We now had a feral cat in our basement—held in two dog crates, juryrigged together. It was going to be a long 14 days, for us and Hoppy. Reasonably, he was a bit displeased with us, and stayed hold up in his feral cat den the first day. We would leave food for him and leave, and when we returned it would be gone, but we didn’t see him out and about.
His caregivers had told us he only ate wet food, so we bought the best of the best, thinking that during his recovery he should be getting top shelf nutrition. By the second day he had settled in a bit and would come running for food. We started with 3 oz. cans of Instinct. He was clearly hungry—so hungry we started feeding him three times a day. We moved to 5.5 oz. cans for breakfast and dinner, with a 3 oz. can for lunch. He could not get enough.
It was only a couple of days before we figured out that Hoppy was perhaps not as feral as we had thought. He was now grabbing for food through the bars of his cage and allowing us to pet him while he ate. Then the meowing started.
Hoppy has a the distinct meow of a cat who has been drinking whiskey by the bottle and smoking a carton of cigarettes a day for the better part of his 10 years. That coupled with his URI, and he sounded a mess. Once we figured out he was pretty social we moved his crates into our home office (where both of us spend the better part of the day). We let him acclimate in his cage for a day or two before we left him check things out. It was then we realized that the office was not “foster cat proof”—nor were we very confident to force him back into his cage.
Hoppy seemed to adjust to the indoor life rather smoothly…we thought. He enjoyed his cardboard scratcher and seemed to enjoy the pillow and cat bed we left for him. But once we left the room anything soft became a litter box, so we decided his ‘rags to riches’ story may take some minor adjustments.
He didn’t seem to be kicking his URI and we were slightly concerned about his appetite and weight. He ate like a horse, but was still fairly boney. We invested in a cat/infant scale not really thinking through how we planned to get him to sit still on the scale. When we first took him to the vet to have his eye removed on March 4, 2014, he weighed 8.1 pounds. After a full week of two types of antibiotics with no improvement we took him to our regular vet for FIV and FeLV testing.
The good news was he had gained a little over a pound in that week (up to 9.18 pounds)—but he was positive for FIV. It explained a lot. He was still really skinny, so we treated him for worms, thinking they may be the culprit.
When we left the vet that day (March 10) we didn’t really have a plan. I think we were so distracted by the FIV diagnosis we didn’t ask what we were supposed to do next. From my work with Alley Cat Allies I knew a couple feral friendly vets who agreed that FIV shouldn’t be a death sentence. I reached out to them for help.
March 10th vet exam fee – $46, Fiv/FeLV Test – $43, Profender – $14 = $103. Total vet bills to date – $444.00
Ella Putsché is the executive director of Photographers for Animals.
Recognizing the impact and influence imagery can have on an audience to
take action, she founded Photographers for Animals to promote animal
issues and to help organizations utilize opportunities for photography and film.