September 26th, 2019. I’ll remember this day as the day we said goodbye to the sweetest feral cat who, after a year, had trusted us enough to come inside. He faithfully would show up every morning, no matter if it was snowing, or super hot outside. This busted looking cat would come up the steps and wait for his meal. He picked our house. Like other cats, they just know who to ask for help. After a year of his visits, hiding when we’d open the door, coming a little closer after a few months, then trusting us enough to wipe his bloodied face with a soft tissue and hydrogen peroxide. This beautiful but in bad shape black and white kitty, with the fattest Tom Cat cheeks, the damaged ear, finally let us start petting him.
Our goal was to bring him inside, get him seen by our vet, and ultimately have him fixed then return him to his outside world. But that didn’t happen. We took him in to have him fixed and they said he had an inner ear infection. He was given Covenia and we brought him home to recover in my daughter’s room. But something was wrong. We thought at first it was because he had been put under anesthetics so he was just still wobbly. Hours passed, and he couldn’t walk straight without falling over. We were told it was most likely due to his inner ear infection and while that made sense, why was this suddenly happening? “It’ll either go away on its own or he’ll end up being your cat because you can’t put him outdoors like that.” Ok, well I guess that’s fine but…it was hard to see. Eventually he started walking straight again, and stopped falling over. We were so relieved.
Then he stopped eating hard cat food. “Maybe it’s the infection from his ears draining or something and thus affecting the senses/appetite?” He ate his canned food, but he started eating like he was absolutely starving. He’d become extremely excited when it was time for his meal. We thought that was a good sign, that he’s eating at least. But his weight started dropping immediately. The skinnier he got, the more famished he acted. When he stopped eating canned food, I bought chicken. He went crazy for chicken. I’d open the fridge and he’d be there rubbing against my legs, begging for chicken. Then it stopped. I made the soonest appointment I could to see the vet again, but knew in my heart he wasn’t going to make it to that day.
This morning he threw up the little food we’d managed to get him to eat yesterday. He was refusing food and water, he was skin and bones, and his eyes didn’t want to fully open. Then there was blood dripping from his mouth. That was it. I called the vet and told them he wasn’t going to make it and I needed to bring him in.
I said goodbye to River, the sweetest cat I’d ever met, and they took him back and returned with an empty carrier. I wanted to be with him when he passed, but because today was a surgery day, I wouldn’t be able to do that. They’d fit him in between surgeries they said-or I could wait until tomorrow. That wasn’t an option.
I tell myself to stop trying to help these cats that come to my door injured or starving, because the heart break of something like this happening is far too painful. But I can’t stop helping them. It’s humans that put cats in these predicaments, by letting them outside, by not getting them fixed, by abandoning them. I know that River the feral Tom Cat received so much love while he lived with us, love that he might not have received, had he not picked our house. Remembering that…that is why I’ll continue to help cats that come to my door. Rest in Peace, sweetest River Cat.