Jun 12, 2010

R.I.P. Tabbico, Beautiful Feral Cat

Tabbyco Watches Me
We lost Tabbico on or about May 16, 2010 but I didn't find her body until the other day. She died from unknown complications/problems with her spay surgery. Tabbico was one of the smartest and prettiest feral cats in the entire colony....

Tabbico got her name from her coloring. She had a lot of calico coloring, mixed with some tabby stripes. She also had a little bobtail. I've spelled the name Tabby-co and other ways on the blog, I know. Since it was just made-up in my head it didn't really have an official spelling.

What happened...

On April 27 I received an email from United Paws letting me know that the Neuter Scooter would be in town on Thursday, May 13. I immediately made plans to take in 4 cats... I have 4 live traps, so I do four cats at a time.

I was hoping to trap some of the young unspayed females in the colony, one of which included Tabbico. She was probably my favorite feral cat, in part because of her unusual color and bobtail and in part because she was clearly super-smart and curious about everything. She was always watching me, wondering what I was up to...

Well, I didn't catch all the cats I wanted on the 12th but as luck would have it, one of those cats was Tabbico.
Feral Tabby-co Posing For Picture

Not so lucky as it turned out... I caught one other female, the other two trapped cats were males. But off they went to the Neuter Scooter vet anyway. Bob took them in for me... I've been having a lot of problems with social anxiety so I need someone to help me with this stuff. Anyway, he was first in line, so our cats were numbered 1 through 4.

With the Neuter Scooter program, you pick up your cats the same day. And we did. It was earlier than usual because there weren't as many cats this time. Often the vet does a hundred or more in a day but this time there were only 30 some odd total. I don't know the exact number. So we got to pick them up at 3.

The kitties were a bit disoriented as usual. The only one that seemed completely out of it was Tabbico. But it takes time to recover, so we always keep them warm and covered. By evening, the kitties were getting anxious to get out... except for Tabbico. She was still acting disoriented, kind of half standing up and then falling over.

Still, this isn't unusual after surgery - especially if she was done late in the process. She should have been among the first, though, but I didn't think about that.

The next day Tabbico was just quiet. Not as agitated as the other ferals. But she was also smarter than any of the other cats so I took it that she was just waiting out her time.

Eventually I took each trap back to the location where the cat was trapped. In Tabbico's case, that was just outside a hay storage barn. She was the second of the three to be released. Oddly, she didn't run away like ferals usually do. Instead she kind of slunk away, low to the ground. That was odd and got my attention. I noticed when I put the traps away that the little piece of masking tape with the cat numbers on it said "36" on Tabbico's trap. Odd, I thought, because she was one of the first four cats to register and get numbers.

When I finished releasing the others I came back to check on Tabbico, but I couldn't find her in the hay.

Tabbico didn't show up at meals.

This is not that unusual for a feral back from the vet. It's traumatic for them and they avoid their usual locations, sometimes. They always show up after a few days, though.

Tabbico never returned.

I hunted for her to no avail. Only recently, I took apart one of my cat shelters as part of my search and I found her body there.

Tabbico Investigates

Poor Tabbico. My intentions have always been to help these animals have better lives. I didn't help her at all.

I wish she had never gone in that trap. Yes, she would have had kittens and yes that's a problem. But at least she'd still be alive. As it is, I'm responsible for her death instead. This is the first cat I'd ever lost to spaying. And having trapped and paid for a hundred other anonymous cats, why did it have to be the feral cat I loved so much?

It makes me think a lot about whether I'm doing any good. The whole process of being trapped and going to the vet is pretty traumatic and terrifying for the kitties, I'm sure. And if this is the end result, then it is more like Abu Gahraib or Guantanamo Bay than a rescue project. What am I doing here?

Tabbico appeared many times on this blog, thanks to her beauty and curiosity. But this is the very last time...

Bobtail Tabbyco On Her Throne
Rest in peace, little Kitty ...I'm sorry I failed you.