Monday, March 22, 2010

Lucky, the story of homeless black cat around Golden Hill and Normal Heights

A couple a months ago, according to the notes I take on my agenda, January 16, a howling cute medium length hair black cat started hanging out around my house. My outdoor house is somehow of a trap for homeless cats, as I place (placed) food for the skunks outside every night, so this guy started showing up, along with a sicker meaner black cat, this guy would howl and howl and meow and meow, so intensively and without stop that we thought it was a little female cat in heat.


Lucky before getting lost, already in bad shape
life is tough for a homeless cat even in Southern California


Then one day I saw “him” closer, he has these 2 little bags by his tail that showed, he was indeed a male, just a howling one, as I gave him some canned food he started showing up more frequently, so the other cat, who was in bad shape and had a nasty wound on his head, this other cat wasn't as friendly as the howling one, and hissed at me before feeding him. They were fighting over the territory, growling and howling to each other, and to join them was Frau Kitty, my rather small tuxedo female cat. It was becoming a desperate situation, but out of mercy, I still fed them.

Herr Gato and his 16 pounds of fear and fur would hide under the chairs inside the house and would only growl from his safe post… Frau Kitty though, who is the smallest of all these cats, barely 9 pounds and really small, like a young cat, was ready always to face and fight both homeless cats and even Herr Gato, like a good woman, she is in charge!

Days came and went by, and the cats somehow started mellowing out. The nicer black cat though would still howl, mostly for food and to call attention and for pets, he really likes to hang-out with people and with cats. While the meaner black cat would just come shortly, hiss, eat, and leave, or hanged out but not so close and always suspicious and scared.

Once frau Kitty and Herr Gato started being less afraid of him and being sort better around him, he would follow them around ALL the time… he really wanted to be friends… in the meantime, the wilder, sicker, meaner cat, would only show up for food and to growl, eat and leave… rarely he would stick around for too long.


frau Kitty, Herr Gato, and Lucky on the front courtyard before
I took him to Golden Hill where he escaped and got lost for 1 week

One day this lovely cat started showing more signs of fights and abscess, infections everywhere and scratches he gave himself surely because of fleas, he was getting into really bad shape! And him being so friendly, one can almost make sense of his howling looking for help.

Anyway, I decided to start helping this black cat, he is so friendly and so desperate for feline and human friends! I put some Advantage on him for the fleas and on Saturday the 13th I took him to the vet, they said his abscess were bad, they gave him a shot of antibiotics and put him on antibiotics for 10 days, they asked me to clean his wounds daily and do warm infusions, I knew this would be near to impossible to do on my own, ‘cause, like a good stray cat, he fights you when you try to do many things on him, amazingly, he lets me pick him up and he loves to be petted, but cleaning wounds, heck no!! So I started the e-mailing and posting on Facebook trying to find a temporary place for the cat.

My old fried Martin decided to help and give him a home for a while thinking of maybe adopting him too. We took him to Marty’s home and he seemed scared to be indoors but OK, I asked Martin to be very careful with the door, we bought him tons of canned food, cat litter (which we weren’t sure he knew how to use) a scratcher and even a cute toy… the same day we left him at Martin’s home, while Marty went to get some dinner, the cat decided to escape through the window screen of the kitchen!! Now he was lost, sick, and in a strange neighborhood full of other homeless cats, all hungry, AND very close to the Balboa Golf course and canyon, where coyotes are known for eating cats for dinner…

I was inconsolable, and that's why I wrote about the 'ironic' turn of events, now that after weeks, I finally decided to take him under my wing and find him a home, and even more, having find him one, he gets lost, and was in even worse conditions! being outside his territory, having to face other homeless cats, and without the food I was providing twice a day for him... It was really sad for me and life threatening for him.


the flier that helped rescuing Lucky, fliers and good neighbors are essential to find a lost pet!

I plastered ALL of Golden Hill with fliers, I felt so guilty with this cat, one thing is to be a homeless cat in your territory and another one very different to be injected with tons of antibiotics, and then left alone on a neighborhood you don’t know… only to make myself feel better about my silly attempt to give home to a NOT neutered and always outdoor cat, I started looking for him every night on Marty’s neighborhood in Golden Hill, which is about 5 miles from my house, every night last week, from Monday to Friday, I went there, my friend Perro came with me once and Marty too, and we walked every alley and asked every pedestrian about a homeless stray black cat in bad shape and a shaved tail, giving them fliers or my phone number… I realized I could cross my arms and seat and cry, or try to find him! Some friends thought I was crazy and facing the impossible, but I realized that the time I spent looking for him, if anything, was helping me feel better about myself, instead of seating at night at home, eating snacks behind the TV or trying to channel the bad energy through a Yoga class, I decided to do what was most pro-active and simple to do, to find the cat! If i didn't find him then the Yoga would help or the TV and snacks, but he needed much more than me feeling OK, he needed help! I walked Golden Hill up and down, the walks and the fresh air while scream for a cat, were actually very therapeutic! I ate some good pizza at Luigi's Pizza with Perro, and met tons of good people who were concerned and offered to call if the cat was seen, also crossed my path with many homeless survivors, both human, and feline, was a strange week, different, but somehow a good one... one time i came across a couple who just saw him 20 minutes before! being chased by another cat down C Street, they recognized him 'cause of the shaved tail, those sights of the cat and the phone calls kept the hope high...


picture by Perro, a shy moon and a palm tree with San Diego downtown on the back, a beautiful night in San Diego reminder of the Black Cat Wild Chase (title ala Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase fashion)

A lot of nice people called, telling me they have seen him! But me living about 15 minutes drive from there, by them time I showed up, of course the elusive cat was gone. I was gladly surprised and my heart warmed up every time somebody took the patience to write down my number and called trying to rescue the cat! I realized how close to pets are Southern Californians, specially people in Golden Hill, where, by the way, saw a lot of cats walking around, some stray ones being fed by neighbors and some outdoor cats

On Friday night, I placed the last batch of fliers, on a couple of blocks north of where he escaped from, the latest report of seeing him was by this area, so I decided this was the last set of fliers I would hang up.

