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.
July 20, 2016 at 9:42 pm
How old is Moses, do you figure? It might just be he’s getting older; our oldest is (we figure) around sixteen and she’s gotten very thin of late. It could be his teeth, or, if he has ulcers around the mouth, he might have something called “rodent ulcer.” (We had a cat with that, where her upper lip was kind of eaten away.) Give him lots of love and we’ll hope for the best.
July 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm
We don’t know how old he is, but will try to remember to ask the vet next time what she thinks. My Golden Retriever got extremely thin in his last couple of years, so that’s something to keep in mind. Moses’ upper lip does have an “eaten away” look, and I think she might have mentioned the word “rodent” before ulcers. We’re making sure to only give him wet food from now on and always fresh water. Thanks for the info and support, John!
July 20, 2016 at 10:07 pm
It’s hard to get an exact age on a cat, because they age most in the first two years and the last two, and from about ages 2 to 10 they look almost exactly alike. She’ll tell you more…
July 21, 2016 at 12:13 am
God bless you, you’re so kind.
July 21, 2016 at 12:54 am
Thank you, Sarah. Moses has become like a beloved but dysfunctional family member. We’ve been talking about getting him some help for quite a while, but this past Sunday was the first time he would let us close enough to “capture” him and take him to the vet.
July 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm
And God will bless all of you, that’s so kind.
July 21, 2016 at 9:53 am
I hope the results are not scary… It looks like Moses has been through a lot and has been a picture of quiet strength and dignity. It was incredible reading about the person who paid a part of the bill – what a beautiful gesture!
July 21, 2016 at 7:33 pm
Moses seems to be doing well and had more energy when I saw him last night. He is quiet and could be deaf, since he does not respond to noise and does not meow. But he is very observant and does have a sense of dignity about him. Yes, the experience of finding out a stranger paid part of our bill was incredible and wonderful to remember! I’m happy to be able to share that and that it touched you. 🙂
July 22, 2016 at 2:02 am
You folks are awesome. This post made me cry because it reminded me of my patient Joe who’s mother had nine cats, mostly strays. Joe died some years ago and then his younger brother died last year. Their mom had to give away her cats so she could move in with her daughter. I love cat people and I’m happy for Moses having found kindness.
July 22, 2016 at 6:20 am
Thank you! I’m thankful Moses finally trusted us enough to let us take care of him. It must have been awfully hard for Joe’s mother to give away her cats, but I trust they found good homes and knew they were loved.
July 29, 2016 at 5:10 am
She made sure they all went to people she knew.
July 22, 2016 at 3:10 am
Beautiful story, JoAnna. We adopted a cat that adopted us some years ago. It was hit in a car accident and our neighbors and ourselves nursed it back to health after surgery. After a few months it was released, but came back to our back porch, and eventually we adopted it. It was the most loving creature I’ve ever known– curled up next to you when you were sick, allowed kids to carry it around like a loaf of bread under one arm without offering complaint– was almost a human companion at times! Cats are amazing animals, really. Though not all end up quite so affectionate as this one was…
July 22, 2016 at 6:33 am
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story about your wise cat who knew who its friends were. Though I’m more of a dog person, I have been greatly comforted by cats in the past. I think cats are generally easier to take care of than dogs.
July 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm
That’s so sweet. And having the bill partially paid for, that’s no coincidence!
July 29, 2016 at 4:58 am
I think that was the best part, like icing on the cake. Not because we saved $40, but because it reminded us that there are still people in the world willing to help. Thanks for your support, SuperMommy!
July 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm
Awww…bless your heart JoAnna. Sending blessings for you all…and Moses ❤
July 29, 2016 at 4:58 am
Thank you, Lorrie. ❤
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