May 24, 2011

For my tenth birthday my mother took me to the Bangor Humane Society and let me pick out a cat. I picked Chester not only because he was the only kitten, but because he was hanging from the front door of his cage howling for attention. On the way home I let him out of his cardboard carrier and he promptly crawled under my seat, ensuring that when we got home I would have to pull him out, by his hind legs, releasing his claws one by one from my mother’s car upholstery.

Chester was my best friend from the age of ten until I was 26 years old – he died at 16 after battling his way back from diabetes (common in Maine Coons), ultimately succumbing to kidney failure (probably the most common cause of death in older house cats). Up until the very end he was a happy, healthy cat. Even though I have five siblings I was a sort of only child once we moved to Maine, only seeing siblings on the occasional holiday, only exchanging quick hellos and goodbyes on the phone. Chester was, in some ways, like a brother to me. He listened to all of my secrets, listened to me cry over boys, grades, parts lost to in musicals. He went to college with me, and he moved to Illinois with me after I graduated and lived on my own for the first time. Chester taught me that pets aren’t possessions, that pets are family members.

Ten days out from our wedding and while most brides would be fitting in an extra work out or seven at the gym I haven’t worked out in a week because my cat, Ted, is lost. Not lost in the sense that we don’t know where he is, I see him almost daily, lost in the sense that we cannot get him into the house, cannot catch him because he is traumatized, cannot get him to come home.

If Ted was a dog this entry would be very different right now. I would be writing about how I called animal control, or any number of other agencies in Arizona, and how they came out and helped me catch my pet. With a cat the best I can get is, “Do you have traps out? If you have traps out there’s not really anything else we can do for you that you’re not already doing.”

Instead I’m writing because I am at the end of my rope, becoming increasingly unhinged as there is no one who will help us in this situation. I actually sat on the phone with an animal rescue service on Friday, in tears, stating that I was five feet away from my “lost” cat, that his eyes were filled with fear and I needed help and was told, “I don’t know what you expect us to do, do you have traps out? Because we don’t do that.”

I want to know what is so broken in our society that when someone calls regarding a lost pet they are essentially met with a shoulder shrug and “the traps will work, just wait.” Along with not having the luxury of time, I’m not sure why I should have to wait, over a week, for my terrified, ill-equipped house pet to stumble into a trap rather than have someone trained to institute a practical, active solution.

And before you point fingers, know that I did try. Two days after he escaped I chased off a big, scary cat that was trying to hurt Ted and saw Ted crawl into a car engine. I laid on the ground of our parking lot, trying to find the car’s owner for over 4 hours. When Spencer and I finally coaxed him out and something startled him under another car I let my emotions (and 3 days with no sleep) get the better of me – I tried to haul him out of the second car’s engine area by the hind feet. I didn’t let go as he bit me upwards of seven times and only lost him because my hands, slick with my own blood, fumbled as we tried to shove him into a carrier. We were at the ER for six hours last week — I had x-rays, an iv push of antibiotics, and have been taking 13 pills a day for a week. And you know what? I would do it all over again if it meant Ted would be home safe. In a heartbeat.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Megs May 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm

No one’s pointing fingers at you, babe. You’ve said that Ted was born and raised feral, and now has seemed to have returned to his roots. I know that’s not what you want. I’ve followed you for what seems like forever and know that you’ve had Ted as a house cat in a tamed environment for not a very long time, maybe not long enough for him to remember all the love and support you’ve given him after such a traumatizing enviroment. Maybe he’s having ‘Nam-like flashbacks of being the feral cat he was born as, thinking that it’s the way, the only way. Maybe not being able to comprehend or even remember that he found such a loving, fruitful and stable home, or that he could even go back. Maybe he doesn’t even know what ‘back’ is. I’m not sure what to tell you, other than that you have so many other kitties and chinchillas that need your love, and a man that’s about to be your husband that will need the same. I just want you to be happy, and to remember that no matter how much we love our pets, they’re not human, therefore we cannot begin to understand that it is not our fault when they do things like this. I know that doesn’t change anything. I just want you to know how much I care.

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