We’ve had a couple of feral tom cats hanging around our yard for the last three years. Between neighbour South’s and our household, the cat population totals six. A container of cat food sits next to the back door in case anyone should wander by. By “in case anyone should wander by” I mean morning, noon, and night, all six cats enjoy meals at our place.
Jimmy D was first to arrive on the scene. He’s a very dark orange tabby, five to ten years old. He’s had a hard life and is quite timid and not at all aggressive.
Mr. Black Cat arrived a year later. He’s between two and five years old, almost twice the size of Jimmy D. He doesn’t mind pushing his weight around. The two have had some very serious brawls, all the more violent since both of them are fully equipped toms.
Even Oscar tangled with the black boy, much to his (and my) dismay. He attacked first, and I expect he instantly regretted the move. I had to break it up. It was winter and tufts of orange/white and black fur mangled the white expanse of snow.
Reiner is completely devoted to the strays, and has managed to tame them. During the winter months, he sets up heat lamps over their beds. They stay warm and dry and quite comfy on an old sofa. Now we can approach both cats and they enjoy having their ears and chins scratched. Mr. Black Cat allows Reiner to pick him up and he has even fallen asleep on Reiner’s lap.
Earlier this year, I decided that it was time to have the big talk. You know, the sex talk. About [whisper] snip-snip.
Reiner demurred. He refused to listen to reason for fear that the animals would hate him. “Sweetheart,” I said, “It’s the right thing to do!”
It’s better for the cats and it’s certainly better for us if an un-spayed female should come by. Besides, there is no way that I will have Mr. Black Cat in the house if he’s not fixed. I know that besides fighting with Oscar, Black Cat will spray and mark the house. Not happening!
Summer came and went and the cold autumn nights had arrived. One day South came over to chat. “Hey,” he said. “If you don’t see Black Cat around, it’s because he likes to hang out in our kitchen.”
That night, Reiner turned to me and said, “You know? I think it’s time to get Mr. Black Cat fixed.”
Next day, I called the vet nearest home, just a five-minute drive away. The technician told me that they would need to see the cat twice. Once for his inoculations and then later for the surgery. There was a possibility a third trip might be required.
“You can’t do everything in one visit?” I pleaded.
“No, sorry,” and she gave me some explanation that I cannot remember because I had stopped paying attention. The procedure would cost the better part of $500.00. That is if we could convince the cat to get back into the cage the second time. I explained my dilemma.
The technician was kind enough to refer me to Haven’s Hope, about twenty minutes drive away. They have a trap and release program.
I called and set up the appointment. For $75.00 they neuter the cat, give him a thorough check-up, his shots, and attend to any other issues. All in one visit. Perfect? Purrfect!
When we dropped the cat off at Haven’s Hope on Monday, the technician re-explained the process. She mentioned that they would notch his ear. As I signed the release papers, we joked that he might not need the notch as he already has a couple of good gashes from his battles with Jimmy D.
I retrieved the cat the next day, right on schedule. Before she brought him to the front, the vet warned me that Black Cat’s ears are apparently unusually thick, and the ear notch is uglier than I would expect.
To say that I am conflicted is an understatement.
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