Monday, February 1, 2010

Cat Crisis

So this was the weekend of the cat crisis.

Sometime Friday night, a small black cat moved into our front yard, hiding in a convenient nook formed by a jasmine vine.

Saturday, when I went out to take care of the yard, she (or he), ran out mewing frantically, rubbed against me, and generally indicated how happy she was to have found a human to pay attention to her. After all, now that a human was involved, everything would be taken care of.

She was very thin and slightly bedraggled, had probably been out for a couple of weeks. I thought, "Well, ok, she can stay by the vine for a while and I'll see if anyone has lost a black cat."

Problem the first: There are a lot of houses in our area, and no fewer than four apartment complexes within a reasonable range, plus numerous others just slightly further out. No one I talked to had lost a black cat, though several people knew people who might have, and I left my phone number with the manager of one complex so she could contact me if any of the residents reported a missing cat (She rattled off a list of residents with cats, first, though, and the only one who had a black cat had it safely at home, so it doesn't seem likely). No "Lost Cat" posters have been up lately in our area; I'd have seen them when I took the dog out.

Problem the second: Somewhere in all of its ecstatic greetings, the cat jumped up and put its front paws on my jeans. That's when I realized there was something missing; the cat had been declawed. She couldn't hunt or fight.

Problem the third: We have a dog and a bird and three people quite allergic to cats (I am one of them, and could only handle this cat outside and with frequent handwashings), so there was no way the cat could come inside for shelter, even for a short time.

A bowl of dog food and some searching elsewhere, the cat was still sure I was going to solve all of her problems, and I was getting worried. The cat had no back claws either, so she couldn't defend herself from any attack--and there are at least two cats who claim the street as their territory, one of whom is a large, long-haired ginger who sometimes glares at me from behind the same bush the black cat had claimed. He's not at all friendly, but he is sleek, well-fed, and big, and I'm willing to bet has all his claws and wouldn't welcome an interloper.

So when our neighbor told me that the local shelter was no-kill, it seemed like a good option. I spent a night worried about the cat,alone, clawless, and still convinced that these nice humans were going to solve all her problems, and figured, hey, I'd take her to the shelter; she'd be safe there, they could scan her for a microchip, and someone would claim her.

I couldn't get anyone on the phone, no matter how often I tried, but the recording did have the hours and the hours included Sunday, so I gave the cat another bowl of food, watched it eat (to make sure Ginger Cat didn't take the food), and promised her a ride to the shelter in the afternoon.

The cat, meanwhile, successfully charmed the rest of the family, all of whom agreed it would be nice to keep a cat, but the allergies, dog, and bird remained insurmountable problems.

So I borrowed a box off of a friend, and got the cat in the box. This is where things start to go amiss.

Cat very unhappy (naturally), wants to know why we've betrayed her so (mewing very expressive), but it's only a short trip, there are air holes, she should be ok.

Shelter takes some finding--the road is undergoing construction.

Shelter refuses to take cat. Despite the fact that it is in Huntington Beach, it won't take animals from Huntington Beach, and that is final. Pleading does no good. The one person behind the counter is harried and implacable.

Person comes out to look at cat, scolds me for putting it in box ("It's very traumatic!"). This is not helpful. I am given a list of numbers to call.

The National Cat Protection Agency, not too far away, doesn't take strays.

The provided list of phone numbers turns out to be full of wrong numbers and places that also won't take strays or animals from Huntington Beach.

I go back home.

Cat thoroughly unhappy. Person also unhappy. Doesn't blame cat one bit.

I call animal control. They tell me that the only place that will take HB strays is in Orange. I don't think it's a no kill shelter.

I can't keep the cat in the box forever, it still can't stay outside--the busy street, other cats, and the possibility it will now run away from us due to box are all still problems.

I go online and call all the shelters I can get numbers for. Still lots of wrong numbers, no-kill places that are full up, places that won't answer, and places that don't take strays.

Finally, we decide the shelter in Orange is the best of bad options, and get another scolding for putting it into a box (We should, apparently, have a cat carrier on hand at all times, or else call Animal Control to come get it. Why this is better, I am not sure. How we should know I am also not sure).

Cat is in shelter.

I am sad.

It's still the best of bad options.

I really, really hope whoever declawed Black Cat also micro-chipped her, but of course I'll never know.

Anyone got another option should Ginger Cat allow another stray into our area?