al-Zill, on the other hand, makes me reconsider.
Without a doubt he suffers from neurological damage. Such a feline cannot survive in the wild. Had he not already taken up residence on my patio, what with constant attention, food, water, shelter, and protection, he undoubtedly would be dead.
A simple stretch tumbles him to the ground, his front or back legs failing the commands necessary to achieve such uncomplicated physical movements.
Walking appears sound most of the time, yet even that basic task intermittently resembles frenzied chaos.
Running? Perhaps he can and perhaps he can’t. Sometimes he seems more a fish out of water, a writhing mass of black fur flailing about on the ground, no traction beneath sliding feet, no coordination amongst four legs destined to leave him easy prey.
As I’ve grown to know him, I’ve likewise grown to understand better the once massive wound atop his head, the one in front and at the base of his left ear, the one originally infected and bleeding and oozing puss so vehemently as to seem fatal.
You see, that very wound coincides with a dislocation of his lower jaw, one that leaves his mouth agape and his teeth showing on the left side.
A coyote, most likely, were I to conclude such a thing based on the damage alone.
A hinged vice such as the jaws of most animals creates bidirectional force. One seems logical: a compression between two opposing pieces, a squeezing of that caught in its grasp.
The other? Perpendicular to the force exerted, a pressure shoving the object held away from the hinge.
To wit: Hold a glass in your hand. Stretch your fingers out straight, and then squeeze. You’ll find the glass pushed away from as much as pinned between your fingers.
Large enough to grasp his head in its grip, such a force could explain the head wound and the dislocated jaw, both perfectly aligned with a gaping maw I cannot see.
Perhaps a cracked skull or a tooth pierced to the brain tells the tale al-Zill cannot convey. I suspect as much.
In my quest to leave the city behind, something to happen as quickly as I can work it out, abandoning him in this place to fend for himself with so many of his superior instincts and capabilities crippled by this attack would beg the question of my own humanity, my own sense of mercy and care for others.
What of a shelter? Only a no-kill shelter would keep him alive, for any other would put him down with expeditious cruelty. A “special needs” cat is unlikely to be adopted, they would claim. And they would be right.
In other settings where his problems did not spell certain doom, chances of adoption would fall off dramatically due to the very same issues I’ve already mentioned. Who wants a cat with brain damage, one who has difficulty functioning normally (albeit on a limited basis)? Who wants a cat not always aware or in control of bodily functions?
Would you so readily adopt such a predator, taking him home with full knowledge of the difficulties ahead? How many would?
My soul cringes at the thought of leaving him to such chance, to what destiny hope and opportunity could provide for such a creature.
Nay, poppets, I shan’t wear the spirit’s scars made from that decision. I can’t. I won’t. To bear such eternal anguish frightens me.