There must be some law of the universe that says just when you think you could not get more overwhelmed, the goddess rewards you with yet another challenge. 😉
On Monday, in my feeding spot behind the Post Office, there was a new face, timidly waiting in the bushes for food, crouched low to the ground. I estimated that he was a young guy: nearly full-grown, but without the “tomcat jowls” that go with an intact older male. I put out food for grumpy Gertie first, because I didn’t want her to run him off out of jealousy. Then I put a plate near him, and walked away to give him space. What I saw next broke my heart.
He hobbled out of the bushes slowly, and at one point lowered his body to the ground, and pushed himself along on his belly with his back legs. Drawing close, I could see that his front paws were enormously swollen and split.
Because he looked like my beloved Big Mike (probably from the same gene pool up the creek) my heart instantly went out to him. I didn’t have a trap with me, and had to go to The City that day, so it killed me to not scoop him up right there. I went back a couple of hours later, and was happy to see that he had taken up residence in a makeshift shelter: a large garbage can stuffed with rags that was put there almost a year ago by a kind homeless man who frequents the area and likes the cats. To my knowledge it had been utterly ignored by the cats in the area and all this time I was wondering if it would ever be used; now I think maybe it was just waiting for the right customer.
The next morning he innocently went straight into the trap, and after a bit of thrashing around, settled down quietly for the long drive to Adobe Los Altos, where we have an emergency account set up by a wonderful donor. Before we left, I lifted the blanket covering him to try and reassure him that things would get better now, but he just stared at me with the baleful glare of a feral who has no idea that humans can be good, let alone life-saving.
Because he didn’t yet have a name, he was registered as Found8-9 (for the date), assessed as being around 8 months old, and diagnosed: all the toes on his front paws were broken. (“Smashed,” they said, probably by a car tire.) Worse, they were now badly infected, AND he is FIV-positive, which might impact his ability to recover. There was a whiff of suggestion that I might want to take a shortcut and end his struggle. I said I could not, and was willing to take him in for the couple of weeks he would require to (hopefully) mend.
Once it was confirmed that I would be taking him home, I named him. Because I see a lot of Maine Coon in him (pointed, tufted ears, broad face, lionine chest), I decided he would be Colby, after a college there my daughter almost went to. (It has a nicer ring than Found8-9, yes?)
It’s been almost a week now, and I’m happy (nay, thrilled) to report that Colby’s paws are now much less swollen, which means the infection is abating.
He is still hating on me pretty good, with guttural growls when I open the crate door and offer food. But I’m happy he’s not going to die – he’s still a baby and deserves a chance at life.
Right now the $60,000 question is whether to try and socialize him. Reasons to do it: he could likely walk with a limp, which means if I return him to the ravine he would be easy pickings for predators; also, if he is indeed of the Big Mike gene pool, he will be a sweet, gentle giant who will bring joy to someone’s life, once he gets past his fear. Reasons not to try: I have so little bandwidth right now, and hope to sneak in a couple of quick trips this summer before the festival starts in October. Try asking a pet sitter who is already watching my menagerie (which includes three special needs/sick kitties) to take on one more patient.
So I’m just taking it a day at a time, watching for signs as to the direction to take. St. Francis, I could really use some guidance here.