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Another Sad Cat January 23, 2010

I'm at my desk, waiting for the humane trap outside to snap shut with a metallic clang. Hoping for it. Dreading it.

There's this big old tomcat in my neighborhood. He's a funny-looking guy, and he's been instrumental in the creation of many other funny-looking cats around here. He's battle-scarred and tough and walks by my office window in the mornings. I've always liked watching him go by -- cocky and self-assured. You know that kind of cat. He's part of the scene that passes in front of me while I'm typing, a handsome part.

Yesterday, he dragged himself by. I rushed out, and he was moving slowly enough that he couldn't even get away from me. He let me touch his head without hissing, and he had one badly damaged eye, and what appeared to be two broken legs (one front, one back) and maybe a broken pelvis. He was in extreme pain. But he picked up the pace and I followed him, begging him to stop (because I'm an idiot) and he led me right to the hole under our house that I've been looking for: We've been hearing cat(s) under the house for about four or five days. We thought they'd gone under there to mate and scream and yell, and when the rain let up, we were going to figure out how to fix the hole and make sure cats didn't make a permanent home down there, on the warm furnace.

Turns out it was him. Probably yelling in pain for the past few days.

I went inside and got cat food, and then went under the house into the crawl space. He was already on the furnace and hungry enough to let me put it right next to him. I sat with him as he ate.

Then I went up, covered myself in a LOT of clothing in case he fought viciously, got a big towel and a cat carrier, and went back down again.

He won. At one point, the towel was over him, and he was running around underneath the house, unable to shake it off, so there was just a big red towel streaking through the dirt.

It probably hurt him more, damn it.

He got out from under the house, and I spent the rest of the day freaking out, unable to bear the thought of my neighborhood friend living in that much pain.

Now, I hella heart Oakland, you know that. I love this town. But animal control, not so much. They are spread way too thin, and they just don't come out for things like injured cats. (Well, you can leave them the message. I've done it before. And nothing happens.) So I went down there. Waited in line. Asked about humane traps. And I was referred to a company that I could pay to come out to rid my home of unwanted raccoons. That's all they could do. A couple more places wouldn't answer their phones, and a few rescue agencies stated flat out they didn't loan traps.

I tweeted, hopelessly frustrated. 

And while I was crying in my car, barely having sent the last tweet, my phone rang in my hand. Becca offered me the use of her humane trap.

Knitters. They are teh awesome. Always.

Last night I caught an orange tom who really liked tuna and really hated me before I had to put the trap away to go to bed. But it's out there again now. I don't know if old Julius (yes, I accidentally named him while driving around yesterday) will make it back to our yard. He certainly doesn't trust me anymore. But I put it right by the opening to the crawl space, and tuna smells good....

And then, if I catch him, I'll have to have him put down, as fast as possible. There's no saving this kitty, that's pretty clear.

He's just one of those things that, in my mind, makes me Bigger Than Sad. You know? Because if I feel like this about this poor old cat, what about all the other cats? And what about the dogs? And the kids? And the people starving? And Haiti? And cancer? And... and...

Sometimes, I think it's good to have compassion, a lot of it, for one thing at a time. To try to ease that pain, if that's all you can do. Right here, right now. (Shit! I keep hearing the trap snap, but when I check, nothing's happened. Phantom snapping.) 

And that's all I've got right now. Carry on. I'll keep you posted. Kiss your furry things, and your people, too, for that matter. xoxo


Hugs to you honey. Around here, the Mommy Wizards (my wives and I) aren't just the local emergency clinic for hoomans, we also seem to have become the local animal care and control. Which means, sometimes, having to put someone down and yeah, it's bigger than sad and harder than hard, but it's an act of compassion and I know, if it were me out there in that kind of agony, I'd want somebody to do something too. Bless you and take comfort in knowing you're trying to do the "right" thing by Julius. Big hugs from the other side of this tiny planet.

You are doing this poor guy a kindness. I am sending you warm thoughts as you wait and hope this ordeal is over soon. You are an amazing person.

You're doing the right thing, painful as that is. Good luck.

