To read the first installment of the Tale of Tom, please click here.
The first fall I was in the house, I noticed muddy paw prints on my car in the garage. I bought the house at the end of August. It did not take long for me to realize that there were stray cats using my garage as a place of refuge.
That winter, I noticed that the strays were still outside, even in temperatures below zero. It was obvious the cats were homeless! Who in their right mind would let or leave their pet outside in temperatures below freezing? I quickly purchased a bin from the store and made the outside cats a shelter, complete with insulation.
Fast forward to current times. We have been in this house for almost four and a half years. There are now a total of four insulated outside cat shelters and two feeding stations. There were three strays that I call my originals – those were the ones that I saw that first fall and winter of being in the house.
Then, last January, two kittens were thrown out of a truck. I am a permanent remote worker, so I saw the whole thing happen while working. No, I do not spend my entire work day looking out the window. However, when an unknown vehicle drives erratically into the area and does something as outrageous as throwing not one, but two helpless animals out of a moving vehicle, you kind of take notice.
That means that as of January 2022, there were 5 outside cats under my care. There were the three originals and the two kittens thrown from a truck.
On top of all this, there is a dog fighting ring in the area that is using the outside stray cats as bait. They are often spray-painted various colors. The SPCA refuses to shut down the dog fighting ring. They said that it brings in too much money. When I asked “what about the cats being used as bait?” Their exact response was, and I quote, “they will adapt.”
They won’t adapt. They will/are being maimed and murdered.
I reached out to a different non-profit animal rescue in our area that is run 100% by volunteers and donations. With their help, I was able to trap two cats last winter and get them into shelter. They have both already been adopted into loving homes. One of the kittens and one of my “originals” that had been spray painted a very bright green by the dog fighting ring.
That means that as of March 2022, I was left caring for three outside cats – one of the kittens thrown from a truck and two of my “originals.” The rescue knows that I am working with these cats. I am providing them with food, water, insulated shelters, and a safe place of refuge. They know there is a dog fighting ring in the area and that I am trying to trap the cats and get them into the rescue to be adopted.
The rescues have been full. Americans are cruelly dumping their pets for no legitimate reason. Every few months, I reach out to see if there is space to take one of the cats. All through the spring, summer, and fall they have said they are full.
Last week, there was a space available. I had reached out because it looked like one of the outside cats (Tom) had an injury and needed medical care. I asked the rescue if they could take one in, as he looked in need of help. They said yes.
Tom was my third cat trapped and taken to shelter. He was the most difficult. With the first two cats, I was able to get them transported to the rescue within a few hours of being trapped. The rescue just came and got the trap with the cat in it and away they went to safety.
Tom was trapped on Thursday afternoon. The rescue said they would not have space to take him until Friday morning. They had some adoptions on Thursday that would clear up space, plus they wanted to prepare.
I could not leave Tom in the trap for 18 hours outside when it was supposed to get below freezing that night. That would be dangerous and cruel.
I brought Tom inside into my basement. I had to keep him separate from my inside house cats so he would not spread any diseases. Tom was one of my originals I had been caring for 4.5 years. He was an intact male. Who knows what fleas/ticks/diseases he had.
So I brought the cat trap into the basement where he would be heated and not freeze in the trap overnight. I felt bad about him being in a little trap for so long, so I transferred him to a dog cage complete with blankets, cat pan, food and water. I thought he would be more comfortable that way for the 18 hour wait until the rescue was able to take him in.
The rescue saga completely fell apart Friday morning when I was unable to transfer Tom from the dog cage to a cat carrier. He escaped me.
To make a long story short, he spent the entire day (over 12 hours) in my basement hiding. I had to reset the trap to trap him again in the basement. I honestly did not think I would be able to trap him a second time. Tom is smart and Tom is hardy to have survived life outside for as long as he did through many winters of below zero weather.
Surprisingly, I did trap Tom a second time. I was not stupid enough to try any more transfers. I left him in the trap. He was in the trap for over 12 hours before he was taken into rescue. That is the exact situation I was trying to avoid from the beginning, but I learned the hard way, that situation was unavoidable.
The rescue worker came to help me get him out of the basement, as he was too strong for me. We almost lost him a second time trying to get him into the car to take to rescue.
I am happy to report that Tom is at the rescue. He has heat, food, water, love and medical care for the rest of his life. He has been seen by the veterinarian. They estimate he is over 10 years old (a senior). He has dental issues and is indeed an intact male. He has injuries which are most likely from the dog fighting ring.
Whether he is adopted into a living home or not, the rescue has assured me that he has a space there as one of their “forever residents” if need be. Never again will Tom be outside when it is 30 degrees below zero outside. He will get the medical and dental care he needs. He will be neutered.
Rescuing Tom was heartbreaking as he was one of my “originals.” I had provided care for him as a stray for 4.5 years. But honestly, what Tom needs is a loving home. I am so glad he was taken into rescue where he will receive the care he so desperately needs and deserves.
This means that right now I am left caring for two outside cats.
There is Kenny, who I am guessing to be about 1-2 years old. Kenny is one of the kittens that was thrown out of a truck last winter. Kenny pretty much lives in my garage. He sleeps in one of the insulated shelters. I have a snuggle safe heat disc I use to help him through the winter. I see him every morning when I take food outside. He then goes about his day. I see him every night when I bring the food dishes inside and reheat his heat disc. He sleeps in the insulated shelter.
I can tell Kenny misses Tom. They would both be there for breakfast in the morning. I would see Kenny and Tom playing together and grooming each other. It was almost as if “grandpa” Tom had taken kitten Kenny under his wing.
The second outdoor cat still left is one of my originals. Flower is very elusive. She was thrown out of the house next door. The people in that house have since moved and new people live there. Flower is the cat I saw last winter with a broken leg. She is the first one I tried to trap to be able to get her to medical care. I was not able to trap her. I have a feeling that Flower may be the last cat trapped. She is the most skittish of all the outside cats.
Even Tom was able to get on a feeding schedule after about four years. Flower truly comes and goes as she pleases. She is scared of other cats and all humans. I sometimes go days without seeing Flower.
My goal is to get Kenny and Flower into the shelter also. It’s hard because the shelters are so full. I’m really hoping I can get them both into the shelter for medical care and adoption within the next two years. We will see. It all depends on when the rescue has room to take more.
For now, the Tale of Tom has a happy ending. Tom is right where he needs to be. He is receiving medical care, food, water, heat and love from all of the dedicated volunteers who take care of the cats twice daily.
Good luck on this next part of your journey, Tom. I love you and I miss you.