A neighbor down the street moved out of their home towards the end of December — a foreclosure situation. They took their horses and dogs, but left behind two cats. So I started feeding them. Same time each day, twice a day. They became accustomed to the schedule and even started looking for me at the appropriate time. They became friendlier, letting me touch them.
Then they decided to move closer to my house. One day as I was walking down the street to feed them, they came running towards me across a sometimes busy road where people drive too fast. They stopped in the middle of the street when the neighborhood dogs — including my own — started barking at them. Finally I got them on my side of the busy road in the woods across the street from my house. Hopefully, this will acclimate them to the sounds of the dogs at my house.
I set them up with a doggy igloo stuffed with hay so they had a warm, dry place to sleep. And put their water bowl and feeding dishes several feet away from their igloo in case the raccoons discovered the food bowls.
Otis has an injury to his right rear foot where it seems he cannot use it, but he hobbles along pretty well. One day when I went to feed them, Otis looked terrible and would not eat. Again that evening, he did not eat. After looking just as bad the next morning and not eating, I took Otis and Layla to the doctor. A blood test revealed they both are positive for feline leukemia. Wow! What a blow!
At that point, the vet pretty much washed her hands of the situation and suggested I put them both “down.” Layla — aside from being a chubby girl — is the picture of health with very trusting and happy green eyes. She loves Otis, always doting on him. The vet explained all the problems of a FeLV+ cat with regards to being infectious to other cats including my own. But I have made the decision to build them their own house in their own yard and let them live as long as they can.
I was able to finally convince the vet to give me some antibiotics for Otis to see if they would help. The weekend was a roller coaster… Otis was hiding somewhere in the woods and only eating occasionally. By Sunday, I was pretty much sure it was time to put him to sleep though I desperately wanted him to know his new home before that happened. I have been building a fence and updating an old dog porch into a cat house for days and still not quite ready for them. I don’t know what to do but keep working towards our goal. I have been telling Layla about my plans and asking her to explain them to Otis.
Yesterday while I was working on their yard, the front yard dogs started barking at something. I looked up and standing there in the middle of the road was Otis — just looking at me. He was hungry and wanted an early dinner. I dropped what I was working on and got him his dinner and his antibiotics. I was so excited… and he looked so much better than he has in days.
Again this morning, he made an appearance to let me know he was ready to eat. And again, I stopped what I was doing to get him fed. He is looking and moving even a bit better than yesterday. And I am encouraged he will make it to see his new home.
It’s a little thing, but it is huge to me… and to Layla. I wonder if she knows.
You can see photos of Otis and Layla in the “the Kids” album in the photo gallery starting on page 4.