Along with many independent rescuers, Jack and I triage NUMEROUS requests to take in kittens and cats. Over the years we’ve come up with a few observations and suggestions for understanding how rescuers hear and respond to those requests. We hope this helps!
1) Rescuers are focused on the animal. That seems like a no-brainer, right? Yet people often approach individuals or organizations saying they “just can’t handle kittens right now” or “have a lot on my plate.” With cats euthanized daily in shelters and untold others meeting death by coyote-in-the-woods or car-on-the-road, we’re not motivated by your convenience; we’re all about them cats, and we’re stressing ourselves in ways you haven’t even thought of to help them.
2) We wish there were life reward points for being compassionate, but have never found any. It’s kind of sad, we know. You DO have a lot on your plate: college student, single parent, low income, about to move. We totally agree you SHOULD get points for caring enough to inconvenience yourself by not dumping your cat’s kittens at the shelter (because spaying your pet is next on your list as soon as you can afford it) or rescue your neighbor’s neglected kittens, or scoop a cat from an intersection. You took a stray to your garage and she rewarded you by birthing five adorable kittens. Bravo to you for taking her in. Being nice doesn’t bump you to the head of the rescue queue, ALTHOUGH WE THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS FOR CARING.
3) We’re on to your bad cop routine. Acting like a jerk and saying “they’re going to the shelter if you don’t take them” to try and motivate us is a no-no. We’re sifting through garbage dumps and crying at shelters where newborn kittens have a one-day window before they die of disease, never mind euthanasia. If we tell you we can’t take the kittens, calling us uncaring or unfeeling or saying we’re not doing our job right isn’t going to help. You are quite likely the fourth call that day – in May and June, the fourth call that HOUR.
4) Don’t disdain help other than what you asked for. If you care enough to take a cat into your garage, you care enough. If we say we can’t take your kittens but will help you advertise them, get you into a network that will spay Mom cheap, find you some supplies you don’t have to pay for, or otherwise organize logistic or emotional support, don’t go off in a Facebook huff. That’s time well spent by rescuers who know what they’re doing, and it will help.
5) Pay for what you’re asking for. Let me be clear: NOBODY can afford to help all the cats out there, and NOBODY believes he or she has “extra” cash. We’re not expecting you to take food off your family’s table, but giving up lunch out, a pack of smokes, to help an animal in need? Show good faith. Offer a bag of litter or food. TRANSPORT THE CAT to the place where the rescuer can get you help. When the monthly limit we rescuers can afford is hit, our hearts break knowing we have to say no, or default on our mortgage. When a rescuer says, “I can’t,” she means can’t, not won’t.
6) You are appreciated, not special. Your call asking for help with a pet/stray/feral colony is likely her third one that day. We sometimes forget to deal with you as an individual, because the stories fall into patterns. While we shouldn’t do this and try not to, well, it’s inevitable sometimes. You are not alone in doing the right thing, trying to help a needy animal. THANK YOU. BLESS YOU. Good luck, and feel free to ask for advice. We want to help you. We’ll do what we can.