Quote Originally Posted by Felis Leo View Post
Hello everyone,

I just wanted your thoughts on this matter. We have a stray feral cat who has been coming to our backyard for years. We have named him Van Gogh on account of his missing an ear and his extreme skittishness. Our backyard appears to be as close to a home for him as anything, since we do not let our dog into the backyard (she really hates being left out there) and we leave food for Van Gogh and the other neighborhood cats.

Van Gogh has been a fixture of our daily lives for years, coming to our backyard every day to sun himself, eat food, and relax on the grass. We enjoy his presence from afar. He is, after all, a stray feral and does not trust humans and will hiss and run when we go to him. He will eat the food we leave him, and sleep in the kitty bed outside that we have made for him, but will not allow himself to pet or even approached. As I said, he will run and jump the backyard fence whenever we go to him.

Until recently, that is. We started noticing a few months ago that he had a weird growth on his back, a lump of some sort. At first my wife and I thought he may have been injured in a fight and had developed an abscess, or perhaps that it was scoliosis. But it just kept growing and growing over these past several months. Now it looks he is hiding a small football under his fur just below his shoulders. Not only is it unsightly, far worse, it has compressed his spine so he is no longer able to run or climb the fence. His back legs are largely useless. He still hobbles, and comes to eat the food and water we leave out for him, but it is clear his condition is getting worse. He will never be able to leave our backyard. He is dying.

I am torn on what to do. Van Gogh is clearly suffering, and if he were one of my house cats in the same shape, I would have taken the poor guy to the Vet be put down without hesitation. But he is terrified of humans, and while I would be able to easily catch him and constrain him to take him to the vet, he would find no comfort with us. I think he would simply be in a state of agonized terror for the duration of his containment, surrounded by creatures he fears and in an environment he does not comprehend until his final moments, as opposed to dying slowly and painfully in the comfort of our backyard which he has always considered his home.

I want to hear what you guys would do in a similar situation? Let cruel nature take its course but give him the space, food and water that he needs in a place where he feels safe until he can no longer sustain himself? Or should my wife and I intervene, putting him through momentary terror but letting the pain end?
I would go someplace and put it to an end, the time is now, you owe this creature this even if you have to pay the freight.

This is what compassion looks like.