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The Rock Monster, or We are Such Suckers

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

I was running late for work this morning.

As I shot out the front door and started down the path to the car, I heard an inquisitive and anxious little "meow?" from behind me.  Since all the felines I refer to as "mine" were inside, I was curious who would be talking to me.  It was our old friend Rocky.  Rocky is monstrously huge stray cat, who's shy, but who once upon a time must have had a home, and who stops by our house to say hello on occasion.  Because of our cat Tucker's affection for Rocky, we've sort of kept an eye on him for a long time, but he's been so skittish, and visited so seldom that we've never even been able to capture him to get him a check up or neutered.

This morning he was standing at the corner of the house with a worried expression on his face, holding up one front paw, slowly dripping blood on the snow.

Oh, jeez.  Guess I'd better send my assistant a message that I'll be late for work.

Poor Rocky.  He's usually afraid of doors and won't come near them, but injured animals tend to know when they need help, and this fellow was no exception.  He let us scoop him up and corral him in the downstairs bathroom while we assessed the extent of the damage and cleaned out the paw.

Aside from his injuries, he was looking a little rough around the edges.  He's thinner than usual, had a bunch of oldish scabs from injuries that are healing, plenty of fleas, and a lot of bites and scratches.  This is what happens when stray, unneutered tom cats make their rough way in the world, especially in this neighborhood, which is ridiculously overrun by both abandoned pets and feral cats.

That paw was looking too rough to let him back out, even though we'd staunched the flow of blood and cleaned it with antiseptic.  As I sat and looked around my bathroom, now liberally coated in bloody paw prints, my husband called our vet and made an appointment for the afternoon.  We fed Rocky, and shut him up in one of our big old dog crates with a towel, water, and a litter box, and left him to stew about his captivity.

A few hours later, I got the poor booger to the vet without incident and with remarkably little resistance. And then there was that moment.  I've had that moment so many times before.  The vet looked me in the eye, and asked point blank whether we were treating him as a stray, cleaning him up and giving him an antibiotic injection and turning him loose... or were we giving him our usual new pet treatment, complete with vaccines, thorough testing, and neutering.  I sighed.  She smirked a little as she stood there and looked at me.  As if I needed prompting, she slowly said, "Weeeell, he IS a handsome boy... "

"Oh good grief," I said.  "Might as well give him the works.  Because we need five cats."

The vet nodded in a dignified manner, but I saw her grin as she turned around.  She knows us only too well by now.  She knew darn well what my answer would be.

So, the Rock Monster is hangin' tough at the vet's as I type this.  He's got a bunch of undignified shaved spots, has had a few shots, and is, whether he knows it or not, awaiting tomorrow morning's neutering. He is also probably thoroughly regretting choosing our doorstep this morning.

I need to start selling more artwork just to cover the vet bills that result from my ridiculously soft heart.


Louise February 24, 2011 at 8:43 PM  

I'm just getting to know you, through your blog, but I have to tell you that now I feel that I know you a little better, and I like what I see. My four cats and I totally approve of your decision to give Rocky a new home. He'll approve too, once he gets used to it.

Ellen Rathbone February 24, 2011 at 9:30 PM  

You and me both. I just took in one of the strays who's been living under the house here. Previous tenant had three cats and a dog, all of which were abandoned when she left. This little girl, a tiger, was just so friendly, and I felt so guilty about her situation. So, fleas and all, she's being integrated into the family. Mostly on the porch, until her fleas are gone, but tonight she's in the kitchen. Had her to the vet Monday - she has feline leukemia. Of course, I CAN'T turn her out now!

Another sucker born every minute.

Carolyn H. February 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM  

I can so relate to this post. I have four indoor cats, and a little gray stray I've been trying to get close enough to touch. So far that hasn't happened, though I'm within the last 2 feet of her. If she ever lets me get close enough, there's a vet visit in her future.

Carolyn H.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire February 25, 2011 at 1:56 PM  

See? This is one of the many reasons I blog. You three are great. Most people tell me I'm insane for helping yet another cat, but it's awfully nice to know there are other compassionate people out there too. Ellen, what I want to know is, how can ANYONE move and leave their pets behind??? My pets are my family. I'd never be able to sleep again, worrying about what had happened to them.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire February 25, 2011 at 1:57 PM  

Oh, and Carolyn, just keep working on it. S/he'll come around. That's how we acquired number 4. :)

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