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Stubby's Tale
By Mike Stanfill, owner/operator of the Infinite Cat Project

For the past couple of years we've had a little black-and-white cat hanging around our house, regularly helping himself to the vittles at our feeding station alongside the usual caravan of other stray cats. He was clearly someone's pet that had lost its owner as he wasn't quite feral yet was very shy around people. He didn't disappear in a wink at our appearance but he never allowed us to get close enough to give him a friendly scrub of the neck, either, which would have been nice. He had a big, round tomcat face and big sad eyes which spoke volumes of some unkindness he'd endured in his earlier life. We had no doubt this was the source of his caution with us.

Somewhere along the line he'd lost part of his tail and so we informally thought of him as "Stubby", sometimes "Stumpy" and he spent most of his time quietly resting in the bushes on either side of the house, casually noting our comings and goings. His most endearing trait was to wait patiently at the end of the walk each morning as the food bowl was filled. Only once we'd gone inside, and the door firmly closed, would he nonchalantly, as only a cat can, saunter onto the porch for his breakfast.

This past weekend we noticed that he'd tucked himself into a corner of the fence near the feeding station and remained there most of the day, which was unusual but we didn't think much of it. Actually, we kind of hoped he was becoming more social with us. After a few days of this behavior we decided to intrude on his space and make a quick inspection. That's when we saw the massive abcess on his right front paw and the great shards of skin hanging from either side of his head.

Though reduced to three functioning legs he was still too agile to catch by hand but I was able to snare the next morning in my Havahart trap, at which point we whisked him to our vet. We expected the diagnosis to be grim but it was worse than we thought. The vet surmised that even with the bum leg he was still trying to fight for mates and took a bad beating as a result from much healthier toms, taking severe damage to his head. After the initial inspection he was deemed salvageable by the vet but the blood test for feline AIDS came back positive, meaning he'd never really heal from his wounds. They put Stubby to sleep a few hours ago.

He wasn't really our cat but we enjoyed his presence nonetheless. He was what we like to say "a good soul" who deserves even this most modest of memorials. In retrospect we should have been more aggressive in managing his reproductive instincts, which would have benefitted him immensely and no doubt lengthened his lifespan. It's a wake-up call that reminds us to put the remaining strays even further under our microsope.

Stubby didn't spend too many days in the lap of luxury but he lived it the best way he knew how and, with our help, left with a full belly. Good hunting, Stubby, in your cat Nirvana.

The Infinite Cat Project

Presented by Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
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