About a week ago, I was taking out the trash when I noticed this beautiful orange and white kitty that was sleeping under our car in our gravel driveway. He was curled up in this little ball, and he had a fresh scratch on his nose. At first, he didn't seem to know I was there, even though I'd unintentionally made quite a bit of noise, but when I dropped the trash into our bin, he jerked a bit and looked at me. Then, he stood up and loped over to me, meowing. He rubbed up against my leg and even followed me toward the house, trying to get in the door. Of course, Kitkat, our resident hall monitor, was not about to let him inside, so I closed the door and brought out a little bowl of food.
Which, I know. I know, I know, I know. This is how you get strays to stay around. But he was very clearly starved. You could see his backbone through his medium-length fur, and he had this strange gait that made me wonder if he'd been injured.
Anyway, he ate and ate and ate, almost as if he hadn't done so in days, and I just stood there, occasionally petting him and making cutesy voices at him. It was cold outside, and I was basically in a T-shirt and pajama bottoms, so I told him I was sorry that I couldn't bring him inside but that he could come back for food any time.
The next day, right as Three got home from work, the kitty was at the house. Three was just smitten with him (Three is a giant cat person), and he cuddled with the cat after he ate. Then we saw the wound on his leg: something had taken a huge ass bite out of his rear left leg. I couldn't tell if it was infected or anything, since I'm not a veterinarian, but Three reminded me that we couldn't really afford to do anything about it right then.
"Maybe with my next pay check?"
I sighed and nodded at him, disappointed that this poor little guy was obviously suffering. He had adjusted his gait (he walked kind of like a German shepherd) so the other tomcats wouldn't realize he was injured. I called around the local shelters (in our county, there aren't a lot of cat shelters, so it didn't take too much time) and a few vets. None of the shelters responded to me, as they were probably already overwhelmed with cats, and all of the vets were telling me that it would cost $50 just to get him seen. Not even for any treatment. Who knows what that would cost? Plus, I was worried that he had feline leukemia or FIV, and God, what would we do, then?
Then, my lovely sister offered to help pay for a vet visit, and I called up Value Vet, about whom I'd completely forgotten, even though six months ago I took Bina there because she was acting weird (she had a fever and, we discovered, a very sensitive tummy). Plus, they are absolutely awesome and have great pricing. It was only going to be $33 for a visit, plus whatever other services it took (i.e. cleaning the wound, antibiotics, etc.).
So I took the kitty, who Three named Zeus (because why the hell not), there this morning. It was a pleasant ride, actually, compared to Kitkat and Bina who act as if it's the end of the world if they're in a car: he sat on my lap and just chilled the whole way. They cleaned out his wound and patched him up, giving him an antibiotic shot and taking some blood for tests.
I cannot tell you how worried I was about this cat. The whole time we were in the exam room by ourselves, he was in my lap, purring loudly, and even though I'd just forced him to sit there while they cleaned him up and gave him shots, he still oddly trusted me. He was friendly with the vet techs, except when he tried to bite the guy who was cleaning him, but he seemed to just be bonded to me. And I'd scratch his chin (his favorite), telling him that he'd be A-OK.
The vet came back with great news: 100% healthy, as far as FIV and leukemia were concerned, although she did want to get him get rid of what she thought were worms, on which she blamed his thinness. Unfortunately, I had a budget, so in two weeks, he'll be going back for treatment.
When we got back to the house, I put him in the crate on our covered porch, where it's about 10 - 15 degrees cooler, with a little bowl of water and a bit of food. He slept for about two hours and then decided that he wanted to go exploring. Or it's just that he's a stray and being confined is kind of scary for him. Either way, he screeched until I let him out, and then he sat on my lap for about forty-five minutes before trotting on his merry way.
Zeus looked back at me and meowed, almost as if he was saying, "I'll be back tomorrow!" I know that he wasn't because he's a fucking cat, but I can't help but to feel connected with the little guy. It's possible that, like Tramp from "Lady and the Tramp," he has several people that treat him this way, but I honestly don't think so. There's no way right now that I can let him inside, but he's got a nice, comfy blanket on our porch and a plate of food waiting for him.
I have been suckered.