Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The first time I saw him, he was walking by my back patio, staying close to the woods. When I spoke to him, he started and froze, watching me warily, ears back. As I continued to talk softly, he sat down very properly, his green eyes like hard crystal in the black of his face, his white chest marking and white paws making him looking like quite the fancy gentleman.

It was obvious that he was extremely thin. He listened to me talk for a while, then walked quietly off.

The next time I saw him, he was in front of the dumpster trying to eat a piece of pressed board he found on the ground. I took a can of cat food I found in one of the boxes I was unpacking, opened it, and tried to move near him to set it down. He hid behind the dumpster until I retreated. An hour later when I checked, the can was pushed against a post and licked clean.

That was the beginning.

It's been three months now since I moved in. Mr. Boots, or Boo as I call him, comes almost every day for something to eat. He was obviously a pet at one time and not truly a feral cat. He allows me to pet him while he eats sometimes. Sometimes he is still too afraid. He once came to my door, his head bleeding from scratches. He allowed me to take him into my lap and clean the wounds while he sat limp in my lap. He never protested or struggled. He simply hopped down and walked away when I was done dressing the wounds.

He is still extremely thin. His hip bones show prominently. I would guess he weighs 4-5 lbs.

Sometimes he doesn't come for a few days. Once, he returned after three days with more wounds. That day he would not allow me to dress them. He has nicks on his left ear where he was injured in a previous fight.

He fights for surival in a small patch of woods that is home to at least 6 other cats. He is smaller than all the "housed" cats around here. They beat him up, trying to establish territory.

Last week it was 100 degrees outside. Then there were storms. He must hide some where, but there was no easy way to escape the terrible heat. A neighbor who doesn't like cats throws firecrackers at him, and I've even seen Boo shot at with a pellet gun while he tried to grab a scrap of food someone threw outside.

This cat was taken in by a family and then put out. He does his best to survive, not understanding why humans who once fed him and cared for him now try to drive him away and injure him.

And he's not the only one. There are about six that I count. And today, a sad little kitten came to the door with two older cats, all thin, dirty, wary. The kitten has goopy eyes and sneezes a lot--a bad sign. The cats the kitten was with can barely survive. The chances of the kitten surviving are slim.

Why do I tell you this sad story? Because I am hoping that you can help me turn it into a happy story. The shelters are no longer accepting animals. I have called over a 50 mile radius. They are all full beyond capacity with animals that have been turned out, discarded as an inconvenience.

No one will take them. I just moved to a townhome for health reasons after moving three times in three years--the first time giving up my home which is (thank god) rented at present to take a job, two more times because of two reasons--one, I had made a commitment to my cat, Tink, who was 14 when I moved. Tink had also been dumped on the road years ago. I took her home, loved her, and spent 16 years taking care of her despite health problems from her cruel beginning. I took apartments that I knew were not healthy for me because they would accept my buddy. We were in it together until the end. That end happened in May of 2009 when she died at the age of 16.

The second reason I had to move is serious allergies to smoke and scented products which were, unfortunately, in abundance in apartment buildings. I can not have cats where I live now or I will lose my lease.

The statistics on the survival of feral cats is not good. They usually starve (as some of these cats obviously are) die of disease, or die of injuries or predation. The average miserable life of a feral cat is 2-4 years.

I simply can not allow this to happen to Boo. I need your help. He is not your average feral cat. He is sweet, trusting (if you prove you won't harm him) and desperately in need of a home.

Please help me to spread Boo's story. Surely there is one decent home out there where Boo can live with someone who will be patient with him, help him to regain his weight, his trust of people, and share a loving home with him. He needs a home where someone is willing to keep him inside. Cats who have lived outside can become easily confused if let outside at a new home. They may think they have been abandoned again and try to return to the place where they lived before. They wouldn't make it.

Boo needs someone who understands, who is willing to be the kind of caring companion that whoever dumped him was not. In return, he would be a calm and sweet companion. He does not know how to play. I'm hoping that where ever he ends up, he would at least know comfort, even if he never learns to play.

Please forward this to anyone in Western Pennsylvania who loves animals. Help me to find the right home for Boo.

I thank you.