Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The downside of adopting out cats...

So, this cat adoption thing I'm doing is relatively new for me. Since 2015, I have adopted out 27 cats. 14 were adopted out last year, and so far this year I've rehomed 10. It keeps me awake at night! I worry  about whether or not I am finding them good homes. I worry about the money we spend neutering/spaying, vaccinating, deworming and de-fleaing them (a portion of which I get back in the $150 adoption fee I charge, but it doesn't cover much.) I worry about them being unhappy cooped up in their foster rooms for too long. I worry about them getting enough love and attention while they are here. Basically it's a crapload of worry balanced by feeling happy about being able to help some cats in need, which is why I do it. I love animals, I hate seeing them suffer, we have a huge homeless cat problem in this area,  and even though what I do is a drop in the help-suffering-cats bucket, at least it's something. And yes, it makes me feel good to find a cat a loving home. That's my prize! It makes me smile to see someone made happy by a cat they got from me. Mostly, I am happy for the cats who are getting a second chance. Truly, I don't need or seek any praise or recognition for that. However, I could do without some of the unnecessary grief I have gotten lately!


Giselle and Harry, adopted out to a great home last week!!

Take the kitten with the ear-mite issue (NOT pictured above!) I took in five kittens from a woman who had taken in the mama cat when she was dumped, pregnant, at her place. She was having trouble finding them homes, so I offered to help her. She couldn't afford to neuter/vaccinate them all, so I did that. One of the kittens had such a bad case of ear mites, her head was tilted. So my vet gave her a treatment of Revolution, then for ten days, I put drops in her ears twice a day. She went back to the vet for a check-up and was pronounced fine. Her eye looked a little cloudy, so my vet stained it, looked at it for about five minutes straight, couldn't see a problem, then handed the kitten to another vet in the practice to be examined. No one could see any issue with her eye. She was spayed. I spent over $500 on her care. The people who adopted her had previously adopted her (healthier) sister, but wanted to see if this one with the tilted head would improve before they took her as well. I was fine with that. I did NOT pressure them to adopt her. She did improve (at least, as far as my vet and I could see!) so they adopted her as well. Her ears looked good, her tilt was 99% gone. The kittens were happy to be reunited.

A month later, I get an email from the new owners who are pissed off that cat had to go to the vet again and they had to spend $300 on her care. Her ear mites had returned, plus she had scratched her cornea (probably from attempting to scratch her irritated ear.) The tone of the letter was that it was my fault for not doing enough to prevent this, and they had not expected to spend $300 on care for the kitten. There was a comment about my intentions being good (omg, how condescending!) which made it sound like I'm some idiot who doesn't know how to care for a cat, and/or was trying to foist off a sick animal.

Well, of course I was sorry to hear all this. Even though they signed an adoption contract absolving me of responsibility for the future vet costs, I offered to refund the adoption fee. I asked if they wanted me to pay the vet fee (which my husband explicitly told me not to do.) I asked if they wanted me to take the kitten back.

Well, no they didn't want any of those things. However, perhaps if she required further  costly vet care at some unknown future date, then they would bring her back. I suggested it would be better to bring her back now so I could rehome her while she was still young. That was the last I heard of it to date.

What would you do in this situation? Because it made me want to say F**K it and stop adopting out cats. It's not like I'm in this for the money. A few months back, I paid for surgery to remove the eye of a kitten that I wasn't even keeping. I was happy to do that! I wanted to do that. I am just pointing out that I'm not here cutting corners, trying to make a profit on cat sales. (Really, some people are delusional about what goes on in animal rescue.)

And then we have the latest situation...


Jeffrey and Graham. Graham (back) is still waiting for a home.



This dude is lovely. He has been here for almost a month. He and his buddy came from a flea-infested hellhole. The Children's Aid Society was involved, and the cats had to go. I wanted to take the child with me when I went to pick up that cats.

