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PAYING IT FORWARD
One Good Cat Deed Deserves Another

By Gary Michael Smith

I write for Crazy for Kitties not so much for the exposure but to get a message out -- whether it's about helping abandoned cats survive in Post-Katrina New Orleans, or telling Crazy Cat Stories about Boris, Chatgris, and Emory. But most recently I was paid back by a reader from my own city. The email came a couple days ago from an activist, Lise, with a grass roots organization called ARNO, for Animal Rescue New Orleans.

cat on car
Elton Enjoys a Nap Outside

This individual thanked me for writing my story on how two people are pitching in to do what we can to care for just some of the many stray and abandoned animals in a city where only about half of the half million residents have returned. Then she offered her assistance with any spaying or neutering that I might need with my feline menagerie. While I didn't plan on going beyond the food and water stage, I did relate that Elton might need some medical attention.

cat eating
And He Likes His Food

cat looks up
But Don't Disturb Him!

A few weeks ago, Elton, who you'll remember from my Stray Pets story, showed up bloody and weary for his morning breakfast. Being feral, he still won't let us near him so we kept an eye on him to see if he weakened enough to be captured. He had bled out on the sidewalk so much that it resembled a crime scene. This worried us and we were just looking for our chance to grab him and put him in a carrier.

cat side
Elton Keeps an Eye out for Trouble

Instead, his fortitude kicked in; he cleaned himself up, ate and drank often, and within a week or so got his strength back. I still try to touch him when I put down his food and water, but this usually results in dramatic hissing or worse, running away. Wanting him to feel comfortable enough to dine in our backyard whenever and however he wants, I've stopped antagonizing him. While he will pace around and even follow me to and fro in the backyard until I put down his food, he simply does not want to be touched. But, I had an idea, with which Lise helped me.

cat on patio
Elton Likes the Patio

Although I declined the breeding control method she offered, I asked if she had any traps. "Sure, I've got plenty! Let me know where to drop one off!" was her generous response. Later that same day she followed my suggestion and dropped it over my backyard fence. Now, I'll hopefully be able to lure Elton into the trap with some chicken nuggets to get him checked out by my vet.

Even though I don't ever anticipate making him an indoor cat (remember the story of Fuffy), we can still see to his overall health and well-being. I look at it as my responsibility as an animal lover. And the point to this story is to encourage everyone to write his or her stories and send them in. You never know who's reading it and how your article may help them -- or how they may be able to pay it forward to help you and others!

cat relaxing
You can get close -- but not too close!

cat by car
Admire Me from Afar

cat sitting
Elton Sits Just So

More pictures of Elton...

Elton
Keeping Neat

black and white cat
Sunning

Elton
Relaxing in the garden

Elton on bricks
More Sunning

Elton tongue out
So comfortable, my tongue is out!

Gary Michael Smith is the curator of the "Cat Haven of Dante Street" in New Orleans. He can be reached at his website, www.ChatgrisPress.com, which is Cajun French for "Gray Cat."