Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on The Responsibility...

I promised I would write about :


As I said, even though I personally do not believe in letting my cats outside, I understand that other people DO.  In the seven years we’ve lived in this house, we’ve had a succession of neighbor cats who visit the yard for awhile (my bird feeders are a cat magnet.)  Unfortunately, it is unusual for us to have long-term visitors out here in the sticks.  We have a burgeoning coyote population.  Which does not make for long and happy lives for cats who are allowed to roam unprotected, especially at night.  I’ve lost count of the number of cats and kittens that have appeared, hung out in the neighborhood for a few months, and disappeared.  Then the forlorn little “Lost Cat” flyers go up on the light poles.  And all I can think is, “Uh-oh….another ‘coyote lunch…’”

Last fall, a new visitor started hanging around my yard.  A big, light orange tom with an out-sized, round head that looked like a full moon.  And he didn’t just pass through on his rounds of the local bird feeders.  More often than not, I would see him outside one of my two sliding glass doors.  Staring in.  Hopefully.  As if he were one of my own who had been out for a stroll, and was ready to come back in for dinner and a nap.  

I’m a sucker for any cat, so of course I had to try to make his acquaintance.  When I opened the door to go out and pet him, I had to play “kitty goalie”—that little foot-pushing shuffle perfected by cat people wishing to keep a feline on the desired (by the human) side of a door.  He was all prepared to march into the house and make himself at home.  But I didn’t think he was a stray…he was clean and fit and wasn’t the least bit shy around people.  He had a purr loud enough to rattle the windows.  Certainly he must have a home somewhere—probably with a new neighbor.  So I limited our encounters to outside, and since he didn’t look hungry, I didn’t feed him.  But I had to call him something, so I dubbed him “Orangie.”  Hey, you don’t get too creative when naming other people’s cats…

As fall deteriorated to winter and the weather got ugly, Orangie continued to appear outside my back doors.  Gazing longingly through the glass.  In the dark.  In the wind and rain.  Though I grew increasingly incensed at whoever his owners might be, I still did not let him come in the house, or feed him.  With all the stuff going on in my life at the time, I did not have the resources to try to introduce another cat to the household.  Especially not a full-grown, unneutered tom.  I hoped against hope that he had a decent home somewhere and enough to eat.  And I felt like crap.

As spring approached and we emerged from the worst of the weather (both emotional and meteorological) I realized that Orangie hadn’t appeared at the door for many weeks.  I hoped that he had decided to stick closer to home,wherever that was.  And then, one day, I caught a glimpse of a light orange body skulking away and scrabbling over the fence when I was out in the back yard.  It was Orangie.  But he looked awful.

He was thin, scruffy and bedraggled.  His once soft, puffy coat hung in damp, dirty mats.  He had scratches and scabs on his face. 

And he was deathly afraid of me.  No matter how sweetly I talked to him, that day or any day since, he has cowered and skittered away from me every time. 

My heart is broken for him.  The once sweet, loving, ready-to-be-anyone’s-friend kitty was obviously dumped or abandoned by someone who apparently had treated him well, then decided they didn’t want him anymore.  And since, after all, he’s just a cat, they figured he would be perfectly fine without a real home, fending for himself.  By some miracle, he hasn’t ended up coyote lunch.  Not yet.  But it’s obvious that someone here in this place where he was expected to find a new home was so mean to him, abused him so badly, that he is now as deathly afraid of human beings as the most wild of feral cats.  I cannot imagine what horrible thing some person might have done to him to so completely change his personality in such a short time.

Now, I would like to adopt him, if I could.  I hope I can convince him not to be afraid of me.  I’ve started leaving food out for him.  He still seems to spend a lot of time in my yard…he sleeps curled up on the gravel by my back fence.  If I talk to him softly enough, I can get him to turn around, sit down and look at me, but he won’t come anywhere near me.  Unfortunately, with my insane work schedule, I don’t have a lot of time to invest in the process of helping this kitty trust some person again.  I’m going to try, but it will, if anything, take way longer than it should—if it happens at all.  And time is one thing I’m afraid homeless kitties in my neighborhood do not have.

In the hope that we will eventually be able to take him under our roof, I’ve given him a new name:  William.  As in “William of Orange.”  (Who apparently is one of my ancestors, a fact uncovered in a genealogy trace done by my grandmother years ago.)  We will call him “Will.”  I hope… 


mutualaide said...

Oh Lisa ... again I feel like crap for both kitty and you.  Initially you did exactly what I would have done and now you are doing exactly what I would do.

We lost our old cat Alec seven years ago, I presume to a coyote.  He had been an outside cat ... a stray when we rescued him and we continued to let him out until the coyote population and fox den across the street were discovered.  By then he was an old man and I felt it was better to keep him in and let him whine at the door than it was to let him out.

Thanksgiving evening I was taking trash out the back door and he scooted by me.  I couldn't get him to come back and I lost track of him in the woods and I never saw him again.

I still regret that he got out and I always hope that his demise was why he wanted to leave ... not a dammed coyote.

Hoping Will makes his way to your porch and your door ... cause I know he's already in your heart.

dsonney01 said...

I do so hope William comes around. I still can only get about three feet away from my Grey after all these months of feeding and watering.  I will be thinking of you and him everytime I see my Grey (never puts up its tail- so it's Lady or Lord not sure!) Dannelle

thesheatons said...

Or he was somebody's and they gave him away "free to a good home' and either the home wasn't so great or he wanted to go "home." Good luck, perhaps the Humane Society can give you some tips on catching him. At least if they could do a catch, neuter, release it might encourage him to stick close to your house, and with luck he might just move in.

Good luck,


sunflowerkat321 said...

Both these stories are just heartbreaking.  It's really unfathomable how irresponsible people can be regarding the animals they bring into their lives. Of course, those of us who would adopt anything with four legs CAN'T....because we realize the extent of the responsibility and our personal limits in providing enough tender loving care.

We don't have cats (allergy house) but we have two dogs.  I guess many people don't realize that adopting a dog is like adopting a young child that won't grow up, but will be with you for the next 12 - 14 years.  With pets, if you can't stand the heat, you'd best not step that first foot into the kitchen....for the animal's sake.

I don't know what we're supposed to do in cases like these.  I probably would have done the same as you in both these situations.  It's heartwrenching because you're pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't.  Your stories are proof of that.

Good luck with Will.  I hope that he'll soon be part of your family where he will be loved and cared for.....for good!

emmapeeldallas said...

Several years ago we had two cats but I noticed a cat "hanging out" in our yard.  She was thin and hung around the front door endlessly, running off when it was opened.  One day I put out a bowl of food for her.  The next day it was empty; not a crumb of kibble left.  The same thing happened the next day, and the next.  Soon I was putting out a morning bowl and an evening bowl.  One day I saw her eat.  She'd put her face in the bowl and eat until it was empty.  She wouldn't let us near, but I had a wooden swing in the front yard, and one day, when I was sitting in the swing, to my surprise she leapt into my lap and dug in her claws for traction (ouch!) purring loudly all the while.  I couldn't take her in, because my two wouldn't tolerate a third (we'd tried with previous strays).  As the days got colder, I worried about her.  One day in early November, the furnace was on, and my house was warm and dry.  It was cold and rainy outside, although there's roof outside my front door, so it was cold, if not rainy, out there.  As I walked through the hall, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.  A small face at the windowpane on the front door!  Emma (that's what I named her) was hanging onto the door, looking in.  Of course, I took her in, and gave her to my ex, who was without cats at that point in time.  She lived with him, both of them quite happy, for several years.

They do find us...