 Last week someone who follows me on Instagram asked to come see them this week. I arranged a day. Yesterday someone else wanted to come see him yesterday (Tuesday.) I contacted the first person through Instagram. Alas, I did not have a better contact method. Didn't hear back but there wasn't a lot of time. Still, I was not under the impression that we had any kind of solid adoption agreement, or any adoption agreement at all. I was under the impression that she was interested in this guy, but would come meet Graham too. 

The newer couple interested in him came yesterday. They were friends of a friend. They wanted this dude. I said yes. It is a great home for him. I didn't feel I had any commitment to the first person other than that we had a date for viewing, and when I heard they wanted this dude, I let the first person know asap. It's not like I cancelled five minutes before she was due to visit. (Plus I can't tell you how many times people have flaked out on me and wasted my valuable time. I must be old, because I can't get over how rude people are these days.)

First person was not happy. First person is blaming me for causing her pain like the pain she felt when she had her elderly cat euthanized a couple of weeks back. Said person is guilting me out in public posts on Instagram. I have broken the heart of the neighbour's child who would have been the cat-sitter for this dude. Apparently I am a steaming pile of sh*t put on this earth to cause further grief to the grief-ridden. Yay, me!

So again, I wonder if I should continue with this? It's a money-losing venture that I do to help cats, not people. I am not convinced it's worth the trouble. 

But them, I have some really lovely adoption stories that keep me going! Like the family who adopted the two fluffy kittens at the top. They are very, very shy. Cute, yes, but they will need a lot of socialization to come around. They are the kittens of Carly...


...Carly was dumped at a rural home near me. She was pregnant. We figure her owner couldn't be bothered to spay her, and when she got pregnant, she was dumped. She had her kittens in a woodpile in a garage. A kind woman worked to catch her and the kittens, but it took a while. Carly is very friendly. The kittens were very scared and hadn't had much human interaction.

But this kind family took in these two shy kittens! They are giving them all the time and space they need. Their concern, from the first time I spoke with them, has always been for the kittens. I could not imagine a better home for them. I get regular updates on their progress. I know they are in a good home. I know they are with people who love them and who will care for them even if they get sick (which hopefully they won't, given the money I spent on vet care for them!) without threatening to send them back to me (although I do tell everyone, right in the contract, that I want the cats back if they decide they don't want them anymore.)

And their mama Carly... she is going to her fur-ever home in Toronto this weekend! This is beyond fantastic. Despite the fact that Carly has a heart murmur and needs regular meds, this amazing woman wants her. Not only that, she previously had a cat with a heart murmur and knows the score. Her concern has always been all about Carly, not about what Carly can do for her. I feel lucky to have found such an great home for a cat who was treated like garbage, but is still a sweet, loving soul.

I've adopted out 27 cats, so I guess two bad scenes isn't so awful in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty upsetting to me. I don't begrudge these cats anything. It is a privilege to care for them and watch them become the happy, healthy cats they are meant to be. I have help from some super people with this (I'm looking at you, Sharron!) But I get angry with people who don't see how much work this takes, how little financial reward there is for it, and how I get really exhausted at times, yet continue to do my best for the cats (and my 100+ other rescue animals, because we aren't just caring for a couple of foster cats here.) They don't see my husband getting up early to ferry cats to the vet, or sitting out with the foster kitties at night after I've crashed, giving them love and attention, even though he often works 10-hour days and is tired himself. I know the world is full of narcissists and morons, but at this point, I'm just not sure whether or not to continue with this, or whether perhaps there are more things I can do to protect myself. We do have an adoption contract drawn up.

Alternatively, I could just foster cats for the OSPCA as I have been doing, which leaves me with minimal risk and hassle. But the cats I take in, I take in part to save from clogging up our already clogged-up shelter in Cornwall. Some of these cats wouldn't even have made it to the adoption room there; it's a sad fact that our OSPCA in Cornwall has the highest intake of cats in the province. I feel like it's a good thing to relieve a bit of that burden, if I can.

