Normally I try to avoid blogging about cats, in the interest of preserving what tiny amount of self-respect I have. Today, though, well… meh. Screw it.
Well, we’ve got two cats again, now. My partner had been complaining about missing having two cats around the place, and wanting a kitten. It turns out the universe gives you the cat you need, not necessarily the cat you want, y’know?
About four weeks ago, I was sitting at the computer, writing something or other. I looked up and saw a cat sitting in the backyard. This is pretty normal; there are several “outdoor cats” in the neighborhood that like to hang out in our yard and keep the squirrel populations at tolerable levels. As much as I’m not a huge fan of outdoor pets, eh, well, people do what they do.
This cat was one I hadn’t seen before, which caught my attention, and it looked absolutely miserable, which also got my attention. It was curled up in a little ball and looked cold, and its fur looked wet; its head and ears were drooped, and it really just looked about as unhappy as a cat can look.
Well, for some reason, I went outside and entered the backyard. I don’t know what I thought; maybe it’d let me pet it and look it over, or something. Anyway, I go in the backyard, and it stands up and starts walking – well, hobbling – away from me, albeit slowly. So I squat down in the snow, and pat my leg and kind of make, you know, cooing noises at it, and…
…it walks over.
It gets a foot or so from me, and doesn’t look any better up close. Pretty much skin and bones, wet and scruffy and miserable-looking. It lets me pet it for a minute or two, rubs up against my leg, then slips through the gate and starts wandering off.
I followed it, and once I was standing, it didn’t want to get close, and kind of stumbled off towards some bushes. Well, I went inside, got a handful of dry cat food, came back outside, and tried to call it over to me, while squatted down again.
The cat slowly came over, took one sniff at the food, and began scarfing down kibbles, right out of my hand. I petted it with the other, and it purred, loud enough to be heard over the wind. After about thirty seconds it had inhaled the whole handful of food, and was begging for more.
It let me pick it up and bring it inside without any complaint.
And that, really, is, in a nutshell, how we came to have two cats, again.
It’s a boy, maybe eighteen months old. Fully acclimatized to living with people; he knows all about food dishes and litter boxes and bags of treats and cuddling in bed with people when they have to get up for work, oh yes. Very friendly and affectionate. Gets along well with other cats. Has no bad habits; doesn’t even beg for “people food”, though he’ll eat just about anything. (Including bits of plain fresh white bread. Go figure.)
He was somebody’s cat, in other words. And they abandoned him, probably around the beginning of the year, the vet judges.
If you’re foreclosed and evicted, or whatever, people – don’t just abandon your goddamned pets, okay? Not in fricking Minnesota, anyway. It’s pretty much a death sentence, unless the animal gets really lucky. Shelters have minimal difficulty finding homes for affectionate, outgoing animals that are good with people. Don’t think you’re doing your ex-pet a favor by “sparing” them a couple of weeks in a cage, tended to by strangers.
The cat we adopted a couple of years ago had second-degree burns on its legs from climbing onto the hot engines of parked cars to stay alive in the winter. The cat I found in the back yard a few weeks ago had a piece of its leg missing, where it had been bit by… something. Possibly a fox, to judge from the size of the bite wound, the vet said. An uncertain future of death by exposure, death by starvation, or death by predatory carnivore isn’t a fate I’d wish on my worst enemy, and I’m not a very nice guy. Anyone who could inflict that on a loved one of theirs… well, I hope karma is everything it’s cracked up to be, let’s leave it at that.
Some surgery and painkillers and antibiotics later, the new guy’s leg is doing pretty good. The wound is finally closed and healing well, and it doesn’t seem to be paining him the way it did before. He’s going to have a hell of a scar, and he’s going to look a little funny until all the fur that had to be shaved grows back, but he’s going to be fine. We’re happy – grateful – to have him; he’s everything you could ask for in a cat.
It’s just a damned shame his previous folks were too big of assholes to realize it…