Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thoughts On The Lives Of The Forgotten

The question must be posed, what can you do, today, to help feral, stray and abandoned cats? Why is this such an issue for me?

I grew up with cats. My childhood memories are chock full of all the unique and different personality traits and characters of the cats our family bought from pet stores, picked up in shelters, saved from the hostile outdoors and sometimes from people's inhumanity. I guess it goes back a long way to my mother who saved any and every animal she could and nursed them back to health when we lived in Whitehorse, Yukon ~ Land Of The Midnight Sun. When my dad was away during the winter working in different town up the highway because there was little work in town, it was my mother who took care of things at home, sometimes with a shot gun. One winter my siblings and I helped her save the lives of a mother puma and her starving cubs. Another, I watched my mother train the shotgun on a large Black Bear that had come to raid the garage way at the back of our house. She would never have shot it; only if it threatened would she have let a shot off in the air to scare it away. When they did come round, they never threatened us, they were just hungry. You could say that my love and respect for animals goes back to my childhood when my parents taught me the value of preserving and taking responsibility for the family pets and wild animals that on occasion needed human intervention to survive. They also taught us the importance of understanding that this planet and all that is in it does not belong to us humans, its all 'on loan' from a powerful, Almighty God who will judge each and every one of us according to how we have treated His Creation. In light of my beliefs, I'd like to provide some information that I hope you will make use of and find helpful and inspiring.

Ferals, wild cats, strays, abandoned and throwaways ~ we have so many names and designations for these mysterious felines we occasionally catch a glimpse of peeking out from under our porch in that 'frightened' way or darting as fast as their paws can carry them into abandoned buildings, as far from our reach as they can manage. Most of them share a single destiny: short-lived and harsh lives. Fortunately, helping feral and abandoned cats isn’t difficult if one wants to help. The website WebMD went to their experts in animal health and care for the tips we all need to make a difference in the lives of our feline friends who are living, quite literally, on the edge. Please use it.
There are some good stories of intervention and rescue and I'd like to share them with you. 
rescued, injured orange cat in cage
Pete rescued and brought in for recovery. His eye needed to be  surgically removed after he was hit by a car. He was absolutely terrified when he was first brought in but as he started to recover, he became more  trusting and changed into a marvelous, gentle little cat.

one eyed orange and white cat laying on floor

After receiving tender care and attention at a recovery center. Pete is now happily homed with a very loving couple in Switzerland. 

 Then there's Holly's story:
orange cat with injured eye in box

"Little Holly was found in this terrible condition. The infection was spreading all over her face. There was no choice but to have her eye removed. The operation to remove her eye was Eur 85"

injured orange and white cat in blue basin
Sweet little Holly recovering from her eye operation. She is left with only partial sight in her remaining eye and now needs daily medication.
A feral cat is any cat who is too poorly socialized to be handled by humans and because of that, cannot be placed into a typical pet home. There are approximately 70 million feral cats worldwide, about the same number as their counterparts who have homes. Usually ferals are the offspring of cats who were either lost or abandoned by their owners and grew up without any kind of proper socialization or interaction by humans so they have no bonds to connect with us on. Females can become pregnant as early in their young lives as 16 weeks of age, then go on to have two to three or more litters a year, every year. So the feral cat population and the problems that arise from it grows and becomes a self perpetuating cycle of suffering. In just seven years of life, a single female cat and her kittens can produce 420,000 more cats. One can understand a certain sense of urgency in intervening to help prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. 
abandoned rescued cat in a cage
"Lewis, a young one-eyed cat who was dumped by his owner was brought to a shelter in a very bad state. He spent a few months in the recovery center where he grew healthy and finally recovered. Lewis can be seen enjoying a new start in a program called Homed Animals".
I'm more than sure that some people have romanticized their free-roaming lives, unfortunately the truth is very far from this fantasy. The reality is much more devastating; ferals, strays, throwaways and abandoned cats/kittens all too often live in vacant lots, dodge cars in the streets and eat from trash cans whenever they can find a scrap of food. They face injuries that become infected and cause them extreme pain, diseases and an endless cycle of near constant pregnancy of which only a few kittens survive and they all suffer extremes in human treatment and elements of the weather. The life of ferals, strays and abandoned cats is not a natural one and can sometimes last for just two or three years before you find them dead in your flower bed or beside the bushes in your back yard.
Feral cats also leave issues on our doorstep that we complain about but do little to nothing constructive to aid the situation, including the noisy cat fights over that empty box one of them is living in that the other wants, odors, possibly from infections and urinating to mark their small scrap of territory; then there are the flea infestations that our pets get from them and the inevitable breeding that creates even more unwanted cats in your already overcrowded neighborhoods. The experts are agreed that one of the very best ways to help feral cats and cat groups known as colonies, is through local neutering and spay programs done through Cat Action, the SPCA or ASPCA and other groups.

All over the net there are pleas just like this one:
"Unfortunately, at present we do not have sufficient fund to keep the ward open. This means that there will be no place for the cats to go for recovery. It would also mean we would have no place where to keep rescued abandoned cats until they can be re-homed. PLEASE help us keep this 'ward' open. We need your monthly donation to enable us to carry on with this voluntary work. Payment methods OR contact us: SASG, PO Box 31, St. Pauls Bay, Malta''.

The results of your tax returned donations are this:
a room of rescued cats
"A few of the cats that have received shelter at the ward. Many of these cats have now found new homes and have started a new life with loving and caring owners. Many now live in Germany, a few in Switzerland and some in Malta".
In my next blog I will provide some ideas that I see caring people, including me, doing to help put an end to the suffering and overpopulation of these street animals and will share a story or two from my own, up close and personal experiences. So, stay tuned. The fat lady hasn't sung yet on this issue and their is still time and hope. In the meantime, here is another site to look at
Cat Action team on Prince Edward Island
 Cat and Colony Care
 Colony Coordinator
Diane Minick
 Prince County Colony Care
Beverly Hillier
 West Prince County Colony Care
Gayle Adams
Shelter Coordinator/ Media Contact
Donald Turner


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