The black cat wanders in aimless circles, dazed, confused, as if in a delirium or drugged.

Gender unknown so the cat will be called a he. He drags his gimpy right front leg that looks to be broken. He is skin and bones. The vertebrae of his spine are discernible by the lightest palpation.

He wears the wounds of a cat fight. A piece of his right ear is missing and above his right eye is a bald patch swollen.

He spins, he just spins and stumbles in his circle.

The fur on his neck is ratty and clumped in a way suggestive of another animal’s jaws and saliva.

He is starving. I set a bowl of dry kibble before him. His head falls into it. A bowl of water is placed before him. He does not or cannot drink, even as I gently prod his nose into the cool liquid. His golden yellow eyes are bloodshot, dazed and delirious.

I could be an EMT or homicide detective. In human trauma crises, I’m calm, mentally unfettered by emotions and focused on what needs to be done. I could handle limbs torn off and bloody scenes. I wouldn’t like it but I’d get used to it. But an animal that’s suffering really tears me up. I can barely look. I can’t take a photograph.

“I’ll take him to the shelter,” I tell the neighbor who found the emaciated black cat limping in its circles in a yard not his home. After he is set in a towel-lined cat carrier and I’m about to leave, I suddenly remember that it’s a holiday and the shelter is closed.

They’re open for several hours only to receive strays. I wait outside at the receiving door at a cold and damp noontime. Finally a staff member appears. The black cat is very injured and there is no vet due to the holiday so the shelter woman directs me to a 24-hour emergency vet in the next town.

“Just hang on, just hang on,” I tell the suffering animal. “You’re safe now. We’re getting you to a hospital.” Through the ordeal, from being picked up and cuddled to put into a strange box to the car ride to handling, he never makes a sound.

I just hope he makes it to the hospital in time.

The woman at the emergency hospital asks where the cat was found. I respond, “Tacoma.” “We don’t accept animals from out-of-town,” she informs in a kind manner. “You’ll need to go to Tacoma’s animal shelter.”

“I did. They sent me here.”

The sick, traumatized and dying black cat is received.

He has no collar and whether he is microchipped remains to be discovered. Good Samaritan paperwork is completed and the cat is surrendered to their care.

Only God knows whether he will survive after he is assessed. A thank you to the good folk at the pet hospital who broke from policy and accepted him.

His or her name, to my imagination, is Joey. Because every domesticated cat without a home, crippled, sick and who may or may not make it deserves a name.

Joey: Be well, wherever your road now takes you.


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Find an Outlet
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 15:27:28

    Few shelters in the world have facilities to care for wounded strays, I know this too well. And no vet I know of will fix one up for free.

    The pound in my town does not accept “surrenders,” which is what they call any animal you can’t keep, or found on the road, or whatever reason you are showing up with a stray. Not only do they not accept them, they have no advice. Which is why they are left in boxes or tied to the door in the night.

    I never blame people for this, ever. It’s way, way better than dumping them in the desert, which many cruel people do.

    This story made me cry but also heartens me that there are still people who care. You’re a good person. Take care.


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 15:46:53

      @findanoutlet – This town is fortunate to have a shelter that both accepts injured strays and has a vet on board, save on holidays and weekends possibly. There was the option of leaving him there but without vet attention until tomorrow. The cat was in such dire condition, however, it was best to drive him to the 24-hour emergency vet in the next town. It’s not a well-kept secret that I like animals more than people and when an animal in need appears, I’m there. My sister is even more so that way, her life and life’s work revolve around animals. And she’s able to confront animal abuse in ways I possibly can’t stomach, bless her heart. Thanks for visiting.


  2. Find an Outlet
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 16:08:00

    I can’t believe the emergency vet didn’t rip the credit card from your wallet and hold it ransom. Emergency vets here are very, very expensive, and won’t even consider seeing an animal unless you can pay for it. You (and the animals) are very lucky to live in a town that has funds for that! Wish there were more!


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 16:36:52

      @Find an Outlet – This one vet and shelter work in tandem, I was told, and if the animal can be treated and saved, he will eventually find himself up for adoption at the shelter. Sadly, due to my dire finances that render me unable to care for myself, never mind an animal, I had to establish that I would incur no financial responsibility in helping the cat. I hate that my own life is so bad that I cannot help an animal in need and thus am deeply and doubly grateful that the vet took him in, particularly because it meant breaking from policy.


  3. Find an Outlet
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 17:06:07

    I hear ya allycat, boy do I hear ya.


  4. kloppenmum
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 18:39:42

    What a gorgeous and humane thing to do. You just made my day. 🙂


  5. kloppenmum
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 18:50:06

    Not sure if most everyone else would…compassion is not so common these days, I think.


  6. longeyesamurai
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 06:22:31

    Too rare to find someone willing to stop and help as it’s so easy to keep on walking and pretending not to see…

    Once again, you continue to amaze me.


  7. Lauren
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:49:36

    And again you bring me to tears.
    Poor Joey, I hope he makes it and finds a forever home soon.


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 23, 2011 @ 13:59:41

      @Lauren – I hope he makes it too. Though curious, I’ve intentionally *not* called the vet for a prognosis. Sometimes it’s better not to know and allow the act of rescue be and shine.


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 23, 2011 @ 14:03:10

      @Lauren – Also, thank you for the trackback and lead-in at your blog. I had no idea my posts so touched you and in this case enough to warrant a trackback. Thanks again, that makes my day. 🙂


  8. Trackback: The story of Joey « Wide open sky and lots of water….

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