I have come across many stray cats throughout my career working with animals. It sometimes takes the will power of a freight train to resist bringing them all home as I am a sucker for cats. Of course, I have given in to this will power several times which has rewarded me with many awesome pets over the years. These animals have all enriched my life well beyond words and forever hold a special place in my heart.
For whatever reason, I was thinking about one of them the other day and how he ended up as part of our clan. It was probably the coldest day we had seen thus far during the winter of 1999 with the temperature hovering around 0 F. It was near closing time at the clinic and the kennel staff were wrapping up their duties as we were seeing our last patients before going home for the day. One of the kennel workers came to me and told me she heard a cat meowing outside the back door. We went to the back door to investigate and opened the door to see what was lurking outside. In walked a skinny brown tabby acting as if he owned the place.
I am forever amazed at the resilience that animals, in particular cats, have to survive extreme weather conditions, especially subzero temperatures. Despite being thin, this cat was in pretty good shape. We put him in our isolation ward, gave him food which he inhaled, and a warm place to sleep. He was quite content and seemed no worse for the wear. We did the usual testing for intestinal parasites and feline leukemia before making any attempts to adopt him. He was already neutered so obviously he had belonged to someone in his former life. He stayed at the clinic for two or three months before I finally decided to take him home. He had been named Wampa by an employee who was an avid Star Wars fan. The Wampa was a vicious creature in "The Empire Strikes Back" who lived in the ice caves. Despite his arrival on a very cold day, the name did not really fit him as he was far from vicious. Therefore, he left the clinic nameless. After hanging out in our house for few days, we decided to name him Buzzer. He had a particular sound he made when he saw you which sounded very much like a buzz saw. His nickname later became "The Buzz Man."
Buzzer became a happy member of the family and spent his life living it to the fullest. He lived inside, had regular meals, lots of toys and play time, and many side trips to the catnip garden in the summer. He even had the opportunity to kill a chipmunk or two who dared pass under the garage door. He was a great cat with no major quirks so it is hard to understand why he became a stray. Maybe he escaped and couldn't find his way home or maybe someone moved and left him behind. A mystery forever. Whoever the previous owner was, it was definitely their loss and our gain. Except for the discovery of a broken femoral head which happened during his stray days, he led a happy and healthy life. We lost him to liver cancer after caring for him for ten years. His cremated remains sit on our shelf with all the other cats (and 1 dog) that have crossed our path. The Buzz Man is missed but his time with us gave us lots of memories to remember him by.
Remember the Strays! Support your local humane association by volunteering or making a donation. Until all animals are spayed or neutered, there will always be organizations to support and stray animals to adopt. Help make a stray animal's life happy and loved.