Each day I walk near two stray cats. For one of them it is the best of times. For the other it’s the worst.
If you’ve walked near the corner of 6th Ave and 11th st., you’ve probably met the Jennyanydots-like tabby that suns itself at the base of a tree or next to the apartment building. This fat and happy feline seemingly owns that corner, regardless of how many kids and dogs pass by. It has a bed near the stoop, food and water, and many friends. I once had a cat who was completely fearful of strangers, so I thought it was really cool that I could walk up to this feline of no fear, and scratch its back. He/she loves the attention.
If you’ve walked up 7th St, above 8th ave., you’ve probably never noticed the small, dark grey stray who spends the day in the shadows of a fire escape in a rare alley between buildings. It sits on the cold concrete, watching but not chasing birds and squirrels that come near. I’m guessing it’s too weak. The joy of being a cat has been sucked away. There’s no hunting. Just being hunted.
From time to time I’ll toss it some leftover chicken, or open a pack of tuna. I can’t tell if it’s a she or a he, but I call her Fantine (of Les Misérables) because she’s lost a lot of hair due to illness or malnutritian. She also seems to have problems seeing. Her eyes are cloudy and she seems to better find the food via scent rather than visually.
I’m guessing the plump tabby has another decade of corner bliss, whereas Fantine will probably just last the summer. I’m not a vet but she seems to have too many ailments to survive a winter without care and shelter. In a way, I feel guilty for not doing more – but I also don’t have pets because I travel a lot for work and certainly can’t take on a special case. And I strangely feel guilty for occasionally giving Fantine food, as if I’m providing false hope or helping perpetuate – somehow – her miserable existence.
If you are in a position to foster a pat, here’s a list of Brooklyn-based animal rescue and adoption groups. In addition, Adopt-aPet.com has a list of Spay/Neuter resources. If you know of other local resources, events and information, please share them in the comments.