Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Long Road Ahead

Dean has a favorite dumpster kitty, although technically he isn’t a dumpster kitty per se. I never actually saw him back there, we always just saw him prowling around the complex, sleeping up against the buildings or on the bank of the pond in the sunshine. Dean calls him his “other black kitty” and he has been here as long as we have, putting him at least at the ripe old stray-cat age of five years old.

Yesterday morning while I was on the exercise bike, Dean came running in after leaving for work a couple of minutes before.

“My black kitty is hurt! Please come! Please help!”

My heart sank as I went downstairs to find a woman with a dog on a leash. The dog was up in the black kitty’s face barking at it. At that moment, I wanted to absolutely strangle her for doing that. I didn’t think her dog had been the one to hurt the kitty, but seriously, who does that?! What kind of heartless bitch lets her dog antagonize a hurt animal? I had never felt so enraged towards a stranger before. She’d better hope I don’t run into her around the complex. Anyway, the black kitty was badly hurt. He didn’t want anyone close to him, and when I went to inspect him he hissed and spit at me and tried to run away dragging his totally lifeless back leg. Dean was hysterical and wanted to call in sick to work. I told him to just go. I could be late to work if needed and I promised to get his kitty some help, knowing full well that sometimes the best, most loving thing you can do for a kitty is to end it’s painful life.

I contacted Heather knowing she would have traps or anything else needed to actually capture this kitty because even though he was lame, he still moved quickly and I didn’t want him moving too much. She was at work but she often left her back porch unlocked for just this reason. Rather than let me try to handle a scared, injured cat she sent her boyfriend over to help me. He brought a regular trap and a drop trap but it was apparent neither trap would work since the cat had no interest in eating. I had given him a can of food while I was waiting in case he was really hungry. Nothing. So Don ran back to Heather’s for a net. It went a lot better than I was expecting. He laid the net over the cat and even though the cat was quite agitated, Don picked him up by the scruff and laid him in a cat carrier which I held upright. Don then took him to the vet for me saying there was no point for me to go. They knew him there, knew the cat would be a feral and special care needed to be taken, plus they might be willing to drop the price knowing Don and knowing that people can’t put a lot of money into caring for a stray. At this point, admittedly, I did start thinking about money. Were Dean and I going to have to make a decision about this cat’s life based on how much money we could spend on it? I hoped that wouldn’t be the case. I couldn’t wipe out my bank account, but how could I live with myself if I had to end his life because of money?

I went to work where I distractedly got some paperwork done waiting for word from Don. It wasn’t good. The kitty had some broken bones. He also tested positive for FIV. FIV is not itself a death sentence, but it puts a wrench into a lot of options for a hurt cat. And it again brought into question the reality of me putting money into helping this cat. And what if I did help him? I wouldn’t feel right about releasing him back into the complex around my 20 other disease-free dumpster kitties. I was distraught. I started bawling. Donald said he was going to have the vet take another x-ray and see if his internal organs were damaged. That might make the decision easier. In the meantime Dean was calling me, Heather was calling me. It was a mess. Finally I got in the car and drove to the vet to discuss the cat’s limited options in person.

By the time I got there, Don had left and I was on my own. The vet showed me the x-rays where it was actually the cat’s pelvis that was broken, not his leg. Most certainly the result of being hit by a car. She said she couldn’t perform surgery though she did know a specialist that could put a plate in his hip. When I heard the words “specialist” and “plate” I knew money would likely be the limiting factor in this option. She said the bones could heal to a good extent on their own but it would be inhumane to put him back outside to hunt and fend for himself as he would always be slow. He could still live a good, long, pain-free life as an indoor cat. Again, being FIV positive would be a problem. He certainly couldn’t live with us, or with anyone who has healthy kitties. But, the fact that in her opinion he could heal on his own and be okay made me think that I shouldn’t decide immediately to end his life. She said regardless of where he ends up, he would have to be secluded for several weeks out of contact with other cats, disease-free or not. This was to give his hips time to heal without getting agitated. She asked if she should neuter him while he was still sedated and I gave her the go ahead. I conveyed the information to Heather, who promised to find a solution.

