Open Letter to Anyone Thinking of Adopting An Abandoned Cat

Dear Fellow Humans,

Recently someone uplifted my cat and drove it away.

Well-meaning but misguided people may feel sorry for cats who wander into their back yards supposedly meowing for food and company. They may rationalise that the cat has been abandoned.

Domestic cats do not respect property boundaries. They negotiate with surrounding animals and landscape impediments as to where they can and can’t go. They are inquisitive, adventurous and free spirited creatures. Most cats prefer to live an indoor/outdoor life and few will handle being cooped up indoors indefinitely.

Sometimes, within their feline-defined perimeter, there may be a neighbouring house. If the reception there is negative, they will avoid the place. Whereas, if they are welcomed with food, then a stop off at that house may become regularly timetabled into their daily doings. Cats are opportunistic. That doesn’t mean they belong to you.

Some people believe that you can’t “own” a cat. I think that is rationalised dribble. It doesn’t take into account responsibilities, such as who pays for the vet bills, who defleas/vaccinates/worms him and when, who houses him during holidays, who plans to look after him in his old age.

I think someone felt sorry for our one-eyed black cat and decided to adopt him. There are many holiday homes surrounding our place and I believe a holiday maker has taken him home with them.

Does he look abandoned cat to you?
The day he came home. Does he look abandoned to you?

He is an exceedingly docile cat. A chatterbox. Originally found abandoned on the roadside in a cardboard box infected with cat flu, he was a starving and dangerously ill three week old kitten. The rest of the litter in the box died, but miraculously he pulled through. He wasn’t well enough to be adopted out by the SPCA until he was eight months old. As he grew he developed a huge respect for food and will eat at any and all times of the day. In fact he asked for so much food that the SPCA named him Dyson, after the vacuum cleaner. Being young, active and part-Burmese, he can put away a lot of dinner and still remain naturally svelte. When we officially adopted him, we renamed him Tyson. As time went by, Tyson had a few near-death adventures and we felt his new name suited his spunky character.

Five months ago, our little black cat didn’t come home for his afternoon snack. That was not particularly worrying, but when he missed his dinner we knew there was a problem. We spent the next three months looking for him. We wandered up countless driveways of holiday homes, poking around their sheds calling his name, in case he had been locked inside by accident. We put flyers into hundreds of letterboxes and at the local shops. We advertising online and updated his microchip details. We looked up trees and searched roadsides and ditches. We received a phone call about a new black cat hanging around a couple of blocks away. We took our dog to track the cat. He actually tracked it within five minutes, but the cat had two eyes. It wasn’t Tyson.

Not knowing what had happened to Tyson was almost worse than if we’d found his dead body. For starters we didn’t know whether to cancel his pet insurance or not. Or whether to give away his food and expensive flea treatments.

Our ten year old daughter, who felt the cat was hers, had the added guilt that perhaps she hadn’t been a kind enough mother to the cat. She constantly asked if we thought he had ran away from home or gone to live with someone he liked better.

He Still Had Two Lives Left

After three months, we tried to gradually reinforce to her that we thought he must have gone away to die somewhere. Perhaps he had been sick and we hadn’t realised. Although she appeared to accept our explanation, she never admitted that he had died out loud. Sometimes we found her crying herself to sleep. She would tell us that he had only used up 7 of his 9 lives.

On Halloween, five months to the day since he disappeared, a little one-eyed black cat crossed the path of a Good Samaritan who lived some 50 km away from us. She said she found him stuck in the middle of a busy road. Going out of her way to find a vet open on a Sunday, she drove a further 80km away across town to drop him off.

On 1st November, we received an unexpected phone message: “We’ve got your cat.”

We were very surprised to find that he was in good condition—perhaps a tad skinnier, but very pleased to see us.

Tyson is best mates with Arnold the Leonberger
Tyson is best mates with Arnold the Leonberger

He greeted us all one by one and even licked our dog in welcome. Then he walked directly to the kitchen, to the spot where his bowl used to be kept and asked for food. With his belly full, he wandered from room to room, rubbing his scent on the furniture and asked to go outside. Well, we weren’t going to let that happen immediately, but after he begged to go out and refused to use the litter box, we relented and hovered over him for five minutes. He spent the night purring on my bed much to the disappointment of my daughter, who would have like him to sleep with her.

Once he has settled in, we will take him for a check-up at the vets, but I really don’t think he looks like a cat who has been on the run for five months.  I think somebody decided to adopt him.

Please people, if a strange cat visits you, don’t assume that it doesn’t have a home.

Tyson may have looked like a disabled pitiful creature, but we have spent hundreds of dollars on trying to save his eye and eventually, having it removed and sewn shut. We spent countless hours nursing him back to good health. He spent weeks learning how to walk and judge distances again. He can now catch rats and mice just as efficiently as before, but he struggles with climbing trees these days. We really couldn’t ask for a better cat. He is scared of birds, particularly large ones and is a clean cat, preferring to be discreet in the back of a garden. He never uses his claws or bites. His only vices are that he meows a lot, demands food all day, and will not be cooped up inside.

The last cat we owned was on a perpetual diet. In order to prevent people from feeding him, he wore a “Do not feed me” collar. There are many medical reasons why you should not feed your neighbour’s cats. We have tried putting collars on Tyson, but he gets rid of them all.

This morning I reinstated his medical insurance, but because we cancelled his policy, he is no longer covered for his pre-existing conditions. Whoever took our cat has a lot to answer for and I am very angry.

If you are going to adopt an apparently abandoned cat, please ask a vet to check for a microchip. They will usually do this for free when they are not busy. Register him as found with the SPCA. Check if any of your neighbouring property owners are missing a cat. Check local papers and the Internet at regular intervals. In other words, do your civic duty. Don’t just steal somebody else’s cat.

People need to realise that it is not only selfish but completely unacceptable to feed a cat that wanders into your garden. Thank you for reading this. Please pass it on if you agree.

Yours sincerely

Ally McCormick

One thought on “Open Letter to Anyone Thinking of Adopting An Abandoned Cat

  1. My grandparents had a cat that would leave for months or years at a time, but always came back. They never knew where she went. There were several other small farms in the are. She probably made her rounds of all of them.

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