Now and then I’ve mentioned my stray buddy Oscar. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you his story.
About 3 years ago, I noticed an orange cat who was out in the most ungodly weather. I remember being angry that anyone would allow a cat out at those times. And I noticed him walking in the woods over my fence, which made me worry about his safety since there are a few coyotes out there. I didn’t think more about it until this cat broke through my window screen one night and had a fight with little old Mouci. Mouci had to go to the vet for this, so my pocketbook and I didn’t exactly love this cat.
Time passed and I came to realize that this cat had no home. It was two winters ago…. the two year anniversary will be next month. I began putting out a bowl of dry food every day, and this cat started to come by faithfully. He had ears tattered by frostbite, a puffy furry coat, and big sad eyes. He let me pet him, and we were pals. I’m not sure why or even when, but I began to call him Oscar.
Oscar came through-out the winter. I worried for him on cold nights, and gave him a blanket to sit on and hot water packs on cold nights. He didn’t use any of this (but a happy possum from the forest did!). In spring I researched where I could send Oscar.
Finding a place for a cat is not an easy task with the cat overpopulation being what it is.
- Animal Services in Pickering are funded municipally but do not care about strays. They don’t want them. They will take them only if they are hurt. And then, if they are upset or scared and are not deemed ‘social enough’ to be sent to a pet store for adoption, they are put down. This is not a good situation, since most cats are older, or scared, or agitated upon being surrendered into a tiny metal cage in a strange place. So many ARE put down – and this is what my tax dollars goes to.
- The Durham Humane Society wants nothing to do with the region’s strays. They say they can only take pets being surrendered. Period.
- There are a couple of cat rescues working in the area and they work hard, but have financial constraints and their own agendas of what cats they will focus on helping. Though I’ve volunteered in raising litters of kittens, none of the places I’ve volunteered for have offered to help with Oscar or take him into their program despite my absolute certainty that I’m dealing with a pet not a feral. (I made up my mind that if I do foster again, it will be for an agency which helps me with Oscar… if any of them do.)
- Further afield, I found a great group who could take him if I caught him, had him neutered and ran all the tests and then delivered him to them. This is a nightmare for me since I can’t take him into my home because Shadow is such a challenge…still, I’d work something out.
Buoyed with this one option, I set about borrowing a trap and trapping him. I fed him a couple of drops of feline calming remedy (like rescue remedy) and set about setting the trap. He avoided the food for 2 days. He avoided coming to us. And then, the one time he half went into the trap, the trap closed before he was properly in. That was it… he was gone. He didn’t trust me again.
I didn’t see him for weeks. I returned the borrowed trap. I went back to putting out food, but rarely saw him. And when I did, he wouldn’t come near the bowl if I was anywhere nearby.
I moved his bowls out to the front of the house since he’d had a fight or two with some neighbours cats who had started to come by the old spot for the free meal. It was getting difficult to feed him and not other outdoor cats, raccoons, and the possum.
I fed him faithfully though the summer, fall, winter and next spring. If I was away, my cat sitter fed him. In winter, I was afraid every time we had a cold snap. I watched the bowls to see if he’d come by and was okay. I bought a winter shelter for him from the Toronto Humane Society. I looked for a place for him to to go, but my options had dried up.
What I learned in late spring was that my neighbors were feeding him. Twice a day in fact. They had once told me they wanted to do something about a cat hanging around – he was a nuisance. I told them clearly that I was feeding him and that he was homeless and struggling to make it on his own. I wouldn’t let anything happen to him, so if they could find a place where he could go, then I would love to hear about it. They took this to heart I guess, and having a cat of their own, started feeding him. So Oscar was well fed, but homeless for another full year.
In summer, without a thought, they moved away. Oscar had been abandoned again. I think he had really come to trust them. Poor Oscar.
I kept feeding him. And still he was wary and avoided me because he was always jittery in the front yard. Twice this past summer I was able to pet him there … a big change. Slowly the tables were turning again.
This poor cat! He has been lost or abandoned for at least 3 years. He has ears damaged by frostbite. He has scratches on his nose. He has big sad eyes. He is a beautiful boy. Surviving out in the harsh weather, in times of lack of food, with no love, and still I think he has hope.