As a crazy cat lady, I live a lot of my life angry at people. I realize this isn’t healthy. But until people realize the impact their existence has on the natural world, I will side with nature. I kept thinking of the bastard that hit Dean’s black kitty, most likely driving through the parking lot way too fast (not to mention we have children here, too!!). My mind kept going back to the lady with the dog that morning and my blood pressure rose. But every time I get disgusted with humanity because someone has done something deplorable, someone else steps up and shows exactly what the human spirit is capable of. Awhile after Heather had advised me to exhaust all our options with this cat as long as his quality of life stayed tolerable, she called again finally with some good news.

There is a woman who runs a feral cat sanctuary exactly for situations like these. She lives for the cats that otherwise would be sentenced to death. She has several large, enclosed outdoor areas devoted to handicapped feral cats who shouldn’t fend for themselves but wouldn’t do well indoors either. She has a large enclosure devoted to FIV cats and said that she’d put Dean’s cat on her waiting list. She is currently upgrading her facility, building a bigger enclosure that might be ready by the time our cat can be on his own a little. If Dean’s cat heals up okay, he will go there and be able to still enjoy outdoor life while being cared for. The perfect option for this poor injured kitty.

In my opinion things are still touch and go but I heard from Don this morning while he was at the hospital visiting. Right now the cat is comfortable, resting on a heating pad and looking even better than expected. We’re keeping him in the hospital at least over the weekend to make sure he is hydrated and his bodily functions work alright. Meanwhile, Heather is going to bring a large cage over here to put on our balcony so the kitty can stay with us during his healing. Plus, per Dean’s request, we will visit him frequently in his knew home once he is ready to leave.

13 comments:

DearOldDad said...

you NEVER cease to amaze me.

magnetbabe said...

Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?
I take it as a good thing. :P But know that what I do is so little compared to some of the people I've met on this journey...

mom said...

do you have to ask? it's a good thing, a very good thing.

Runner Girl FL said...

It is a good thing and that is why Dean is your match. He gets it and is a good thing too.

cece said...

i think it is wonderful what you are doing for the cats. i know if i was a cat you would help me.

Scott said...

I think I would have come unglued on the dog lady. What kind of monster takes pleasure in picking on a defenseless animal?

I'm relieved this had a happy ending.

magnetbabe said...

Hi Cece! I'd help you no matter if you were a cat, a human, a rhinoceros, an ostrich... pretty much anything!

scott-
Yeah, I'm still livid about that. Dean and I were leaving to get lunch yesterday and I thought I saw her as we were walking to the car. "Is that...?!" I started and Dean just said "Calm down, honey. Calm down."

Jackie said...

I agree with everyone above, simply amazing! I'm so please you were there to help the cat.

And as a dog owner, I would like to say, I don't let my dog bark at other dogs/cats even if they are healthy and barking at her, let alone a hurt animal. The fact that that lady would let her dog do that, is incomprensable to me...

magnetbabe said...

jackie-
I know that neither you nor Ruby have on ounce of the meanness that lady does. You're a great dog owner, just like you'll be a great mom!

lefty_grrrl said...

Wow. So, there is a cat sanctuary for kitties with FIV. That is freaking amazing.

As for the bitch with the dog, maybe her dog will teach her a lesson someday.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Natalie, yet another great rescue. I am so impressed with the resources you have, and find, to help the kitties. Will Dean be stepping into your shoes when you leave for Minnesota???

Anonymous said...

PS - oops, I'm not anonymous -it's me, Sharon, your cousin, once removed???

magnetbabe said...

Dean's main job while I'm away is to keep the kitties fed, and keep an eye out for injuries or babies. In that case, he has the numbers to call. As far as finding babies (I know one of them had kittens a couple weeks ago) I'm fairly certain that rather than calling someone, I'll just come home to more house cats. That's fine by me!