Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Unsolicited Comments

Below is a response to some snippy comments made on a post that the rescue I volunteer with, Alley Cats and Angels, made about a cat we had pulled from the shelter about a week before having kittens.

Comment #1 "So . . . they had a week to spay/abort and prevent another unwanted litter of "27"? Awesome."

Comment #2 "I'm so happy that the 6 kittens, who are so cute & cuddly will find loving homes. But I can't stop thinking of the 6 shelter cats that won't get a home because they cannot compete with cute & cuddly. There are times that hard decisions have to be made. The overpopulation of cats/dogs will never be solved unless people are willing to step up and do the hard things that need to be done."

These comments from people that don't volunteer or work with our rescue kind of set me off.  I work REALLY hard and this criticism from strangers really hurt and disgusted me.  And this was my response.  And I'm proud of it, so I didn't want it to get lost in the world of FB comments.  I'm adding it here as a blog.


I'm a volunteer with Alley Cats and Angels and I find it alarming that a 'fun' post about a cat in labor has received the negative comments that it has. Especially with the HUGE amount of work we do spaying and neutering cats in our community with the Alter voucher program, our TNR & Barn Cat programs and our 100% spay / neuter before adoption policy.

And by the way, the cat was so huge because her belly and intestines were full of food that she had been unable to poop out, there weren't 27 kittens in there. Lighten up people.

This particular mother cat was actually a shelter pull - AT THE SHELTER'S REQUEST because she AND her babies would have been killed. And she was far enough along that she had the babies within days of being pulled from the shelter. Alley Cats and Angels is a no kill rescue, so when spaying a female cat involves 'euthanizing' each individual kitten as part of the spay, we feel we must draw the line. 

I would like the people making negative comments here to understand that with this mother and babies we also pulled a 6+ year old declawed male that is currently in treatment for a severe bladder infection that resulted in a blockage. His owner had dumped him at the shelter. Certainly those funds could be put to use to save only healthy cats- would the folks making the negative comments have wanted us to leave him there too? Our mandate is to be the 'Advocates for Forgotten Felines'. So please, before you make negative comments about our decisions, look at the sum of our good works. And please, before you criticize our difficult decisions, go make a few of those difficult decisions for yourself. 

Alley Cats and Angels is a 100% volunteer organization and we all do what we do in the time we make around our full time jobs. I've had people CURSE and YELL at me in PetSmart at adoption events because I didn't have room in our rescue for the kittens they let their unspayed cat have. I've had people threaten to take them to the animal shelter and tell me it was "my fault that they were going to die" but they couldn't keep them because they already had '3 cats' ...or their dog 'doesn't like cats' or their husband "wouldn't let them". 

Personally, My husband and I have 6 cats. We also foster for Alley Cats and Angels and have had dog crates with unsocial cats on our dining room table because there was no one else available that was comfortable socializing, we scoop our litter boxes 3x a day to make sure that they are clean, our house is clean and our cats stay healthy. We step up and take the cats that we feel need help because if we don't, they might end up in a shelter and/or killed. We would like to have fewer foster cats in our home, it's a lot of work. But if we didn't do it, there would be no place to go. That's our level of commitment and I hate hearing criticism from people that I seriously doubt make the same commitment I do.

So when I make a decision to let a cat that is estimated to be at 55+ days gestation carry her litter to full term, I am making that decision knowing full well that she and those babies will be my responsibility until after they are fully vetted and spayed. And if they have to stay in my home, they'll stay in my home. A responsibility and commitment that I take seriously, the cats we foster stay with us through busy work, illness, travel (we pay a pet sitter to come take care of cats that we don't even own!) - no excuses. 

All of my personal cats have been spayed and neutered with annual checkups my whole life. I can thank my parents for raising me to be a responsible steward of companion animals. Several of the cats we have considered family over the years came to us as adults. And even with behavioral difficulties we've loved them as much as someone might love a tiny kitten. And since we foster, we make the extra financial commitment to have them vaccinated against FeLV annually. And as volunteers, when we're at adoption events, we help people understand the value of the 'teen' cat as well as the adult and the kitten and do our best to match the right kitty to their family.

So, when I see these negative comments about the decisions that Alley Cats and Angels has made, that don't take into account the variety of cats that we helped in the last 4 years - Cats with prolapsed rectums, cats with deformities, cats that lost eyes, cats that lost legs, cats that had been chucked out of cars or attacked by wild animals - cats that got a little older and just weren't so cute, cats that were dumped at a shelter instead of taken to a vet because they were urinating inappropriately when all they had was a bladder infection that cleared up with antibiotics....

Honestly, it depresses me. 

It makes me wonder what's wrong with people that it's okay to criticize someone for making a different decision than you THINK you would make. Well, here's the thing. If that's the case, start your own rescue just like our President did. And then you can do it your way and make all the hard decisions yourself. 

And you can get home at night after 9pm and start returning emails to people that need your help but you have no space. And you can stay up until 3am putting together the stuff you need for a week in the adoption center. And you can drive around nights and weekends making sure the cats in your foster homes are vaccinated. And you can spend your weekend days screening people at adoption events and trying not to be so jaded that you come across as negative. And you can constantly wonder if you made the right decision when the time came. 

But that will be your decision, because it will be YOUR rescue. And maybe 3 months from now when one of those kittens is getting bigger and it snuggles up to me and sighs, I won't remember how these negative comments made me feel like I wasn't doing my volunteer job the way that someone who may or may not volunteer themselves thinks I should. Or maybe when a happy family finally comes along and knows it's the kitty they've always wanted and commits to loving it forever I'll think to myself "they would love any cat that much, we made the wrong decision".

But I doubt it. I'll just be happy for the kitty, for them and for me.