Category Archives: In memory of

Tom or Harry? It’s Your Choice!

In memory of all the tom cats for whom we were too late…

“Hi guys! My name is Tom! I was a cute little thing when I was a kitten, well, that’s what the humans used to say. I wouldn’t let them touch me though. I would do like my mother and run away when they would approach and would only come back to eat the food they put down for us.

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Then I grew up and I started to get interested in girls, so I hit the road looking for some. Oh boy! These were the good times! Always on the road going from place to place to meet the girls. Sometimes, the humans would be nice and throw me a bit of chicken, but often they would just chase me with a broom, screaming ‘dirty tom’. It’s not my fault if I sprayed a little, I had to mark my territory for other cats. I used to love visiting the farm: there were plenty of girls and I would drink that nice white liquid; it tasted so good! But I wouldn’t stay for too long and would keep travelling. I didn’t even have time to go hunting during the summers; I was a busy boy! I got into some pretty bad fights though. We all wanted the same girls, so we had to fight for them. Sometimes I’d lose, sometimes I’d win, especially when fighting with the sick cats, they weren’t very strong and would quickly give up, but I got some bad bites. At the end of the summers, I would be exhausted and hungry from all the travelling. So I would just visit all my favourite spots to get some food and rest, and play with the mice a little. But as soon as it would get warmer and the days would get longer, I was off again! Back on the road!

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Then, one winter, I caught a bad cold. Usually, it would go away with food and rest, but I wasn’t very hungry. When the days got warmer, I started travelling again, but I was weak and didn’t have the energy anymore. I found a nice garden with some shelter and I sat there as I was in so much pain. The woman of the house started to give me all types of food, it smelled nice and I would eat a little, but it hurt my teeth and my throat. I could hear her say ‘skin and bones’ all the time.

One day, another woman came with some strange box with bars on it. She put a lot of nice smelly food in it, but I couldn’t eat. Then she poured some of the sweet white liquid we had at the farm, except that it came from a bottle. I forced myself to stand up to have a bit of that as it reminded me so much of the good old days. When I went in the box, I heard a noise. I turned around, but I couldn’t get out. When the woman approached, I tried to fight but didn’t have the energy. And then it was dark and I calmed down.

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The box moved and me with it. Then I heard the strange noise moving objects make. Next thing, there were other faces looking at me; I heard them say ‘Poor boy!’. I felt something stinging me and I dozed off. I could hear their voices though, words like ‘disease’, ’emaciated’, ‘not grooming’, ‘virus’, ‘aids’. Then the girl with the box was back. She started to rub my head. It was strange, I had never been touched by a human before, but I didn’t care. She was saying that it would be ok, that I wouldn’t be suffering anymore and that I would go to a better place (maybe she meant the farm?). I felt a prick and some tingling in my veins. Then, I couldn’t see the faces anymore, I couldn’t hear their voices and the pain was gone…”

***

“Hi folks! My name is Harry! I’m Tom’s cousin. I was like Tom when I was young, always running after the girls. I guess I was luckier than him though as I found a nice garden. The woman of the house would always give me some nice tasty food and would call me ‘handsome’. There were some girls there too, but they had no interest in me. Oh, it was ok, I would wander to look for others, but I would always come back to the garden with nice food, where I could have a snooze too.

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One day, a woman came, she had a box made of bars. She put some food in it. I went to check, but I wasn’t that hungry that I would go in that strange box. Then she put another box out, with more food. It was bigger and I started to feel hungry, so I went in. I heard something slamming. When the woman approached, I tried to run away, but I couldn’t escape. Then it got dark and I heard the noise moving objects make.

Next thing, I could hear new voices and I felt something stinging me. I went off to sleep. When I woke up, I was feeling really strange, a bit groggy and as if something was missing. I saw the face of the woman with the box and again we were in the moving object. When it stopped, it felt very familiar around me. The light came back and I could recognise the garden I liked so much. I ran away, but when the woman with the box was gone, I came back for some nice food. Tasty!

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I went looking for the girls again, but it wasn’t the same, so I lost interest and decided to stay in the garden with nice food. I would lie in the warm sun and if it rained I had a little house where I could stay dry. To pass the time, I would play with the mice. The woman of the house would bring me food a few times a day and I loved it, so I started to run towards her and would rub against her legs. One day, she moved her hand towards me and touched my head. It felt really strange. She kept doing it and eventually I got used to it and I even started to like it. Poor old Tom, he had such a rough life! It’s a pity he didn’t find a nice garden like mine!”

Don’t ignore tom cats; give them a chance to have a good life by having them neutered. By having tom cats neutered, you are reducing the spread of diseases and viruses, such as FIV (feline AIDS) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia). Neutered tom cats will live longer and are less likely to roam, fight and spray.

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To the Unnamed Kittens, Killed on the Roads

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Finding dead kittens on the road is unfortunately a too familiar sight. Each time though, my throat tightens.
This little man wasn’t dead though. The woman who found him said he was trying to crawl, but could not use his back legs. How many people passed and saw him without stopping?
She picked him up and brought him to her shed before ringing Breda, who rushed to him despite being expected at work. Annie and Breda found the kitten where the woman had told them he would be. He was cold, so they wrapped him in a towel and Annie held him close to her on the way to my house. Annie may only be 6 years old, but she knows the realities of life. She handed me the kitten with a serene dignity.
I held him and touched his back legs. There was no response; he didn’t seem to feel anything on the rump either. I didn’t have any hope for him and just wanted to stop his pain. His breathing started to become worse and I guessed I wouldn’t even have time to bring him to the vet on-call in Youghal to end his suffering kindly. I believe this is the most distressing, feeling helpless. His breathing slowed down and then he gave a final, very soft sigh. I was holding him in my arms, close to my heart. This is probably the only consolation, that he didn’t die alone, on the side of the road.
I wrapped him up in a white sheet and buried him in the garden, next to the fern plant. I don’t believe in heaven, don’t believe in the rainbow bridge, but I believe in giving them some dignity when they live this planet we all share.
Sleep tight little man x

Oiche mhaith mo Croí

We constantly get calls from people that have sick cats. Following a process of elimination we determine if the cat needs emergency care or not. I arrived for a trapping last night and, low and behold, the carer had fed the cat two hours before I arrived. The probability of the cat coming around again was pretty slim. I was informed that he had
not been looking well for a while. I hung on a bit longer to see if he would show…and he did. The most amazing tom cat approached the patio, holding his head up high, walking tall with all the dignity he could muster. But unfortunately he was in a bad way. He had a large laceration on the side of his neck. He appeared dirty and dishevelled, and broken. Cats are amazing creatures. No matter what happens to them, what they have to go through to make it through another day, their dignity always remains. He looked at me with the two most glorious eyes I have ever seen on a cat. I swear to god he knew I was there to trap him. I put out the trap and filled it with food. He was standing about three feet away from me, saliva dripping from his mouth onto the ground. I turned to him and asked him to go into the trap so we could take his pain away. He looked at me and walked straight into the trap. I know this sounds silly, but it was the nearest thing I could describe to a spiritual experience. The handsome boy was taken home to the feral shed. Jim transferred him into the hospital cage with some warm vet bed and food.
I brought him to the vet today. Most of his teeth were missing and the others were rotting. He had Plasmacelled Pododermatitis on three of his paws, was covered in lice and positive for FIV.
He went for his final sleep today in the vets. I listened to his heart beat after the lethal dose injection was administered. His heart kept beating for a short while, slowed down, and then stopped. Oiche mhaith mo Croí. Maggie & Jim.Lavernes cat

When we grieve for a Loved Animal

If you are reading this because your beloved pet has died, I offer my heartfelt sympathy. To lose someone you love is very stressful, especially if it was unexpected. Only you know how deep your connection is to your Loved Animal and, the deeper the connection, the more profound your grief. That connection is not gone though. It is possible to maintain it in a different form, throughout the rest of your life, if you want. First, let’s look at what you might experience and what might help you deal with it.

What you can expect

Grief is our reaction to the physical separation from someone we love. It is a normal reaction that is experienced uniquely by everyone. So there is no right or wrong way to grieve (though it is possible to get stuck). Because grief is not really talked about, many people are surprised by the intensity of the pain, for example, and don’t know what to do to grieve. But everyone has grieving instincts that gently nudge them to express their grief. For example, one person might feel the urge to put away everything that reminds them of their pet (for now). While another person might want to keep everything close, as a tangible connection, until their pet’s absence is less of a shock. If you can, lean into your grieving instincts. They will guide you.

It is very natural to experience disruptions in more than one area of functioning because of grief. Your physical body may experience any of a wide variety of temporary changes, from early waking, to increased or decreased appetite, from headaches and digestive upset to numbness or tingling, even fatigue. Your social self might want different things, e.g., you might want to withdraw from others, for a while. Your mind might have some difficulty with standard tasks, such as concentrating or remembering. And depending on what you believe, your spiritual self might struggle with the fact that a loving God or Creator would allow this to happen.

These are all reactions to the shock your whole system has had. Each person will experience a different mix of these grief reactions. And there is no schedule for when they should end. The best thing to do is to be patient with this process and to be gentle with yourself. (It will also help you deal with the stress if you can eat nutritious food, get any kind of exercise and rest as needed. Your motivation to do these things might be low, but they actually help. Trust me.)

Grieving requires actions

Every time we do something to express our grief we inch forward on what is known as our grief journey. Crying and telling your story to others are two of the most obvious, and probably, involuntary ways we grieve. But there are as many grieving actions as there are creative people in the world. Here are some ways that others have found meaningful:

  • Plant a tree or flower in honour of your cat.
  • Keep a journal to allow you to express your thoughts and feelings and to also track the course of your grief journey.
  • While they are still fresh, write down all the good memories you have of your pet, anecdotes and favourite traits in a nice blank book. These memories fade with time so it can be comforting to turn through the pages of such a book.
  • Put some of his or her hair in a precious box or locket.
  • Light a candle.
  • Frame photographs of him or her.
  • Make a donation to an organisation that works on behalf of animals.
  • Volunteer for an animal organisation.
  • Foster an animal who needs a temporary home.

 

There are many other ways to do something that is either comforting or meaningful. Just let yourself do the things that feel appropriate for you. We are all different. This is good to remember when people are giving you advice on how to deal with this big change in your life. What worked for your friend, might not work for you.

Finding support

It is vital to talk to people who can be sensitive to your loss. Even if there is just one person who seems to understand, make use of them. And the online community might offer a resource of support if there is nobody in your immediate circle. As human beings, we have a need to tell our story, usually multiple times. We need others to know what we are dealing with. It is part of the process of making it real. For at first, the shock usually numbs us and we just feel stunned. This is a protective response that gives us time to get used to this change.

Unfortunately, not everyone has experienced a strong connection with an animal and so, cannot understand that it is possible. This may result in insensitive remarks that make things harder for you, at a time when you are least able to deal with them. So, try to be selective about who you talk to about this very personal loss. Don’t feel obliged to tell anyone who asks why you seem to be different. This is not a grief that is universally appreciated as significant, but I can tell you, as a professional and as an animal lover, that loss is loss and grief is grief. We need support when we lose someone we love, no matter whether they had two legs or four. And we need to protect our grieving hearts from the possibility of thoughtless words from people who cannot understand.

Context

When your beloved pet passed away, there were other things going on in your life. Your ability to deal with this real loss is affected by whatever else you must deal with. You could be facing exams or dealing with caring for an elderly parent. You might have a health issue or be worried about money. As human beings, we can only deal with so much. I think of it as a battery that is charged that then runs down. Certain things recharge our batteries. You know what boosts yours. And stressful life events run them down. It’s important to know this as you deal with your loss and figure out how much charge is left in your batteries. Self-care is important all the time, but especially at a time like this. If you make time for the things that feel nurturing to you, it will ease your stress.

Staying connected

It is a common myth that we must forget those we have lost. To grieve someone we must remember them. You might remember your Loved Animal by thinking about him or her each morning as you start your day. You might just say their name from time to time. You might sit by the tree you planted in honour of this tender creature who gave you unconditional love. And though it might sound strange, you could try writing a letter or several, over the years, to express your thoughts and feelings directly to him or her. This can provide relief and there is no reason not to do it. If it feels healthy to you, listen to your grieving instincts. If you are concerned that you are not making progress or you are unsure about whether things are moving in the right direction, I welcome a call or e-mail.

Finally, one of the best ways to remember and stay connected to your pet is to think about the traits they displayed and incorporate one trait into your personality. For example, your pet may have been patient, and you find yourself lacking it. She may have been very loving, and you find it difficult to show your affection easily. Or he may have been compassionate, sitting quietly by those who were distressed, calming them by his presence. You know your pet like nobody else. So you will know of at least one trait that you admired. To adopt that trait for the rest of your life would be an enduring legacy for your Loved Pet.

For more information on grief counselling please contact us.

 

Mr Ginger, victim of indifference

It is never easy to have a cat euthanised, but sometimes, it is even harder than at others.  There may be many reasons for that, our own emotions or lives may affect the way we react.  However, we should live our emotions aside when making the decision of euthanising a cat.  It is not about us, it is about the welfare of the cat and the quality of life we have to offer.  Furthermore, in the short span of time we spend with the cat, we may somehow create a relationship with that cat, create some ties or bond with the cat in a way that is difficult to explain.  This tie will make euthanasia more difficult.

When we received the call about Mr Ginger, I knew exactly which cat was being talked about.  I had trapped a mother and her kittens in that area before and had seen the ginger cat crossing the road a few times.  The description of Mr Ginger’s condition rang the alarm bell and I had a fair idea of what would be the outcome of this call-out.  What I hadn’t anticipated is that the cat would come to me – I could nearly touch him – and look at me in a way that made my heart sink.  Yet, it took a little while to trap Mr Ginger.  He was wary of the drop cage and would move away each time I would pick it up in an attempt to place it over him.  He would not go in the trap either.  He would  be attracted by the tin of food, but could not eat any of the food I put out for him.  Finally, the milk got him into the trap and I just had to release the door gently while standing next to the trap.

What made it worse was that Mr Ginger still wore his collar, the collar he was wearing when he was a loved pet and his owner passed away a year or two ago.  I thought of Mr Ginger and what had happened in his life.  From being fed and petted regularly to becoming just a wandering stray that nobody cared enough about to offer him a loving home.  Mr Ginger must have had to learn to scavenge for food and fight to defend his territory against other toms.  In the process, he must have contracted a disease that affected his immune system.  This disease made him more prone to the severe cat flu he suffered from when he was noticed by the caller, who found him hiding in his mother’s shed and so miserable that he deemed necessary to call for help since he could not catch the cat himself.

As I drove to the vet, I was thinking about Mr Ginger’s life for the past couple of years, about the indifference he had been confronted to since his owner had passed away.  It is that indifference that is the most unbearable…

We could say that he was lucky as he would have otherwise died of dehydration.  He had symptoms of cat flu and veterinary examination revealed that his kidneys were abnormally big.  We did not test him, but Sinead, the vet, suspected that it could have been caused by one of the two dreaded infectious diseases, FIV or FeLV.  How long would it have been before Mr Ginger actually met peace?  For how long would he have been suffering before being relieved by death?  Luckily, he was noticed and was saved from more suffering, but many are not.  Many just keep meeting indifference.

People involved in animal welfare often ask themselves the question “why do we do it?”  We all have a different answer to this question, a very personal answer.  We get motivated by all kind of reasons, which are sometimes difficult to pinpoint.  Yesterday, I found it particularly difficult to do what I had to do with Mr Ginger.  I knew it was the right decision; for his own welfare, but also for the welfare of other cats.  Looking back on the day, I realise that I felt painfully revolted by the indifference he had been victim of until then.  Yet, it is probably because of this indifference that I’ll keep going and, maybe, improve this world in a little way.

