Sunday evening... While leaving my father's neighborhood, I spotted this little guy laying under a truck. Someone got into the truck and started it up, and it was all this little guy could do to get up and out from under the truck...
He was thin, weak, and dirty. To be honest, he looked like he hadn't eaten in a very long time. I pulled my car over to the side of the road. Luckily I spotted a neighbor out in front of their house, so I hollered over, asking if he knew who owned the kitty. He came over and told me it was a stray who had been hanging around the neighborhood for the past few months.
Well, that was all I needed to hear. There was no way I could drive off and leave this poor thing behind. The same neighbor offered to loan me a cat carrier that he no longer used. He put the kitty inside the carrier and I put it in my car. But now what? It was Sunday evening so my regular vet wasn't open. I couldn't chance bringing him home because I have two indoor kitties, and I didn't know if this little guy had feline leukemia or rabies or God knows what else...
So I had no choice but to bring him to the 24 Hour Emergency Animal Clinic about a half hour from my home. They said they needed a name for the paperwork; Rocky seemed appropriate because he seemed like a fighter. I told "Rocky" that as long as he had some fight left in him, we would stick it out together, and that when he was strong enough I'd either find him a good home or keep him myself. They weighed him and said that at 6 lbs, he was about half of his ideal weight. They said they would keep him overnight, feed him, hydrate him if necessary, and test him for feline leukemia. So I left him in their care with the agreement that I would pick him up by noon the next day, at which point I would take him to my own vet for further evaluation.
Monday morning... Good news! The feline leukemia and AIDS test was negative. So now it was on to my vet for more blood work. It was determined that he was an old guy... he had a heart murmur and his mouth was very sore (major dental work would eventually be needed at a major expense). It was agreed that he would stay over for 2 nights at the vet's office so they could keep an eye on him (and so I could work on getting hubby to agree to a third kitty)... While he was in the examining room I took lots of photos of him to post on-line and to put on flyers, just in case he was lost and someone was searching for him. (And if that was the case, it looked like he'd been out on his own for a long time.)
Monday afternoon: Sometimes things just don't work out as planned... It turns out that this little guy isn't a stray, but actually lives across the street from the cat carrier man who told me he was a stray... So not only did I not rescue a stray, I had actually kidnapped somebody's cat!
Once that minor point was discovered, I had no choice but to return kitty back to his rightful owners (passing along the vet's recommendation to them that this little guy get dental work done pronto so he could eat, and that he be kept inside from now on because of his advanced age and poor health).
I then returned the cat carrier to the other neighbor, who asked me how everything turned out... When I told him I had just spent hundreds of dollars on a cat who was not only not a stray, but who in fact lived across the street from him, he felt kind of bad (but not bad enough to offer to pitch in for kitty's vet costs! ha ha)... He said he couldn't believe that anybody owned the cat because of the tough shape it was in...
I've actually done this twice before with kitties who were, in fact, strays... One kitty was very ill, tested positive for feline leukemia, and did end up having to be put to sleep; and then just a few years ago, we found a stray kitten who fell out of a wheel well at a local gas station. The woman driving the car said she did not want the kitten... that it was from a litter of kittens born to a stray that lived under her porch. We immediately took him to our vet where he was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection; we treated him with medicine and when he had a clean bill of health we gave him to a no-kill cat shelter; within two weeks he was adopted by a veterinarian and, to this day, is living happily in his 'forever' home. Thank goodness that sometimes, there are happy endings...
And the moral of the story is... before rescuing a 'stray,' make sure it is, in fact, a stray!!!
Update to comments: The owners did offer to pay for the rabies shot that the kitty received, but I told them I would take care of it as it was included with the entire bill that I had paid (and to be honest, it was a very tiny part of the overall bill).
I also have to point out that as unfortunate as this whole incident is, it really wasn't the owner's fault that I took their kitty (thinking it was a stray), so I would never expect them to reimburse me. I do know that when I returned him, I told the owners what the vet said about the kitty desperately needing $300-500 of dental attention, they said they didn't have that kind of money. But even though they can't afford to pay for the medical attention he needs, I'm sure he is in a home where he is loved... but it is so hard to see him in his current condition.
Unfortunately, and especially in these times, money is very tight and I don't want to pass judgment on these people because I have no idea what their situation is. I only know that for me personally, I prefer to keep my kitties inside and make sure they go to the vet regularly and get treated when medical issues arise; but I do realize (as hard as it is to accept) that many other people can't do that - and I never would never returned him if I thought he was being abused or hurt.
But thank you all for thinking of kitty and also wanting the best for him. I knew you were all a bunch of animal lovers!!
Update #2: I just wanted to clear up that this kitty is an indoor/outdoor kitty. I didn't want anyone thinking that he is forced to live outdoors. I've also learned that he is very old - 17 years, and his owners are having a hard time deciding on whether it is 'his time' or not.. never an easy decision... His age may have had a lot to do with him being slow moving to get out from under the truck, which I had initially attributed to being weakness from not eating (since at that time I didn't realize he was 17). Some of this info I didn't know when I first posted this, and some I intentionally left out because we never know who is reading our blogs and this family does have kids, and I wouldn't want any information about their cat possibly being put to sleep to get back to them in this manner, but since I highly doubt that they will happen to see this, I'm now sharing this information so everyone has a little clearer picture of the situation...
And I do wish we had a cat leash law like some communities do. I know my "Chips" would like that, too, as I've seen a couple snatched from my yard by well-fed cats (not strays) who roam the neighborhood.