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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cruel to be kind?

A week ago today, I made a decision that I will be questioning for quite some time.

Late Saturday evening, January 23rd, I was startled when I caught a glimpse of something outside on my patio as my two cats, Gabriel an
d Juliesan, frantically walked back and forth through the blinds. At first I thought the two were chasing an insect that had found it's way inside my apartment, but upon closer inspection I realized the cause of all the commotion was a stray cat sitting directly outside the sliding glass door.

It was cold and rainy that evening, so against my better ju
dgment I slid open the door to let the stray cat inside. Not wanting to chance any aggressive behavior between the stray and my two cats, I coaxed the stray to the second bedroom, which is solely the "cat room." Aside from a couple of instances of hissing, the stray followed me willingly and without hesitation. I worked quickly to set up a clean litter box, food bowl, and water bowl for the stray cat, while also moving Gabriel and Juliesan's things to a different location outside of the room. The stray cat started purring almost immediately, and was extremely affectionate, albeit being obviously malnourished and having been outside for quite some time. After determining the stray cat was a male, I decided I could not in good conscience put him back outside to fend for himself, yet I knew I could not permanently keep him either. Although he appeared to be healthy, to be on the safe side I kept him separated from Gabriel and Juliesan.

Fast forward to Monday. In the morning I called the Humane Society to schedule an appointment to bring the stray cat to the shelter. By this time I had given him a name - Jack. The earliest appointment the Humane Society had was nearly three weeks away, and I knew I was already in danger of becoming attached to my new furry friend. I went ahead and made the appointment, unsure of what else to do. With the appointment so far away, coupled with having discovered blood in Jack's urine, I scheduled an appointment for him with Gabriel and Juliesan's vet to have him examined. At the vet, Jack was given a physical exam, along with a de-wormer (for precautionary measures) and a urinalysis. Jack's urinalysis came back clean, which meant that although he would not need medication, he would need to be put on a special diet. Armed with samples of food and a hefty bill (even with the discount the vet gave me), I brought Jack back home and got settled in for the next couple of weeks.

Throughout the days leading up to my appointment at the Humane Society, I continued keeping Jack separated. I would visit him in the morning and after getting home from work, petting him and attempting to play with him. (I say attempting to play with him because without fail after the second or third time I would tease him with a toy, he would unintentionally end up getting my fingers rather than the toy with his claws, and they were sharp. There was no competing with the speed of his reflexes.) Juliesan did not like being kept ou
t of the room knowing I was inside with another cat, so once or twice I let her in to see if she and Jack would get along. While Julie is fairly accepting of new and unfamiliar cats, Jack was not so open to making a new friend, so least to say his interaction with Juliesan was short lived.

I could feel myself growing increasingly attached to Jack as each day passed, and I tried the best I could to find him a new home. Unfortunately, everyone I know currently has all the pets that they want. I even put a desperate plea on Facebook, asking if anyone was willing to take Jack in. My resolve wavered between knowing I could not keep Jack (not only because of the stresses it would bring to my already overburdened finances, but more importantly because there is a two
pet limit at my apartment complex, and with biannual inspections coming up I could not risk breaking the rules) and trying to figure out a way I could make keeping him work.

On Wednesday, February 10th, it took every ounce of my willpower to walk into the Humane Society for my appointment to surrender Jack. Luckily the process was relatively short, as I spent the entire time struggling to hold
back tears. Once Jack was taken out of the carrier I brought him in and placed in a holding cage, he looked directly at me and let out a sorrowful meow, as if asking me why I was abandoning him in that strange place. I turned to leave, and before I could even get through the door leading outside the tears began to fall, and I proceeded to cry like a baby until well after I reached home.

Every day since, I have obsessively checked the adoption listings on the Humane Society web page to see if Jack has been made available for adoption. So far, he has been listed under a separate area for found and stray animals, although I highly doubt anyone will claim him. The vet did say he had been neutered, which leads me to believe he did at one time have a home, but he was not microchipped. Jack's listing was also lacking a photograph, and without there being a picture of him it is not likely anyone would recognize he is their missing cat, if he indeed belonged to someone prior to showing up at my door. I have thought several times about going to the Humane Society and trying to get Jack back, but they would probably think me crazy and would not release him to the person who brought him there in the first place. Last night I had a dream that I did return to the Humane Soceity. Jack was sitting on an examination table, and when he saw me he immediately jumped down and came over to me, purring and rubbing up against me as cats do when they want attention. It was all I could do to keep myself from crying all over again.

Not a day goes by that I do not miss Jack. Unfortunately I was faced with two equally unappealing choices - either put him back outside, or take him to the Humane Society. I chose to take him to the Humane Society with the hope that although it might be a scary and stressful place at the start, someone will see him and fall in love with him the way I did, and will provide a healthy and happy home for him. I just wish there was a way I could have communicated to Jack that by giving him up I was not abandoning him, but rather I was trying to do what was best for him, regardless of the way I felt.

I just hope I made the right choice.