I'm not looking for sympathy or praise, but would welcome any suggestions. I assure you I am not a saint. Ask my husband! I guess there is no way to avoid the odd unfortunate incident, but it's hurtful to me when I work so hard with these kitties. It's never my intention to hurt people, but apparently someone today thought otherwise. Which sucks. I did apologize, but that was evidently insufficient. Who needs this crap?

Meanwhile, this handsome devil is still waiting for a home...


Graham is about 5. Or maybe 3. I can't guarantee! I can't guarantee anything. The vet gave a range. He has bald spots because he has a flea allergy and arrived totally flea-infested. He is 16 lbs and has a bald belly. However, he is also charming and full of character. LOOK AT HIS FRICKING CUTE FACE! He has a really cute little vampire underbite going on. His fur is growing back now that the fleas are gone, and soon I hope he will be a fluffy masterpiece. Unfortunately, he has been declawed but that doesn't stop him from assassinating mice. He kindly left me a mouse head the other day. He is friendly and affectionate and likes being brushed. He would prefer to sit next to you rather than on your lap. He's sick of being in the foster room! He needs a home.

I am just venting. I needed to do it somewhere; the blog seemed a likely spot. But I would suggest that people be kind to those who work in animal rescue (and child rescue! I could NOT work for the Children's Aid Society. Those are exceptional people!!) Maybe instead of complaining, you could cut us some slack and do something to help. We all make mistakes, you know. Perhaps I should have said NO to the people who came to adopt Jeffrey yesterday, but I was thrilled with them and thrilled for Jeffrey. He has been stuck here for almost a month. No doubt there are *ssholes in animal rescue, as there are anywhere in life. But honestly, I don't think I'm one of them.

Go take some cookies to your local animal shelter staff and BE NICE.
Thanks for reading. :) Here's a little poster I made for Graham:





36 comments:

  1. As someone who regularly volunteered at a no-kill shelter, I can verify that your experiences are not unusual. You may want to consider a trusted third person to handle the adoptions for you. Your hands are already full with caring for your menagerie.

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  2. You are doing wonderful work, so try not to let it get you down.

    Every adoption agency I've dealt with has been more or less first come, first serve - unless an application for a particular cat is filled out, you have no claim or "rights" to that cat. I don't think you're doing anything out of the norm. The SPCA here won't "hold" a cat until you come visit. I don't know of any agency that does that.

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    1. I feel better today! I think I need to make it clear that I'm not promising anyone a cat unless they have paid the adoption fee first. :)

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  3. I would say that the humans who have been on a tirade with you are not appropriate cat caretakers and I would have concerns about the first people giving the one cat they initially adopted a good home. What happens when SHE needs vet care, in addition to her sister with the mites/head tilt?

    I'm not in rescue. I'm in awe of those who do it. I currently have two boys adopted years ago from the Gan. Humane Society. One developed asthma and is on the max daily dose of inhaled Flovent, which isn't quite controlling it in the cold winter months. He has to go to the vet every three months to have his anal glands expressed. The other has had bouts of cystitis and both have had multiple dental$ each, with extraction$. I've spent so much on vet bills in the years I've had them that I could have done the much-needed renos in my small townhouse. I'm a single income person in a mid-level clerical/office job at our university. I spend $700-$800 per month on the two of them, averaged over the year, including all the vet visits, meds, dental surgeries, etc. I have refinanced my house 4 times to clear the (mostly) vet debt. I did NOT have a clue what I was getting myself into. And my point is this:

    I love them dearly and more importantly, I have made a *lifetime commitment* to them, whatever happens. They're not "just cats" (or "just dogs, horses, whatever"). They are Beings in their own right, IMO, and it's a HUGE responsibility to be a caretaker for another Being. They are not disposable when something goes amiss, as it will, because we all have finite lifespans. Ranting at the adopting agency or person is absurd and fruitless. You pay your money and you take your chances (or choice), as the old saying goes.

    People who do not want to take that on, should not adopt, IMO.

    As for the person on Instagram: IMO, it was her responsibility to leave direct contact info with you. Perhaps she has mental health issues, or at the very least, is a drama queen. (That's a given.)

