I am facing a great internal conundrum.
I will start at the start. When I first met Franklin he was at the animal shelter behaving all adorable, he was approximately 6 months old (street cat so they don’t know when he was born) I wasn’t looking for a new addition to the family but he won me over.
Alarm bells should have sounded when he vomited while I was filling out his adoption paperwork. They did not. I took him home, showered him with love, thought he was a docile little lamb. Was I ever more wrong? He had the cat flu. He was at the tail end of the age bracket where it is often fatal. He was so unwell he could barely breathe. I took him back to the vet so many times “fix him, make him be able to breathe” it was heart wrenching to watch and probably not a picnic for Franklin. The vets gave him all manner of medications and said if he makes it he is very lucky but there is nothing more we can do or give him. I spent many nights wide awake just watching him, making sure he was still breathing. I drove like a maniac to the emergency vet more than once for more medications when he was barely moving air.
After approximately a million visits to the vet over the period of about a month and a half (in retrospect this is a very long time so I wonder if he had something else going on as well) he was finally nearly healthy. The vets were impressed with his fighting spirit. I was wondering where the docile little lamb had gone. He was a terror. Adorable, lovable, but a terror. Turns out he is only docile and loving when he is sick. This has been a great indicator of his health over the years.
I realise now I could wax lyrical about Franklin and his life for about 20,000 words, easily, so I may just get straight to the point and come back to his shenanigans another time.
Ever since then Franklin has got the cat flu every year, vaccination makes no difference to him, give it or not he still gets it. This hasn’t really been a problem, he gets a course of 1 or 2 medications and is well again in under a week. But he is now 10 years old and has entered the other age bracket where it can be fatal, old age.
2 weeks ago he scared the begeesus out of me by not coming home in the evening. This is the first time he has done this in 5 years (the last time nearly killed him, a month of living in the vet and he scraped through, a whole other story for the next chapter of Franklin). I imagined all sorts of horrible deaths for him, I walked up and down the streets for hours during the night calling him and looking in gutters for bodies. It was horrible and in retrospect perhaps a bit of a dramatic response. I was beside myself. In my mind he was dead. That is the only reason he would miss dinner.
Around 6am the next morning I was looking for him when I noticed a funny noise. The little shit was under the house. I have no idea how he got in there, there is only one door and it is locked. He was thrilled to be let out (surely I would have heard him if he had been there all night so I still don’t know where he was all night) He was filthy. Runny eyes. His first symptom of cat flu. I hoped it was from the dust…. Wishful thinking. As the day progressed it turned to thick gunk coming out his eyes and one started swelling then the sneezing started.
I took him to the vet the next day. He had a raging case of cat flu and an infected wound from a cat fight (the scab had been there at least a week, she ripped it off and it was gross underneath). The vet said he needed to stay inside for the next ten days, and a ten day course of antibiotics. He needed every day of those antibiotics to get better. This is out of character for his usual recoveries. Now to my conundrum.
Is it the height of cruelty to make him an indoor cat now? For ten years he has known no bounds. His world has been as far as his legs can take him. I want to make it a 2 bedroom house. Here are the reasons why:
- I am hoping that he won’t get the cat flu if he is not out and exposed to the stray cats that live in this area. If he continues to get it it will kill him.
- He is an atrocious fighter, yet persists in fighting the strays.
- He has the worst immune system, his wounds get infected.
- I always know where he is (this gives me greater comfort than it should)
- He has a white nose and really shouldn’t be out in the sun.
- That is all I can think of now.
The reasons it is cruel:
- He has always been an outdoor cat, only has to be home as the sun is going down.
- He hates using kitty litter
- His world will become so small, I fear it will be like the phenomenon where you put old people in nursing homes, they give up on life and they die.
- He desperately wants to go outside.
- One of his favourite games used to be how many times can I go inside and out in one day
- It feels cruel
Can anyone help me make this monumental decision??? I am really struggling. I have kept him inside 5 days past what the vet said. 80% of the time he is perfectly happy to be inside, he sleeps, he wanders around. 20% of the time he is walking from the front door and the back door begging to be let out.
I would dearly love to let him out in the garden with me for an hour or so each day and he can chase the chickens and be his general rambunctious self and then come back inside. But he would be over the fence to freedom in approximately 2 seconds flat.
What should I do?