Monday, February 1, 2021

I just wanted a taco

The new year has been off to an interesting start here in the land of Cheese and Beer. It all started with a craving for tacos. I had been seeing social media posts for the El Rey De Los Tacos food truck in Sparta, WI. They share amazing videos on Facebook of pork cooking rotisserie style, and the cook would shave off dripping slices of meat onto a tortilla. After a year of these tantalizing posts, the boyfriend and I happened to be in the area one day when the truck was open. The tacos were AMAZING!

The boyfriend took this photo for his social media account.

A few weeks after our initial visit, my boyfriend and I found ourselves driving around town. We were avoiding adult responsibilities. It was a Sunday and we both had things we should have been doing at home. I was hungry and we decided to make the short drive for some warm and delicious taco goodness. Unfortunately, when we got there the taco truck had closed for the season. We drove around town looking for a local restaurant to try. We weren't able to find any place to stop, so I suggested we head back to the local Mexican market we had passed earlier to see what kind of goodies we could find. 

We were passing a convenience store a few blocks away from the market when my boyfriend suddenly exclaimed, "What is that?!?".  I looked up from my phone to see a small fluff ball running across the road. As he was reaching the middle of the road, he got hit by a truck. 

The poor baby rolled, then ran across the rest of the road. He ran and curled up in a ball next to the side of a house. We immediately pulled into the driveway. I jumped out of the van before it had come to a full stop. He was small, cold, very scared, and meowing. I slowly approached him. I was so terrified about what I was going to find. I cautiously reached out, picked him up, and took him back to the van. He kept meowing, but within a few minutes started purring. He was very scared and shaking. After an hour, the shaking stopped and he had started kneading me gently with his paws. I could see that he was young. I guessed maybe 6 months. We drove across the street to the convenience store to park, and bought a can of food and some water. 

We knocked on the door of the house he had run to, but they didn't know who he might belong to. We asked the gas station staff if anyone was looking for a missing kitten. We drove around the area to see if anyone was looking for him but didn't see anyone. When I called the local shelter, their voicemail said they were closed and to call police dispatch. We called dispatch and they said that they do not pick up cats. We called the humane society in the town we live in, but they would not help because we were out of the county. They suggested that I call the local veterinarians to see if someone would take him in. I called two local vets and a local rescue. I could not reach an actual person, only voice-mail. It was after four in the afternoon on a Sunday, and I was not able to locate anyone who would help us. 
He definitely got hit by that truck. I had no way of knowing how severely injured he was, but he was drinking and eating. He could walk, but was limping and favoring one leg. I could not find any injuries that needed emergent care. We brought him home to keep him fed and warm and figure out what to do the next day when facilities would be open again. 

The next day, I made phone call after phone call trying to find help. The humane society in the county I found him in would only help dogs. The humane society where I live wouldn't help because I found him in a different county and "out of their jurisdiction". I called two local rescues and left voicemails. The places where someone answered the phone didn't have any space available to take him in. My vet was willing to see him, but was not willing to treat him unless I was willing to take responsibility for the bill. After a dozen phone calls to humane societies, shelters, rescues and veterinarians, I called Tabby Town USA. Marie, the founder, answered the phone and immediately said I could bring him there. Marie called me two days later to tell me that her veterinarian loved him.  They checked to see if he had a chip, tested him for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline leukemia. They also treated him for eat mites, and started preventative deworming treatments. He did not have a chip, and it did not appear that anyone was looking for him. What they found during his exam was a break in his femur, near the growth plate. The veterinarian said that while they could do surgery, it would be very expensive and there was a chance that it would not help. Due to his age, the vet thought that with lots of rest and recovery he would heal well without surgery. 

My intention when we stopped that day was to help. The truck that hit him didn't stop. We were the only ones that stopped. Even though he was scared and hurting, he let me pick him up. He curled up in my arms and purred almost immediately. After an awful experience, he still rolled over and let me hold him like a baby and rub his belly. He is soft, cuddly and sweet. I still cannot believe that no one was looking for this sweet baby. It soon became clear that I had fallen in love. I held him and cried the entire 30 minute drive to Tabby Town because I wasn't sure if I would ever see him again. I did not know what kind of care he would need. I hadn't planned or budgeted to pay for emergency services for another animal, and I still didn't know if he had an owner. But I think Marie at Tabby Town could see on my face that I loved him. She promised to keep me updated on his care. When an owner wasn't located and we found that he didn't have a chip, they let us adopt him. We happily paid the adoption fee, plus a donation. Seeing him get hit by that truck was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I'm sure they would have adopted him to a wonderful family, but I couldn't let him go. After everything that happened, I wanted to make sure that nothing like that ever happened to him ever again. And we brought him home. 

We are now a three cat household. We were going to the El Rey De Los Tacos food truck, and somehow the name Rey just seemed more appropriate than "Taco Cat" or "Purrito".  Tyler (my 14 year old, Tiger boy) and Daniel (my 4 year old, black cat) are adjusting to the new addition. Tyler and Daniel have plaid collars in different colors. Rey now has his. We've purchased some new cat furniture and some Feliway diffusers to make the change less stressful. It might take some time for everyone to get comfortable, but he is home. 

Our new family member, Rey