    I can't offer suggestions as to how to deal with people like these, because I'm so not good with conflict in any form. But I do know what you do is of immense value to all the non-humans, and to the wonderful humans who DO provide true forever homes.

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    1. I'm a bit unnerved by it all, as I really strive to find the animals good homes, and the people in question (re: vet bills) are related to a good neighbour. Anyway, I think it may be a case of someone wanting to vent on me. I've heard nothing more about the kitten being sent back. Like the Instagram person, I think maybe people were trying to guilt me out or whatever... anyway!

      I am impressed by your dedication to your pets!! I wish everyone were like you, although I do hope you get a break from vet bills in the future. Your kitties are so lucky to have you.

      Thank you for the reply... makes me feel better! xox

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  4. Some people just piss me off. We take these animals for better or for worse. I had no suggestions for you, with the possible exception of kneecapping, but I like Terry's, above. Find someone to handle the adoptions.

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    1. Bahahah I would be all to eager to kneecap... thank you, Joanne. xox

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  5. Knat, it's good to vent! If you didn't you might explode at an inappropriate time. I can't imagine taking on all that you and your hubby have taken on with the rescued animals. Not that I wouldn't like to... just don't have the finances nor the facilities. And you guys do such a wonderful job!
    But I do wonder if that person who complained to you about the cat's vet bills is going to make a good home for those cats. And I wouldn't be surprised if that cat (or both) come back to you one day.
    Perhaps having a third party that arranges the adoptions is a good idea. It will at least keep the crazies at arm's distance and give you more room to do what you do best... caring for all those rescued critters.

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    1. Thanks, Rian... I am a bit worried now about the kitten adopters... they are related to a good neighbour of mine, and I did talk to them a lot about all of this beforehand. On a certain level, I think the female half of the couple just wanted to unload on me, as she has not taken me up on returning the kitty. It was like she folded when I called her bluff. I think she was pissed off about the vet bill and wanted someone to blame. They do seem to dote on the kittens otherwise, so here's hoping, but yes, it does worry me. Thank you for all your input!!

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  6. feel free to rant.... about the Jeffrey situation, take the people in front of you willing to adopt now. no telling if that lady was even going to show up.

    I got frustrated about this and blogged something similar. For those who complain online (facebook, comments, whatever), SHUT UP AND DO SOMETHING!! It is all well and good for them to sit behind a keyboard and say the rest of us are doing it wrong (or for the money....are they serious???). I suggested in my post that every person who complains on social media should have to volunteer at least 5 hours helping a rescue.

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    1. I'm with you! Get off your computer chair and go out to help in the world. And I'm glad Jeffrey has gone off to his fur-ever home today. I feel great about the couple who have adopted him! The other person would have been a mistake.

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  7. Natalie I don't blame you at all for being upset, but...think about all of the kitties that you adopted out with no problem..........and...you do know there was a full moon this past week, right? Full moons bring out the lunatics and it sounds as if you had more than your fair share. You are an Angel and I just say that you should do what your heart tells you to do because it has NOT steered you wrong. You just ran into some awfully bad apples and I am sooo sorry that happened to you! You LOVE your babies, your own and those you adopt out. If someone can't see that well pfffft on them! As for the Instagram person, they should handle any complaints they have privately, not publicly. xoxoxo catchatwithcarenandcody

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    1. I think a couple of days have given me some perspective, and you're right. :) I will concentrate on the positive!! thank you, Caren. I agree with you about the Instagram person. I get irked with that kind of passive-aggressive behaviour. And I DID apologize to her, and still she ragged on about it. I don't need that crap; no one does. Thanks for your kind words.

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  8. It is good to vent. It helps get rid of the toxicity inside us. I personally am in awe of the work you do. We recently adopted a young cat from the Cornwall SPCA and I can't tell you how many cats were dropped off in the short period of time we were there. It was alarming and very heartbreaking. Some of them were simply litters from cats that the owners didn't bother to fix. I hate to judge but damn this makes me so angry!

