Outdoor Kitty

Jen Bradbury
Sep 08 · 5 min read

Since July, Doug & I have been feeding a stray cat. Since I’m a cat person who routinely feels bad for homeless kitties, this really isn’t all that unusual for us.

The problem is that little by little I began to love this “outdoor kitty” and began begging Doug to allow us to adopt him. Like the persistent widow in Scripture, I continued pestering Doug until he finally relented last Friday (on my birthday) & agreed to make “outdoor kitty” our new indoor kitty.

I promptly put “outdoor kitty” in the garage and made an appointment for later in the day to have him checked out at the vet. Being a relatively knowledgeable cat owner, I asked the vet to run a feline leukemia test before doing anything else.

Despite requesting this test, I never imagined that it would come back positive, which it did.

Feline leukemia really is a misnomer, as it more greatly resembles AIDS than cancer. Like AIDS, it’s a virus that’s transmitted via body fluids: saliva, urine, etc. Though the virus can’t survive long outside of a cat’s body, it’s highly contagious between cats who have direct contact with one another. Because we already have a healthy indoor cat, there’s no way that we can adopt “outdoor kitty” without risking the health of indoor kitty (aka Franklin).

Not knowing what else to do, I brought “outdoor kitty” home & sat with him in the garage, crying as this extremely lovable and affectionate cat planted himself in my lap, purring constantly.

Over the subsequent days, Doug & I called several local, no kill shelters. While some were extremely helpful and even sympathetic, none could provide us with a solution for what to do with “outdoor kitty”. Even those with specific feline leukemia rooms were full.

For eight days, outdoor kitty happily lived in our garage, or at least it seemed that way to us. During that time, we debated bringing him inside and creating a place for him to live on our 2nd floor, completely isolated from Franklin. All the while, I wrestled with my own feelings, unsure of how willing I was to grow even more attached to a cat expected to live no longer than 2 years. Doug said it would be noble to care for this cat in its dying days, but frankly, I’m not sure I’m that noble.

Sunday morning the decision was taken out of our hands when Doug opened the garage door and “outdoor kitty” made a run for it. In the 8 days that he lived in our garage, “outdoor kitty” occasionally ventured outside but always returned, seemingly eager for the warmth, safety, and food found in the garage. But for whatever reason, on Sunday, outdoor kitty left and spent the night outdoors. As we grilled last night, we saw him run by, a live chipmunk in his mouth.

Then last night, as I relaxed on the couch, I heard a ruckus outside and turned to find “outdoor kitty” lunging for the garage door, perhaps trying to get inside. I went outside & let him back into the garage. This morning, I went outside & sat with him for a while & then opened the garage door to see what he would do. He walked outside, looking around, & came prancing back in. So I gave him more food & water, shut the door, & left for work.

It seems that now I’m back where I started, with outdoor kitty living in my garage and with me unsure what to do next. Perhaps he’ll continue to reside in the garage. Or maybe it’ll just be a safe place for him to crash at night, protected from all the terrors of outdoor living.

Regardless, I’ll keep loving him, even as I search for a more permanent solution.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do for right now. And maybe that’s not so bad.