2008-10-18 - 4:42 p.m.

I’m having a hard time around here. My heart is decidedly broken and while I know that time does indeed make things a tad easier (I will never agree that time heals), I don’t think that I am going to be better any time soon. I am angry, so spitting angry that I begin to shake, but mostly I am just profoundly sad.

Here’s what happened.

The other day I got to work and was informed that there was a cat hanging around the back door looking for food. I was pretty sure it was one of the cats who was recently transplanted from downtown Detroit to the farm across the street from where I work.

The back story on this…

There is a lady who comes in for breakfast from time to time. One morning she asked the farmer who owns the farm across the street (he comes for coffee most mornings) if he would like to take in a few cats she has rescued from devastating conditions in Detroit. The farmer told her that while he loves cats and loves having cats around…he wasn’t really keen on having her bring them to him because his farm is located on a pretty busy street and he had cats in the past and they always got hit by cars. The cat lady said, “Well, even living in a barn for a few days and being fed before getting hit by a car is better life than what they have now.” Point taken. Yes. So he agreed. That night she brought him three cats and he promptly took over their care. The next night, she brought him a few more cats and then the next night she brought even more. She was bringing these cats either late at night or else in the wee hours of the morning and so he couldn’t tell her to stop, that he couldn’t have 20 cats. Anyway….on with the story.

So. About an hour after I arrived at work someone told me that the cat was back and so I went outside to see him. He was cut up, scabbed up, skinny yet worm bloated, his nose was bleeding and he was not neutered. He was also purring and climbing up my leg. I walked back into the restaurant, announced that I would be leaving for half an hour, put the cat in my car and drove him to my house where I installed him in my garage with a bed and a litter box and instructions for Fabien to feed him and check on him periodically. During the ten minutes that I was with him before going back to work he ate three cans of Fancy Feast and wanted more. I called Eric and asked him to make an appointment for the cat that evening. I then went back to work and came home several hours later to find a very content cat sleeping on the bed in the garage. I gave him some cat nip (which he loved) and played with him and cuddled and felt foolishly happy about the prospect of getting him cleaned up and healthy. Then we took him to the vet and found out that he had FIV. The vet steered me (perhaps a little too aggressively but I do understand where she is coming from) to euthanize him. And now I’ve been dealing with the fact that I did. And I am not doing well with it. At all. I KNOW I did the right thing. I have to keep remembering that a cat does not know that each day is precious. If a cat has cancer, for example, he does not wake up each day and say, “oh good, I get one more day to spend with my family.” For a cat suffering is suffering. There isn’t a silver lining. This cat, with his FIV, would have suffered someday. I feel that I saved him from that. I mean, all he knows is that he had a really good day, he had unlimited food, a warm bed, catnip and lots and lots of loving and then, well, he just closed his eyes and wasn’t there anymore. If I didn’t have any cats, or if I knew someone without cats who lived in a roomy enough space and who would take care of this cat when he did get sick…I wouldn’t have had him euthanized. But the fact of the matter is that with FIV this cat couldn’t be around uninfected cats nor would he ever be able to go outside again. (to limit not just the risk of his biting an uninfected cat but also to limit his risk of catching something that with his lowered immunity would kill him) He could have lived a life, possibly for years, elsewhere as long as he was kept inside and as long as his owner took exceptional care of him. An FIV cat needs six month check-ups, quality food and when sickness does occur, a hyper-vigilant care taker. That kind of home would have been very difficult for me to find for him. I wouldn’t have let him go to anyone I didn’t trust 100% because any less than 100% would have meant that there was a possibility that he could infect other cats and/or that he would suffer healthwise. I KNOW that I did the right thing and that, at the end of the day, euthanasia is very humane. I was with him when he died and there was no struggle, no discomfort, he was purring and rubbing his head on my hand one second and then next second he just closed his eyes. I know the reality of what would have happened had I not chosen to do that. Within a few days his shelter in the garage would have been unacceptable for him and he would be throwing himself against the door trying to get out. He would be breaking my heart daily with his desire to get into the house with the rest of us. It would take a long time to find him an acceptable home and in the meantime he would have been miserable. Like I said, euthanizing him was the right thing to do, all he knows (or knew) is that he had a really, really good day. I even gave him the good, homegrown catnip. What hurts the most is that he was a really, really good cat. He was very sweet and gentle and he would have been an exceptional lap cat. I feel awful and angry that our society had made such a fucking disaster out of this whole pet thing.

But I am mostly angry about this woman who is “rescuing” cats from inner city Detroit. She thinks she is doing a good thing but she is doing completely the opposite. She may save one life but if she is not getting the cats FIXED before she places them elsewhere and if she is not getting them checked out for infectious diseases…she is making the problem worse. She brought at least one un-neautered male to this farm and I’m sure the rest of the 20 or so cats she brought there are also not fixed. So, in her attempt to give a better life to these cats, she has also caused for an exponential amount of kittens to be born unwanted and uncared for. And these kittens will certainly also be coming to the fucking parking lot of the restaurant for food in the spring. And not only that…but she didn’t get them checked out for disease. All it takes is a deep bite wound to infect another cat. My cats, for example, stay within their fence. But Fishy escaped the other day, she was out for several hours. It’s possible she got bitten by another cat. And even if she is vaccinated against it, the vaccination is only 50% effective. All it would have taken was one cat fight to infect her with a disease that will be fatal.

I could go on for hours. I have been going on for hours in my head. I’ve been crying, I’ve been screaming, I’ve been going through bouts of panic inducing guilt. All because one lady thought she was doing the right thing. And now I will probably have to spend the next year or so cleaning up after her. Please…be humane…if you are “rescuing” animals…get them checked out before you relocate them or bring them into your home. And most importantly, get them FIXED. Jesus.


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