Monday, November 13, 2017

What's the answer?

People won't even stop being cruel to each other, so how do you make them stop being cruel to animals? Think on that for a sec...

All my foster cats and kittens have left. More will come soon... I sure miss these guys (well, not Pirate Kitty! Pirate Kitty is staying!)

Buddy is in a loving home now.

Luna, one of the first eight kittens I fostered for the OSPCA this summer, is now with my friend Cat and her boyfriend. They adore her!

My foster kitty Willie (now Dusty) is in a great new home and likes to jump in the fridge when his family opens the door (so they are very careful not to shut him in!)

Mycroft, one of the "six dwarves" of my foster mama cat Snow White is living the kitty dream with my friends Marie-Emmanuelle and Patrick, my godsons, and four dog siblings (two in this picture) plus two cat siblings, including Stella, the white kitty in this pic. M-E saved her from the side of a road in Quebec where here sibling had already been squashed by a car.

It's great to see these happy endings, but there are many more unhappy ones. The last time I was in our local feed mill, they had two kittens there looking for homes. Two had already been adopted out. Someone had left a box with the mama cat and her four babies at the door of the feed mill. They kindly took the cats in, but Mama, who was very affectionate and had clearly been a pet, keep vomiting, so they got her into a rescue where she could receive proper care. Really not the feed mill's responsibility! But they did the right thing to help these dumped felines.

The salesclerk told me that the first time the Mama cat vomited, she threw up cigarette butts, because that is what she had been trying to eat to keep herself nourished to feed her babies. 

Cigarette butts. Yes, the cat was eating cigarette butts to survive.

Think on that, all you people who dump cats in the countryside and think they'll be able to hunt for themselves. Even this desperate Mama had to take to eating cigarette butts because that's all she could find. The salesclerk shook her head as she told me this story. She couldn't understand how people could be so cruel. 

Neither can I. 

For example, Pirate Kitty would still have both his eyes had his mother Nina been properly cared for when she gave birth (even better, she should have been spayed so that she could never have had unwanted kittens in the first place!) Instead, Nina and her babies were taken to the OSPCA in an appalling state: hungry, skinny, flea-ridden and suffering from upper respiratory infections. Little Stella nearly died from anemia due to flea bits. And an URI led to the complications that cost Pirate Kitty his eye...

More completely unnecessary suffering. Fortunately our Pirate boy is resilient, but he will soon need surgery to remove his ruined eye.

I am beside myself these days over the way cats and kittens in my part of the world are too often treated like garbage. People can't be bothered to have them spayed or neutered; when they get pregnant or start marking the house, they are tossed out and people get new kittens, then repeat the cycle. They dump them in the countryside, they dump them in other people's garages and barns,  or they just toss them outside to fend for themselves. My cat Emily was dumped at my farm on a bitter January day, and lost the tip of her tail to frostbite. It's amazing she survived at all.

Let me just say that you're an idiot if you think your dumped cat or kitten is going to be just fine because it can hunt for itself. It's not. At best, it will have a short, miserable life before falling prey to a car, a coyote, disease or any number of awful things.

For whatever reason, this year has been a hellacious year in our area for unwanted cats and kittens. Every shelter and rescue organization I know is overflowing. People have been asking me daily to take in cats and kittens, and I only have two small rooms for that; I'm not a shelter or even a rescue, really. But people are desperate... one lady had a pregnant cat dumped in her garage. Now she is trying to find a place for mama cat and three babies.

Most of the farmers in my area treat barn cats as completely expendable. These cats have litter after litter of babies. They get run over, eaten by predators, you name it... any number of nasty possibilities. But hey, there will be more soon! It's so ingrained, I don't have the strength even to discuss it with the many farmers I know (who are generally nice, decent people!) I just don't get why so many people think cats are less deserving of consideration than dogs (who suffer enough abuse) or horses (who also suffer enough abuse) or

For me, it all comes down to needless and utterly preventable suffering. Get your cat spayed or neutered. End of. If you run out of, say, barn cats, don't worry! There will always be plenty of cats around looking for homes or a warm barn. Really. No shortage. There will never be a shortage of cats in the world. Never.

So what's the answer? What's the question? My question is, how the hell do we get it through to people that not neutering your cats, letting them have even one litter, is the pathway to completely preventable suffering? How do we get people to understand the despair those of us involved in rescue feel when we have to say "no" to yet another needy cat, because our shelter is already full of needy cats? In my area, at least, things never seem to get any better...

I see something special in every cat I come across. Thus it breaks my heart to see them suffer, and for such easily avoidable reasons.

I haven't found an answer to my question yet. I feel like maybe we need to change attitudes towards cats (and dogs and...) at the root level with attempts to educate children, which no doubt has been tried before. I think our nearest city, Cornwall, needs a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Our OSPCA shelter there has the highest cat intake in Ontario and there is a huge stray/feral cat problem in that city. We need a bigger, better shelter. We need more government funding for said shelter (everyone thinks the Cornwall OSPCA receives government funding. It does not.)

But really, I don't know what the answer is. I'm just tired of being distressed over messages from desperate people looking to place unwanted, suffering cats. I've been wracking my brains trying to think of some novel way to deal with the problem, but so far, no luck. So instead I just get angry at the people who shrug off or worse, cause the suffering of animals. Sometimes I hate them, especially when I'm holding a sickly, suffering kitten. But I don't want to turn into a bitter old crazy cat lady, plus there really are lots of wonderful people left in the world, people who care passionately about many things, including cats.

If you can judge a nation by how it treats its animals, Canada still has a long way to go...

I'm still hoping for an answer to my question.