Tag Archives: cat rescue

Peace, Love, Cat Videos

I’m working on my book about cat rescue, and one of the recurring themes is “Why do people rescue cats?” (Or dogs, but the undercurrent is, why do people “bother” to help animals at all?)15134332_1371938282817232_41046199_n-copy

And I guess there’s a cynical answer, and a real answer – I’m just not sure which is which.

On the one hand, Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” For those who reject Eastern wisdom, from the Bible it sounds like “What you do for the least of these my brethren you do for me” except some people will tell you Jesus was only talking about humans. You can also quote Martin Luther King, Jr: “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” In other words, do it because the powerless need defending, and because in defending the powerless we become blessed/empowered/alive/real.

That’s one answer. The other is, when everything around you is sliding out of control, if you only have something small in front of you that you can do to alleviate suffering, you should do it. Whatever it is. I can call DC and register my concerns, but I can’t single-handedly stop anything. Most of any “social justice activism” lifestyle comes down to adding our voices to a larger pot, not being a soloist hero.

When a cat is in front of you, and it’s sick or pregnant or cold, you can pick it up and take it to the vet. (Yeah yeah, nobody has any money; there’s more than one way to pay for a cat.) And it won’t suffer needlessly.

The world is going crazy. Kids have cancer. People hate each other. So I’m rescuing cats while Rome burns. Yeah. Okay. I’ll take it. It’s what’s in front of me, and I know how to do it. It makes a difference to the cat and the cat’s new family; if that’s all the good that comes of this action, fair enough.

That said, petting a cat lowers your blood pressure (assuming you are not allergic, of course) so it’s not all about giving. Watching cats play is better than watching TV. Especially these days.

I’m not an ostrich with my head in the sand; nor am I numb. I’m making those phone calls and keeping up with relevant news. But the biggest small changes I can effect these days are fur-bearing. I’m downy with that.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized

The Washing of Cats is a Difficult Matter

purrito3 So by now everyone knows we’re deeply embroiled in a cat rescue that just set up this week. And the rescue is up and running at a dead run. Construction volunteers have come in from other states, and we’re getting a Purr Box set up for kittens, plus individual little apartments (cages) for cats waiting on adoption or transportation to another rescue. And fielding a lot of requests from irresponsible pet owners and responsible caring people who have picked up strays, and figuring out which is which.

Smartest thing we did as a group was put the two hardnosed people in charge of cat intake. Otherwise we’d be up to 100 cats instead of the 53 we currently have.

So on Monday, a small group was working on constructing a Purr Box – an 8×8 cube suited to holding about a dozen kittens at once – when we got a call from our shelter coordinator. Time was up for three moms with nursing kittens, and three individual kittens. Pull, or else. There was a silence as we all looked around the construction-materials-laden room.purrito

If it had been a movie, the spunky little volunteer with the drill in her hand would have leaped to the top of a carrier and shouted, “We trained for this people! Let’s go!”

Except we never trained for this. We’re learning to run the rescue as we run it. Fortunately we have some excellent help from other rescues and a vet who knows infection control forwards, backwards, and sideways.

So the shelter cats went to our volunteer vet who fecal tested and slapped quarantine tags on some, clear to cage on others. Fellow volunteer Michele and I showed up with 17 moms and kittens to the haven, with instructions to Pyrantel all the moms and flea bathe all the kittens.

club med“Right!” I said to the college educated adults volunteering their time for love of cats. “How many of you have experience bathing kittens?”

People looked at the floor, shuffled their feet, stared into corners. Finally Valerie took off her construction gloves and said, in a small voice, “I gave a puppy a bath once.”

We formed a dubious assembly line: Michele flea combing, Valerie at the utility sink with her husband Alan ferrying cats between. Donald (Michele’s husband) and I held towels, ready to dry.

purrito 1It didn’t go too badly, even though we started with the most feral group. As the kitties went from spitting terror to being bundled into towels and cuddled, they calmed, and a few even decided they liked the experience, snuggling into their dryer’s chests and giving faint, sleepy purrs.purrito valerie

Of course, with 14 kitties to bathe, everyone was soon pressed into service holding a purrito (a kitten wrapped in a blanket or towel or anything we could find as they just kept coming) and people figured out that this was the fun part of the job. Finally, with three cats to go, I looked around and found all the volunteers were sitting on various surfaces, a purrito in the crook of each arm, cooing. Nobody left to wash the last three: Pear, Plum, and little Kiwi – a six inch fluffball of purrsonality.

David and I found paper towels and sacrificed t-shirts to get the fruits finished, and we started caging kittens with moms or in the Purr Box.

“Where’s the other one for this mama?” I asked, as the volunteers reluctantly surrendered their purritos, each trying to be the last one to cage their babies.

purrito AlanThe volunteers looked up. Blinked. Stared. Wordlessly they stood, and began walking about the haven, peering into corners, looking for all the world like wet zombies clutching purring kittens. Finally the errant waif was discovered climbing a cat tree in the Purr Box, all the cages had clean boxes, food, water and toys, and we cleaned up and turned out the lights.

As everyone stood a moment in the darkness, Michele asked, “Should we sing them a lullaby before we go?”

Guinevere wonders WTH we are doing to her kittens.

Guinevere, wondering WTH we are doing to her kittens

We’re figuring it out.

BTW if you want to help us a get a heavy-duty washing machine, you can donate using Paypal via Donald Leech at dl4fh@uvawise.edu. We’re setting up our bank account next week so he’s holding the money meanwhile. And we didn’t have a plan for all those wet towels….



Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, home improvements, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch