Moses is a feral cat who’s been hanging around our church for at least three years. I don’t know who started feeding him first. It could have been me, or it could have been Mary, or it might have even been our music director, Chris, who still says he doesn’t like Moses, but who feeds him the most, and who worries about him the most.
For the first year we fed Moses, he wouldn’t let us get within a few feet of him. If we came too close, he’d take off. During a ridiculously cold spell, Mary and her husband, BW, put a styrofoam cooler lined with a blanket out for him, and Chris found Moses sleeping there the next morning. The following winter, they built Moses a wooden house lined with styrofoam.
Over the past couple years, a few of us at church worked to gain his trust by gradually moving closer. In time, he got to the point of letting us be as close as we wanted as long as we didn’t try to touch him. If we reached toward him, he’d bolt. But in recent weeks, Moses has accepted pieces food from our hands, and Mary has been able to pet him ever so gently while he eats.
Moses has always looked scraggly and has been losing weight in spite of a good appetite. This past Sunday, he seemed lethargic and let Mary pet him more than usual, even without food as an incentive. Mary made a decision to try to wrap him in a towel to take him to the vet. He wasn’t too happy at first, but Mary held him firmly and was able to bring him into the parish hall. She sat down in a chair, holding Moses firmly in the towel which did little to block the moisture that seeped through as Moses peed on her. It’s a good thing Mary is patient and loves cats.
We found out the animal clinic connected to a large pet store was open on Sunday and decided to take our chances that they’d see us as a walk in. I drove Mary’s car while Mary held Moses. Even though the vet was dealing with an emergency patient, they agreed to work us in. We waited for quite a while and chatted with others in the waiting room who asked about our snugly wrapped feral cat.
When we got into an exam room, we were told it would still be a while, as the vet was still busy with the emergency. Mary let Moses go and he found a cool hiding place on the floor and drank some water from a bowl. We noticed he had a bad place on his mouth we hadn’t seen before. It looked like some tissue was missing from his upper lip.
After about 30 minutes, the vet came in. She listened to what history we had about Moses, and we warned her that he would not be cooperative. The young, confident woman got down on the floor and introduced herself to Moses, then she calmly caught him by the scuff of his neck, like a mama cat would, (not recommended for amateurs) and put him on the exam table.
Then, Moses let her pet him. He settled down and didn’t struggle. He even purred and “made biscuits” kneading a blanket on the exam table. We were amazed and dubbed her a cat whisperer.
Holding the back of his neck, the vet used a tongue depressor to open his mouth. (Also, not recommended for amateurs.) She said it looked like ulcers, but it could be cancer, and his teeth were not in good shape.
The vet recommended blood work, IV antibiotics, and sub-cutaneous fluids. (In spite of his water bowl at church, he was dehydrated.) The blood work ruled out diabetes and some other problems but did not test for feline leukemia. There was only so much to be done in one unscheduled visit on a Sunday afternoon. But it was a start.
When we went to check out, we were informed that a woman we had talked to earlier in the waiting room had anonymously paid $40 toward our bill! How awesome is that?!
Mary and I each having multiple pets, and wanting to honor Moses, took him back to our church courtyard which he knows as home. When we let him go, he took off for the bushes. I checked on him the next day, and he let me pet him ever so gently while he ate his cat food.