Imagine this: You’re walking to the neighborhood store to pick up a couple of things when you hear it — a tiny, desperate plea for help. You look down to find a kitten with a length of string tied around her neck. That’s when you hear more cries, leading you to half a dozen more kittens, some with string tied around their necks so tightly they can barely breathe.
Then, as the days pass, you and your neighbors find 25 cats, including almost a dozen more kittens, that were abandoned and left to die.
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These cats were lucky: The scumbags who abandoned the kitties did so in a place where someone found them and cared enough to try and save their lives. Lots of other cats aren’t so fortunate.
I’ve got some personal experience with being on the receiving end of abandoned cats.
Six years or so ago, I lived on the family homestead with my brother and sister-in-law. One morning, two cats turned up at the end of our driveway. They were young adult males, unneutered, and wearing flea collars. They were both quite friendly, and they certainly would have made themselves at home in our barn if it hadn’t been for a) my three cats; b) my brother and sister-in-law’s two cats; and c) the other barn cat, who’d been abandoned at our place the year before and fought like the Tasmanian Devil of cartoon fame with any cat who dared to question his dominance of said barn.
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I hoped for the best — that maybe these cats had gotten lost and someone was looking for them — so I called the animal shelters in the area to report the cats as “found” in the event that someone was looking for them. I put up a poster at the local grocery store, thinking that someone might see it and call me.
Nobody ever called.
I took them to a rabies vaccination clinic, but we couldn’t keep them or let them indoors.
The shelters were full.
We did our best to feed them, keep them socialized, and provide some kind of protection from the elements until we could get them to some kind of rescue.
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Unfortunately, things did not end well for these cats. The dangers of outdoor life in a rural area caught up with them.
It broke my heart … and it pissed me off.
Abandoning cats on someone else’s land and hoping for the best (or maybe just not giving a crap) is pathetic.
No, cats won’t do okay if you drive by a country home and toss two cats out of your car and hope for the best. Guess what: Homesteaders usually aren’t rich, and the last thing they need is more animals to feed and vet. If a homesteader needs a barn cat, they’ll adopt one from a shelter after it’s been neutered and had all necessary vaccinations.
We couldn’t afford, either financially or logistically, to take care of Oreo and O.C., as we came to call them; we couldn’t provide them with a forever home. And before we could get them to a shelter, they were killed.
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No, cats won’t do okay if you leave them in an abandoned lot. Those kittens certainly would have died if Boyle and her daughters hadn’t found them. That family’s not rich, either — and Boyle’s out almost a thousand bucks taking care of all these cats. Fortunately, the community and her colleagues have stepped up to help her out.
Boyle’s daughters wake up an hour earlier than usual just so they can have time to keep the kittens socialized and make sure they’re adoptable. They come right home from school to feed the kittens and give them some more personal attention.
Here’s a last word for the people who think “making cats go away” is a reasonable solution: It’s not. You’re just making your own irresponsibility someone else’s problem. Put on your big-boy or big-girl pants and start looking for real solutions. There are lots of free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics. There are lots of free vaccination clinics. If the shelters are full, don’t just ditch your cats at the end of someone’s driveway. Grow the hell up and do the right thing.
Photo: Kittens climbing out of a box by Shutterstock