A couple months back, a black cat came to my door. He was cold, wet, and thin. I already have three spoiled house cats, and they passionately hate strays, so I decided to ignore the black cat and I hoped he would go away.
The next few mornings, as I stepped out the door to go to work, there was the black cat, rubbing up against my ankles, purring, and following me to my car. I didn’t bend down to pet him or feed him. I had to work hard to ignore him because he walked right in front of me, seeming to anticipate my next step, so I almost trampled on him repeatedly. That week, he saw me off to work each day, and as I drove down the driveway, I looked back and mentally instructed him, “go away.”
Let me explain a couple of things. I live in a rural area. None of my farm neighbors spay or neuter their cats, so sick-looking strays are not unusual around here. We have a local Humane Society, but they have no shelter, so there’s no place to take this cat. I volunteer for the Humane Society and I happen to know that all of our foster homes are bursting with cats already, and that adoptions are less frequent than they used to be, particularly with the recession. Through the years, I’ve become accustomed to the fact that I can’t save all the animals. And outdoor cats are smart, usually willing to move onto the next farm with a warm bunch of hay and maybe even a farmer who feeds the cats really cheap catfood (usually made from corn) or farm scraps.
So that is why I ignored the black cat. There didn’t seem to be a heck of a lot I could do for him, and I didn’t want him at my house, upsetting my own cats, who howl when they see strays outside and generally make our lives miserable inside the house. On rare occasions, one of my senior cats even “marks his territory” in the house when he’s feeling crowded, and that’s a deal breaker for me. I will not live in a urine-soaked house.
So I ignored the black cat. But he would not go away.
One morning I finally reached down and patted him on the back while he purred and rubbed up against my legs.
You can see where this is going.
I took the cat in, and fostered him for the Humane Society. We had him neutered and he got all his vaccinations. He was checked for contagious and fatal diseases but was healthy. We call him Sherwood, Velvet, and Mr. T. (for Trouble), depending on what mood we’re in. Now he lives at my house and is awaiting adoption by some person or family who wants a 5-year-old black cat.
Unfortunately, it’s not going so well:
- My two senior cats (who will be 13 on December 1) really hate him, and he knows it, so he chases them. So then they hate him more.
- In turn, one of the senior cats is always thinking about spraying in my house, so I follow him everywhere trying to keep him happy. It’s exhausting (and futile).
- He is not that nice of a cat. He bites and scratches, thinking he’s playing, but there’s nothing gentle about it. He lacks the social skills to understand that playful soft bites are fun; hard bites are mean and counterproductive.
- From the start, he had badly infected ears. After weeks of cleaning and antibiotics, and a diagnosis of holes in both eardrums and a tumor in the right ear, he has to have surgery today to remove the tumor and place a tube in the ear so that it operates correctly. (?) Apparently this is just like what we do with little (human) kids when they have ear problems. I’ve never really understood it.
- If the tumor is worse than they expect, they will euthanize him because the Humane Society doesn’t have the means to do ongoing maintenance with this cat for the rest of his life. Otherwise, I’ll pick him up at the vet’s tonight and take him back home to terrorize my cats some more.
- I have to admit feeling a bit of ambivalence toward Velvet at this point. I don’t want him to die today, but I also don’t want to take him back home. I realize I can’t control the situation so I just have to wait and see.
Finally, if people would just spay and neuter their cats, I wouldn’t have this problem. In my mind, not sterilizing cats—even farm cats—is a moral no-no. Overpopulation causes a lot of disease and suffering, not to mention expense for Humane Societies who try to help some of these little guys. For some reason, a lot of people just don’t get this or care. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so cynical about human beings.
But to close on a light note, I thought I’d share this black cat photo and caption. I ran across it when I searched for “photos of black cats.”