Friday, December 28, 2012

The Rest of the Story

Oreo as a 6-month old kitten in 2006

Last week I talked about the return of one of the feral cats after him having been gone for over a year. The reunion turned out to be bittersweet. Oreo had always been skittish and kept his distance. He Was born in the spring of 2006 to one of the feral females and was the very last one we trapped to have neutered and receive a rabies shot.

Since he had "disappeared" in fall of 2011, we assumed he had died. Feral cats don't have a very long life-span. When he showed up, it felt like a hug from God. Not only was he home, but he allowed me to pet him . . . something he had never tolerated before.

However, as I continued to check on him throughout the day, I noticed little puddles of blood on the patio. He didn't appear to have any injuries, but he was walking gingerly on his hind legs. Once I saw him move from a position and saw another puddle of blood. I knew something was terribly wrong. Then as he walked away, he lifted his tail and I saw a HUGE tumor on his right back hindquarter. Poor baby.

I knew I couldn't allow him to suffer any longer. Without much difficulty, I managed to get him into a pet carrier lined with clean towels and carried him to the screened in deck. Then I contacted our vet and explained the situation. We didn't have funds to provide for any extensive testing, but I feared his condition was so bad he would need to be humanely put to sleep.

We had quite a time getting him out of the carrier. He kept straddling the doorway, so she tipped it with the door straight down. Finally he had to let go. She picked him up to weigh him and even though he had a lot of fur and was a pretty big cat, he weighed in at just a little over eight pounds. Malnourished. No wonder I could feel his backbone. My heart was wrenched just thinking what this poor innocent cat might have been going through.

She carried him to the back room to examine him and returned just a couple of minutes later. The tumor was huge and inoperable. Also his bladder was completely firm and he was urinating straight blood. There was nothing they could do for him, so we signed the papers to have him put to sleep. I couldn't bear to stay with him while they did what needed to be done. The memory of holding our beloved cat, Sarah, while she was injected remains forever one of the saddest moments I've ever experienced.

Our vet didn't charge us for an exam, but instead only charged for the euthanasia. We asked that they take care of the remains for us. I came home crying and cried for the past week every time I think of him. I don't know if he actually found a home for a year or if he had been so injured that he couldn't get back home. The vet said the tumor could have been caused from anything. It wasn't completely round. She thought he might have been hit by a car and had scar tissue and calcium buildup, but it was impossible to know for sure.

I had just about gotten over crying for him when I received a sweet card from the vet's office. They had all signed it and written a very nice note and had Oreo's footprint at the bottom. I still cry when I think of him. In fact, tears are rolling down my cheeks now. I know we did the right thing, and he is at peace now.

Sometimes I question why God gave me a heart to care for the helpless animals, but He did it for a reason. Perhaps Oreo knew that and somehow he made his way "home" where he knew someone would take care of him. I find comfort in knowing God trusts me with providing comfort for those less fortunate . . . even those who cannot speak their need.

"In all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God . . . as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." 2 Corinthians 6:4, 10


Caroline said...

Oh, Carol Ann, I cried to when I read this post. I can hardly stand it when one of my beloved pets has to be put down. I've been known to stay up with them off and on the night before, talking, apologizing, loving, and assuring them of my love. It breaks my heart.

Gotta quit before I tear up again.

Carol Ann said...

You have a very caring heart, too, Caroline. In this weather, we have a 4x6 shelter built...on wheels, and lined with thick foam insulation. Rugs on the floor and quilts piled on top of that. Our kitties can stay out of the cold weather, but many of them prefer to find isolated places on the carport and in the woodpile under the deck. I wish I could bring them all inside.