Right now there is a neighborhood tom (orange too) hiding out in my backyard. He came up on the patio yesterday and he let me feed him. He's in bad shape too, walking funny, I'm not sure if he is beat up or was hit by a car...Nobody local wants to deal with feral cats, at this point I am thinking of buying my own humane trap on the internet. I would then have to drive the beastie two hours away to SPCA. I really wish people would quite dumping their cats and dogs out in the county.
Sorry about the venting and Thanks for trying to do the right thing. I hope everything works out for the best.

That's a sad post, Rachael but I think at this point you're doing the best and all you can. I always thought cat rescuers were kind of crazy but this has made me change my mind. It really is better to catch & neuter and release again. My cat Quincy was a feral who was caught and fixed, but luckily someone along the way thought he could be tamed and now he's happy with me.

Oh Rachael-that is the worst sad feeling. I so know how you feel-and I hope you find Julius quickly so both of you can have some peace. You are doing the right thing all around, hard as it is. About 6 years ago, an orange tom cat showed up here too(we live by a river, aka common dumping ground for unwanted felines). We fed him and, when he got hurt, he let me catch him. I put him in a crate, was driving to the vet when a woman ran a light and TOTALLED my 1 ton dually truck. Imagine. The poor cat was on the floorboard of the passenger side, where the impact was(that SHEARED OFF the front tire) and smashed by the air bag. He was actually not further injured(and me either thankfully), but then I had to sit there and wait for the firemen and pry the crate out, wait for my husband to get us, and take him to the vet only to have to have him put to sleep. Pretty much cried for 3 days, thinking how much more did that poor cat have to endure(which is precisely the sentiment I bet you are feeling and the reason I am sharing this story). Wish I could come and help you-

I understand exactly what you mean about segmenting the amount of caring you can possibly handle.

I have to wonder if there was any way that he could be given some care in a way that would mean he wouldn't have to be put down. If he could be surrendered to an organization that might be able to help him?

But that's another day and another struggle. I am so impressed and in awe of you and your persistence (all those different places), and I really hope that you catch him.

I'm sending super big hugs to you! It really sucks to have to do something like that. I'm also proud of you! Most people wouldn't do anything, but you're trying your heart out. I wish there were more people like you out there.

I perfectly understand how you feel, Rachael... "bigger than sad"(perfect wording for the feeling). I have met a few "Julius" around my place, and would have done as you did (towel, etc.). I am sorry that he was strong enough to get away. Perhaps, he will come back to the safe shelter under your house in a little time. Take care.


Racheal -- I hope you never need another humane trap again, but if you do, try contacting Island Cat Rescue Association (ICRA) -- they're based in Alameda, and they cover the Alameda-Oakland area.

They're good people, they have humane traps and, if there are other cats in your neighborhood that could benefit from trap and release, they can help with that too.

Here's their site:

Best of luck to you.

>>Sometimes, I think it's good to have compassion, a lot of it, for one thing at a time. To try to ease that pain, if that's all you can do.<<

It is so funny that you posted this today. I went to dinner with friends yesterday and one of them was talking about how guilty she felt being mesmerized by and emotional over the televised rescue of that dog that got caught in the river in LA. I speculated that with so many awful things going on, channeling your compassion into worrying about a dog is like a release valve. It keeps you from turning into a blubbery mess over the big things that you really can't do much about, like the earthquake victims in Haiti.

Wow, like others said it, this world would be a better place with more people like you in it. I'm all choked up; I hope that kitty finds some peace.

Oh, honey. I had no idea from your tweets last night that his situation was this bad. You are doing the right thing, no matter how much it hurts. Hugs, and good luck.

Just breaks my heart to read of the pain he is in... My heart and thoughts are with you and the bit ole tom, god speed to him...

Oh Rachael I really feel for you, I thought I was the only one that worried about everything at the same time, I now realise that I'm not. I'm so sorry you had to deal with this sad cat and I feel anger towards whomever 'Julius' belonged too. If there is any consolation its that if there were more people in the world like you, the world would be a better place. Hugs Dawn Marie.xx

Compassion sucks, but we can't live without it.

Good luck, and may Julius be in peace soon.

The poor thing, and poor you.

I've only had the new guy two days, but I gave him an extra kiss when I read this. He sends purrs of happy endings, sometimes.

You and Lala are such amazing people and your compassion for animals makes me get tears in my eyes when I read your blog! Most people would say,"Poor cat," and then go on with their lives, but you really try to make a difference and that encourages others to try too. Thanks for being one of the ones who really cares and does something about it!

