My semi-feral cat, Marm, moved outside in late spring of 2017. Marm was affectionate with me on her terms. I could not pick her up. When I moved I needed an experienced cat rescue friend’s help to wrangle her into a carrier, and this took awhile, with frightening hissing. Marm was fixed and vaccinated, so I wouldn’t have to deal with kittens or worse. Once Marm moved outside she absolutely refused to ever come inside. She would put her head inside the door, but she was not going to be tricked inside ever again.
Marm stayed close to home, and was usually found sleeping under one of the cars next door, or in the Cosmo flowers at the front. I put fresh water out for her every day, and fed her at predictable times, which she always showed up for.
One day I was surprised to see a new cat sitting in the yard, near Marm. This cat looked young, and had wild terrified eyes. I guessed she was feral. I strongly believe that cats communicate with each other about where to get food, and what locations are safe. I came out with a dish of dry food and shook it so the cat would hear the sound, but it ran off.
A few days later the cat was around again, and looked just as scared. Marm didn’t react to this cat at all. I brought out food again, and put it at a safe distance closer to the cat. The cat ran over and ate voraciously. I got a good look at it. This cat was painfully emaciated. After it ate, it drank and drank. Later it settled in shady part of the yard, but ran when I approached it.
This cat looked like it really needed some help. It began to stay close to the yard, but no matter how much it ate it didn’t gain any weight. Then I noticed that almost immediately after it ate that it had diarrhea. This was not good.
I called and emailed local cat rescues about this cat. The ones that responded told me to take the cat to London Animal Care. I looked at LAC’s site, and was reassured that it was a low kill shelter. The shelter statistics were posted, and they were euthanizing about 10% of the cats that entered the shelter. This was good – but would this cat be euthanized v.s. treated ?
I posted this cat as found on Kijiji, and London Lost Pets. I looked for any posts about missing cats that matched this cat’s description. There were none. I had a few replies, and they were all about how tragic this cat looked.
Gradually the cat began to trust me. I realized it was a female. It was a tabby/tortie mix. She began to get closer and closer to me, and let me pet her. I could feel every bone. Her poor bum was very swollen, and she just dripped diarrhea. Despite this, she was a nice cat, who liked affection, and would silently purr. She eventually approached me when I was sitting on the ground, and rested her front legs and chest on me, while keeping her dripping bottom on the earth. This made me feel even worse, as she knew how awful her problem was.
I called my vet to see if they could give me some sort of reduced rate for this stray, They couldn’t. I really felt like if I took her to the shelter that she would have no chance. When I was previously involved with cat rescue, anyone with an obviously sick cat was strongly discouraged from bringing a cat with any symptoms to the spay/neuter clinic, or as a surrender, as as contagious cat could potentially infect MANY cats.
Eventually I couldn’t stand it any more. I had enough savings to cover some veterinary care. I couldn’t surrender her in good conscience, in her current condition. I took her to my vet, and the reception staff was able to offer some sort of kitten package that included flea treatment, and fecal tests for parasites, and a SNAP test I think.
I had been nervously watching Marm, as it was impossible to isolate a food or water dish. Marm wasn’t showing any similar symptoms, so I crossed my fingers that this stray did not have something grave like feline leukaemia.
The vet was nice about this skinny, stinky girl. Her fecal smear came back positive for tapeworms, and Giardia, both of which are simple and inexpensive to treat. She also had flea anemia.
I isolated her in the bathroom, and carefully washed my hands after I touched her. The medication started working almost immediately, and she was soon pooping poop. She started filling out, and as her anemia recovered she became fiesty. I didn’t need another cat – and I felt like she wouldn’t be a great fit in a household with my special needs cats. She was now looking and acting like a normal, healthy, bratty young cat, and escaped from the bathroom constantly to create mayhem.
I felt like she would at least have a chance at the shelter now.
I don’t have a car, and the bus doesn’t allow pets, so I took a cab. I brought the found ads I had posted, and the receipt from the clinic, which had the test results, diagnosis and treatment. Her name on this invoice was “Stray”. LAC was a $ 25.00 cab ride. I spoke with whoever was doing the intake, some guy. I told him what I knew about her, and said that I had treated her at my vet, and showed him the ad and the invoice. He asked me why I couldn’t keep her. I said I had two elderly special needs cats, and that she wouldn’t be a good fit because she was so young. Then this guy asked me how long I had been feeding her ? I said she had been around since the beginning of September. This guy then told me that if I had been feeding her for three days, then she was considered my cat, and they did not accept owner surrenders.
I suggested he call the clinic, who could certainly verify that I had special needs cats, and that this cat was a sick stray when I brought her in. He refused.
I asked to speak with his manager. He left the room then came back and said the manager wouldn’t speak with me. (I don’t think he spoke with any manager.)
I could not believe the turn this was taking. No good deed goes unpunished.
I had looked up London Humane Society, while I was searching for a solution for this cat. Their site stated that they would not accept surrenders without an appointment, and did not accept strays. This was at the other end of the city ! I asked him to call the Humane Society for me, as I didn’t have a cel. He called a couple of times, but the number he was calling wouldn’t pick up. Fuck !
I was really exasperated, but tried to keep my cool. I took this dude’s card. What was his problem with me ?
The cab I had taken was still sitting in the parking lot. I asked the driver to take me to the Humane Society. I didn’t have the exact address, but I knew approximately where it was (north of Dundas on Clarke), and told him several times.
The ride seemed to take forever. I started to get nervous by the time we were in the middle of the country somewhere on Crumlin sideroad. I worried that I was going to be assaulted and left in the middle of nowhere, with a cat in carrier. The cab fare was now over $55.00. I finally got through to the driver that he was not taking me to the right place. In his head there was some deeply rural animal shelter – not the one I described. He called the cab company and got an estimate for the fare from LAC to the Humane Society, then turned off the meter. At the Humane Society I gave him the $ 35.00 fare, and asked him to wait, in case they also refused her.
The woman I dealt with there was decent. Even though I didn’t have a surrender appointment she looked over the information I brought, and was willing to accept this cat into the shelter. I had to pay the $ 45.00 surrender fee, though. I felt sad hearing the little cat’s deep meows as they took her away, then brought me the empty carrier. I knew that I had done what I could for her, and wished her well.
I was sure glad to not have to get back in that guy’s cab again.
I looked over all the information from the City of London regarding animal bylaws, and there is nothing about this alleged 3 day feeding policy. There was also nothing about on the LAC’s site. I recently spoke with someone who has been dealing with ferals and she has never heard of this, either.
WTF, dude ?