To Mr Ginger, 24/11/12

To Leo

This post is dedicated to  Leo, who wasn’t a Community Cat per se, but could have been one.  Leo came to live with me over a year ago, after he was found in some bushes, and never left.  Yes, I was a failed fosterer….  I had promised myself I would be strong, but on the day Leo was supposed to go to his new home, I just couldn’t let him go…

Leo took his place in my house, amongst the other cats.  Weirdly enough, all accepted him.  Leo was a quiet fellow, going about his business; he liked to go out wandering and come back home for a comfy sleep.  It took him ages to figure out hos to operate the cat flap, but once he had found out, it became the door to new adventures.

Leo was killed on the road last Wednesday.  This is the fate of so many cats, many of which will not even be missed.

There wasn’t much more I could have offered Leo.  He got love, he got food, he got a warm bed to sleep in.  Like all my other cats, Leo was free to live.  I’d like to think that he died happy.  

At least,  I know that Leo is gone now, that he is not struggling somewhere.  A kind person removed him from the road, thus preventing many cars from driving over him over, and over again.

Tonight, I am sad.  I miss Leo.  I know he is gone, which is better than not knowing, but the pain is there.  And then, I look at all the little ones who are here until they find a new home and I know I did the right thing with Leo.  I offered him a better life.  I don’t know why we do it; it’s our way to contribute to some better good – or I’d like to think so….  I could have kept him indoors, but Leo was free to come and go as he pleased.  There is always a risk, and unfortunately, Leo happened to be on that road at the wrong moment. 

At the moment, I feel the pain, but I know it will fade away.  This post is very selfish, it is a way to help me to bring some kind of closure, to help me to grieve.  There are so many other cats and kittens like Leo out there, waiting for someone to notice and love them.  I know many will not understand, but our cats are part of our families and we give them, and all the other cats out there, the same respect we would give a human being.

Tonight, I want to say goodbye to Leo. 

So, goodbye Leo.  You were very much loved, by me and by all who met you.  You will always have a place in my heart, but I must keep going on, even if it hurts.  Sleep tight Leo xx

To a little fighter

Your life was too short, but we did what we could.  You were a little fighter and we really thought you were going to make it. You had made such good progress!  But this world must have been too hard for you and you left us tonight.

Rest in peace sweetheart; I will always think of you when I pick my May flowers xxx

The little smallie of the new-borns left us on Tuesday evening.  It happened without a warning.  He suddenly became all lethargic and his mouth turned white in a few minutes.  Maggie tried everything she could, but without success.  We knew that it could happen, but it always comes as a shock.  We actually didn’t think he would survive his first night, but he did and he had grown stronger.  Even though he passed away so young, I still think of him as a little fighter.

I asked Maggie if we could bury him under the Lily of the Valley in my garden.  It is one of my favourite flowers, a flower that blossom in May.  I brought it back from France and it has grown stronger in the past few years, so I think that in a way this little smallie will keep fighting.

Rocky

Rest in peace Rocky.

I don’t know where you came from, nor what you went through, but you looked like you had been wandering all alone for some time.  When I went looking for you after Susan’s phone call, I found you resting in front of a house as if you were waiting for someone; however, this wasn’t your home and you looked so lonely.  You came straight to me when I called you and followed me back to Susan’s house.  You seemed to remember that she was the lady who gave you food the day before.  You were hungry, but had difficulties to eat.  Your fur was so matted that you had begun pulling it.  We put you in the pet carrier and I brought you to Sinead at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic.

This morning, I came to see you as Sinead was going to sedate you to have a proper look at you.  Your mouth was in a bad state; you had bad gingivitis.  Before proceeding any further, Sinead tested you.  You tested positive to both FelLV and FIV.  No wonder you looked so miserable; you were probably suffering and slowly dying.  We relieved your pain.  It was a very sad moment, but we knew it was the nost humane thing to do for you.

I’m sorry you were so sick and we couldn’t help you more.  Susan, Sinead, Amy and I did what we could, but this wasn’t to be.  I hope you felt a bit loved in your last few days.

What pains me the most is that Rocky had probably once been a beloved pet.  He was wearing a collar that had become too big for him because he was so thin.  Rocky had probably been wandering for quite a while as the condition of his coat was the result of months and months of matting.  Until Susan moved where he was found, Rocky had gone unnoticed and had been badly fed.  We don’t know his history nor how he got there.  He had only been in that estate for a couple of weeks and we can only suppose that he got lost and went from place to place looking for a bit of food and love.  If it weren’t for Susan, Rocky would have probably been left dying on his own and in pain.

