Friday, September 22, 2023
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Just in Time

gray and white cat

An older cat in desperately ill health appearing right in a spot where a dedicated rescuer couldn’t help but find him hours before he passes may happen purely by chance, but cats in extreme need show up in obvious places a little too frequently for it just to be chance. I’m not one to jump to the conclusion that “there are no coincidences” and that “everything happens for a reason” when I have no rational explanation for a set of circumstances that came together as if they’d been orchestrated with divine guidance. I really think it was just as much by the animal’s choice. No being wants to die alone. That a scruffy, older unneutered male cat would simply show up, happy to receive whatever he was given—to me this has to show some determination for the cat to get himself to a safe place before he would let go.

On July 4, a very high traffic day just about anywhere in the United States, the cat pictured above was lying “literally right in the middle of the road as if he was oblivious to the cars” according to the person who saw him as she headed to work at a grooming shop in North Huntingdon, east of Pittsburgh. And he wasn’t simply on the road on her way there, he was right in front of the parking lot for the grooming business.

gray and white cat
Eddie eating in the grooming shop.

“I don’t know how many cars drove by him before I came by,” she said. “I stopped my car sideways so no one could pass me.” As many rescuers fear as they approach an animal in need, especially I an area where there is traffic, she thought he would run when she got out of her car, but he didn’t.  She was able to walk over to him and carefully pick him up and take him into the grooming business to begin his care.

She gave him food and water and he started purring. “He had the sweetest face and soulful eyes (crying again thinking about him),” she said. When he finished eating she placed him in a kitty bed, as you see above, and he stayed just as she’d placed him, modeling his snaggle-toothed grin and fantastic whiskers. He was very thin and so weak, and as she looked him over, “I realized his lil paws were bleeding and his eyes were almost closed from discharge,” she said. “I wiped them off and cleaned his paws. He seemed really peaceful.”

He obviously needed veterinary attention, and knowing there was a spay/neuter clinic coming up in Tarentum on July 13 she was happy to foster him until them. Her Facebook post about him was shared in our rescue group by another rescuer who realized he might need more immediate care.

gray and white cat
Eddie in his cage at the clinic.

“People acted so swiftly,” she said, and I noticed this too as I’d seen the post come up. Comment after comment discussed where he should go for veterinary care, who would transport, when they would meet, and how it would all be paid for. He would go to the Frankie’s Friends clinic in Tarentum, one rescuer offered the ride, another offered gas money, another money toward the vet bill, arrangements were made to meet at the clinic at the earliest point anyone could get there that evening.

It turned out that Eddie, as he was named for the rescuer who transported him to the clinic and offered to foster him, was an intact male, probably older. His combo test showed he was negative for FIV and FeLV. His paws were not injured but were afflicted with pododermatitis, inflammation of the feet, a condition that could be caused by anything from an auto-immune condition to mange to an internal disease. This could most likely be treated in time but at the moment he was too weak to even be neutered, and was given fluids to help with hydration.

It all looked very hopeful, eating and drinking and purring and relaxed, and he did get to see a veterinarian later on Friday, but at some point early Saturday he passed away.

Dozens of us mourned his sudden loss after we’d all invested so much hope into his rescue and wellness. But with his loss the best we could offer was that we were happy he was in a safe place, that he’d known compassion and affection for even just a few hours, and was not alone when he died.

. . . . . . .

Rescuing cats involves a good bit of loss along with the successes of catching and treating and healing cats and kittens and sending them along to a loving forever home. Elderly cats like Eddie and Kennedy who wander in possibly looking for comfort or healing or the company of humans when their time comes to die, and also kittens, lots of kittens, orphaned or otherwise who have viral or bacterial illnesses often too far gone by the time they come to rescue, or born to mothers without adequate nutrition and with developmental issues, or cats of any age with infected injuries that have developed gangrene or sepsis that will eventually kill them. It’s a dirty world out there, in more ways than one, and the animals the human race domesticated really don’t belong out there, they belong in the care of the species that made a deal with them millennia ago, to live in a partnership of mutual respect and compassion.

Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

4 thoughts on “Just in Time

  • It certainly feels like Eddie was looking for a soft, comfy place to curl up one last time, surrounded by love, so he could cross the bridge in peace. What a beautiful story, B – and my goodness those whiskers are amazing!

    • I’m sure of it, Chris. I would have been more than happy to foster him but for Kennedy, and I only have one spot for fostering. But those whiskers are magnificent!

  • kittiesblue

    This is such a sad and heartwarming story all rolled into one. It is such a shame that after so many rallied around to help him that Ernie passed away. But, as you said, he had care and compassion and was not alone when he left this world. That’s all he was looking for…so happy he got it. Hugs, janet

    • Janet, it’s such an honor to be the one they choose. I have no doubt they really do look for the comfort of humans in that last time. I’ve even seen out and out feral cats do it.


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