Friday, June 1, 2012

In Memory of Jasper

When I first started working with Forgotten Felines we would tell people that the life expectancy for a feral cat was about two years.  But as time went by, we learned from our colonies, that this wasn't the case at all.  Donna Best, our founder, who has been caring for feral cats in Sonoma County since 1998 has fed many of her colony cats well into their teens.  And it isn't just some of the cats that live that long.  A LOT of our cats live that long.  In fact what we tell people now is that feral cats living in a managed colony can live just as long as the cat who sleeps at the end of your bed every night. 

Jasper is a perfect example.  This short haired brown tabby boy was living in one of Donna's colonies for well over ten years when his coat started to look bedragled and it appeared as though he was having difficulty eating.  Donna thought that maybe he had come to the end of his life so she trapped him and brought him in.  We anesthesized him, ran a blood panel, gave him a full examination and the only thing we found wrong with him was that he had bad teeth and was getting old.  So we got his teeth taken care of and I offered to keep him in my guest bedroom thinking that I'd be holding him for only a brief time before he was to pass.  (I have a soft spot for the old guys.)  Well, shortly after we got his teeth taken care of, he started putting on weight and grooming himself again.  Eventually he broke his way out of the guest room and joined my cats in the main house.  Then he figured out how to get outside and joined the other outdoor cats.  And this was his life for the past three years at my home. 

In the last year of his life he did succomb to a few other health issues and would always make his way back into the house sitting in his favorite sunny spot when he knew he needed "help" from me.  I must have said to him at least four times "If you're not better by tomorrow, we'll say goodbye."  And by golly, the next morning he was waiting at the door to go outside again.  But last weekend was different and on Saturday we did say goodbye for the last time.  He was feral till the end, only giving in to me when he didn't have the energy to run.  But he lived well beyond what anyone ever dreamed he would and he had a good life.  We talk to people regularly that feel feral cats should be killed rather than forced to lead a lifetime of outdoor living.  But if you asked or observed Jasper, it was clear that he was quite content living the life of a feral.  All we do is make it easier on them by providing food, water and altering, of course.  Even though Jasper never truly "belonged" to anyone or never slept on the end of a bed, he was loved by many and led a good, long life.  

"I miss you Jaspy boy, my little skinny man" - Meow for now,

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