Animal lovers tend to gravitate toward one another, and one of the biggest animal lovers I know has been up to good work again lately. My friend of many years has been feeding a feral cat in her neighbourhood for the better part of a year. During the Alberta winter, where temperatures often plummet below minus forty, she took pity on him and built the poor guy an insulated cat house in her front yard. She’s also been leaving food out for him; he appreciates the chow but does not have any interest in befriending people.
This skittish feline, who has longish black hair and seems tough as nails, is known as Scruffy C. Scrufferton, or just Scruffy for ease of conversation. I’m pretty sure the middle initial stands for “Cat.” Mr. Scrufferton now hangs around my friend’s house regularly, and is looking much better since he’s been getting regular meals. Both my friend and her little boy, my awesome godson, are terribly allergic to cats (in the hives and swollen faces manner) so Scruffy could never be a house pet for their family, even if they were able to work him through his wild catness.
Here’s the problem: my friend really didn’t want Scruffy to be on the streets creating a thousand baby Scruffy juniors. There is enough of a homeless animal problem as it is. Most feral cats who are picked up by our city animal control services are euthanized because they can’t be homed. She didn’t have the heart to live-trap Scruffy and have the city pick up him to kill him, so she just kept trying to keep him fed and warmer while she searched for help for her unfriendly kitty friend.
Enter Little Cats Lost, a local animal charity that focuses on managing feral cat populations and homing those stray cats that can be socialized into pets. Little Cats Lost runs trap-neuter-return programs to stabilize feral cat populations. Simply euthanizing feral cats does not prevent the surviving members of a colony from reproducing, which leads to yet more homeless cats moving into the territory of those who have been put to death, leading in turn to more cats being euthanized to control populations. Programs like the one provided by Little Cats Lost sterilize feral cats, microchip them, notch their ears for identification, and return them to their original neighbourhoods. Feral cats are highly territorial creatures, and they will not allow other cats to encroach on their space, so keeping a smaller number of sterilized cats that are vaccinated and as healthy as possible can actually keep the numbers of feral felines in that area stable and minimal.
Luckily for Scruffy, Little Cats Lost took on his case. After being lured into a live trap with a luscious can of flaked white tuna, he found himself suddenly whisked to the vet. I’m sure he doesn’t remember much, only waking up groggy, sore, and short a couple of original parts. Upon investigation, the vet found Scruffy needed a few minor wounds cleaned and stitched, and also treated a deep abscess in his ear. It was touch and go for a few days, when it wasn’t clear if the abscess would drain or continue to fester and necessitate euthanasia to prevent Scruffy from a slow and nasty death.
Scruffy–shaved, neutered, and angry as hell–lived in a kennel in my friend’s bathroom until he was alert and feisty enough to fend for himself outside. I have a photo of him scowling with indignation, but it’s not uploading right now despite many attempts. I’m happy to report his ear drains are doing their jobs and he is well on his way to a full recovery. If he really understood how lucky he is, I think Scruffy would thank my friend and her family for helping him both stop sowing his wild oats and live a healthier, longer life. At least I’m rooting from the sidelines.
A big, fat thank you to Little Cats Lost for covering Scruffy’s vet bills and for helping to control cat populations while keeping the homeless kitties as healthy as possible.
I get really tired of people posting on Facebook and other media asking people “like if you’re against animal abuse,” or “like to help end homeless pets,” “if you don’t like within seven seconds, you have no heart.” These posts are often accompanied by photos of horrifically injured or abused animals and draw lots of temporary attention without actually changing anything.
“Liking” a photograph is a momentary act, and people soon forget about the animals featured in these images. Clicking a button on your computer does squat to improve the lives of critters unless you’re making a donation and/or actively helping creatures in need. It doesn’t take much to help vulnerable animals: even five dollars or an hour of your time can help chip away at the massive task of ending the tragedy of homeless and abused animals. Please consider committing a small portion of your extra time or funds to truly make a difference. The animals won’t be able to thank you directly, but you can change a living thing’s life in ways he or she could never imagine.
Stay tuned for excellent news on tomorrow’s Mammal Mondays post.
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