I have a house-guest. His name is Luther. Readers of these articles of mine will probably not be surprised to learn that he is a cat.
I didn’t intend to take on another foster-cat, but this one was an emergency. When foster-homes are filled to capacity, every new cat brought in by a rescue-group is an emergency. Luther, who was nameless at the time, was a very friendly cat, a stray, who was being fed by supporters of the Lethbridge PAW Society. When they found themselves no longer in a position to help Luther, they asked PAW for help, and the cat was brought in.
While outside, Luther was involved in a tremendous fight, which left deep bite marks on the base of his tail and cuts and abrasions elsewhere. The wounds he suffered caused no little concern to his rescuers. Feral cats are sometimes carriers of feline immunodeficiency virus, which can seriously inhibit a cat’s immune system; it is spread by deep bites. A cat can live a long time despite having FIV, but his chances of a healthy life are reduced, and people are wary of adopting a cat with FIV, especially if they already have pets.
Fortunately, Luther tested negative for FIV. His chances of adoption increased greatly. Everything else is in his favour. He was obviously from a good home, for he is friendly, and not at all shy. Perhaps it did not stay a good home, or perhaps he merely got lost. Was he an outdoor cat with his original owners? Who can say. But whatever his origins, he is, as I mentioned, friendly. He was brought to my house and within a quarter-hour was on my lap. He bumps his head against my hand and arm and loves attention. He’s reckoned to be young, about a year old. I don’t know if he’s fully grown yet, but he is strong; his body feels dense under the fur, and of the fight he was in, he could probably use the old implication, “You should see the other guy.”
His appetite is certainly that of a growing boy. He eats quite a bit of hard food and loves the soft stuff. He of course prefers Fancy Feast, but his litter-box production could be of a higher quality, so he is being fed a correspondingly higher quality food. He was a little less enthusiastic about that, but took to it eagerly enough.
But more than anything, Luther wants his freedom. He is currently in the isolation ward of my house - the downstairs bathroom. He is resourceful in his attempts to escape. The bathroom has a window high up in the wall. One night, I heard a crash downstairs. Luther has a collection of metal food- and water-bowls, and I thought he had tossed the lot against the door, reminiscent of characters in 1940s prison movies rattling their tin cups along the bars of their cells. He had, however, tried to reach the window by way of a narrow glass shelf between the basin and the mirror. The shelf is not fixed in place and only rests on pegs. He had flipped that into the ceramic basin, probably while standing precariously on it with only his hind feet. The shelf is tempered glass, so it survived. It has now been removed for safety’s sake.
The downstairs bathroom is spacious, as such chambers go, and has much that a cat needs - litter-box, food, water, toys, bed - but no window. So in the evenings, I take him upstairs, running the gauntlet of evil cat stares from my beasts, and put him in the back parlour. There, he can have a window, open to the screen, and enjoy fresh air, smells, sights and sounds. But even when I keep him company (or perhaps because I keep him company), he wants to get out.
He has a very strong yowl, and he can be relentless in its application. He was neutered less than a week after he arrived at my house, and this operation has curtailed his crying quite a bit. But in the parlour, he knows that I and the cats are but a wall away. My house is about sixty years old and has large cold-air outtakes grates in the base of the walls. Through them, a person, or cat, can see another room from a neighbouring one. Luther will crouch at one of these and yowl into it, crying like a baby. This does not engender sympathy among my crowd. Tungsten will counter-crouch on the other side and hiss at him.
He does enjoy the advantage of a window, though, and has his quiet moments. Now that he has been neutered, he will receive his vaccinations. Then I will introduce him, slowly, to the resident beasts. Tucker has taken Luther’s advent badly. The others don’t like the new boy’s intrusion, but the roly poly one hisses and growls quite a bit now, deciding that Josie is a substitute new-cat, and hissing at her, too, for no discernible reason. Tucker may think that, as low cat on the totem pole, he has sufficient weight upon his head and doesn’t need more.
Luther won’t be staying, though. He is, I believe, highly adoptable: young, strong, friendly, playful, energetic and healthy. There are other plans for this boy, and I hope for a swift adoption to a loving home. He deserves it. After weeks, possibly months, as a homeless stray, he remained joyful and enthusiastic for human company. May the near future bring him happiness.