So I tried to rescue and keep a stray cat. When my sister and I took him to the vet, we had to put him down. I'm (still) really sad about it (it's been about a week since we put him down). I've been trying to talk to people about it a little bit but they don't really understand. They joke about it or change subjects quickly and I just wanted to post about it for moral support, or advice or something like that. Anyway, here's the story:
I live in a rented house with my sister and 2 other roommates. Before I moved in, they had other people there (It's been kind of a revolving door kind of place, I'm like the 7th person that's lived there in the period of a few years). My sister has been there for about 2 years. I moved in around January of this year. An orange stray cat came around every few weeks, and my sisters boyfriend (who also lived there) would feed him. My sister said that the people that were there before fed him sometimes. They also named the cat "Billy," which I think is cute and that's what we always called him. He looked pretty rough. He had this big gash thing behind his ear that would scab over and then he would scratch at it and it would be worse again. The people that lived there before kept him in the garage for a few days or weeks with one of those cone things for his head and the wound healed up. They let him go and it got worse again. Every time I saw him it was there. He also had scratches on his face and he just looked bad.
A few months after I moved in, I saw him when my sister's boyfriend wasn't home, so I fed him. When I took the food out he was super-loving for being a stray and never having been around me before. He would do the whole trying-to-rub-up-against-your-legs-when-you-walk thing and he would roll around on his back. I didn't really touch him because I knew he had fleas and he looked pretty gross. He started coming around a lot more, probably 3 or 4 times a week. I got really attached to him, and would pet him once in a while. I really liked him.
I'm moving in a few weeks, and I really wanted to keep Billy and take care of him. I already had my new apartment lease all set and everything, and animals were strictly forbidden. I'm moving to go to a year long masters program, and the apartment is through the university. I don't want to take any chances with that. I tried talking my boyfriend into keeping him for the year I was gone, and then I'd take him back after the year. I offered to pay for all of his vet fees, give him money every month for food, and he would count as my birthday present. I pretty much begged him, but he said no. I asked a bunch of other people too with that same deal. Even though my sister didn't really like him (she never fed him or spent time with him) she finally agreed.
I was all excited and went out and bought a cat carrier, food dishes, litter box, all that good stuff. I set up an appointment with the vet for last Saturday (this was all on last Wednesday). I was getting nervous that he wouldn't come around until Saturday, but on Friday morning he showed up when I was at work. My sister texted me about it, and I begged her to bring him into the garage (where I set up all his stuff until he got all fixed up so he would be separate from the 3 other cats in the house.) She did that, and that's when she pretty much fell in love with him.
When I got home from work, and every few hours, I would check on him, pet him, and make sure he had food and everything. Saturday morning we put him in the carrier and went to the vet. They did some tests, gave him a pill to take care of his fleas, checked him out and everything. Then someone came into the exam room and told the vet she had something to show her. My sister said she knew it was something bad at that point, but I don't even remember that happening. I was just happy and excited he was getting all taken care of. The vet came back and told us he had Feline HIV. I really just thought that would mean we would have to do extra things to fix him up and give him some medicine or something, but she explained that they have to be only in single-cat households, and he could live till he was about 6 or 7. (They also told us he was probably about 2. Which makes me think he might have been a stray as a kitten since he had been coming around for so long). The vet said that they normally advise people to euthanize when they find out they have it, but she would let us think about it for a few minutes. There really isn't any way we could have kept him as a single cat. My sister already had one, and if I was unsuccessful trying to convince someone before, it would be pretty much impossible now that he wasn't healthy. So we had to put him down.
My sister surprised me by crying before I even did. We were both really sad. I just really really loved him, and I know I shouldn't have been so attached to a stray that I knew wasn't completely healthy. I knew that putting him down was something we might have to do. I've had animals pretty much my whole life, and I've never been this sad over a pet dying. Everyone I tell about it is more worried about the fact that the vet charged me for it (It was about $225, which is like a whole paycheck for me. Definitely not an expense I could really afford, but I knew he was going to take money to get fixed up). Of course I wasn't thrilled about having to pay for it, but that's really not the part I even care about it. It's just like everyone thinks it's not that big of a deal. My friends joked about how gross he was.
Logically, I know that it's better that he's not suffering any more, and that I'm helping the other cats out there by preventing him from spreading the FIV and having babies... but I'm just really sad. It's like I captured him and was nice to him for like a day and then had him killed when he was only 2. It's like, why should I be able to make that decision to take his life? I didn't even want a cat. I just loved Billy and wanted him to be my cat.
I don't know... I guess that's it. But thanks for reading! I know that was long!