Oh my – it’s been weeks since I reported in! Feeling guilty after several friends have said they craved an update on dear Mike.
Bottom line is: he’s doing FINE. Again, there were setbacks (bottom graft not closing up, sutures put in, which did not last, finally resulting in one last major procedure to implant some skin plugs) but he seems to be doing just fine. (<– note cautious tone, rather than celebrating prematurely which I’ve done far too often.)
After his procedure Monday, he came home and I enjoyed his dopiness greatly. Always so dignified and serene, after general anesthesia he is like a frat boy after far too many cheap beers – weaving his head around, going after my fingers and toes. He is so dear.
One technician working on him was stunned to hear that I still plan to find him a home. “I have to,” I told her, emotion rising in my throat. “He’s not my cat.” The doctor stopped working on him for a moment to look at me. “You might not keep him,” she said, “but he’s YOUR CAT.” That really resonated with me. He found me; we are deeply bonded. At the same time, I’m in a unsolvable situation – absolutely not enough space for the big mook, and trying to keep him could throw the fragile feline ecosystem here badly out of whack. But how can I live without him at this point? I’m resolved to not think about it until I really have to – he’s still several weeks from complete wellness.
Here he is this week – only a sock now protecting his healing wounds! Very exciting. Note how even when he bites at my fingers, he can’t bring himself to bite hard, and finishes the weak “attack” by licking me. So. Very. Gentle.
But here’s the real news (and the real reason I’ve been too overwhelmed to write): after six months of saying NO NEW RESCUES – not until Big Mike was back on his gigantic feet – I had to take action on New Year’s Day. A couple of weeks before that, a new kitty had shown up behind the Post Office – a little tortoise shell female, who loudly demanded food, and affectionately bumped up against the two kitties I feed there. They were NOT happy. Tortie-girl was sweet and friendly to me – though she would not let me touch her. And I could see she was sick. Really sick.
Her eyes were cloudy and cruddy, she was stick-thin, her coat was a mess, and her nose was always running. I started to get concerned, when the temperatures dropped to almost freezing, that she might die. I was also concerned that if she was contagious, there would be a chain reaction among the healthy ferals I was feeding. She was so small and vulnerable, and I thought she was (hahaha) a kitten.
So I trapped her and brought her here, and put her in the big dog crate in the garage (so roomy that it fits a carrier, a food area, a litter box etc). At first I named her Mochaccina, after my late, wonderful Mocha, to whom she bears a stunning resemblance. (After I realized no one could spell Mochaccina, I changed it to Ginger Rogers – both for her coloring and for her long, stilt-like legs.) She was NOT happy to have been captured – hissing when I got close. But within just a couple of days she was literally eating out of my hand, clearly hungry for love.
Not so when I took her to the vet for an exam. She f-r-e-a-k-e-d – leapt out of the carrier and proceeded to dismantle the clinic room, climbing across counters and knocking things off in her frantic quest to escape. It was decided at that moment that this was not the time to examine her (the vet apparently values her unscratched skin) and that I would bring her back for a “sedated exam.” I did this today, after waiting a week to ease her back into getting in the carrier. And my heart was in my throat all day.
Ginger was so sick – what if she has Feline Leukemia? What if she has peritonitis? Both fatal conditions. Could I have her euthanized after being in my life such a short time? I need not have worried. The doctor said she is not fatally ill, though she IS an older lady (over 10), with broken teeth, a skin infection, upper respiratory infection, eye infection, worms, fleas and a mass under her tongue that is either part of the URI or potentially cancerous.
In other words, this creature I thought was a kitten because she is so tiny is actually an aging warhorse of a kitty, a jalopy leaking fluids and falling apart. But oh, so darling and sweet and plucky she brings tears to your eyes! Within hours of the indignities wrought by the vet clinic, she was back rubbing up against my hands, begging for food and affection.
And now I have yet another cat I have no idea what to do with!! She is too frail to put her back where I found her – even after she gets healthy again. Oh dear.
All I know is, my heart was telling to get her and bring her home – that she needed me enormously. I cannot afford these vet bills, but my friend Maggie and I are starting the wheels in motion to create a nonprofit for the work we both do, so at the very least we can write off our expenses. In the meantime, I could not turn away from her plight. So I have one sick and recuperating kitty in the garage, another in the half-bathroom six feet away from where I’m writing this. And my “regular” cats staring at me as if I were the world’s biggest traitor.
Perhaps I am, but helping these beautiful and deserving souls gives me purpose and joy. What better way to go through life?