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She Stole My Heart... The Life Story about One Feral Cat
A Tough Life...
Sam or Patches depending on who you talk to, came into my life when I discovered feral kittens that needed a home. Because I was new at taming them: I had no opportunity to rescue any of them and they slowly disappeared.
An interesting note: the ferals in my neighborhood have no tails or just short stumps of a tail. They are descended from the American Bobtail somewhere in their ancestry....a breed of North American cat born without a tail! I can only hope, someone else found homes for those little kittens.
Connie, was the first feral kitten who became interested in me after that, along with three adult ferals...mainly because I was putting out food for them. I managed to tame Connie enough (that is her on the right) to bring her in for the winter and I had her fixed. I was unable to keep her though, because she was not used to being inside and had to give her to the shelter where she could have a chance with a family that could allow her to be outside.
The other feral in the picture is a magnificent feral that could have been a show cat. Glossy black fur and just a beautiful cat. He was only around for two seasons and never allowed a human close. Finally, he just wasn't around any more and most likely succumbed to an injury or accident... but for awhile he was part of a foursome, Princess, Sam, Connie and him (who was never named)
This story isn't about Connie or the others; it is about Sam, who we laid to rest today after having to have her put down because she came down with a paralysis of her hind quarters caused by a disease cats acquire. Don't ask me the name, I only know there was a painful and lengthy treatment that might of helped, but that was not possible or feasible since Sam is a feral used to living outside.
Sam was shy and gentle
Sam would allow us to pet her once in awhile. She was generally wary of people but she always greeted me as I came home from work and had developed an awful habit of laying down in front of cars because she associated the car with the people inside...there is many the time I had to stop the car and chase her away so I could drive into the driveway.
It is amazing that she did not end up being killed that way.
Her peer, Princess could get pretty nasty and sometimes quite nasty at Sam, but sooner or later they would be rubbing against each other; so it was apparent they were friends. Oddly, Sam never had a litter and the disease may explain why she didn't.
Last winter, both ferals spent time in my laundry room when they came down with a bug that seemed like it might take them. First, was Princess and later Sam. Luckily, they both recovered.
Sam just came and sat on my steps and looked miserable and let me go up to her. I showed her the laundry room and she settled there for a week on cushions using a litter box while I poured over the net for advice for cats with flu and managed to get her back on food and back to health. It is apparent, the cats had decided help was available at this house.
Meanwhile, the cats resumed their outside activities and life went back to normal. I had always thought to adopt these felines, but my experience with Connie made me realize that was a bigger job than I could handle.
I have had success with a kitten that I handled almost from the start. Born to Princess, who is a is the other feral cat that trusts me and my neighbors enough to let us touch her kittens. It took a long time to happen...we lost a few litters that were too wild to catch. We have had success getting homes for the others and along the way I lost my heart to one of the furballs that stayed too long with me! I usually nurture the mother and kittens and my neighbors find them homes. It is a joint project.
I haven't regretted it.
She wasn't even My Cat!
Sam wasn't always around; sometimes she would be absent for a few days and I would beging to wonder if something had happened to her. Then she would re-appear and I would happily dish her out some treats.
Besides her illness, she was damaged in cat fights. Twice she had chunks of skin torn off. She healed anyway and resumed life. One day, she was missing part of her ear. Half of it cleanly shorn off. Perhaps a near miss with a warm engine under the hood of a car. She had an eye infection. All of those she survived and still managed to pull off being the most mild mannered and gentle feral. I often wondered if she had been an abandoned pet.
She belonged to no one, but she belonged in our hearts
It is funny how an animal, even a wild one will ask for assistance if it has begun to trust a human. Sam came to me when she was ill before.
Last Friday, I came home to see her sitting with her back legs splayed in an abnormal way front of my door. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure she had a serious problem. She was asking for help... once again.
This time, I knew there was to be no internet fix. I called my neighbor and asked her to come and take a look because I was panicked and ready to take her to the vet and have her put to sleep immediately. She had lost the control of her bowels and it appeared she may have been hit by a car and badly damaged.
I am squeamish and couldn't pick up the cat, but she did and the cat didn't protest. Sam hung limpy in her lap; her hind legs were ice cold in this November weather. She was purring!
The neighbor convinced me to wait overnight since Sam did not appear to be in huge discomfort. The paralysis may have even blocked the pain. She was moved into my hallway in an open carrier with bedding and the morning was the time to re-convene and determine the course of action.
Morning came and of course the cat was the same if not worse, My neighbor and her partner wanted to take Sam to the vet and off they went. They were going to put her to sleep. That was the mutual decision and being great cat lovers, they wanted to be there. I bid Sam a quiet farewell. Sad to lose a little friend. I tried not to cry.
However, they did have her looked over to be sure that there was no mistake and she see if she might recover; that is how we found out she did not have a fall or an accident. It was a relief to know she did not suffer too long. I had seen her Friday morning on all her feet before I left for work.
So today, there was a short memorial in the back yard. A memorial tree is to be planted. Three grown women sobbing for a little wild feral cat that had given us joy and affection. She lived a short and tough life, (perhaps six years), but I like to think, we made it more bearable with our care and we felt honored that she entrusted us to take care of her. While we would have liked her to live on, at least we were able to keep her from slowly starving to death in some dark alleyway because she trusted us to at least find a peaceful death....missed by her family and friends.
Please spay/neuter your cats!