When we moved into our new building last July, we knew we'd need to make an effort to get to know and trust the neighbors. But what we couldn't have predicted was that one of those neighbors would be a filthy, matted black cat! Soon after we began operating out of our 9th St. location, our staff began to notice the cat sitting on the front porch of a nearby abandoned home. The house was boarded up, but it was lifted off its foundation, and the cat had found a hole through which to enter and stay warm. Nearly every morning, the cat was spotted sunning himself on the dilapidated front porch. But despite our efforts to coax him in, he was having none of our advances.
For months, we watched this intrepid cat, who we came to call Emilio. While he wasn't keen on our getting too close, he would allow us to watch from the nearby sidewalk without disappearing into the home. Because of this, we began to guess that Emilio was probably a stray, someone's former pet - rather than a feral cat who'd never been habituated to people.
Early last Fall, we set some lives traps for him, but the weather turned quickly and our efforts to capture him were thwarted. So we fed him over the winter, and the intrepid fellow made his own way through the longest, coldest months of the year. All the while, his fluffy black hair became dirtier and more matted and we could see large, painful mats forming along his spine.
So - once the days began to warm up again, out came the live traps one more time. After just a few days, and with the help of some freshly fried chicken, Emilio was easily captured! Though he was afraid and suspicious, he allowed us almost immediately to handle him. He ate voraciously, glared at us with wide eyes, hissed when we came near and then rubbed his face and head over our hands, pens, or whatever else he could touch. Emilio, despite his fear, craved the soft touch of human hands.
It's now been about two weeks since he was captured. Emilio has had a drastic haircut and is now basically bald. His heavy mats were so dense, there was no chance of combing through them. He had several broken and damaged teeth and had dental surgery to remove them. Thankfully, he tested negative for FIV, a viral disease sometimes found in free roaming cats. Emilio was already neutered, so it is assumed he was someone's pet at some time. But sadly he is not microchipped and was wearing no form of identification so it seems unlikely we will be able to reunite him with his former owners.
We are happy to say that Emilio is now fully vetted, groomed as nicely as we can manage, and available for adoption. He's a senior fellow who likes other animals, he still eats as though he is starving and has weight to gain and fur to re-grow. But hopefully his days of fighting to survive are over, and this lovely, affectionate boy can look forward only to extreme spoiling and soft, snuggly places to sleep from now on.