Oh Rachel. I wish I could wait with you, both of us holding hands while we waited for Julius. I'm there in spirit. I had to do this last year, with the neighborhood mama cat who moved to my house a few years ago. Never could get ahold of her to get her spayed. Saved as many kittens as I could. And cried like a baby over the ones I couldn't. And cried again like a baby when I realized it was time to put her down. You are earning wings in heaven, I promise. Each tear we shed for another is priceless. Love and blessings my dear. I'm off to love my furry ones.

Was Fix Our Ferals among the agencies you contacted? They might be able to help, especially since it sounds like there might be several feral cats that could stand to be snipped. At minimum, it looks like they do loan traps, if you wanted to try setting a second one.

Bigger than sad is such a good way to describe that helpless feeling when you can't do anything more than you already are for an animal. Lots of hugs to you.

I saw your tweets and I hoped that you would have been able to catch him by now....

It is (and should be!) harder than hard. Have had to do it a few times myself, since I'm out in the country and lazy, weak people seem to think it's kinder to abandon their used pets out here where the coyotes usually make quick work of ex-pets. The one that hurt the most was the only one my kitties were willing to allow in. She had cancer so bad she didn't stand a chance. She purred the whole time at the vets...

You are just the dearest soul....and I can't wait to see you in columbus so I can tell you so in person.

I used to foster kittens, but after losing 2 in one year I couldn't take the Sad anymore. Now I help out a feral cat group with website stuff, because that's the kind of volunteer work I can do without my heart breaking. Of course, the Sad isn't always something the can be avoided and I'd do the same thing if I were you. Big Hugs. I'm sorry it fell on your shoulders.

I'll give my little former feral boys (they were rescued at a few months old, too feral to love anyone but me [much to my bf's chagrin] but boy do they love me) extra squeezes today. The girls too (they were rescued off the street much younger and have no memory of being anything except Perfect Indoor Princesses).

I've been volunteering for an organization here that does trap-neuter-release for feral cats. Sometimes the stories are really sad (animals that are really badly injured or sick are put down) but mostly it feels good to be doing something to help.

Thank you for helping the kitty - it is the best thing. Keep us informed!!

Fellow 911 Dispatcher & Blog fan!

You are doing a great kindness.

Oh, poor dear. I have an old, battle-scarred Tom I am trying to catch just to have neutered. Have you tried cheese in the have-a- heart? My house cats seem to like it when they don't feel well, may be because their sense of smell is dimmed and, well, you know cheese. Good luck and God Bless you.

This really sucks and I raise a glass to you for having the strength to do what needs to be done. It's like all the other tragedies you mention, it would be so much easier to just not think about it. But you have a big heart and you aren't afraid to take on the responsibility of doing the right thing.

I'll be giving all three of my furry boys an extra scritch for old Julius tonight.

oh sweetie I am so sorry. I hope everything turned out for the best. Sometimes that's all you can hope for. *hug*

You are doing the right thing. He needs your help. Hang in there and let us know what happens. You know we can scrape together funds if a vet bill emerges.

You're so thoughtful and kind. It's too bad that it's all so heartbreaking. I'm sorry you're going through this and my heart goes out to Julius Kitty. Loves.

Oh how awful (the pain and the phantom snaps), but wonderful of you to help. I like your point about compassion for one thing at a time; I find it all to easy to spiral out from the knowledge of one particular pain to all other pains and then I just shut down. But I can deal with one problem actually facing me better than anticipated and imagined pain.

Well, with ya kiddo, been there and cried through it all a million times. Injured animals of all types have pecked, bitten, clawed their way through my life. They NEVER cooperate when you are trying to help. And,as a woman who wears her skin inside out, I help where I can. I cant go to Haiti, but i can rescue a dog off the freeway or a cat with a broken leg. We do what we can, its who we are.....please accept a hug.....

Ok, to attract the cat you can use sardines or clam juice. The strong fishy smell may help the cat go into the trap. It helped us catch a mom and her two kittens. We adopted the two kittens and the mom, Purl, has become a permanent foster. Good Luck!

One small change at a time is better than no change.

You're right of course, no matter how hard you try you can't fix everything for everyone and there is always more misery than one person can cure. For that one cat or one person at a time you can make a difference. And that has to be enough.

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