18 January 2008
I just got a phone call. I can't sit idlly by. My Vet's Tech just called me. They have someone who wants to put down their Maine Coon cat because he has chronic diarrhea. He's only 9 MONTHS OLD and the guy just can't deal with it any more. Yeah, so KILL THE CAT. This is the answer!
Can I help?
Normally, our program doesn't take in 1) Cats out of the Newtown area, we are too small of a group and there are other groups for most towns that can fill in, 2) Cats that are owner-surrendered, 3) Cats over 6 months old (we don't have a shelter and our adoptions of older cats take a LONG time, too long, when we could be helping other feral kittens), 4) We don't have enough foster homes!
So yeah. I can help. I don't care if fostering him is not part of our group's guidelines. I have a feeling about this. I just need to do it.
I talk to Monica. I tell her this cat is wonderful, friendly, UTD on everything, but 9 months old. Since it's our slow season, I strike a deal with her and my Vet. I'll foster the cat until April. At which time, I give him back if he is not adopted so my home will be open for kitten-season.
See, it's not only the willingness to take this animal from death's door, but the willingness to say; "Whatever happens with this animal, whatever illness or behavior problem it may have, I will deal with it, pay for it, work with it."
That's a lot to ask.
I spoke with Sam. I barely told him what was going on and he told me to just go get the cat now or he would get it, but he was afraid he would punch the owner in the face for thinking his cat is something that can be discarded when things get tough.
Everyone was pitching in to save this cat's life. It was working out smoothly. This stuff never happens.
I got to my Vet's office. He was closed for the night, but the staff was there getting things ready for the next day. Dr. Larry was sitting at his operating table doing paperwork with his Tech, Debbie. Debbie called me about the cat. She's a Maine Coon lovin' woman and she knows a good cat when she sees one. On her word, alone, I was ready to foster the cat. I didn't even feel the need to meet him before I made the commitment to foster him. I was just ready to rock.
Debbie led me to a back room, away from the noise of the operating area and bank of cages for the client's pets. The cat was sitting in a large cage, looking so forlorn. He was large, far bigger than I expected for a 9 month old cat, but she assured me it was just because he was a Maine Coon and they can be big cats. He looked at me with large green eyes, outlined in black. I didn't notice much about him right away, other than he was wet around his behind. They'd given him a bit of a bath and his fur looked rather awful and matted. I didn't want to get attached. It was bad enough I almost cried in the car on the way to pick him up. I kept thinking that the cat before me just got a Stay of Execution...and what would have happened if I had said no?
To show what a great cat he was, Debbie let him out of the cage, he walked around calmly, then stood up on his hind legs and stretched up for the edge of the counter, which he easily reached. He was quite tall, indeed!
Then Debbie lifted him up, holding him under his shoulders and hips. He didn't struggle. She stretched him out, as though he was being shown at a CFA event. He wasn't bothered by a thing and even purred. She was about to put him in his cat carrier, when she saw a towel in the way. Lifting it out, she noticed there was some poop in the towel. The cat must have gotten scared in the car, when he was still with his owner. Was the towel full of the runs, as predicted? No. It was a perfect, normal stool. Hmmm. A miracle or maybe the owner fibbed...just a bit.
With the cat packed up, Debbie began to inform me of all the meds, food and goodies she pulled together for me to donate to his care. All I had to do was take him home. That was really really nice! I didn't expect any help. It sure made a difference to know we were all in this together.
Before I left, Dr. Larry and I had a short talk. Apparently the owner of the cat was going through a bad divorce, his toddler-aged son, was on prednisone and had bad asthma and the wife was using having a sick cat in the home, as another reason for her to gain full custody of her son. Feeling between a rock and a hard place, the man decided to just have the cat put down and be done with it.
Is that the real story? I have no idea. Some people think animals are here for our pleasure and when it gets tough, the answer is to put them down and not bother with having them need anything from us. That's such bullshit. Especially when you look at this cat. He was barely 9 months old. So he had the runs—maybe. It wasn't even treated with a diet change! He never had a chance. It was just a lame ass excuse to simplify this guy's life and to dump his problems on other people, when he should have, at least, tried to find the cat safe harbor, instead of thinking killing him was the answer.
Dr. Larry and Debbie were both so thankful, but it wasn't me who deserved the thanks, it was all of us. We all worked together and saved a life. Really saved his life! Every second of his life, from now on, was bonus time. I can't imagine that anyone would have the cold blood to kill this cat! He seemed very nice and even if he wasn't, he was too young. It was wrong. Even if I didn't have support from our group and even if I was getting called a softy, I was going to do this.
I have to say, it's incredibly fulfilling to know you're helping the animal right in front of you, rather than just write a check to rescue animals. Easy to say, when I haven't brought him home, but geez, I'm feelin' good. I'll enjoy it for now!
I got the cat home and released him from his cat carrier. He casually walked around the room, sniffing things out, then would come over to me and rub up against my leg. I lifted him into my arms and held him as he began to purr. What a nice cat! He wasn't even scared. He seemed simply happy to have some love.
I left him alone for a little while, so he could get settled, and as soon as I left, I heard his clear, strong cry. I didn't want to teach him, I'd come if he called, so I didn't go right back, but I wanted to. I wanted to tell him how lucky he was and how hard I was going to work to find him a fantastic home. For now, he needed to rest and have something to eat and begin the first day of his new life.