(This seems to have taken a lot of time to do today, I'm having a very hard time focusing for some reason, there's always something else I need to be doing....oh, look, shiny....)
Jackie came to our house in August of 1999. He was too old to be properly socialized and, honestly, after his first trip to the vet, I wasn't really excited about getting him back into a carrier. He ripped one of my arms up at the vet's office that day when I tried to put him back in the carrier and I ended up having Betadyne poured over my arm and getting it washed off. The vet advised not having him neutered right away as Jack had an ear infection.
And that was the last time I tried to put him anywhere. He became really pissy if we tried to touch him or pet him. I was afraid of him, I admit it. He had sharp teeth and he had razor claws, neither of which I was gungho about finding out first hand how sharp they really were.
Jackie never got fixed. Brian didn't want to trap him. He didn't want to catch him with the net we've got. He wanted Jackie to be a nice kitty and go into the carrier. That wasn't ever going to happen.
As the years went by, Jackie lost his teeth. His long hair became badly matted, so bad it affected how he walked. His gait became stilted. He had a hard time jumping. We watched him going down hill. We talked to him, tried to tell him he needed to nicely go into a carrier. We were pussies ourselves. And he got worse.
His stool became loose and when he defecated, it started to harden and drip on the mats by his butt. Every once in a while, he was able to get one loose and when I picked it up (wrapped in a paper towel), it was rock hard. We had to do something, he couldn't continue to live this way. We felt horrible, we felt we'd let him down. We were concerned about when his time came, what could we say about how he looked? We were sure we'd have been accused of animal abuse at the most, neglect at the least. Yes, something had to be done. But what? Okay, we trap him, where do we take him? Our regular vet does not like to work with ferals. And in Jackie's condition, chances were his advice would be to put him down. Was that something we really wanted to do? I mentioned back in one of my September entries about our concern for his health. And now it was time to make a decision.
Taken in September, you can see that one really huge mat on his lower back, about the size of a grapefruit.
I contacted a great guy that I met on Facebook. He always spoke of the ferals he has at his place and the efforts he goes to to make sure they're healthy. They get regular vet visits, even though he can't touch them or pet them. He traps them. He pushed me (I can be very wishy washy) to make a decision. He had an appointment at his vet's office for one of his cats on Friday (this was Tuesday). He said he'd call and switch it out for Jackie. I said okay. We made plans for trapping Jackson in the house on Thursday. I'd try it my way and if that didn't work, John would come to our house and use his net to get Jackie. My way was to have Jackie in the garage, then put the trap in front of the cat door, so when Jackie went through, we'd have him. John wasn't really sure this would work, but we were going to try it anyway.
Well, between that phone call and Friday, we started to waffle. We watched Jackie. He was acting pretty bad. I called John and left a message. We were just going to trap Jackie and take him down to the emergency clinic and tell them he was a feral and he needed to be put down.
John called Thursday and asked if things were going as planned, if we were ready. I said "well, I don't know" and he kept talking, making plans. John wanted to give Jackie a chance. I was confused. I didn't mention my call or my message. But we made plans. I told Brian we were going ahead with the neuter on Friday. It turned out that John hadn't heard the message, he didn't listen to it until after everything was over and done.
The trapping went quite smoothly. John had recommended putting Jackie in a quiet room in the trap, the trap up on blocks in case Jackie pottied. That way he wouldn't have to be laying in it. Jackie was not happy, but I was thrilled it went so smoothly.
Friday we met John at his vet's office. The plan was John would tell the vet that Jackie was a feral that stayed in our backyard. Not that he lived in our house. He took Jackie in and we left. That afternoon, John called. Jackie was done. He was neutered and shaved. We could come get him.
The vet told us that she figured Jackie was about ten years old, that someone must have owned him because his missing teeth (he has no teeth at all) were cleanly removed (omg, I felt like shit about this time, I was absolutely mortified). That it had taken them hours to get all of the mats off of him, he went through six blades and three razors. He'd had blood drawn and we'd get the results on those the next day. She stressed he should get the metrinidazole (?) for his diarrhea. He'd gotten an antibiotic shot and a steroid shot. He had some little pieces of skin that had gotten shaved, because of how badly matted he'd been. She wanted to see him in a week.
Vetting done, Jackie and trap in the car, John gives Jackie some head scratches through the trap.
He was really out of it, he'd been so upset by the visit, he'd gotten ketamine so they could work with him. When we brought him home, I put him in the big carrier, which was a mistake. He kept flopping around in it and I was really afraid he'd hurt himself. He was letting me pet him at that point. I realized if I petted him, he'd calm down. So, I spent the night on a cement floor in front of the crate. And everytime he started showing some distress, I'd reach in and stroke him. I was relieved the next day when the worst of the drug hangover was done.
And when the call came about the test results, I gladly opened the door and let him out. His results were good. He had nothing really bad going on. Whew.
Jackie in the crate
Not a happy camper
Now, that's not so bad, is it?
He didn't finish his drugs, he wouldn't touch food. And there's no way I could hold him down and squirt them in his mouth.
I called the next week to make an appointment for his recheck. We trapped him in that trap the same way we'd done the week before. Pretty simple. That was on Monday, November 29. And all was good.
It scares me to realize how close we came to losing him. All it took was someone to offer us a helping hand, to do what we'd been afraid to do all of these years. Now we know that trapping him the way we did isn't really all that traumatic for any of us. And we'll be making appointments for him from now on out to get shaved (because I really doubt that he'll have this huge epiphany and allow me to comb him) so he doesn't EVER become that matted again.
He's a new cat. He's happy. He struts.
Two weeks later
Thank you, John.
Two weeks later
Two and a half weeks later
One month later
Still loving the chicken