“20-year-old cat, brought to shelter,” said the post on my Facebook timeline. I was tagged as one of six women rescuing cats in this community.
Hazel came the next day, along with a vague background story: she was jealous of the family baby, and grandma had taken her to the shelter so the son, whose cat she was, wouldn’t have to. How … compassionate.
Hazel can’t speak, so she can’t defend herself. She only sits with sad, big eyes, staring. She can’t eat or poop, as she either has a tumor (which maybe the family knew about before they bailed on her) or is constipated because of her trauma. She has no familiar smells, no familiar rugs about her. She had no familiar foods until we appealed on Facebook to know what she’d been eating, and someone called the family. Meow Mix wet.
Hazel can’t give a last lecture, telling us what we ought to know. We only know that she is dying in the back room of our bookstore, afraid and heartbroken. People say, “It’s so good of you and Jack to take her.” No, it isn’t. It isn’t doing a blind bit of good, because what Hazel wants is nothing we can give her.
We do know that families have other ways of handling “the problem” (of going on vacation, having a baby, the cat getting sick or pregnant, etc.) than taking a cat to a shelter. Some families just toss the cat in a dumpster, take it to the woods, shoot it–hopefully with one clean shot. This family chose a “humane” method, I am told. They took their 20-year-old cat to the shelter, where emotional blackmail kicked in for the rescue community and the cat came “home” here. Having chosen to do evil to their cat, they chose the least evil they could do. How …. considerate.
Hazel was well cared for all her life; she has shiny fur and no urinary tract infection, great feats in a cat her age. She was loved. Why did you stop? What part of you can you turn off to successfully leave her at a shelter, knowing she’d be euthanized? I haven’t stopped crying for three days, and I barely know your cat. Can you show me where that OFF switch is, please? It might come in handy.
Because we’re not running a rescue now, but a hospice, something we were never meant to be. We’re supposed to be pulling kittens and cats out of the shelter before their euth date hits. Did you know that 1 in 5 kittens makes it out of a shelter, 1 in 9 adult cats? The only animal with a higher kill rate than cats in a shelter is chihuahuas: 1 in 12 makes it out alive. And nobody, but nobody “adopts” a senior cat.
And we now know, according to my husband, that we can never do this again. He said, and I quote, “I’m not watching you bloody cry yourself to sleep for three days because some shits of a family has pulled emotional blackmail on a bunch of people trying to uphold the sanctity of life. People have to realize a pet is a lifelong commitment and take care of their own messes.”
We know that Hazel has been put through Hell for the convenience of her human family.
And Jack is right about taking care of their own messes. Yesterday a dog rescuing friend went postal on FB and explained that people who give up pets to rescues and shelters think they’re doing something good, when rescues are not there to solve your problems. We’re supposed to be catching the strays, the unhomed, not the inconvenient. We’re supposed to be uniting families who will make a LIFELONG commitment to animals who will give unconditional love, by pulling animals from shelters. 8,000 companion animals a day getting euthanized, and you want a rescue to come get your kittens because you “forgot” to spay your cat?
It feels like emptying the ocean with a sieve, rescuing cats. While we were doing our pitiful best for Hazel a family of kittens five days old were euthanized in the shelter because there was nowhere for them to go. We couldn’t take them. We had your old, heartbroken, dying cat who is longing for you.