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Triangle enjoys a real bed for the first time in his life. (Photo by Carole Milker)

Triangle enjoys a real bed for the first time in his life.

Photo by Carole Milker

NYC Eartips: Fall/Winter 2009

A Triangle of Love

by Nancy Fahnestock, CSM Stray Foundation

Editor's note: Triangle's story isn't typical. Most adult feral cats do not become tame. But CSM Stray Foundation's Nancy Fahnestock and Carole Milker brought their extensive experience, unyielding patience, and staunch perseverance to bear in the case of Triangle, an exceptional cat, and successfully made him a part of their family.

Eight years ago, we found two new, very small young cats sitting on two rocks in our colony of feral cats. One cat was gray and sat on a square rock. His brother, sitting next to him on a triangular rock, was light gray, with a triangular pointy tail. Side by side, they looked like two sculptures. We eventually trapped both cats, gave them shots and neutered them, and returned them to the colony to enjoy the rest of their lives. We named the cat with the triangular tail "Triangle" — a no-brainer.

Each morning we called Triangle's name and he would run out to greet us on cue. Triangle lived in shelters made by members of our senior program. He enjoyed his feeding station and all the other care he received that equaled the care you would give your house cat. But he acted feral by not getting close to people or several of the other cats in the colony.

This past July, CSM Stray Foundation President Carole Milker noticed that Triangle was not eating normally. It appeared that he had some trouble with his mouth, and some mornings he didn't come out right away. We began to worry about him. Often, we would take off the tarps from some of the shelters just to find him and see if he was alright.

We decided to trap Triangle and get him to a vet to be examined. Luckily, Dr. Nesse at the Howard Animal Hospital in Great Neck was nice enough to take him on a Saturday without an appointment, unlike many vets who only see feral cats on a particular day. Dr. Nesse performed dental surgery on Triangle, having discovered that he had a bad infection in the front of his mouth and required the removal of several bad teeth. His blood work was another shocker — his red cell count was so low that if we had not interceded, Triangle likely would not have survived much longer. We kept him in the hospital for a week and visited him regularly. Triangle has other medical issues that are being addressed, and now he is on a long-term antibiotic regimen. We also give him vitamins and iron to boost his immune system, and we feed him a special prescription diet. Thankfully, he tested negative for FeLV and FIV.

CSM Stray Foundation's Nancy Fahnestock holds Triangle after bringing him home from the animal hospital. (Photo by Carole Milker)

CSM Stray Foundation's Nancy Fahnestock holds Triangle after bringing him home from the animal hospital.

Photo by Carole Milker

Next we discovered the biggest surprise of all. Triangle had never had much human contact, and he began to enjoy being held and brushed. When we brought him home, he was so weak we could not put him outside. The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals assisted by providing us with a cage so we could rehabilitate him in our home with our house cats until he recovered fully. After he began to feel better, we let him roam around the house. His vision is poor and, miraculously, he began to find his way around the periphery of each room in our home once the other cats got used to him. He began to use the litter box and ate up a storm. Now he has gained weight and looks so much better. His fur has transformed from dehydrated straw to silky plush carpet.

Our "feral" Triangle is actually a very gentle cat and very happy to be in a nice home. We've officially adopted him and continue to say the same "good morning" to him — only now it's not outside. Triangle has taken up permanent residence on the soft bed and uses our old dog steps to go up and down, since he's not able to jump. Although he can't see very well, he manages to look at the shadows from the TV and computer. And despite the $1,000-plus bill to get Triangle's health turned around, we feel it was well worth the effort. Triangle's remarkable transformation proves once again that occasionally a cat who has lived outdoors can come in from the cold and adapt to being a part of a family.