I’m sitting here, in a warm, comfortable home, somewhere in here lurks our crazy cat. In a warm, dry home where she can stretch out or curl up as the mood strikes. There is always food and water available. That is unless she leaves it for later only to have one of the dogs pass by and finish it for her. Of course that only means I’ll come along behind the dogs and refill the plate. Cricket, the cat, demands it be so. She is as spoiled or more so than our two dogs.
The point to all that? Currently, I am watching a young, apparently pregnant cat, standing on my back steps eating food I put out for her. She’s feral, as are several other cats, of varying ages that show up sporadically. It is a given around here. We live in a rural area, all it takes is one dumped cat, or cats that are not altered to have one litter and it begins. A vicious cycle of life and death.
Years ago, someone dumped a pregnant cat out near here. It was obvious she was dumped because she was so tame and loving. Between us and the neighbors we were able to find homes for the first litter of kittens. Due to a misunderstanding about whether the neighbors were taking Mom or not, Mom didn’t get altered and Mom quickly became pregnant again. Mom had beautiful kittens. This litter we were able to find within hours of their birth and take them inside. At eight weeks they were all handed over to a rescue group who found homes for all, including Mom. Sweet Mom who only wanted to be loved, found a home to get just that.
Since then we’ve seen many feral cats come and go. They have to be super smart, wary, and quick to survive out there. The woods are full of dangers for cats, especially young ones. There are coyote, owl, hawk and stray dogs among the few animal dangers. I wouldn’t be afraid to say that there are also a few heartless humans who do not care for cats. Add on the weather, hunger and disease and their life is short.
My parents who are well up in years, have developed a weakness for these cats and a fondness for one especially. An older, wiser, yellow cat that I tagged with the name Mustard when I first saw him a couple of years ago. He has been around longer than any other feral. You can see the intelligence and life smarts, this cat possesses in his actions and attitude. Since mom and dad have been feeding Mustard, he has actually become less afraid and even to some point attached to them. You still can’t get close, but the fact that he trusts them as he does, is a large advance in possibly taming this one feral.
It should not happen though. These cats should not be out there. Suffering and afraid.
Try and imagine life out there alone, cold, wet, hungry. Try and imagine the life cycle of a female feral, not pregnant, pregnant, nursing, not pregnant, pregnant…over and over until worn out. The searching for something, anything to eat. Trying to find somewhere they can sleep safely, just for a little while. Somewhere out of the cold and rain. The cycle then extends to their kittens and to theirs. The ones that live anyway.
If, you are going to bring a kitten (or any animal) into your home, it is important that you do so knowing it is a life long commitment. These are not things. They are living, breathing, feeling beings. They do form a strong bond to their family. They form a dependence on that family. A dependence for protection, for food, for love. An attachment that doesn’t break. How many have seen the videos of pets reunited with family even after years apart? They remember.
We need to all remember, that bringing a pet into the family is not only a lifelong commitment, but can be an expensive one as well. Between food and toys to vet bills. Just like a human, those items add up.
It is essential, that if you bring a pet into your family, do as Bob Barker always said, get them spayed or neutered. It not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, but has other health benefits as well. Even if your cat is strictly indoor, all it takes is one time outside at the wrong time.
Do not, however, have a cat declawed. Look it up, it is not simply removing the nails.
I know that there are people who will trap feral cats and have them altered and a rabies shot given. While that may lower the number of feral cats, that does not help in the untimely deaths due to life on the street or in the wild.
As the species with supposedly higher intelligence, and a great capacity for love and compassion, we need to use that to take care of God’s creatures. As was intended.
I will be doing some research into what I can do about the kitten that looks to be having kittens and how I can help her. I have not seen the other two grey and white kittens, but I have seen the black with a tiny white spot kitten. These are beautiful cats, they deserve better than this.