Sparta was a stray we rescued from under my mothers house last summer. We didn't have any cats, and we were planning on getting a kitten. In fact, just days before almost took a free kitten from a pet store but didn't. When my husband and I pulled up to my moms house and I saw him skitter under the house, I knew we would do all we could to capture him.
Has anyone out there in blogger land ever tried to help a feral cat?? It isn't pretty! Even a small kitten, malnourished, and underweight can inflict serious injuries. When I was about 18 we had a kitten that was just like Sparta, hiding under the house. I grabbed her and to my surprise got bitten and scratched and was completely dumbfounded that she was so vicious.
I warned my husband adequately, or as much as you can. We lured him out of his hiding spot, tossing bits of wet dog food. We tried sitting in front of the house, waiting for him, but he was too scared. Instead we went inside and opened the big window in the front of the house. We leaned out and waited for him to come out of his hiding place and my husband grabbed him. My husband was surprised, even with my warnings, and got scratched and bitten. I wrapped Sparta in a blanket and put him in a kitten carrier and to our home he went.
He was always a very shy cat, which is how all feral cats are. It takes years for a true feral cat to become really comfortable with a people family. Sparta would NEVER let my husband get anywhere close to him. I on the other hand was graced with limited interaction. When I washed dishes he would rub along my legs, and if I tried to pet him he'd run away. Once while I was sitting on our bed, reading, he got on the bed, curled up in my lap and slept with me.
He wasn't the cutest cat, but he was lovely to be around and watch. A few months ago we let him outside. We had a stray that had kittens, and we knew he would be happier. We live in the country and to be honest we get lots of cats drifting in and out of our lives. Sparta would occasionally come to our window and peer in at us, but would never let us get close enough to love him. About 3 weeks ago he came to our window and he didn't look good. His eye was red and nearly swollen shut, we'd had a record high heat wave and he was looking pretty skinny. I captured him, and put him in our bathroom, and after a few days his eye got better, and in general he was much better. I wanted to keep him inside until he gained enough weight to go back outdoors.
Last Thursday I noticed Sparta was no where to be found. I knew he must have hid somewhere. I knew it wasn't good. I saw him once, and then didn't see him again. They say cats hide when they know they are dying, so I was prepared to find him gone. Saturday we started searching and found him. Horrified I realized he wasn't dead. We gave him food, and water, and he let us love him and hold him, and talk to him. This morning he was gone. Off to frolic in heavenly fields.
I am sad, even though I didn't spend tons of time with him. It was his gentle, beautiful spirit that really touched me.
I'll miss him, but I know this is just a part of life.
((Sorry for such a depressing post, but it's one of those things that couldn't not be expressed.))