Operation Help Cat ends in failure

Monday, January 24, 2011

Whenever I see a cat on the street here in Seoul the first thing I do is take out my trusty tupperware tin with dry food and try to give the little guy a meal in some secluded area where humans and cars won't cause stress. Today while walking by the temple I noticed a cat that was sitting out in the sun, and got ready to give him some food.

Unfortunately this cat was a bit of a wreck. His face was somewhat disfigured and was breathing strangely, and seemed to have pneumonia and no sense of smell, which was why he wasn't interested in the food. To make a long story short, a few minutes later I eventually noticed him half sneaking into a tunnel and thought it would be a good time to catch him. It turned out that it was a good time to get my hand bit and scratched in a number of places. Behold the result a few hours and 150,000 won ($150) of medical fees later:

(that's our cat Goma checking out the damage)

Now, I know what you're thinking. Dave, you're an idiot - why would you try to grab a stray cat you've never seen before. Usually I wouldn't, but there was this other cat in the summer of 2009 that was almost exactly the same as this one...

Summer of 2009: one morning on the way to work my girlfriend phoned to tell me that there was a cat sitting out in front of a building by the Starbucks I often visit. I told her that I would keep an eye out for it, and a few hours later there he was, a grey kitten sitting alone in front of a building. Cats pretty much never sit out in the open like that unless something is wrong, and this cat didn't respond to food or milk either. The plan then was to get the kitten's trust by standing still and giving the squinty eye signal for long enough, and then hopefully bring him to the vet. Unfortunately along came a security guard from the building who looked at the cat and said 먹어 먹어~ (eat, eat) with a wave of his hand, which scared the kitten which then ran away...and into a tunnel behind the next building.

Two days later: the kitten showed up in front of the building again. This time the security guard was nowhere to be seen and I managed to pet the kitten. This time he didn't run away due to being too weak, and it was easy enough to scoop him up and take him to our apartment. We named the kitten Lucky and he got better for about a day, but then contracted pneumonia and died at the vet the next day. Probably not the best name to give him, but I suppose being able to sleep in a real bed at least one day was better than another night on the street.

So that was the thought going through my head today when I saw the kitten about to enter the tunnel - same lack of smell that Lucky had, same disfigured face, same pneumonic breathing, and this time I thought I would make sure that I would bring him in to the vet before it was too late.

One minute later, nursing a bleeding hand and going off to wash it and find a hospital to get a shot against infection, my thoughts had suddenly changed to something more along the lines of ech, I guess little Whiskers is on his own then. Unfortunately I can't befriend a stray cat in a matter of minutes to take him off to the vet, and given that nine out of ten times an unwanted grabbing from behind is probably an attack in the animal world, the cat reacted in a way that made perfect sense. So sometimes Operation Help Cat ends in failure.

But sometimes Operation Help Cat turns out to be a grand success.

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