We just returned home from our animal clinic where we take our furbabies to keep them well and healthy. But occasionally, we have to make a very sad journey, hopes high, but with a drop of dread in our hearts, that we are going to have to say goodbye for a while, and this morning was one of those times.
Anyone who says that a feral cat can't be a loving in-door only cat, should have met Punkin' Kitty. He came to us over 5 years ago, an estimated 5 year old, battle-scared, food stealing bundle of fury.
He started showing up in the Autumn evenings, drawn in by the dry food that we would put out for the raccoons and opposums, but he wasn't friendly, or approachable, running back down into the ravine behind our home. Until the snow came. .
That was when he discovered the cat door that we had installed in the side of our garage, for feral cats to find shelter during bad weather. We have some of those heated pads for feral cats, that keep the proper temperature for kitties to be able to keep warm. When we would walk in the side door, he would dash out the cat door, only to go back in, when we left. We played that game all winter long, with him starting to approach in the Spring, only to snatch the pan with his food in it. .you had to watch your fingers!
With warm weather, came the time to haul out the patio furniture, and sit outside. My hubby adopted the habit of having his morning coffee out there, and would spend considerable time reading, enjoying the peacefulness of our little oasis. Punkie, as we shortened his name, and seemed appropriate because he did have an attitude, started hanging around more and more, and would actually be brave enough to jump up beside my hubby, and snuggle in for a nap.
Weeks into this routine, we decided that it would be good for him to at least have an exam, and get his preventative shots. And, while getting him into the carrier caused some blood to be shed (ours), he remained resigned to his fate once we got him to the doctor. Then we received some sad news that changed all of our lives, but for the better. He tested positive for FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV in humans. His immune system was shot. So we had a choice. .either bring him inside, or to have him put down. .if left to his own devices, he would have a short life, followed by a painful and lonely death, plus, he would spread the virus with every bite that he inflicted on another cat. He was otherwise a healthy kitty who deserved to know what a loving home meant. So home he came!
We have other kitties, so we kept him separate from them, while acclimating him to the proper indoor kitty etiquette. And while there were some manner issues over grabbing his food, as soon as he figured out that there would always be more coming, he dropped that habit, and amazed us with how quickly he settled in! Once he came to trust us, it was like he knew how much better his life was, and never once tried to bolt to an open door. He was home to stay!
But, as is with all HIV kitties, it eventually catches up with them. In Punkie's case, it took 5 years. Actually a long time for an HIV kitty that tested as positive as he did. Studies have shown that a stable, loving environment helps their survival rate, and Punkie had the best! He evolved into a marshmallow personality, purring at the slightest touch, and loving to spend as much time as he could, curled up on your lap.
Late last week, he quit eating, and we could tell that he wasn't feeling good, so off to the doctor's, we went! He was hydrated, and given an antibiotic injection, and within 2 days, was back to his typical Punkie self. Until last night, when again, he wouldn't eat, and curled up in his toy basket, trying to hide. This morning, we got the bad news from a blood panel, that his FIV was changing into FIP, a quickly fatal disease, with no cure.
We could have had him injected with more meds to bring him back again for maybe a week if we were lucky, only to have him relapse again, feeling worse each time. That is not the life to live in you are a Punkie Kitty! So we made the hard, but best decision for him, to say goodbye. I held him in my arms, petting and talking to him, with him purring until he was gone. It is hard, but I feel better, letting them know just how much they are loved, and not just tossed aside, like a material thing. He will be in my heart forever.
I can't stress enough, for people to keep their cats indoors. There is no need for a cat to be outside, under any conditions. Besides the dangers of cars, wild animals, weather, and unkind humans, there are unseen dangers too. Rabies, Distemper, and now FIV, FeLV, and FIP, all fatal, with Feline Leukemia being transmitted through the air! It doesn't need a deep puncture wound, but can be spread by touching noses, mutual grooming, or eating out of the same bowl. All it takes is one encounter for a cat to become infected with any one, or more of these diseases.
And please, if you are thinking of getting a furry friend, strongly consider rescuing one. They deserve to know what it is to be loved. Punkie is the poster child. He thrived!
- ▼ 2011 (35)
- ► 2010 (93)
- ► 2009 (94)