This brings us to last night. Yesterday, she was in the house all day. She had free range of the house and mixed well with our other cats. But she cried and cried last night to go out and I thought, sure, why not. It's not too late. She will go out; I will call her back in 15-20 minutes; she will come back, etc. All summer long she has worn a pink collar with a bell that someone put on her. Yesterday, I attached to the collar, a tag with her name and our address. I let her out and called her back after 15 minutes, and nothing. She never came back. A few minutes later, I heard the collar jingle and I called out to her but she never returned. An hour and a half after I let her outside, she finally returned home. No collar; a scratch on her nose; and a very wet and runny eye. I brought her in, wiped her eye, cleaned the scratch with Duoxo medicated pads (for pets) and cried.
That was my momentary breakdown. I cried out of fear for her life. I cried because I was upset that the new tag was gone. I cried because she may be hurt or sick and need to see the vet. I cried because I realized she was unhappy with us because we keep her inside. I cried because I don't know how to let her out safely and let her be happy. I cried because I was afraid she was bringing in fleas and disease that could infect the other cats. I cried because I did not have any answers, only questions, and a lot of fear.
This momentary breakdown, fueled by fear, has happened before. I cried like this when Jimmy originally was not using the litter box in 2010-2011 and often during that long struggle with him before drugs, behavior techniques, and prayer brought the problem under control. (Prayer brought my fear under control, as well.) I cried like this in the first two months that we had our first cat, Baby, when she would not stop crying to go out, also; when she would also not use her litter box. (Part of the problem was solved with spaying; the rest with behavior training.)
Momentary breakdowns fueled by fear and frustration, when everything you try to solve a problem isn't working, will happen with cats that have illnesses or difficulties and issues. It's that moment when we are overwhelmed and give up and say I don't know what to do. Nothing works. It's when I said she needs a better home, a loving home, a home with a fenced in yard she can't leave, a home where someone can let her come and go every hour. But how can we give up on her and be the third home she has had in three years? If we give her to the Humane Society, how will we know they will give someone her particular information to meet her particular needs? How do we know anyone would do better by her?
Today I read a local story about a man who dumped his puppy on the side of the road. The dog ran after the truck until it couldn't run anymore. For three days, it waited by the side of the road where it was dumped and for three days locals tried to capture the dog. Finally, someone did capture the dog and took the dog home to join their family. I knew then we couldn't be those people who dump Roxy and hope someone else figures out what she needs. When I woke this morning, that's when I realized that I had been here before-with Baby and Jimmy-at this place full of doubt, fear, and lack of answers. I found the answers then, and I knew I could again.
Did I want a sixth cat after Myrna died? No. Was the house better off with only five? Yes. If in May when we first met her, and if I had thought Roxy was a stray, would I have taken her to the Humane Society? Yes. But first she had a home; then the owner didn't really take care of her; then she got sick; and then...then it was up to me to solve her problems.
We've taken her in and we are the ones who have accepted responsibility for her care. We must also accept responsibility for her safety. If she had been seriously injured or killed last night, I would not have said "Oh, well. Comes with going out, which is what she wanted." I would have felt responsible and saddened by my lack of resolve.
We will keep her inside because she will be safer. We will keep her inside because she will be healthier. Maybe she needs Prozac to ease her anxieties. Maybe she can learn to leash walk outside. Maybe we can build a pen even if that still would be too confining for her. Maybe this will take a lot of time and work.
I never had a breakdown regarding Myrna's illness. Cried yes on occassion. For long periods, no, and more out of sadness but not fear or for a lack of answers. I think it's because everything with her happened in increments so I had time to find answers. And most of her care was based on meds which were the answer I needed.
So, cry if you need to; have that momentary breakdown but stop after 15 minutes. Don't give up on your cat. The easy answer is to give up. The hard one is to go forward and find the answers and be the best solution your cat needs.