There is nothing worse than seeing a creature on the brink of starvation. So when I found Satchel on my hike in the Oakland hills, I knew I had no choice but to try to save her.
When I found Satchel, she was walking on the trail and not moving very quickly; even with my dog on the leash, she didn’t run. Regardless, I couldn’t tell if she was feral so I approached her cautiously. Because of her size, I thought she was a kitten.
She was clearly hungry so I threw the dog treats at her. Then I tried to figure out the best way to grab her while handling a dog that wanted nothing more than the chance to chase a cat through the trees and poison oak.
Hmmm. I decided to take the dog back to the car, leave the windows down for him, then head back to the spot where I left her to see if she would still be there. If she was, then I would take her.
No suspense here.
Satchel weighed in at 3.7 lbs and even though she is small, she is not a kitten. Two vets have determined that she is actually at least 1-year old and that a healthy weight for her should be 6lbs. She is currently 41/2 lbs.
After all that Satchel has been through, she remains incredibly loving, playful, and sweet; obviously not a feral cat. She is also very social and is happy to tell you all about her day, what her naps were like, how the sun felt on her back, how she needs more treats, and if you decide to leave, she’ll do her best to trip you up so you stay with her. For a little cat, her meows and noises are quite grunty and deep, very much like Marge Simpson’s sisters’ voices. It’s really funny.
Why can’t we keep her you ask?
I would love nothing more than to have her live with us. The unfortunate part is that Satchel is FIV+, the feline version of HIV. This is not necessarily a death sentence; just like with humans, given the proper care and lots of TLC, cats with FIV can live long and healthy lives. In cats, the virus is spread through bites (often from cats fighting) or from mom to kittens.
Also, a cat that has been inoculated with the FIV vaccine will test positive. There is no way to screen out a false positive result. For this reason, may cat owners choose not to vaccinate their cats against FIV. It turns out our vets do not recommend the vaccine.
We have two older cats who are brothers and are both 11 lbs. They are huge next to her and so far, they have not been happy with this new family member. We have kept Satchel isolated from the brothers but this arrangement does not provide for long-term quality of life for Satchel. She deserves more, especially after what she’s been through.
She needs to be an only cat or live with other FIV+ cats. She has also responded well to our cat-friendly dog. (It’s all about context for the dog: on the trail, it’s fair game. In the house, rules apply, and one of those rules is: no eating cats!) Given enough time for adjustment, I can see Satchel having a doggy companion.
If you are at all interested in giving Satchel a loving home, please contact me! And please forward this info to anyone you think might be interested in her.