Thursday, October 29, 2009

They Come and They Go...

One of the hardest aspects of feral colony management is losing cats. Momma Cat and Pounce took off for her former home and we haven't seen them since. That wasn't so bad because we were used to her coming and going. Pounce was a momma's boy so it just seemed right that he followed her. 

The cat that shocked us badly was Tag. Her death is still one of the troubling ones. Tag was definitely Merlin's daughter and she had that bit of Siamese in her that made me think of the Song from "Lady and the Tramp." 

"We are Siamese if you please....We are Siamese if you don't please...We come from the called Siam...There are no better cats than we am!"  

Ms. Tag with 'tude

When my husband caught her for spaying, she bit him several times and badly on his hands. That was before we found that newfangled invention, called a trap.  His hands swelled up so much that he needed antibiotics. Strong ones. Tag forgave D later.

The next time we had to catch her it was because she had this lump growing on her left flank. It started off the size of a quarter. Four days later, it was the size of a small egg. This time I volunteered to be the victim--er--the catcher. I figured she and I had developed this bond that allowed me to pet her so it was logical that I be the one to grab and stuff her into the carrier. Right?

Oh I had a good hold on her--scruff and back by the tail. Some how she bit me from my shoulders to my knees. I never saw her move. I found out that white vinegar is a very good antiseptic--just burns to the point of making Saint Francis Assisi cuss left and right. Up and down. And then some more.

Anyway, we take this very feral cat to our beloved vet, Dr. J. Tag is telling us every inch of the way that we will pay for this indignity we have thrust upon her. D just laughs at her threats but I believe this cat will do everything in her power to make good. Her threats send shivers down my spine. We warn Dr. J that this cat is very feral and she's agreeing with us loudly. He opens the carrier and looks at her. Says "C'mere sweetheart--let's have a look at you." 

This is where my mouth fell open and smacked the floor. Tag came out willingly to Dr. J, let him examine her, including take her temperature like she was a tame, domesticated, PET cat! D and I looked at each other like we were stupid. Dr. J told us to bring her back in the morning so he could surgically remove this piece of intestine that's protruding. Oh yeah--that should be easy. On the way back home, Tag begins threatening us anew. Yep--she's going to scratch our eyes out and she's going to tell all the other cats to run away, and she will do us some serious damage....yada yada yada. We put her in the bathroom for overnight, took her back early in the morning.

The next afternoon when we went to pick her up, we got the news. It wasn't a piece of intestine protruding: it was multiple abcesses. He put a shunt in to help them drain and he wanted to see her in a week. She was given a mass of antibiotics but we had to give her more during the week. His staff gave us oral antibiotics. I looked at them blankly. Oral drops?  This cat? I asked if they had powdered antibiotics. The office manager told us to just open her mouth and squeeze them in. Sure--if I'm wearing chainmail and leather suit--may be! Kathy--one of the technicians--saw we were in trouble and told us to put the drops in tuna fish. That little piece of advice has served us well since. 

Anyway, after a week of bringing Sinatra in for Companion Kitty duties, (she wouldn't eat unless we brought him in--good thing he was really agreeable!) Tag had her shunt removed, her staples removed and was back to playing with her family.  

The night before she was a victim of hit and run, she stretched up onto the screen on the kitchen door. She was talking to D--reaching for him. He bent down and through the screen, let her touch his face with her paw. Our tough kitty was ever so gentle--she didn't use her claws to touch D's face. It was a very emotional moment.

The next afternoon, she was hit by a car and killed instantly. We buried her in the back yard next to Quinn, my beloved boy of 17 years. 
 We learned the hard lesson of feral cat management. It still pains us to bury a cat. I cry for days.  Being hit by cars isn't the only way we lose them. Sometimes they just leave. Sometimes, disease or illness or infection gets them. Sometimes, we find out too late that we could have done more.  Sometimes we know there wasn't any thing else we could have done. Sometimes, we never know. Sometimes, we know our time with them is limited.

Tag's surgery site


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