The one that came back

The neighborhood kitty whose picture I tried to take a few weeks ago came around again today, and lingered long enough to let me get my camera and take a few pictures that actually came out in focus this time.

Turns out “she” is male, which was quite a surprise to me because he is friendly, sweet and very physically delicate, which are not features I associate with tomcats. He is also not a Birman as I had originally thought. They have coloring and markings very similar to this guy’s, but all Birmans can be identified by their four white paws. All his paws are brown, so he might be a Ragdoll or long-haired Siamese.


He has the potential to be an absolutely gorgeous cat, but as you can see, his coat is a horrible mess. Apparently somebody tried to remove the worst of the mats he had in it the last time I saw him, and they did a terrible job, even nicking his skin in a couple of places. He still has a number of smaller mats all over his body plus one big one on the left side of his face, as well as an open sore under his chin. The poor guy is not getting good care at home.

I had a conversation by email with a friend this afternoon about what I can or should do for this animal, which belongs to my neighbors two doors down the street. He is unaltered and free-roaming, which is neither good for his health nor a benefit to anyone in the neighborhood. He clearly is being neglected in terms of his grooming and probably his overall health as well. Is that something that should be reported to the local humane society or animal control? If this were a dog with the same issues, somebody probably would. Should I?

I called my vet and asked about the cost of having a cat neutered as well as shaved to remove all the mats. They quoted me a total of nearly $500 just to clean him up and alter him, assuming he has no other health problems that I can’t see (parasites, dental disease, etc.). I was dismayed, to say the least. I’m sure the cost is a large part of why he has that awful DIY haircut in the first place, and may also be why he hasn’t been fixed. (Shaving a cat is expensive because, at least at my vet’s, they anesthetize it first. A professional cat groomer might be a more affordable option.)

I’d love to offer to do this for his owners, but I don’t think it’s my place to. I mean, he’s their cat.  As much as it pains me to say it, they are responsible for his care, not me. I know I would be offended beyond expression if somebody came to me and said “I don’t think your dogs are getting the exercise/grooming/health care they deserve and I’d like to either adopt them from you or pay for what I think they need.” Who has the right to say that to anyone?

My neighbors may well be doing the best they can for their animal with what they know, and might not even be aware of how bad this guy looks compared to how he could look. Maybe they have no extra dollars in their budget for veterinary care. They have a right to decide whether to neuter him, and maybe they plan to breed him–he is certainly a handsome specimen. And in all of that, who am I to say they’re wrong?

I feel as if I should do something to help, but the right thing to do in this case is not clear.


11 thoughts on “The one that came back

  1. If it were me, I would scoop him up and bring him to the Humane Society where I work. That may not be an option unless you know for sure there is a ‘no-kill’ shelter. Whether or not the owners know any better isn’t the issue here; it’s doesn’t this beautiful animal deserve to be taken care of? If we don’t assume the right to speak up for these voiceless souls, who will?

    • Our shelter is not no-kill, and I don’t know anyone there.

      One thing I thought of was giving the owners a gift certificate to a groomer, but I’d want to be sure they were actually going to use it before I spent the money. I don’t want to end up being a sucker, either. I’m pretty sure any suggestion from a stranger that they’re not doing something right would offend them, and understandably so.

  2. I’m in a similar position with Eileen and her 5 dogs. They are very neglected, ungroomed, full of fleas, and barely fed. The two “puppies” (about 2 years old now) aren’t even house broken. I really don’t know what to do. The animal shelter is full, and would just euthanize them.
    I was surprised at that $500 vet quote. I just had a male cat neutered, and the bill was $80, minus $30 voucher from the local group called “Paws for a Cause”. Also, we have several feral cats living in our barn, which we welcome because without them we’d be overrun with rodents. Twice a year a truck comes around — its a fully equipped cat clinic with a volunteer staff, and they spay and neuter feral cats, treat them for fleas and innoculate them for feline leukemia, all for free. They even provide traps you can borrow. Its supposed to be only feral cats, but we saw a lot of pretty tame tabbies when we were there. There must be something similar in your area.

    • It’s very sad about her dogs. Any rescue organization that could help?

      I got the super-deluxe, includes-everything quote on services … I’m sure it could be done more cheaply elsewhere. It’s not the money, though, it’s really the issue of who’s problem this is to address.

  3. I could see taking him in and having him “fixed” but I wouldn’t do the grooming unless you are going to keep him. The main reason for that, IMO, is that he looks like he’d have to be shaved and it is still a pretty cold season. If he were MY cat and needed shaving, I’d be committed to keeping him indoors until summer or his hair grew back, but you can’t guarantee that about his owners. In fact, if you had him shaved, they might not even recognize him and turn him out completely. He would be so vulnerable with no hair!

    I might try feeding him and giving him attention while he’s around and maybe he’ll just decide he wants to stay for good. It’s not stealing if he chooses to run away from home and live with somebody else!

    • I have two miniature Schnauzers, which makes having a cat really problematic. He is a very bold cat and has had a no-drama encounter with both my dogs at the same time out in our driveway, but I’m not sure how that would translate to all of them living together.

      I really worry about this cat because another neighbor of mine shoots and kills wandering cats in the middle of the night, and he has his eye on this one specifically for peeing on his property.

  4. Pingback: The one I couldn’t save | Going Forward

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