Saturday was the first day since he got lost that I didn’t drive around Golden Hill armed with wet cat food and flash light… I was decided to let him go…

But then on Sunday morning, a woman with an agitated voice from walking fast called me from her cell phone: “I am walking my dog and I just saw your cat on Broadway and 25th! The one with the shaved tail…” I asked if she could hold him for me while I went there, but she had a dog with her… I realized it was useless for me to stop my breakfast coming to drive there again… as I was putting my bread in the toaster and taking my tea bag out of the tea, I received a second call! From a different woman, he was now on Broadway and 27th!!… I couldn’t ignore the phone calls, after all, these women were taking the time and care to call, before eating the toast or drinking the tea, I drove there… with my cat food, flashlight, and hope… I drove very slowly, and walked the area for around 45 minutes; NO cat and no luck again… hungry, dizzy, and with a broken hearth I drove back home…

I had my breakfast and started reading again, it was a dull Sunday morning, cloudy on the skies, and in my heart, I couldn’t believe that so many people have seem him and I just couldn’t get a hold of him… I was again hopeless and very sad... ready to sublimate on the Yoga...

But around noon, another phone call came in! This time, two women from a big house on Broadway have NOT only seen the cat, but the most important part they were feeding him and holding him for me!! They said, that if I went there right away they would be able to keep him busy while I got there… 10 minutes later and against his will he was going into my cat’s cage and being drove back to his land of Normal Heights!!

I couldn’t believe it! When I had finally made my peace of letting him go, he was coming back home… he lost a lot of weight in a week, he was already in bad shape and his wounds look worse, and had new scratches from more fights... I cannot bringing in my house for many reasons, I live in a small studio, if only I had an extra room!! But the only door inside my house is the one for the bathroom, before taking the cat to Martin’s home, I tried to lock him in my bathroom which is very small, and he totally freaked out, being him an outdoor cat and not neutered, also Herr Gato and Frau Kitty can stand him outside the house, but once he’s in, they hiss endlessly and herr Gato even tried to attack me!!

So yesterday, when he came back, he ate like 3 cans of food in a row, he was starving, but also started recognizing all the marks of spray he left behind and started re-peeing all over my front yard, a good thing, in spite of the smell, it meant he knew he was back home, after eating and snoozing a bit with me reading outside and my cats, he went to the alley and disappeared, I wondered if he would come back and ask for food as he did for the past 2 or so months… a couple of hours later, I recognized the needy howl, he was back and wanted more food! His abscess are dirty and me alone is very hard to clean them… but he’s hungry which means is not running a fever or a harsh infection… last night, was the tougher part, I had to let him sleep outside, I thought, well, he slept many nights out, probably his whole life, so at least he’s back to his territory and has eaten a good deal of healthy food, and hopefully feels safe… I left yet another can of wet food for the overnight munchies… at 4am when herr Gato requested to be let out, the wet food was gone, so he, or the other black cat, had midnight snack… I was still curious to see if he would appear this morning…

Today since 6.30am I’ve been awake since Frau Kitty and Herr Gato keep asking for food and to be let out… it was 9 am when I decided I had to leave for work… and just as I was sadly leaving some food for him in case he would show up later, I heard, by now, that lovely howl… he was back!! He ate more this morning and my neighbors know too that he’s back!! He was socializing with Penny’s a white cat who just moved next door…

I called the veterinary and they said to go back to his antibiotics, and to keep him indoors and warm, they don’t understand my house situation when I tell them that is NOT possible for me to keep him in for not even one night… again, there is only 1 door in my whole home and I have already two ex-homeless cats who are not so OK with the animal sleeping in… Martin was our only solution and the cat was so freaked out at his home that broke a window screen… while this guys is not neutered is NOT an option to keep him in…


here Lucky, after coming back home, eating plenty he snoozed by the little water bowl
he drank now & then, I bet he was dehydrated from so many days of little food and probably no water



on this side view, you can see his scratches, he had some already
before getting lost, but he collected more on the week he survived in Golden Hill


I have hope that with love (me and my cats) and my friends help (Perro and Marty) some antibiotics and plenty of wet food, he’ll recover from his abscesses, and hopefully, once healthy, we can get him neutered, and then we can find him a home, I think one, where he can go in and out… probably, he will end up with Martin, as planned, back to Golden Hill… but for the time being, he’s still outdoor and recovering after being lost for a week.

I have a policy of not naming homeless stray cats, but as this morning, I started calling him Lucky, Blackie, and/or Jack… I think Lucky is the most accurate one for him, I only hope his luck continues and he recovers from these awful abscess and doesn't get more into fights... as soon as he recovers, I am looking for him being neutered, that way he won't fight as much nor escape...


herr Gato and Lucky as yesterday Sunday hanging out at the Alley
it's a relief to see Herr Gato remembers him and it's OK with him around!
if you see closer, you can see Lucky's awful abscess on the front leg
he has a nasty one on his tail too


The adventures of a stray black cat and a Mexican woman in Golden Hill and Normal Heights, good title for a noir mystery novel in Southern California, huh?

and I guess if the story has a moral, it would be, if you loose a cat or a pet, do not give up! fliers and word of mouth do work, and also as Tennessee Williams' Blanche Dubois' would say: "... relied on the kindness of strangers." As the ones who helped me find the cat, or as the stranger I was for Lucky, now after many adventures, his friend I've become...
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