It was a very cold and windy day, plus the tide was very high, so the walkable part of the beach was not more than three or four feet wide. We found a little sea glass, then decided to go elsewhere. Bear in mind this is a very small community, and the main drag is a narrow two-lane street. I was driving in the direction from where we came, to see a light grey cat in the middle of the street.
It was not quite standing and not quite lying. I stopped the car, and we got out to see that it had not been hit, but it was quite obviously suffering. It was nothing but skin and bones, and its eyes were shut tight. It was still breathing, so I went back to the car, got a jacket from the trunk, and wrapped the cat in it.
Our first thought was getting it something to eat, and of the two restaurants in Fortescue, only one was open. My hubs went in and 15 minutes later came out with a rather smelly cheeseburger, which we attempted to feed to the cat. It wouldn't open its mouth. So I had the idea just to leave the burger alongside where the cat was lying wrapped in my jacket. Maybe it would lick the burger.
My sister-in-law opined that the cat had to have been dehydrated, so maybe if we found a vet, we could get some help, at least with that issue. Fortunately, she has a smart phone (I have a very dumb, almost useless Tracfone), and was able to get the number of a 24-hour vet in Ocean View, NJ, about 20 miles from where we were.
She got a bit of a grilling on the phone: 'Is this your cat? If not, do you intend to keep it? Do you know that there's an exam fee that must be paid?...'
This wasn't our cat -- or anybody's cat, it would appear, but I was not going to allow it to be thrown out, so I guess it could be considered our cat.
I was a little anxious what our reception might be once we got there. Would it be 'Ugh, get that awful thing out of here. We can't help.' Or would the vet's eyes light up, with the thought 'kaCHING!!'
To say that the people at the Ocean View Veterinary Hospital are kind and caring is a huge understatement. I have never encountered a vet who was so very kind and so determined to help, and who appeared to have no interest in picking our pockets.
We had to fill out some paper work, including the cat's name. My husband's idea was to name it 'Fortescue.' Fortescue the cat turned out to be a little girl.
The exam showed that she was ridden with fleas, which had caused her to be very anemic. She was very much congested, which may have led to some eye ooze which served to glue her eyes shut. Her heartbeat was strong, but that was the only positive sign. She weighed only 1.8 pounds. Reluctantly, the vet, Dr. Jared Pitt, concluded that she was really too far gone to save.
It was also apparent that in her condition it would have been impossible for her to walk into the street, where she was found. When we got out of the car to look at her, my husband noticed a man giving him the stink-eye. It's my husband's opinion it was that man who put her in the street.
I know that little Fortescue is now resting safely in the arms of her Creator, and that she's happy.
And even though the story doesn't end the way we'd hoped, I was an honor and a blessing to be entrusted to ensure that when she left this world, it wouldn't be alone out in the cold, but surrounded by people who loved and cared for her, even for that short time.
If you'd like to help some cats not suffer like Fortescue did, you might like to send a donation to Ally Cat Allies. The organization does wonderful things for homeless cats: