I'm not a vet. I know that the things I'm meant to look for in a rabid cat -- temperament change, drooling, snapping at air, pica, aggression, paralysis, and death -- aren't things that I've been trained to observe. I know that even if Patchy Cat isn't rabid, we still may have to put him down based on the FIV (feline HIV) or leukemia results (he gets tested tomorrow, but I don't know when we'll get the results back) and I know that some false negatives are possible.
I know that a closet door a few feet of carpet and a sheet of Plexiglas aren't perfect Quarantine, especially not with Christopher and I petting the cat and treating his wounds daily, even though we each have a designated set of "Patches Clothes".
While most people have been positive and supportive, and surprisingly impressed, we have one friend predicting our deaths of rabies. To be fair, she does have veterinary training, but considering that there are only about 5 cases of rabies in humans in the US each year, that many strays do get put up for adoption, and that the county people effectively encouraged us to keep Patches, I think that she's over emphasizing the correlation between stray cats and rabies deaths in humans. After all, there are treatments for rabies in humans and animal control isn't exactly on a quest to put down every stray cat they find.
Which isn't to say that there isn't a risk to ourselves and Jack. That's why we are taking the precautions we can while preserving quality of life for both cats. In this and in all other causes, people don't help others because it's risk free, they do it because they don't want to be the kind of people that don't.
Patches is the only cat for whom I've ever done this; it isn't a habit of mine to take in every stray I see. It was just the precise combination of such a psychologically well cat with such wounds and the advice of the county animal people that made me do this. And, of course, I'm keeping him quarantined until he's negative for everything that puts him at risk, let alone me, Christopher, and Jack. This friend of ours felt the need to tell me to do these things in a comment on a post that I made on a personal social networking site that expalined that we were doing these things.
So, maybe, she's just assuming that we're doing this without thought because many people don't think. Maybe our other friends are just impressed that we're helping Patches because so many people, like the junk yard employees, only care as far as they can without inconveniencing themselves. If either of these assumptions about the nature of "most people" is true, I hope to never be amongst their numbers.