This story is a continuation of Feral Cat Day 2016. I have changed the human names for privacy.
Last year, on Feral Cat Day 2015, I was chasing after a cat we’d once thought was feral but turned out to be quite friendly—friendly enough that she ended up in a shelter up for adoption. Nothing happened as we had expected, but Wednesday went along with all the human antics.
Around the beginning of October a friend mentioned to me that a nice stray cat had been working very hard to befriend her 92-year-old aunt. Aunt Mary lived alone and still had all her wits about her and she loved animals though she had no pets of her own. She wasn’t interested in adopting the kitty, but she certainly liked the kitty’s company when she stepped outside, and she put food out on her porch every morning to be sure the kitty would visit.
Then the kitty decided to walk into the house one day, and each day thereafter would show up and Aunt Mary would let the kitty in for pets and play, then kitty wanted back out. Aunt Mary was happy with this simple relationship, but niece and nephew were concerned because the kitty liked to do figure 8s around Aunt Mary’s ankles and she was 92.
My friend Jane called me to see if I had any ideas. She was concerned that her cousin wanted to “get rid of” the cat for fear his aunt would trip and fall. That didn’t mean hurting the cat in any way, at least not intentionally. What they both hoped was that someone would adopt the cat if it was that friendly, and that would be great with the right house. But he also considered taking the cat to a shelter, and that would not be great because the kitty was ear-tipped. Even nice ear-tipped kitties don’t fare well in many shelters.
Jane knew what the ear-tip meant, and what it meant for a cat in a shelter too. It could be the kitty had been a very friendly stray who no one could take in but had been TNRd as a single community cat, or the kitty was part of a colony and had left it for some reason—bullied by another cat, the colony caretaker had quit taking care, or someone had chased the kitty off even though there was a caretaker. She could have even been someone’s pet even though she was ear-tipped because sometimes we don’t know when we first trap a cat in a colony that they are actually friendly and socialized, and we later adopt them out. Jane called me because she knew I worked with a group that rescued and TNRd cats, and because in my circle of friends I’ve always been the person to call when you needed help with cat things.
I also knew the ear-tip meant I might be able to find the caretaker, or some information about the cat and someone to return the kitty to. I asked her if she could describe the cat to me and possibly get a photo.
“I think my aunt is getting attached but isn’t willing to take it into the house. She is 92 but still sharp,” Jane messaged when she sent the photos. “She says she is willing to keep feeding it rather than seeing it go to a shelter.
“It is probably full grown and the left ear is clipped. It is really a great cat,” said Jane the committed dog person, “friendly but not annoying. Follows you like a dog. I’m sure it is part of a colony but does love people.”
This was definitely a cat who was fully socialized but friendly enough that it was going to get in trouble if it encountered the wrong people, ones who didn’t care for a cat visiting for any reason, even a really nice cat.
An intuitive guess told me the cat was a female though there was no way I could tell, and the name “Wednesday” came to mind. I would be asking all the cat rescuers I knew if they recognized the cat and would normally wait to find out details about the cat from someone who actually knew, but I couldn’t stop calling the cat “she” and “her”, and, well, the day was Wednesday. I’d always thought the name was sweet and funny from the Addams Family, and also remembered a brief newspaper clipping my mother had read to me years before about a woman who met a black cat named Wednesday at an adoption event in a park but missed adopting that day, though later tracked down and found and adopted him. I kept the name, and the story, to myself.
I asked in my rescue groups hoping to find someone who may have helped with colonies in that area. I found a few near that area, but no one recognized this particular cat. Jane and I discussed getting her to a vet to be scanned for a chip and just to get an exam and find out more about her, and Jane’s daughter had a friend who offered to foster, though it didn’t sound like an ideal situation.
My home was full with 12 cats at that time: the Five, Basil and Bella, Alvina, Simon and Theodore, and Hamlet and Ophelia, recently arrived, in the bathroom. There was no way I could take her in to foster her. I explained to Jane that if the kitty was really that friendly, then she was certainly adoptable. Working with the Homeless Cat Management Team I could surrender her to the Western PA Humane Society and have an automatic reclaim so that if she developed any illness and needed treatment they couldn’t give, or was in danger of euthanasia for any reason, I would be called and could reclaim her.
Jane mentioned this to her cousin as a last resort as they continued to look for a possible adopter.
The mailman came up in conversation. He’d also seen the kitty on his rounds and liked the cat a lot. He thought he might see if his daughter would like to adopt her because she was so friendly and affectionate. A conversation or two passed and he said he’d bring his daughter over on a weekend to meet the kitty.
All was going well until Jane called the next week—on Feral Cat Day—and told me her cousin had picked up the cat and was on his way to the Humane Society! She had no idea why he’d decided to just do that—he claimed he was concerned about his aunt and wanted to take care of the situation before Aunt Mary possibly fell and broke her hip. But obviously he had misunderstood much of what we’d told him—if he had surrendered an ear-tipped cat as a stray there was no way I could intervene and take responsibility for the cat through HCMT.
I called WPHS and messaged and asked a friend who had a direct line to the person who made these decisions, and I did manage to catch the kitty just before intake. I explained the situation and agreed to accept responsibility for the kitty, and told them about the mailman who was interested and said I’d send him down there to meet the kitty with his daughter. They told me she was a spayed female and a young adult, and they would hold her for a few days if he wanted to visit and adopt. I agreed to come down to get her if he didn’t, but they mentioned she was really friendly so it just might be they’d keep her for adoption, but I could still reclaim her.
And I suggested the name “Wednesday”, just because. They agreed her name could be Wednesday.
“Tracked the cat down—as I suspected, she was female, just a gut feeling,” I messaged to Jane, who was actually on her way to try to head off her cousin at the shelter. “They have her on hold for me at WPHS, I will pick up tomorrow, but not having any luck finding where she belongs. I’ll figure out something.”
I spoke with the cousin who told me the same as he’d told Jane about his decision, and told me how nice the kitty was. They’d driven there with no carrier, kitty was relaxed in his wife’s lap, drooling a little, possibly because she was happy. Jane was not happy with her cousin, understanding the risk to a nice cat like Wednesday when he knew Jane and I were working to help. I thanked her for being in the middle of it all. Whew! A few hours later kitty was safe. A Feral Cat Day celebration!
Wednesday would be tested for FIV/FeLV and given her vaccines and held in a cage by herself for assessment before she was put up for adoption and just in case the mailman wanted to bring his daughter to the shelter, so I waited until the following week to go and meet her.
They weren’t interested in visiting the shelter, so when Wednesday went to an adoption cage the following week I had the chance to take her to one of the feline Meet & Greet rooms at WPHS so I could interact with her. For a stray cat who’d just been jostled from outdoors to indoors to a car to the shelter she was ready for play and affection. It was a shame this friendly and bright kitty, so interested in all the people around in her room and outside, had found herself without a home. She definitely deserved one! I knew that if the shelter called and said I needed to take her, I’d find a place for her if I had to carry her around with me in a sling.
I was originally going to post about her rescue on Feral Cat Day last year but the story obviously wasn’t finished by the end of the day. Because the following week held International Black Cat Day, October 27, I planned her post for then. Such a gregarious cat, even though she was black and an adult, stood a great chance of being noticed. If she was friendly enough with other cats, yet to be assessed, she could be placed in the Cat Colony Room and get even more notice. But finally meeting her I knew some forces had come together to help us rescue this wonderful cat from some unknown, and possibly unpleasant, fate.
I had my post about Wednesday all ready to go for International Black Cat Day but early that morning received a message from WPHS telling me they had found Wednesday unresponsive in her cage in the morning, and they had tried to revive her. She didn’t respond and was exhibiting possible neurological symptoms. She’d been fine the day before, playful and friendly, and it was a real shock. Her condition grew so extreme she had to be put to sleep.
I remembered my neighbor’s young cat Little Man with similar symptoms the previous summer who had shown no symptoms at all but one morning was under the couch partially paralyzed. We took him to the emergency clinic and he continued losing use of more and more of his body over a period of just hours until he too was put to sleep. From his history as a kitten they guessed he may have had the dry form of FIP which can cause lesions over all the organs, including the brain, and neurological symptoms and paralysis are common.
It’s happened several times before in rescue stories I’ve written that cats seem to show up friendly and healthy and wanting love and a home only to grow ill and die soon after. Even though cats habitually hide illnesses or manage the symptoms as best they can, I really believe they know they aren’t well and aren’t safe, and know that humans are their caretakers, the ones who can help them, even if humans are the ones who caused their homelessness in the first place. And perhaps they know they don’t have much time left and they want to find the love and a home and the security they need, even if only for a few hours or days.
We’ll never know what Wednesday’s story was, but someone cared enough at one point to have her spayed. She found her way to a person who immediately enjoyed her company and took care of her as best she could. Each of the people who met her and brought her to safety saw a friendly and loving cat and enjoyed their time with her. She was in good hands, treated with respect, and did not suffer.
I wasn’t sure I would share Wednesday’s story. I let my grief run its course and remembered her frequently, and decided that even though her ending was painful to hear, her life was still memorable, her rescue was still commendable. Her death did not diminish all the love and care from those who rescued her, and the care she received at the end was part of the story of how shelters treat animals with compassion. If she had lived I surely would have published my post about her rescue and promoted her adoption. It took me until this year to share her story, and I decided that Feral Cat Day would be the time, and she would be my rescue story on the closest rescue story Tuesday. She is forever a member of my rescue family, and of my family of housepanthers who simply seem to find their way to me. She will not be forgotten.
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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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Weekly schedule of features:
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Tuesday: Rescue Stories
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And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!