Rocky is now buried in a lovely spot facing the sea.  He has joined other companions, who, like him, would have been left rotting on the side of a road or in that quiet corner that they would have chosen to die, all alone…

We are just normal people…

Sometimes, I think people believe we have super powers.  This is a misconception.  The people involved in animal welfare are just normal people, like you.  We are normal people, who care and have decided to act to make this world a little bit better.  We won’t completely change the world, but we might help to achieve a small progress and the animals who cross our path will be offered a chance at a better life.  Sometimes, this is not possible, so we relieve their pain.

We are like you.  Most of us have a job or other commitments and we have little money.  We can’t really accomplish miracles, we are not gods.  However, we believe that we can’t ignore what is going on around us and we are trying to take responsibility and care for our planet, which has been destroyed for centuries by human greed, and its fruits.  One can ignore or one can take responsibility.  It is not the easy path to take, but it is a choice we have made.

We are not the only ones.  There are other people out there who care and will get out of their way to improve this planet and it inhabitants.  They are not motivated by the cuteness, but are just compassionate.

These last few weeks have been particularly difficult for people involved in animal welfare.  Emails and calls about dumped animals have become banal.  We are either asked to take people’s pets or the public ring us about the poor souls that have been thrown on the side of the road.  Kitten season is upon us and we know well this is going to get tougher.

However, every so often, we meet people out of the ordinary, people who have decided to take responsibility.  These people could be you, they could be anybody.  Tonight, I would like to tell you about one of them.

Last week, we received the usual call about a feral cat in a garden; except that the call wasn’t that usual in the end.  Martina had been feeding a few cats (along with the many other animals she has rescued), but noticed that one of them had deteriorated rapidly, losing a lot of hair.  She wasn’t asking us to take her away, just to help her to trap her feral so that she could be seen by a vet.  Catching Pumpkin was very tricky and other cats were trapped before her.  Maggie spent two entire days using whatever inventive device could come to her mind, but Pumpkin would have none of it.  The chicken would tempt her, but a soon as she saw Maggie, she would go away.  Each time we saw Pumpkin, her condition was worse and she would break our hearts.  Martina managed to trap her though and she rang us this afternoon to announce the good news, or what had to become the fatal news.  Deep inside, we all knew that we might not be able to save Pumpkin, but we could help her…

Martina said good-bye to Pumpkin this evening, knowing that she might never see her again; she explained to Pumpkin that whatever would happen in the next few hours would be for her own good, that we would try to do what was best for her.  It was a difficult decision to make…

Pumpkin left us tonight; yet, she had been watched over by her guardian, a compassionate human being who had taken the responsibility of looking after her, feeding and caring for her and her companions.  Hadn’t Martina been there, she would have died alone and in pain.

I petted Pumpkin tonight, after she had been sedated – this was probably the first time she was touched by a human as she was so skittish.  She was looking around with her frightened, but beautiful eyes.  Inside, I thought that it could have been a lot worse if someone, Martina, hadn’t taken responsibility.  Tomorrow, Martina’s wish will be respected and Pumpkin will be buried in a beautiful spot facing the sea; she won’t be rotting on the side of the road or in a dark corner.  She will be given all the dignity she deserves because someone cared.

Martina is just a normal person; she is like you – and so are we…

Mr Ford

A call came in today. There’s a cat in The Cat Hospital with a string attached to one of his teeth and his back legs are a bit weak. We went to the hospital to investigate…
 
 
 
A local mechanic had spotted the cat hanging around his garage and had become concerned about his condition. He went to the cat hospital, borrowed a trap and caught the cat, which he immediately brought back to The Cat Hospital. A humane act by a humane man. The cat was examined by the duty vet.
 
