Tuesday, November 10, 2015

CATS, CATS, AND MORE CATS by Marion Ekholm





This is a picture of my present cat, snoozing contentedly on the back of my sofa. Unnamed, it doesn’t eat, poop or require any doctor appointments. Nor does it sit on my PC while I write. I love it.
 


On the other hand, my friend Sandy has adopted a live kitten. Not by choice. Someone (lunatic, heartless idiot) dropped this kitten off at the retirement village where we live, believing it would be loved and cared for. This little one lucked out, because Sandy is a cat lover. However, those cats that don’t find someone like Sandy usually starve to death, get hit by a car, or become food for the numerous coyotes that roam the area.

Phantom & his newest friend.
Over the years, I’ve had several dozen cats. At one point, my husband and I raised pure bred Siamese with Dagmar and Emil. For years after we moved to Arizona, we only had dogs. When the last one died, we thought no more pets. We no longer had restrictions and could travel wherever we wanted without having to find a pet sitter.
Emil
 

When our first granddaughter was born, my husband went back to cats. I was against it, especially when he wanted the long haired ones. This from someone who never got involved with the day to day necessities of feeding, cleaning kitty litter or grooming any animal. I kid you not, I could have made several cats from the fur that collected under the refrigerator.

He started with EBay, a beige Persian. EBay was seven-years-old and on death row at the shelter. I thought she was the ugliest cat I’d ever seen with her flat face and huge golden eyes. She was leery of everyone, but eventually she and I created a loving bond. Then my husband decided EBay was lonely and needed company. He brought in one cat after another, and EBay hated everyone.  She and I both felt life would have been so much better if not for the other cats.
EBay after visiting a hairdresser

When I lived in New Jersey, someone dropped a cat off at our house. It curled around my leg, purring incessantly. It was pregnant. Before I could get hold of the humane society, it had five kittens. Cats were also dropped off at the farm near us. At one point the farmer had twenty-five. He only provided water. The cats had to earn their living by catching any food on their own.

There's a gray and white feral cat living under a chaise lounge on my front porch. The moment it hears me coming out the front door, it gives me a dirty look for disturbing it then runs away. We don't interfere with each other except when it's having a fight with another cat under my window in the middle of the night. I hammer on the window and they disappear. There are bird feathers all over the outdoor carpet, enough for an entire bird, although I've never seen a carcass. And there's no way that bird flew away.

We have dozens of cats at the college where I work. Several people have caught them and had them fixed. There’s always one that escapes, though, and then there’s more kittens. Next door to the college we have a park with more feral cats along with unwanted chickens and rabbits that show up right after Easter. With our warm winters, they don’t freeze to death, but they provide plenty of fodder for the roaming coyotes.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but it frustrates me no end when people drop unwanted pets onto someone else. So please share my message: Most pets that are dropped off don't survive. If you take on the responsibility of a pet, be responsible.  

 

25 comments:

  1. Hi Marion,
    You post is timely. We're getting Mike a puppy real soon because I believe every boy should have a dog. I started out thinking I'd get a rescue, so I went to shelters. Wow. Mike can't take shelters, the noise and something else gets to him. I think he senses that "all" need a home. This last week, I went to PetSmart and their rescue. Over half the dogs they had were chihuahuas. I was amazed. A chihuahua isn't an option. We want a midsize dog that can chase Mike on the bike and one we can take camping with us who has a fighting chance against a coyote. I've been looking at Austrialian Shepherds. And, I've decided for Mike's first dog, that we're going to get him a puppy. Next one will be a rescue.

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    1. We always had puppies starting with an Irish setter. Beautiful dog. Dumb dog. Pain in the neck dog, but at the time neither my husband nor I had ever had one so we were clueless. My son has an Australian heeler or cattle dog. It’s excellent although it can be a nipper and needs to be trained not to do that. But it is highly intelligent and easily trained. Mike will absolutely love having a dog.

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    2. We had an Irish setter when I was a teenager. We lived on a farm, and yes, someone had dropped him off, probably to avoid taking him to the pound. In his case, it worked. As you say, he wasn't the brightest dog when it came to training, although he did learn how to open gates. He was very affectionate, though, and actually charmed my mother, who is not a dog person.

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    3. I still have memories of the dog taking off with my mother holding the leash - she was practically horizontal trying to hold onto it. For all that, the dog was a lover and my kids enjoyed her.

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  2. Aw...I think Ebay looks sweet. For several years, our neighbor put out Carnation Evaporated Milk and attracted every stray cat in the county. They had babies and so on and so on. When a pack of coyotes took over the neighborhood, the feral cat population dropped significantly. Did my neighbor think she was helping these cats? There are enough stray and unwanted animals without creating a breeding ground.

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    1. I was used to domestic cats and it took a while before I could adjust to EBay’s look. But she grew on me with her lovely, sweet personality. But I never could adjust to all that hair.

