I’ve been avoiding this post. It’s altogether sad. especially if you happen to be an animal lover. I’m also avoiding pictures of the real cat.

The outdoor cats in our neighborhood use the fences that surround the backyards of most of the houses as a transit system rather than walking around a long set of sidewalks as they meander from their own homes to wherever it is cats go.

This post is about one particular cat, an orange and white tabby(?) that looks something like this, with the addition of a few orange patches on its back.

I’ve seen this cat around our neighborhood for 2 years at least. It would always appear from a side-street, cross the road at our house, and then hop on fence transit to continue its journey. For the longest time, the cat seemed healthy and well fed. Even from a distance you could see that it was eating on a regular basis, but it wasn’t overweight.

Last spring, catching glimpses of this cat, it was becoming painfully clear that the cat was losing weight. It’s abdomen and sides were sunken and the ribs were pretty apparent. I admit that, in our need to feel we were doing something to prevent this creature from starving to death, we (the daughter or myself)  would put out some food when we saw it wandering around our backyard. As the days came and went we came to the conclusion that the cat had probably been abandoned. You tend to speculate on the type of owner who might do such a thing. It was clear that at some point the cat had been fed and cared for, so what makes someone decide that it just isn’t worth caring for their pet anymore.

Did the cat get dumped in our neighborhood? Did the owners move away and decide not to take the cat with them? Perhaps it wandered away on its own and somehow just ended up on our streets. We won’t ever have the answers as to how or why it came to be wandering here.

The cat, a male we discovered, would come and go, and seemed friendly enough. It was scruffy, and as spring progressed into summer, it ended up with a very apparent case of fleas. One day the cat came to visit and there were semi-healed scratch marks on its head, it’s ear was ragged and torn, and there was a gash or wound on its neck, under his chin.

This stalwart guy never seemed to complain, or be in pain and slowly but surely, when we would see him, we noticed that the wounds were healing.

I rationally knew that we weren’t doing it any favors by feeding him, and I also knew what trying to prevent his starvation would encourage, both in the cat and in my animal loving daughter. I did make it clear from the start that he wasn’t going to become another in the line of our adopted cats though.

So summer has turned to fall, the cat has continued to disappear and then show up after a few days, looking for food but even more, looking for attention and love. My daughter discovered that the fellows teeth are all but decayed away, at least the front teeth anyway, so he’s been on his own for a long time, probably longer than I even realized. When that realization sunk in I knew that the kindest thing would be to take him to the local shelter. Our local animal shelter is a no kill shelter-unless the animal is too sick to be cleared for adoption.

Almost 2 months ago I tried to round him up, get him into a box and take him in. He’s a fighter for sure, and I didn’t have any luck getting him into the box, much less closing it and containing him, but the dilemma has to be faced, knowing that the weather will be changing, that he’s not healthy and that he won’t survive the winter outside.

I made the decision to keep trying and just after that, about 2 weeks ago, he showed up again, this time with an open, festering sore under his chin again. It was draining green pus, and smelled god-awful. I know what a dental abscess looks like and this was a raging one. It has continued to fester and drain, yet this guy still seems unfazed by his condition. I have a box ready, just waiting for the time that I can get him contained and to the shelter. Karma seems to be working against me though. He seems to know that he should show up on the days that the animal shelter is closed. He also manages to come early enough in the morning or late enough in the afternoon, or on the days when I am at Miss G’s house, that I still can’t attempt another try to capture him.

I know that this needs to be done. I know that his health will fail soon and I don’t want him to suffer or simply be so weak that he starves and freezes to death. I know the shelter will determine that he isn’t a good candidate for adoption and while I hate the idea, euthanasia will be the kindest road for this guy.

Every time I see him I have such mixed emotions, from being angry at suspected abusive owners who left or got tired of him, to trying to be rational and remind myself that perhaps he ran from a good home of his own accord. Whatever the reason is that he has found his way here, the kindest thing I can do for him now is to see him, as gently as possible, into the care of someone who can allow him to leave this world without pain and fear.

It breaks my heart.



One thought on “Strays”

  1. Ugh. Ouch. I fostered a feral colony when I lived in Brooklyn. It really is hard to figure out where helping becomes harmful. I hope you can catch this guy and get him in. As you say, if nothing else, the shelter could give him an easy death.

    Also: I won’t let loose my blue language on your site, but I have a lot of strong feelings about the kind of people who would abandon a cat or dog that relies on them. It’s just the lowest inhumanity.


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