 
When Maggie and Jim arrived, they named the cat ‘Mr Ford’ to give the creature a dignity and an identity other than ‘cat’. Mr Ford didn’t have a piece of string wrapped around his teeth. He had a large fragment of netting, the kind used to wrap meat joints, embedded around, and under, his carnassal tooth. It had been lodged there a while because of the ulcers that formed around it due to the constant friction of the netting rubbing against his gum. Mr Ford was walking with fleas. He had intestinal parasites. He had an appalling case of Lice. His hip was broken but was beginning to heal so the injury had happened some time in the past. He had nerve damage too. His bladder was massively swollen and the vet expressed doubt that he could urinate. He tested positive for FIV, the feline equivalent of AIDS, and it was at an advanced stage. He was extremely dehydrated and close to complete organ failure because of the absence of fluids. Lesley had to pump intravenous liquids into him just so that they could examine him.
 
 
Let me put all these symptoms into a coherent story. Mr Ford was born into a feral colony, so he was born with intestinal parasites. The fleas and, later, the lice, would have been a direct consequence of his birth and the poor conditions in which most ferals are forced to live. He would have had to survive cat flu as a tiny kitten, an illness that kills thousands of newborn kittens in this country every season, and would have been forced to struggle for his share of food. His food ration would have been determined by his ability to fight off weaker kittens and defend himself against bigger ones as well as the adult cats in the colony. This struggle for survival with its sporadic availability of food supplies kills off quite a few little ones as starving kittens cannot fight for their share of food. Mr Ford survived this stage of his development and would have been driven away from the colony by his mother, a normal developmental stage, to fend for himself. Somewhere along the path of his journey Mr Ford got in a fight with another cat. He was bitten during the course of the fight, which was probably over a female and mating rights, Mr Ford was unneutered, and became infected with FIV. As this disease progressed, helped along by insufficient food, poor shelter from the elements, etc, Mr Ford began to grow weaker. The opportunistic parasites, both internal and external, would have hastened this process, and the lice would have begun to literally eat the coat off his back. Then Mr Ford was hit by a car. His hindquarters took the brunt of the impact and he broke his hip. The shattered bones further damaged nerves along his back and the blunt force of the car strike probably damaged his bladder seriously so he could not urinate properly. All he could manage was a constant seepage which left his hindquarters constantly wet. Because he could no longer walk on his back legs he dragged himself along the ground using his front paws. The abrasions and torn flesh on his hind feet are testament to that. Because he could no longer hunt due to the shattered hip he began to starve. Somewhere, along this path of Golgotha, Mr Ford found a net bag that had contained somebody’s Xmas ham and the smell of the meat drove him to root through the bag thus ensnaring the netting around his teeth. He obviously dragged himself around for about another 7-10 days with this bag stuck in his mouth, now utterly unable to eat. Then he was spotted by a humane human being who rang The Cat Hospital. Two veterinary professionals and two animal welfare volunteers gathered around Mr Ford who lay on the examination table, eyes glazed from the painkillers and sedatives that had been administered. The vet outlined the diagnosis and then the prognosis. There was an intense discussion and several frantic phone calls were made but to no avail. If we can do nothing else for the cat, we will not let him die alone. That was the mantra of Anne Fitzgerald; it was ours today. A sedated Mr Ford was put to sleep by directly injecting his heart with a lethal dose of barbiturates as the vet could find no vein capable of taking an injection.
 
 
This writer would like to say that Mr Ford’s death made him angry today. But it didn’t. For weeks now we are taking cats to various vets to have them put to sleep for a variety of illnesses and conditions that are so easily avoidable or that would never happen to household pets. All this writer could register today was fatigue made worse by the certain knowledge that in 6-8 weeks time the floodgates will once again open as the kitten season, and this country’s utter apathy to animal welfare, come to fruition.
 
 
I know Facebook followers like to write things like ‘RIP Mr Ford’ as a mark of their sorrow at the passing of another animal. This time I’d like you to do something else. Support the animal rescue of your choice either by donating some money (€5-€10) or by volunteering to work with one. Foster some kittens. Adopt a rescue animal or two. Write or email your local TD and ask them what support they are going to give animal rescues or animal welfare legislation. Don’t  force the rescue people to stand in veterinary surgeries watching as yet another needless death occurs in front of their eyes. Make a difference. Get involved. This is a solvable situation.
 

Mr Ford: the embodiment of unnecessary and avoidable suffering