Simba's Domain

An Open Letter

I took care of your cat today...

You know the one I mean - the kitten you got your kids a few months ago. The one that you said they could have if it stayed outside all the time (I guess you didn't want to have to change the litterbox), and the kids said wouldn't cost much to feed because they'd give it table scraps?

That cat, a beautiful black and white shorthair, now about a year old, has been hanging around outside my house for several weeks now.  He likes the real cat food he gets here, probably because it's in his food dish on a regular basis and he knows he can count on being able to eat when he's hungry.  He's still not completely convinced that there will be food waiting, though, and will chow down an entire can in just a few minutes, then come to the door asking for more.  I guess you didn't tell your kids he should have food on a regular basis.  I guess you didn't think to tell your kids that he should have water, either.

He's a very friendly cat, and I have to confess I'm not sure how that happened, because I get the impression that nobody has been paying any attention to him.  He has a wonderful loud purr, and he loves to be petted.  He puts his paws around my neck - does he do that with you?

I guess you haven't figured out what all the fighting and yelling has been about, outside your window at 2-3 in the morning.  It's because he's growing up and arguing with the other male cats in the neighborhood for the females (all the other ones that nobody else bothered to get spayed and neutered either).

You apparently didn't see the wound to his ear and above his eye a week ago.  That was, of course, before I brought him into the house and washed and medicated them - or maybe you saw the wounds and thought they somehow magically healed themselves.

The big gash on his leg from his most recent argument, though, I couldn't fix that.  It was oozing pus, and those dark marks all down his leg weren't an extension of his black spots - they were dried blood.  And I guess you didn't notice that he was limping and his leg was swollen up.  The vet said there were two pretty deep abscesses.  He had to put the kitty under anesthesia to do the necessary cleaning and medicating.  I told the vet to neuter him while he was at it.  Oh, and the vet checked that runny eye - he thinks it's due to an untreated upper respiratory infection.  The kitty stayed overnight at the hospital; he was pretty scared and definitely unhappy.  Hopefully the penicillin that I have to give him twice a day will take care of both his leg and his eye.

But, the one thing that none of us can fix is that your kitty probably has feline aids.  The test results that came back today were "equivocal" (not-quite positive, but not-quite negative) for FIV (feline aids).  Feline aids is contagious.  Cats (unneutered males are especially at risk) get it from being bitten by an infected cat. There is no vaccine against it.  Like human aids, it affects their ability to deal with health problems in the future, and reduces their lifespan considerably.

If I knew where you live, I'd talk with you in person about your kitty.  I'd tell you that if you had just kept this loving kitty inside, gotten him neutered when he was 5 months old, and fed and cared for him properly, I wouldn't have had to take care of your kitty. 

This was reprinted with permission from Glenda Moore.
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