    My suggestions is to let someone else handle the adoptions and you simply concentrate on the care. A middle person may help relieve that stress. That person can deal with the people interested in adopting, handle paper work and also deal with any issues thereafter. And volunteers to help. Do you have volunteers helping out with the load? That might be something to consider. It'll ease some of the pressure.

    As for people, they can be irrational sometimes. When we adopt an animal, we adopt it in sickness and in health. And love it no matter what. There is no guarantee what will happen in the future. Much like it is for humans.

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    1. I don't know how the women working down at the Cornwall shelter manage to keep smiles on their faces... there are just so many sad animal stories there. I'm glad you were able to adopt a cat from them. I'm hopeful that ONE DAY Cornwall will at least get a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. The situation there is appalling.

      I will see if I can get someone to help me out with adoptions! I do have some volunteers now, and also some great paid farm helpers.

      THank you for the helpful comments, Martha!

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  9. There are a lot of jerks out there. That is why I prefer the company of cats. I wish I had words of advice for dealing with people like that, but I don't. The kitties need you though so please continue your amazing work.

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    1. Hahaha! I'm actually an introvert, so I get wanting the company of cats. I don't mind time with people and I'm not a hermit or anti-social, but I need time to myself to recharge, so it's a balancing act for me about how many people visit the farm every week without me losing my mind. :) But I won't stop helping the kitties. Thank you! xox

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  10. Jeez. Even doing what you do, you get this kind of crap. So sorry. But on behalf of all the animals whose lives you have changed for the better (and I'm one of them)... thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Mitchell ! xox

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  11. I totally agree with the others here, Natalie, that the #2 upsetting instances which you described --[and I also definitely would've been upset, too!!]-- contribute to all the "stuff" ............ that often doesn't make life very pleasant, at all. [Isn't it ironic that those specific folks who MOST whine & complain about how Life nowadays "isn't like it used to be in the good ol' days!" are often, themselves, The Prime Offenders in making our collective contemporary life ............ as blazingly/nastily ugly and uncivil, i.e., as they possibly can??!! Haha!!]

    Your blessed/profound strengths are in your nurturing of and caring for animals ............ and not everyone --[by a long shot!!]-- can do what you do and have done!!

    However/whenever/wherever, though, you can arrange to have someone else "deal with" the Adoptions ............ would be to your ~d.e.f.i.n.i.t.e.~ health advantage. I looked back in your blog, and I found that you would've celebrated your 54th Birthday this past January---- I was 54 when I had a stroke from overwork/stress/exhaustion, (I recovered), but it sure was "a wake-up call" to me, particularly since I DIDN'T HAVE ANY of the usual Risk Factors of overweight, smoker, sedentary, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, etc.: it was just too much overwork/stress/exhaustion ............ for too many long, hard years, you know. I'm actually lucky to be alive.

    You're such a ~*g.o.o.d.*~ person, Natalie: you certainly don't need what happened to ME, health-wise ............ to happen to YOU, too.

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    1. I definitely do not want to stroke out!! I also don't want to burn out like so many in animal rescue seem to do. I try to look after myself by running, meditating, doing yoga, and asking for help when needed, but some days I just go and vent in a blog post . ;) I'm glad you recovered well from your stroke -- that's a scary thing!! Thank you for taking the time to leave me this thoughtful comment. :)

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  12. I am so very sorry you have had baby experiences recently. What you do is wonderful and those few stupid people need to be forgotten. Thanks for what you do.

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    1. Send Jeffrey off to his fur-ever home this morning and am feeling considerably better. Thank you for your kindness!!

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  13. Were I ever a good enough person to do what you do, I'd have exactly the same reaction to those morons.
    It's because you would never behave the way they did that it bothers you so much. And Jeffrey went to exactly the right person. You wouldn't have wanted him to go to that whiner, would you?
    And Terri, at the beginning of your comment stream, has a pretty good idea.
    Meanwhile, rage away. We're happy to listen.

