Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hope for the Lucky Few?

(Picture left: "Andy," one of the five cats abandoned in milk crates and left to die in a Bronx garage. Can there be hope for him and his four feline companions?)

While at the shelter the other day to pick up, "Lou" the ginger kitty we pulled from the Euth list, five cats were brought in from a seizure in the Bronx.

The cats were picked up from a garage where they had been abandoned and confined in milk crates without food or water for two weeks.

The cats, emaciated and starving were immediately fed and each one gulped the food.

One of the shelter workers was moved to tears when witnessing the horrifying condition of the friendly cats and their sad plight.

Kim immediately took pictures of the bony felines and sent out an emergency alert to rescue groups on behalf of them. She pleads in her mail for rescues to each take one cat.

But, knowing the plight of most cat rescue groups, the rescue of these animals is not guaranteed despite the horrific cruelty they endured.

Cruelty and denial are in fact, the keywords for most of the animals arriving at our city shelters.

The cat, Lou that we pulled the other day, for example, was cruelly dumped inside the shelter lobby the day after Christmas in a cardboard box. The person couldn't be bothered to give information to a shelter clerk or even write a note inside the box. He or she just dropped the box containing the cat and walked out.

Lou, presumably unnerved by the incident, made the dreaded mistake of hissing at a shelter vet when examined and quickly ended up on the Euthanasia list as soon as the 3 day "stray wait" was over. Do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars."

That seems to be the fate for most cats coming into city pounds. Show a little nervousness or fear or shyness and the cat is soon a dead cat. There are just too many of them coming in and too few people to rescue them.

It was extremely difficult for me the other day when in the cat ward that contained a number of cats on the next day's Euth list to make the choice for "Lou."

I agonized for what seemed hours; torn between this cat and that one. Overwhelmed by so many lovely and needy faces. Frustrated that I could only save one cat out of the dozens I was looking at.

In the end, I made a kind of hurried "eenie, meenie, miney moe" decision for Lou, if for no other reasons, than he responded very sweetly to my petting him under his chin and he was already neutered.

But, I felt very depressed when finally leaving the ward, thinking about all those cats I wasn't saving.

And then I saw the five cats that had just arrived from the Bronx milk crates. Each one was in an individual wire cage quickly gobbling up the food that Kim had just given them. I noticed the tears in Kim's eyes and asked if she was having an allergic reaction.

"No, I am just upset about what happened to these cats" she said and then explained to me the situation.

"Sometimes I feel I hate people," she added.

To which I answered, "Welcome to the club. That tends to happen when one has been in shelter or rescue work too long."

Kim is fairly new to the shelter. I have a feeling that with her sensitivity, she might not last too long. One has to develop a somewhat hard shell to remain in this work -- Learn how to bury one's emotions.

I quickly left the shelter Monday night with Lou safely in my Sherpa bag and tried to wipe out the memories of all I had just seen.

The packed dog and cat wards. The line of people waiting to drop off more animals in the shelter lobby. The gaunt faces of the five cats almost starved to death inside of milk crates.

I arrived at Elizabeth's (the foster person's) home a short time later with the new cat.

Elizabeth had her bathroom set up for the new arrival as usually with new cats, it is best to provide them with a small, quiet space where they can feel secure and comfortable before mixing them with other animals or giving them free reign in the home.

Most cats will hide when initially going into a new environment.

But, "Lou" was different. He let both Elizabeth and I know pretty quickly that he didn't want to be shut up in the bathroom and was rather, very curious to come out and explore.

Less than two days later, Lou has adjusted very well. He is friendly, eating well, using the litter box and getting along swimmingly with Elizabeth's other cat, Loverboy.

One wonders why a social, sweet and healthy cat like this was so cruelly abandoned in the first place and why he landed so quickly on the shelter Euthanasia list without being given any kind of chance?

But, one shouldn't wonder too long on these questions because, reality is, they happen everyday and many times a day in shelters around the country.

I just hope Kim is able to find rescue for the pathetic five cats left to die in milk crates and for whose cause she has taken under her wing.

If Kim is to survive in this shelter, she's got to feel there is some human kindness still left out there and some hope -- at least for the lucky few. --- PCA


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