space rock junkie. I also manage a stray and feral cat colony in West Philadelphia; since 2007 we’ve found homes for about seventy cats, and have provided food, shelter, medical intervention and affection for several dozen more. (You can find out how to obtain my memoir of this experience, “Cat o’ Nine Tales”, here.)
With cats there’s always something new, but we had a truly unique experience two weeks ago, when one of our semi-ferals became a mother, in our own back yard! Kollah and her twin brother, Koolah, came to us last December, two teeny fluffballs who could barely mount the porch steps to the feeder in the front of the house. Their coloring, medium grey tabby tops with white throats, socks and bellies, identified them as likely of the Clan of Artie, our resident feral queen Artemisia, whose descendants have populated our corner of the world for a decade.
But they were so similar they were virtually indistinguishable, until as they grew I noted that one had a ring, or “collar” of white around her entire neck, and one white cheek. Well, you can’t very well call a cat “Collar”, so I opted for the Brooklyn pronunciation, and “Kollah” she became. Her twin, who was always “cooler” toward me, became “Koolah.” Get it?
As winter deepened, the twins shifted their attention to the rear of property, where we have seasonal shelters put out for the cats’ use. Kollah was always very curious about me, and comfortable with me near her, but I only managed to actually touch her briefly on rare occasions. In April Kollah, now about six months old, went into heat for the first time. Believe me, she had no lack of suitors! The back yard was becoming a literal cat house.
I hoped she was perhaps too small to mate successfully, but wouldn’t you know it, she got knocked up her first time out! My attempts to catch her were in vain, and I hoped she would not carry to term, or the kittens would be stillborn (common enough for first-time mothers as young as Kollah) but on June 14th, she gave birth to a litter of four, all grey and white tabbies like herself. Kollah had chosen her confinement chamber quite well – in a tub populated by an enormous pumpkin vine, which had come up on its own from seeds in an ornamental white pumpkin thrown out late the previous autumn. Its huge leaves overspread the tub, providing cover from prying eyes and shelter from the sun and light rain.
That was fine for a day or two, but then Philly got a heat wave, with truly dangerous temps, and good mama Kollah carried her babies to the other tub on the property, in the far corner, with a holly tree to discourage predators and in the shade of a large birch tree.
Unfortunately, less than a week later, one of her babies died. He had always been a step behind his siblings, the runt of the litter, but had been doing well until suddenly he passed, on June 22nd. Kollah moved her remaining babies to a less defensible position in a stand of stiff aster, but the next day, driven out by torrential rains, she decamped to a yard two houses down, thick with overgrown brush.
In the meantime, she had lost another kitten.
We have raccoons in the neighborhood. Yes, it’s Philadelphia, but we’re not far from the wilds of Fairmount Park, and we have a lot of critters not normally associated with city life. I always know when the raccoons have paid a nighttime visit, because the cat bowls are filthy the next morning, and that was the case when I went out to do the pre-dawn feeding on Saturday the 23rd. Often the bowls are empty as well, but not that day – one held a sodden dead kitten!
It was still dark, so I went for a flashlight, then reconnoitered the tub where Kollah had left her deceased infant. It was empty, so with a sigh of relief, I returned to the bowl, confident that this kitty was that kitty. I set the bowl aside for burial after the sun was up, and went back inside.
When I went out later that morning, I had a shock – this was a different kitten! I’m not sure what happened to the already dead one (raccoons are omnivores and scavengers, so likely he was the appetizer), nor why the raccoon hadn’t eaten this one, but this was definitely larger, darker, and “fresher” than the kitty corpse would have been. I’m unable to locate exactly where Kollah’s latest nest is, so I can’t confirm if any of the babies are left, but she does seem a little lost the last few days, like the purpose has gone out of her life.
That’s a lot of preamble, I know, but there is an astrological payoff, of course. First, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, but from an astrological viewpoint, this is all my fault. I’m undergoing a Pluto opposition to my natal Mercury, which rules pets and small animals, and am about to get an eclipse on that Mercury as well. Pluto is the modern lord of death, put it together with Mercury and it’s a bad combination for fur babies, while the eclipse just heightens the tension. In addition, the prior two solar eclipses squared my natal Mars, which rules my Sixth House, also related to pets. This transit has already cost me one loved companion, and we can chalk up these kittens to my score as well.
