This is a hard post to write, but since I started the story I ought to finish. RB and I managed to catch the cat yesterday after work. It was, as she says, like a Disney movie. We hiked out to the trail, cat carrier and canned food in hand, and started calling for the cat who’s nowhere to be seen. I’m beginning to think that she’s gone, when I turn around and see the cat about 50 feet away…and running towards me. It was the cutest thing. I offered her the canned food, but she was only interested in being petted. After some deliberation and one false start, I managed to coax her into the carrier. I heard a few meows from her once the car started, but she was much quieter than my two spoiled brats. After dropping RB back off at her car and calling husband to let him know of the successful snag, I finagled a late-in-the-day vet appointment to test her for FLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline AIDS).
Of all the needless things I worried about—failing to get her in the carrier, having her turn into a four-legged demon once inside, fearful hissing and growling at being taken to a strange place—I stopped worrying about the possibility of having a very sick cat on my hands. Waiting in the vet’s office, I was already planning on how I would set up her room at home and deciding which of Sassy’s toys to hand down. In the exam room, she continued to behave like a sweet little lady cat. They ran the tests, and as we waited for results she closed her eyes and purred. In my mind, I was already feeding her and playing with her and giving her antibiotics to get rid of the obvious respiratory infection she had.
Then the vet came in. She tested positive for FLV and FIV. This is a pretty big blow. Neither of those diseases is curable, and both are highly contagious. It effectively ruins her chances of being adopted, and the only sure thing in her future is months of suffering. Left in the wild, she could infect other stray cats and kittens, repeating this miserable cycle of wasted life. In my house, she may have several months of peace before the diseases start to take their toll, but the entire time I’d have to be vigilant to avoid exposure between her, Sassy, and Cally. In the end, all I could do was agree with the vet that the wisest option was putting her to sleep. And cry like the hopeless girl I am.
Thinking about it makes me cry now, which I know logically is a little ridiculous and quite a bit embarrassing. I mean, come on…it’s a stray cat that nobody cared about and I had possession of for just a few hours. Right?
Wrong. No matter embarrassed I am that I’m mourning a cat that wasn’t even mine…no matter how many times RB or husband or anyone tells me what I already know—that she didn’t have a lot of time left, that maybe she latched onto me because she knew I would do something, that there really wasn’t another option—I still feel awful. Which I suppose means that little cat finally had someone who cared about her, if only at the end. And that’s all she ever wanted.
In a few days, that thought will probably make me feel better.