Back in the fall, my little grey cat Timmy jumped off my balcony and got lost for 3 horrible weeks. It was a misery for me and I think also for him. He’s shown zero interest in going out on the balcony since.
While he was out, I would walk the neighborhood calling, holding an open can of smelly catfood. That’s how I met FC (FeralCat). FC owned the backyard of this apartment building. And lived under the box truck that is permanently parked in the parking lot that abuts the yard. After my fruitless wandering I would end up putting down the food for FC, because the cat was following me.
I am normally not a proponent of feeding feral cats. Wild animal populations tend to equalize to the available resources and when you feed cats – you promote more feral cats. And being a feral cat is NOT a glad life. So while it seems on the surface like a kindness, it’s actually a systemic evil. Groups that feed and sterilize are at least mitigating the problem, but it’s slippery slope.
But once you do feed a feral cat, you have a problem. Because I did it for 3 weeks, the cat was using me as a reliable source of food. Happily, my downstairs neighbors were enchanted by the slow taming of the wild cat and began to participate in feeding it, eventually gaining it’s trust and letting in/out of their apartment during the cold winter days/nights.
They had never had a cat and everything about FC was novel and unexplained. I thought the problem of FC was solved and went happily on with my life. Then the neighbors decided to move. And didn’t take FC. I have a lot of thoughts on people who treat animals as disposable when they are inconvenient, but I will summarize with they are scum. This neighbor was bold enough to ask me to feed and look out for the cat they consciously abandoned.
So now I’m feeding FC again. It’s not been particularly easy on my mental landscape. For one thing, FC isn’t always around when I put out the food. So I have no idea if FC got the food or some other animal did. Last time I saw FC he had a pronounced limp. But will not let me anywhere near him…
And worse – I haven’t seen him in 3 days. He’s feral. Or maybe she. I’m not sure because FC is never so comfortable as give me a high tail.
But feral cats fight. And cat bites get infected and need to be looked after. And now I have no idea where FC is, so I can’t concentrate on taming him and getting a look at that limp.
In my ideal world I would take FC in, all three cats would form a giant cuddle puddle of happiness and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about FC. But reality is not like that. The two cats I have just coexist and are in a constant land war over disputed territories. They tolerate each other, occasionally play chase, but never groom each other or sleep together. It’s not a big apartment. Adding a third cat would easily disturb the power dynamics of the relationship and cause them to destroy my apartment.
Even then – keeping an outdoor cat entirely inside is cruel. But I live on the second floor and there isn’t a good way for FC to get up and down. I suppose I could let him in and out of the front door, but the idea of trudging out into a public hallway and down the stairs to let a cat in and out is borderline insane. Only people who have indoor/outdoor cats will understand. Cats have a thing about doors. Just an insanity really. They will beg to be let out, walk three feet, turn around and beg to let in. And they do this many times a day and night, before they decide that yes, actually the conditions are all perfect for a bit of a walkabout.
So. I don’t know what to do. It’s exhausting my brain at the moment. I had originally thought I would have the whole summer to tame him and consider alternatives. But the limp is really weighing on me. I wish he would show up and let me see him.