“It’s a good thing you don’t have a job,” my friend said facetiously. (For those of you who are new, I manage my own pet sitting business with seven staff, and a very busy summer schedule underway.) Driving back from euthanizing a poor, very sick cat at the end of a long day, we were both ready for some serious down time, and a big glass of wine.
We keep telling ourselves, at Derry Township Community Cats, that we are a TNR group, and that’s what we do. But, as much as we might like to just trap cats, spay/neuter/vaccinate them and put them back, it never really works that way. This one is sick. That one is a tiny kitten. Another one has a open wound. I can count on half a hand how many clinic weeks we’ve had where everyone we trapped went right back home after surgery…once, maybe twice? In three years.
Yesterday was an especially long day in a string of them lately. The two new kittens, with raging diarrhea and one with a very angry butt, needed to see the vet soon. On a Tuesday right after a three day weekend…always fun…and made more fun when two emergencies came into the vet that morning. If I could have rescheduled I would, but that angry butt wasn’t going to wait. I don’t even know how that poor little kitten was sitting down. She’s had at least half a dozen butt baths now, and she’s actually getting used to them. They got some good meds, and should feel better soon now.
Then a visit scheduled, along with a representative of our local police force, to convince some folks to spay/neuter their two cats that they let outside, in a neighborhood where we’ve been able to get everyone else done. This is not one of my favorite parts of the “job” (my non-paid job!). My police person got tied up booking someone, so we’ll try for the visit again in a day or so.
Then off to send our seven little kittens off to the rescue’s foster care person, the next stage of their journey to furever homes. I’m gonna miss the little munchkins – they have been so much fun! But it will mean (temporarily) a little less work at the cat house. Since we’re starting to trap for the next clinic this weekend, I’m not going to complain about a few quieter days. We only have 7 cats at the cat house, instead of 14…downright quiet.
As we were saying farewell to the kittens, our vet called. Someone was reporting a sick or injured cat on their road, covered in flies and looking miserable. By the time I called back the cat had gone off into the woods. “Call me if you see him again,” I said.
Which they did, right after I picked up a hamburger for dinner. Who needs to eat their hamburger hot, right? French fries are better cold too.
Off my cat colleague and friend of mine went to try to capture what we thought was a downed cat. But he wasn’t really down. In fact he was running from us. He looked like hell, with flies having their convention all over his body. Eyes nearly closed. Scrawny. Really miserable, but still moving. It took us about 15 minutes to capture the poor thing. Patricia was holding food, which he really wanted and was talking sweet to him, distracting him. I was wearing leather and kevlar gloves, and was finally able to sneak behind the poor thing, and throw a towel over him. He was trying very hard to bite me, but luckily couldn’t get through the gloves. Covered in maggots and in wretched shape, we took him right to the vet’s office where they helped him leave this earth and stop suffering.
At which point, I went home, turned off the phone, got a glass of wine and enjoyed my cold hamburger and fries.
There are definitely days when I wonder why in the world I do this, and days, like yesterday, when I’m so tired I can hardly hold my head up. But we do it because we got seven sweet little kittens on the way to forever homes, instead of being picked off by hawks or other predators outside. And because we can capture suffering creatures and put a quick and humane end to their misery, instead of letting them (as the vet said) be slowly eaten alive. This work isn’t for the weak of stomach or spirit, but in the end, I’m glad we have a group of people who are willing to do what they can to make life better for those who can’t do it for themselves. They make good company, even on the really long and difficult days.