Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seeing Double!

As cat owners, we feel badly for the feral cats that show up at our door in bad shape. We've certainly had some beat-up specimens show up looking for a handout - how can you say no? Most all of our "inside" cats were walk-ups, starting out as ferals in the past. Case in point is one of the ferals, Spats (though I spell it with a "Z"), so named because of his tuxedo pattern with white feet. He has been a semi-regular for a long time, perhaps over a year, and now looks pretty healthy and is now about the friendliest cat I've ever seen. For some time he has greeted my arrival from work by walking up to me and collapsing at my feet, forcing me to either trip over him or stop to pet him...

But interestingly, about 5 or 6 weeks ago, I'd step outside the house and he would run away from me like he had never seen me before! After a few instances of that I realized it was a different cat with identical markings. Unfortunately, this one was in bad shape, skin and bones, just covered with mats of dirty fur, with clumps of mud and poop hanging off his tail. But occasionally, Spatz and the new one would be there at the same time and the resemblance was amazing. I've never heard of identical twins of the feline persuasion, but this was what appeared to be going on. So we called the new beat-up one Spitz to go with Spatz... After a few weeks of feeding, he allowed me to pet him, first as he was eating, then as a prelude to food, finally, whenever I wanted. He had a full-body mat along his back that was doing the same thing that Donald Trump's hair does in a breeze - sticking up in the front. Well, I grabbed it and jerked him up off the ground a few times and got this full-length pelt a good 14" long off of him! It was quite amazing, particularly when he didn't run and hide - for another week I was cleaning him up a little each session, clumps of fur still decorating the front of our house. He was obviously enjoying how much better it felt with the mats gone.

A couple weeks ago, another feral we'd been feeding off-and-on for a couple years, Big Tuna, showed up dead on our doorstep one morning. He had been doing poorly in recent weeks, but I was careful to look out for him and make sure he got food whenever he came by... It made me feel guilty we'd never had him to the vet for some TLC. So I made a pledge to get Spitz in to get looked at. That was last week, and yesterday he was back at the vet to get nearly all his teeth pulled. That was one of his issues, why he didn't clean up his fur as his mouth hurt so much. He is already working on his coat... Telling this story at work, pictures were requested, so at left are a couple shots Melinda took of me holding Spitz with her iPhone. He is still a little rough around the edges, but as much as he eats, he'll bulk up pretty fast. He has a chronic tongue sticking out, and his nose appears to have an infected mosquito bite, according to the vet. And oh yea - he is FIV+, so precautions will be taken not to infect the other cats, but with most of his teeth missing, bites won't be too big an issue. He is already living in the cage in the living room for the other cats to get used to him... And as for Spatz - he was outside tonight, so picked him up and brought him in for a comparison picture. Compared to Spitz he is a sleek, muscular athlete, and also needs a neuter job. BTW, Spitz was already neutered, with his ear clipped - there are some organizations that trap strays, neuter and release, and the clipped ear indicates this was done. Anyway, the Spatz picture is at right.

So assuming all goes well with Spitz, Spatz is next on the list to get a trip to the vet, checked out, neutered and moved inside. It will be nice to get to the point where we're not putting food out for the ferals, but there seems to be an endless supply...

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