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  3. I so agree with you, Marion. Our shelters are filled and over-flowing. And our area has a catch-strays-fix-and release the feral cats. When I moved into this townhome complex we had a plethora of yowling cats every night. But someone gathered them up for surgery and when they came back they didn't fight or yowl so much. Now I only see one or two on my morning walks. I suspect the coyotes I also occasionally pass hang around because like you said, they've been feasting. I haven't replaced my animals since our last ones passed on. They lived long and good lives.

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    1. Close by there’s a retention area that used to have many feral cats with people putting out food. I never see cats there anymore because of the coyotes. A man was walking his dog near there and was attacked by two coyotes who were probably looking for their usual meal and couldn’t find any cats.

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  4. I agree. I remember many years ago a woman I know mentioned that her family dropped their cat off in the street and left. I was horrified!! I never forgot it because I just couldn't imagine anyone doing such a thing. I had a German Shepherd named April who we adored. She died 30 years ago and I still miss her. Now we have a 15 year old cat that we can't imagine life without. However, when he passes away my husband said no more animals. I agree. As much as I love them it's too hard when they die, and the older I get the harder it becomes to clean up after them and house them when we go away. We might make ourselves available to others who need sitters for their animals occasionally though. That would probably suit us better.

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    1. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of jobs as an animal sitter. I’m with you. I don’t want to take on the responsibilities of an animal after having had so many in the past. I know the benefits are great but so is the anguish once you no longer have them.

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  5. Marion, I wish everyone would read this post and the comments! We live in rural area and people seem to think they are doing the animals a service by dropping them off in the country. We get a lot of feral cats around here and they do a number on our native bird populations. (Although I don't complain about all the mice and shrews they catch, too.) Ir people would just get their animals spayed and neutered so much of this could be avoided. My favorite cat was a sickly rescued kitten that when I got her I thought wouldn't survive. She grew up to be the best cat. We lost her three years ago after a stroke at the age of 16. I still miss her. Haven't been able to bring myself to get another. I'm afraid no other cat would compare.

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    1. I have fond memories of most of the cats we had. Only one was a disappointment – she decided the inside of my drier was a great place to poop. Had to throw out most of the clothes that were in there and wash the rest. I learned to keep the drier door closed after that.

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  6. Ron and I have give homes to rescued dogs and cats for all of our married life. I agree with everything said about spaying and neutering and never abandoning an animal to fend for itself. Only thing I don't agree with is the unwillingness to have another pet because of the pain and anguish of losing them. I'm not making judgments, honestly, it's just that I've gotten as close to some pets as I've gotten to some people, and I feel things from their perspective. I just wonder if any of us would want to be ignored at any time in our lives because a potential friend didn't want to endure loss when we were gone.

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    1. I guess I'm one of the guilty ones. It was very hard watching my German Shepherd suffer with intense pain; not able to walk or relieve herself outside because of the pain in her legs and hips. And I was traumatized when I woke up and ran to her to find her dead in the corner after a night of pain. None in my family at the time could touch her for hours, we just cried and cried. I was only 17 then but I remember it like it was just yesterday. I did get a cat 15 years later and now he's getting old and my husband won't even let me talk about the possibility that he will die. He can't take it. But really it's more of the care that's an issue now because of time constraints, travel and other difficulties. If not for that I'd probably eventually break down and convince hubby to get another animal after grieving over a lost one. But if we don't I can say that at least two great pets benefited from really good care. ( :

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    2. I often think about getting another animal. At times like that, I grab my stuffed cat and give it a good hug and petting. The thought evaporates. If I really need some loving, there are cats and dogs abundant in my small neighborhood who adore any attention I want to give them.

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  7. Marion, my mother in law has a farm and loves wild/feral cats. They make for great mouse hunters in the barn. She finds they rarely eat the cat food she puts out for them.

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    1. I have nothing against feral cats. I'm with you in that they do a wonderful service keeping the vermin down.

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  8. "If you take on the responsibility of a pet, be responsible." Marion, right now I'm giving you a standing ovation!

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    1. Thanks, I appreciate it. My friend named the new kitten Target because it has a black spot on its side. I think it should be called Lucky for finding a home and another cat that adores it.

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  9. I'm surprised you didn't say anything about Mopet. How she would bring you birds and snacks.

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    1. I couldn't find a picture of her. She weighed about 24 pounds and ate everything that roamed outside that she could catch. She brought me so many presents, the worst one being a garter snake that she kept trying to put in the house.

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  10. In the past ten months I’ve dealt with TWO pregnant long-haired strays and their kittens.

    I wasn’t a cat person before, but these creatures just kept turning up at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother died, and then when we were cleaning the place out, the second stray arrived.

    They’ve all been so affectionate, so much fun, and so gorgeous, but we couldn’t hang onto them.

    Our biggest problem was the crowded shelters and the rude and suspicious RSPCA staff who wanted nothing to do with them. Thankfully a private rescue shelter tracked me down and offered the last mother and her litter a home.

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    1. So glad you could find a safe place for them.

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  11. Growing up we had people constantly drop kitties off at my mom's place. We always tried to help find them homes or kept them. That frustrates me as well when people just dump their responsibilities. Jenny

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