Last fall, when we were in the thick of dealing with Augie’s recent death and Simon’s near-fatal illness, we were exhausted, grieving, and really couldn’t handle one.more.thing. to deal with. Enter Todd.
Todd came up to our house one day, hungry and wounded. He looked like he had been shot with a bb gun. With our hands more than full with caring for Simon, and making sure our other kitties stayed healthy, we still had to help this sweet boy. We took him to the vet and had his wound treated and brought him home to start an antibiotic. We set him up on our front porch, with a little house and heated pad to sleep on. He repaid us with love and this sweet face.
It really struck us how much he looked like Augie, our five-month-old kitten that we had just lost. If Augie had had a chance to grow up, he would have looked identical to Todd. We didn’t think this was a random coincidence. God sent Todd to us. Even though we have many other cats to care for, God knew we could and would take care of sweet Todd. We still played around with the idea of adopting him out, but we were so overwhelmed with the other stuff that was happening at the time, we put out a few feelers with some local animal rescue people, but no one came forward to adopt him.
More time passed, and we grew more attached to Todd. In mid-January, Todd disappeared. This was abnormal for him, as he was so happy with us and stayed on the porch or in our little strip of woods next to the house, at all times. He was definitely someone’s cat, very sweet and tame, and had been neutered. So he wanted people. He wanted us. So when he disappeared, we got really worried. He was gone for about two days and we decided to put up fliers around the neighborhood, in the hopes that someone had seen him or had him. We thought that maybe he had just gone back home, although when he had first arrived, we had been unable to locate an owner for him.
Days passed. Then, five days after Todd left, Brian got a phone call. It was a Saturday morning. A teenage boy told Brian that he had seen the flier and thought that the cat on it might be trapped under his parents’ house, in the crawlspace. We went immediately to their house, which was only on the next street over from us. We went under the house and sure enough, there was Todd. Cold, hungry, scared. I picked him up and he clung to me. It was then, at that moment, that I whispered to him, “You are mine.” There was no way, after that, that I could give him up. Brian and I already loved him so much by this point. And we couldn’t bear to put him through breaking his attachment to us and having to bond with new people. He had already been through so much, and we wanted him to feel safe and loved. But we were about to be dealt another blow.
We wanted to transition Todd to come inside, but after dealing with a deadly virus for a few months, one that could live up to a year in the house, we needed to get Todd vaccinated. We took him to the vet for his shots, and had him tested for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus, or AIDS), and the result was positive. We were devastated. FIV is not an immediate death sentence, and cats that have it can still live long, healthy lives. But it is transmittable to other cats through fights or biting, and our Todd was a bit of a biter. So we knew we could not integrate him into our multi-cat household. Again, the idea of adopting him out to someone who only had FIV+ cats became our only option.
After researching, we discovered that the snap test that was done on Todd at the vet’s office had a pretty substantial failure rate, and that the vet may have not left Todd’s blood sample out long enough to get to the proper temperature before testing. Another possibility was that Todd may had already been vaccinated for FIV and the snap test isn’t sensitive enough to tell whether it’s picking up actual virus, or just vaccination antibodies. Those things prompted us to take Todd to a vet who could perform an actual send-out lab test to double-check. This test would tell us for sure.
We took him for the test, LOVED the vet, and waited. And waited. For a week. Finally, I called to check on the results, and they had just gotten them in. FIV NEGATIVE. NEGATIVE!!! So he had gotten a false positive result on the snap test at the other vet. We were overjoyed. Since we were in the middle of getting Todd his vaccination series, we didn’t want him running off again, and he couldn’t come into the house until he was fully protected, he lived in our outside semi-feral cat pen for about six weeks. Finally, a couple weeks ago, we brought him inside. That same night, the first night he was in, was the night of the storm and the tree. But we won’t hold that against him. 🙂