Raleigh’s surgery went well. There were no complications, though more was tended to than his neutering. His ears were cleaned out and he was de-wormed. His ragged coat was given a good brushing, and he was also given a micro-chip. His teeth are good. But there were two surprises from his hospital visit. One is his age: the doctor estimated it to be one and a half years, though he may be as old as two. And this was the fellow whose appearance made him look as if he were nearing his last days. Secondly, he has FIV.
This condition is perhaps not surprising to find in a stray, intact male. Nonetheless, it will make his adoption much more difficult, as most people won’t want an FIV-positive cat. When the doctor called me to tell me that a blood-test had revealed the disease, I was told that Raleigh should not be put back in the feral colony. The only alternative might have been euthanisation. But there was another option: I told the doctor that Raleigh would come to stay with me.
That was my intention, despite the nearly impossible situation that would create among the residents already in the cosy apartment. But later that day, I was called by a friend who informed me that after conversation with another acquaintance, the latter suggested that she foster Raleigh. She has a couple of FIV-positive cats already, and is well-experienced with felines. Raleigh will receive good food and clean water, affection, attention and medical care if needed, and his FIV will be taken into account in all things.
So Raleigh will have a good home. It’s a foster-home, and he may never know another. But his life of sleeping rough and hoping to get enough food to last him the day, is over. No more fighting with other cats, no more chance of spreading FIV. He is staying in my bathroom right now, though we hope to move him to his new abode tomorrow.
Raleigh is not feral. In the bathroom, he lets me stroke the top of his head, though he doesn’t seem happy about it. He doesn’t try to move away from me, nor does he hide. He seems rather apathetic right now. He seems less distrustful than simply resigned. If he is used to human touch enough not to fight mine, that means he had a home at one time, a family. He was lost or abandoned, had to fend for himself, and then infected with FIV - probably all before or about his first birthday.
Things look bleak to him now; after all, everything he knew - even if it was hard and unpleasant - is gone. Strange humans are trying to touch him, and stranger cats are sniffing at his door. But his difficult past is over, his confusing present is temporary, and his bright future is ahead of him. He’ll learn that soon.