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    1. You are so right. Jeffrey is in the right place!! Thank you for listening, Marty. xox

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  14. Natalie, I am so sorry you have to deal with this crap! Unbelievable! I am in total awe of everything that you do. I can offer no other suggestions than what has already been said. We feed a few strays that find their way to our back door.. That can get expensive, I can’t even imagine what your monthly bills must be. Take heart and know you have so many of us behind you. ❤️

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    1. Thank you so much! I am getting great support from my community, and trying to do a monthly fundraiser which is a big help. Also we've applied for charitable status. Will be a huge help if that goes through. Thank you for your support and kindness!!

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  15. This makes me mad and sad that people are so awful. The work you do for cats and all animals just moves me so much. What you give of your time, money and heart can't be appreciated enough. Just know that you are loved for what you do and that knowing so many of the cats go to good homes must help. Hugs!!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Linda, very much appreciated. I know we can't get through life without encountering difficult people but I guess it got to me this week! Feeling better about it all now and focussing on the good people, like everyone here leaving supportive comments for me!!

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  16. Although you said you were not looking for praise, I still have to tell you that the world would be a better place if there were more people like you and your husband. What you do is just wonderful!!! I think your two bad experiences are representative of some of the issues you encounter dealing some people's expectations. All of my pets have been rescue though most just showed up looking for a home. My daughter and her family just adopted a dog last summer thru a rescue group. When they went to meet the dog they were interested in, it had already gone to another home. The volunteers did an interview to determine what they wanted and what their lifestyle needed and suggested another dog. They could not have gotten a sweeter, gentler (pit bull mix) dog. Several weeks after the adoption, the dog developed a skin rash that has required numerous vet visits, tests and now the dog is on special food. I think the adoption fee was $350 and have no idea how much the other expenses have been. However, nobody considered contacting the rescue group about the health issues. The dog is a wonderful pet and a member of their family and they accepted responsibility for things like this when they adopted her. I hope you can continue your wonderful work and not let the bad experiences beat you down. Hugs and prayers!!!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing that story with me! Despite the health issues, it sounds like they got the dog that needed them, and that they needed. :) Thank you so much for your kind comments. xo

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  17. I just keep all the ones (cats) I find. I tried re-homing a few, but it was hard on me and the look they gave me when I did broke my heart. As long as I can afford to take care of them I will. I still volunteer at the local shelter, especially if they have feral cats that need taming. You do wonderful work!

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  18. I think all you do for these animals is remarkable and that you are able to . What gets my goat is these people who want pets have to understand that they will have to pay for vet bills regardless to care for these animals properly through out their lives and yes pets can get expensive and if one is not able to afford them at all don't get a pet in the first place end of . Not your fault these things happen let this one go for you have helped soo many you should be proud of , you will get the odd ungrateful morons who have no clue but please don't let their ignorance stop you from helping these animals for you are doing all for these animals and that's what matters . Thanks for sharing , Have a good weekend !

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  19. It is worth it. FOr the cats. I have been volunteering.. well, working actually in cat rescue since 2010 and people get ruder and ruder. We no longer "reserve" cats, the people who actually bother to come see the cat are the ones that are taking the cat home if there's chemistry and if we find them suitable. I'd rather not adopt out a cat if I don't like the people. But sometimes the ones who don't impress me are better than the ones who know hot to put on an act and give us all the right answers. This is part of rescuing animals and it doesn't get better or easier I'm afraid. But we continue doing it for the animals, so many of them only have us.

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  20. Maybe these individuals are being rougher on you because they see you as an individual, where they wouldn't perhaps be so vocal about an organisation or group? Either way they're being rude and more than a little bit ignorant. Anybody who has ever read even one of your blog or Facebook posts can't fail to understand that you have the health and welfare and happiness of the cats (all animals!) as your primary motivation and nothing else. Would they say the same things about a large rescue group? Or are they just picking on an individual because they think they can? In some circles that's called bullying. Try not to be disheartened -you're doing amazing work!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!