Tuesday, March 15, 2005 Yesterday morning, I was cussing out irresponsible owners who let their pets (around here, it’s mostly cats) run free range. And, even worse, these cats aren’t fixed.
For the second time in less than six months, there was a strange cat in our backyard.
I let our cats out at four that morning. A little before six, I got up and checked on the cats. There were many just sitting on the patio, looking into the backyard, back by the shop. I saw Jackson sitting on the steps next to the side of the shop, next to the fence that Brian put up to keep the damn dogs next door from charging the fence.
Curious, I go back there. Oh, my. I chase all of our cats into the house (except Jackson, he was gonna do a little butt kicking, or so he thought) and Benny ran under the pool pump. I call into Brian, who is still in bed, that we have an intruder kitty in the yard. To get Jackson in, I have to get out the hose. Jackson knows the hose, knows he doesn’t like it and when he hears the water turned on, he hightails it into the house. That leaves Benny. Brian comes out, I’m able to get Benny and there’s no sign of the intruder.
Now, I know I wasn’t hallucinating. Finally, he comes out from under the pool pump where Benny had been. I open the side gate for him to run out. He doesn’t go that way. He’s over alongside the fence, next to the shop. I walk over there, start talking to him.
This cat ain’t feral. I’m able to slowly walk up to him and pet him. During the course of the next hour, he eats two cans of Fancy Feast. I pet him. He headbutts me. He’s skinny. He’s tender back by his tail. His head smells like motor oil. There’s some crud on his back paws, dried on ick. I wonder if it might be blood. He doesn’t let me touch him there. He’s not limping or anything. He is sniffling pretty badly. A URI? I wonder how hard he’ll be to pill.
Brian kind of thought I’d take him down to the place we took Marco, but I really don’t want to go down there and sit for hours in a waiting room with a cat I don’t know. I waited until my vet’s office was open and call them. I explain the situation, that I can’t let our cats out until we know the status of the intruder. And I’m certainly not letting him go back out into the street if he’s not fixed. They don’t have an opening until two this afternoon, but if they get a cancellation, they’ll call me.
So, until two yesterday afternoon, the resident cats were inside, which really wasn’t a problem since we’ve got a couple of gardeners working down by the pool. I don’t know what to do with the intruder, but he’s not getting released back into this street. We’ve got coyotes. And it pisses me off that someone would let such a sweet cat loose in the neighborhood.
So, I get to the vet’s end up waiting over a half hour. The regular vet is on vacation, a cruise and he won’t be back until the 28th. He had hired an additional vet earlier this year who comes in on Fridays and days when he’s gone. No problem. I wonder how long it will take Handsome, as I’ve decided to call him, to get over this respiratory infection. I know the vet won’t want to neuter with his breathing this bad. We finally get into an examining room and Handsome is weighed. 10.05 pounds, not bad at all for a cat this skinny. He’s taken into the back for blood tests. A fair amount of time passes and he’s finally brought back in to me. I’m told what a sweet cat he is. He jumps down from the table and starts sniffing around. The the vet comes in and gives me the bad news. Handsome is FIV+. She says it’s really too bad because he’s such a nice, friendly cat, but she just doesn’t advise bringing him into an FIV- population. She says he should be put down. We discuss it a little more, and she leaves the room to see if anyone knows of anybody who is taking care of FIV+ cats. While she’s gone, I pull out my cell and call my friends in L.A., the ones who came down and got Rachel and Ross’ siblings last year. I talk to Jen and tell her what I was told. She said “bullshit. Don’t put him down. FIV+ cats can live for years and years. How old is he?” I tell her the vet put him around ten years old. “Then he’s as strong as an ox. Don’t do it. There’s no problem with FIV+ cats living with cats who are negative. It’s a really hard disease to transmit, it has to be a deep bite wound. They don’t get it sharing litterboxes or food dishes and bowls. He should do fine. Just make sure you keep him free from URIs”. Well, he’s got a URI right now, I tell her. “Treat it aggressively. It’s like a cat with a herpes virus, you don’t want them catching a cold because their immune system just has a hell of a time fighting it off.” Ciara has a herpes virus and I’d never even dream of putting her down because of it. I thank her. The vet comes back in.
“I’m not putting him down. I’m keeping him”, I tell her. She seems a little disappointed. She’s worried about the other cats. But I trust my friend Jen. Vets see disease, but they don’t see the colonies and they don’t deal with the rescue that people on the outside do. Handsome has shown himself to be a mellow, friendly cat. Even yesterday morning, he was running from Jackie, not defending himself. He just wanted to be gone from this situation. I think we’ll do fine. So, Handsome got Droncit for tapeworms, Strongid for roundworms while I was there. I was sent home with a bottle of Baytril for the URI and two tubes of l-Lysine paste (supposed to be tasty). The bill was close to $250.00. And he doesn’t need to be neutered, because he already was. I can’t imagine how I missed that, but I wasn’t really touchy feelee with his testicle sack. I just looked at it and they looked big. Maybe because of the coloring, I don’t know, but he looked intact and he does have the gigantic jowls of an intact male.
I called Brian before I left the vet’s office and asked him if he’d get the crate down, the one we used for Little Bit, the one with the wood shelf in it. He asked me why. I told him we were keeping Handsome. Usually, there’s a little discussion about bringing a new cat into the clowder, but not this time. I’d made the decision. After all, what options did we have? None that I could think of. He wasn’t really happy with this, but then, he wasn’t in the best of moods anyway. He’d spent the day doing quotes on the internet, using the software from one of his suppliers and he wasn’t having much success. Well, he was, but it was harder to do than he thought it would be and he’d lose what he’d been working on and was getting very frustrated. I’m sure we all know how that can be.
Brian still hasn’t looked at Handsome. That’s okay, he’ll have plenty of time when Handsome comes out of the crate. I think the crate is a good place for him now, because he doesn’t have too many options of what to do. Eat, drink, pee, groom, poop and sleep is about it. No stress. So far, he’s peed twice (and it was really strong, which makes me wonder how long he’s been neutered) and I’ve seen no poop. But I don’t think he’s really had too good of a diet for a while. He did eat quite a bit of Felidae dry last night and he drank water. His appetite is good, but he doesn’t go overboard. Obviously, his URI isn’t bad enough to interfere with his sense of smell.
The other cats are curious, of course, not any hissing, though and no redirected aggression. They aren’t looking at him and smacking the cat next to them. This is good. And, honestly, they should be so used to new cats, that it’s no biggie. I haven’t noticed Jackson showing any interest at all in him. I wonder why he showed so much yesterday morning.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s Handsome, yesterday morning.
(Click on the picture to be taken to the first in a series of Handsome pictures)
Well, that’s it for cat stuff for today.