I love animals of all varieties. I’ve played host to many animals over the years – mostly cats, but also guinea pigs, fish and even a dog. That’s why writing this is article has proven difficult at best. What follows is my attempt to convince you to never adopt or take in another pet – ever.
About 3 years ago, my wife and I discovered a litter of kittens that had been abandoned by their feral mother in the shrub just over our fence. At the time, the house was sparsely occupied by a renter who couldn’t care less about what happened outside. The cries of these newly born kittens, pleaing for their mother to come back and feed them, could not be ignored by anyone with even half a heart. Alas, my wife and I took pitty on them.
This is where the warning signs began and where we should have set boundaries better. But we didn’t. We’re city folks with big hearts.
Our first calls about what to do with these abandoned kitties were to the various agencies around town for advice on where to take them – Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, The Humane Society and a few “Cat Rescue” hotlines all told us the same thing – leave them alone and hope their mother comes back to help them. We can’t help you. Good luck.
Good luck? For a series of organizations that exist to help animals in need, this was not the answer either I or my wife had expected. Even after explaining to every one of them that these cats were clearly abandoned and in need of nourishment, it was made clear to us that nobody was going to lift a finger to help. Not for a donation. Not for anything.
At this point, we called the owner of the house and alerted them to the problem. The next morning, the owners drove into town and swooped up all the cats without even so much as a disparaging remark about having to come so far to rescue a bunch of feral cats. Something didn’t make sense. We were concerned and so we reached out to the house owners to find out what the fate of the brand new kittens was.
We should have just let it be.
We learned that the owners of the house had a friend in the country that takes in abandoned kittens, nurses them to health and gives them back to the people who found them. This lady was kind enough to offer her time, money and energy to save these kittens from what otherwise would be their untimely demise.
But that’s all. No re homing. No adopting. Just help getting them healthy enough to hand back over to the people who found them.
Being very loving and compassionate people we are, we offered to adopt two of the kittens as soon as they were big enough and strong enough.
2 months we were told. Would we like to adopt more of them? Perhaps 4 of 5?
No thanks. Two is a lot as it is.
The day came to pick up our two kittens. We were very excited. We had picked out one in advance – a grey little fellow with a loud voice (it was his screaming for food that led us to find them) and his twin sister who looked nothing like him.
When we arrived at the farm where the owners of the house behind us lived (an easy hour drive outside of town) we were greeted by something we hadn’t expected. Lots and lots of cats about a year old running all around the place.
“What’s the deal with all these young cats running around?” I inquired.
“Those are the cats we rescued last year that we couldn’t find homes for. They live outside.”
“How many are there?”
“We’re not sure. We lose a few every year to the Coyotes and Wolves. Probably 12 to 16 at the moment.”
As I dug deeper, I discovered that this was an annual problem that didn’t have a happy ending all the time. The neighborhood was at that time awash in unneutered and unspayed feral cats – most of whom lived under sheds and in unsealed basements that have since been demolished or sealed off.
For the lucky few that were adopted, life was good.
For the rest, they were dumped outside as soon as they could fend for themselves – out there in the country, away from the judging eyes of right-to-live minded city folk. Out there, in their minds, they were doing these less fortunate cats a favor. Perhaps they were.
We drove home with our two cute and adorable kittens with no idea that in a short 3 years, we would be scrambling to find them new homes.
The male cat grew into the largest cat we’ve ever seen and has taken to getting stuck in trees and banging on the door of our daughter’s room (she’s 2) in the middle of the night for no reason – normally waking up our daughter and causing her to cry and not go back to sleep quickly.
The female cat grew into a furniture destroying machine.
The cost of cat food, litter and vet bills on top of furniture replacement costs have hit us in the pocketbook hard. We can no longer keep these cats.
Finding them new homes has proven to be impossible.
Organizations such as the humane society, rescue shelters and rehoming services are all in business for one reason: To make enough money to execute their mission and stay open. Their mission is focused on placing animals in new homes and not actually taking in pets from people like me who can’t have cats anymore.
Craigslist is full of people like us trying to find new homes for their cats – carefully omitting critical decision making details like “scratches the shit out of furniture” and “anxiety over children causes him to climb trees and get stuck” or “not real good at hitting the litter box”. Like all good capitalists, we’ve learned a thing or two about successful selling. Unfortunately, nobody is buying our free-to-a-good-home cat.
There are two organizations that have pledged help:
1. County Animal Control – they’ll allow you to surrender your pet to them. Here’s the downside, they only do it if you have exhausted all other options. That means calling all the shelters, outreaches and the humane society to see if they can help. Only then will they, under normal circumstances, consider taking in your problem cat. Oh, and they aren’t a no-kill shelter – so your rescue cat might end up gassed at the bottom of a pile of dead animals destined for the incinerator.
2. The Humane Society – Get on their waiting list for a chance that they might take your animal in and find it a new home. We were told 3 months. In that time, we can expect to have to re-upholster another piece of furniture and have a house run ragged from tree rescues and early morning waking of our child.
3. Rehoming Service – For a fee ranging from $400 to $1000, a rehoming service will find a new home for your pet. In most cases, however, your pets stays with you.
The message is clear: You adopt ’em, they’re your problem now. We don’t want them back. Buck it up and deal with it. Give us money and we might consider helping you out.
In days of yore, we would have done what our friends in the country do: Put the cats outside and not care about their fate. Kitty stuck in the tree? Get the rifle and put ’em out of their misery.
These are modern times with modern pressures and modern issues. Putting cats outdoors will only lead to them getting in trouble (like climing a tree and getting stuck, for example) and you’re worse off then you were when kitty was your pet.
There effectively zero outlets that are socially acceptable here in the city to give your pet.
Let this serve as a warning to anyone considering adopting a cat: You are stuck with it. You cannot get rid of it. It will be yours until it is old and incurring vet bills. It will cost you money. You will love it until it starts pissing on carpets, turning your mid century modern reclaimed furniture into sawdust and requiring you to feed them organic-free-range-bison-tendons to keep their inflammation down.
Don’t fall for the cat trap.
Instead, send some of the money you would have spent on cat food, vet bills and reupholstering to organizations that trap, spay/neuter and release cats back into the wild. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good way to prevent more cats from being born with no homes to go to.
Of course, if someone you know is looking for a home for their cats, don’t take pitty on them. Clearly they haven’t read this article.
At the time of publishing, Greg and his wife were still looking for a new home for their adorable cats Milo and Millie who would make great cats in childless home with old furniture and hardwood floors.