But beyond that, there were of course multiple celestial indicators of the experience. The forming Sun/Saturn opposition was in effect from 1 Cancer to 6 Capricorn, Saturn being the ancient lord of death, so loss and demise was in the air generally. Refining this was a T-square to transit Atropos at 5 Libra, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death. As well, transit Mercury at 19 Cancer had returned to its natal place, opposing Pluto at 20 Cap and reinforcing the transit to my birth chart, but also repeating in the sky the possibility of the death of small animals (incidentally, I had also found a dead squirrel on the property a few days before, while questing for Kollah’s new nest, before I realized she had taken them from the yard).
I use asteroids Kitty (obviously), Katz (phonetic match for “cats”) and Fellini (for “feline”) when looking to understand events involving cats. There is no “raccoon” asteroid, but these animals are often referred to colloquially as “coons”, and there are several phonetic matches – Koon, Cooney and Cuney being the closest.
Katz that day at 17 Leo (on my Uranus, btw, sudden, unexpected, shocking events) was squared to a combination of asteroids Nemesis and Lachesis at 15 and 16 Taurus; also in this grouping is asteroid Cooney at 13 Taurus. Lachesis is the Fate who determines the span of life, and Nemesis provides a source of undoing or destruction (in this case, specified as Cooney, the raccoon). There is also a T-Square with Jupiter at 13 Scorpio, a planet often active in ”departure charts”, conjunct Anubis at 18 Scorpio, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites. We might also include Mars, related to violent death, in a wide opposition to Katz from 9 Aquarius, forming a loose Grand Cross, for the kitten killed by the raccoon.
Antecedent to Katz are asteroid Kolar (a phonetic match to the white “collar” that gave me Kollah’s name) at 12 Leo, and Requiem at 10 Leo, named for the funeral mass for the dead. This establishes Kollah specifically as the bereaved (Requiem) feline (Katz). Three degrees after Katz, at 20 Leo, is asteroid Kalle, another phonetic approximation of Kollah, doubling down on identifying her as the cat in question.
Asteroid Kitty at 4 Virgo conjoins my natal Pluto exactly (death again!) and forms a Grand Trine with Uranus at 1 Taurus and Saturn at 6 Cap (sudden/Uranus death/Saturn). It’s also squared to asteroid Karma at 2 Sagittarius, so this was something that was meant to be on some level. Rather cold cosmic comfort, but I’ll take what I can get at this point. A T-Square is formed by asteroid Cuney at 2 Gemini, again identifying the source of the loss. In this battle between Fate and the raccoon, Kitty lost.
Asteroid Rip, which resonates as a death indicator due to the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription, had stationed four days earlier at 23 Libra and was powerfully still in the heavens, T-squaring Pluto/Mercury, and was conjoined by asteroid Alexandra (for myself) at 26 Libra, identifying the chief human mourner. Just to make certain, asteroid Alex at 29 Capricorn is still barely within bounds of squaring Pluto/Mercury, making this a Grand Cross; its conjunction with Uranus gave me the requisite shock of finding the body. Asteroid Koon, the closest phonetic match to coon for raccoon, ties to this Pluto/Mercury pattern as well. At 19 Virgo, not only is Koon exactly on my natal Moon (my home, and Kollah as a mother I was sponsoring), it is exactly sextile Mercury and trine Pluto. There is also an opposition to Neptune at 16 Pisces, which relates to the confusion in identity initially with the two kittens, the vague, uncertain outcome for the rest of the family, and the water I found the kitten in.
Asteroid Fellini at 26 Aquarius paired with Damocles, the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 27 Aquarius, and these squared asteroids Miller and Alexander at 23 and 26 Taurus (atop my natal Mars, incidentally, ruling that pet-related Sixth House), identifying whose address that feline doom should show up at.
As I say, mea culpa. And rest in peace, little Kollah’s waifs.