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
Get a Free Short Story!
Subscribe to get a free copy of Socks for Alex, a Cypress Hollow Short Story, compatible with all devices!