There are a couple of colonies of stray and feral cats close to where I work. Some of the cats are spayed and neutered; some are not. It seems that people dump off cats here, because they know that they will be fed (mostly by a friend of mine). The cats show varying levels of trust for the humans they come across, but their level of hunger is pretty steady across the lot.
One day last week, my friend filled me in on a new member of the population – a small tabby who seemed to be used to people. In fact, she came right up to my friend to be petted. The tabby looked pregnant when she first showed up about a week prior, and the blood on her backside suggested that she had given birth or miscarried.
As we took our afternoon walking break around the neighboring buildings, we discussed options. Would the tabby be receptive to being caught and taken to the local animal shelter, which has a decent success rate in adopting out young cats? If she really had been pregnant, would she be so eager to leave her babies? Would my friend be able to take her home to keep an eye on her temporarily, even with her own cats to worry about?
As we rounded the corner where traffic passes, we saw something on the side of the road. My heart dropped: it was a dead kitten, still in his sac. He almost certainly had to have belonged to our new tabby, who someone had decided was not worth the care or attention to take somewhere for help. We wondered how the kitten had wound up here; perhaps one of the hawks or seagulls had picked the baby up and dropped him?
Cats have been living outdoors for over 10,000 years on their own, but that doesn’t justify dumping a domesticated animal once a human companion has had enough. If you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for an animal, please explore your options. Contact a reputable shelter or rescue group. And, for God’s sake, spay or neuter your companion animal. It’s stunning how quickly two cats can become ten, then twenty, then more.
Photo credit: Daria Zeoli