Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Platitudes surround us… “Kindness matters,” “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” “It starts with you…” you get the idea. I’ve spent many years trying to grasp why some people act out of empathy, and others simply walk on by. Statistics can be overwhelming and cause us to be numb to a cause; learning about one person’s suffering and plight to overcome the challenges thrown their way can stir us to react. (I use the term “person” to include all species, not just humans.) Animal sanctuaries, particularly farmed animal sanctuaries, understand this phenomenon and are often able to trigger “lightbulb moments” when folks meet a chicken, cow, or pig with whom they feel a bond. Getting to know an animal who escaped being slaughtered, and experiencing their personality can cause a person to question the social norms of why we eat some animals.
Just as we all have a life story rich with both good and bad experiences, all of the cats at Flower Feline Sanctuary have a story. We often don’t know much about their lives before they came to live with us but we can piece together clues based on their health, preferences, and attitude. Many of these kitties happened to get lucky by chance. Paddy, Lottie, Bootsie and Angel were selected for “transport” on a certain day, but cats in the same shelters on the following days were not. Those cats died because they had ended up in a high kill shelter and rescues can only transport out so many animals so many times. Other kitties’ lives changed because of a single act of kindness - a person chose to help him or her instead of saying to themself, “I can’t save them all, it’s just a stray cat after all.” Clara Bow is such a cat.
Clara Bow was literally living in a drainage pipe in a condo complex in a busy downtown area. The shrubs that had been planted as landscaping didn’t provide much coverage. A resident saw her and started feeding her and making sure she had water during the past summer’s heat wave. Clara Bow obviously had been sleeping rough for a while and she needed medical care - she had a very visible wound on her neck and chest. So the kind lady who fed her took it upon herself to get Clara Bow trapped and into an experienced foster home working with a rescue group. After all, Clara Bow was a feral cat. After Clara Bow had been treated for her terrible flea allergies that had caused her self inflicted wounds and was recovering in the foster home, it became clear that she needed a place to live where she could be monitored for fleas and treated if necessary, but she couldn’t live as a house cat. That’s when I received an email inquiring if we had space. Knowing that feral cats can often adjust quite well to group living, I said we could take her. After medical clearance, volunteers then drove Clara Bow the five hours (each way!) to our sanctuary.
Clara Bow’s life story is still evolving of course. She is getting more comfortable every day with her caretakers and the sanctuary routines. Hopefully she will develop relationships with the other cats, just as Jackson and Chase have. These two boys are feral and want nothing to do with humans, but have forged bonds with sweet Bramwell. Fortunately, Clara Bow wasn’t taken to an animal shelter, as she most certainly would have been euthanized. (Some shelters have barn cat programs but these spots are usually reserved only for healthy cats. How successful these programs are is another topic.) Nationwide, over 70% of all cats who enter shelters are killed. When you factor in feral cats, that figure is much higher. The National Kitten Coalition cites 1.4 million cats being killed annually in shelters. Hard to fathom that staggering number right? But when you meet one, or two, or 12 cats that you can personally help, it becomes well, personal.
Here’s a list, which is by no means exhaustive, of ways you might help lower that death toll:
Team up with humane trappers and help get cats in for spay/neuter. Watch Youtube videos for more information on trap/neuter/return.
Ask colony caretakers about becoming a feeder a few days a week at an established feral site. Caretakers can often use a break and will be happy to share the responsibility.
Enjoy road trips? Rescues who do transport often need drivers.
Own a business or are you an artist or crafter? Help plan a fundraiser or donate a unique item that will not only raise money but will enlist more fans to the cause.
Sign up to become a monthly donor with your favorite rescue group. Thank you!