|Keeping Cats Indoors
THIS IS ALL I HAVE LEFT OF HER . . .
Our beautiful 3 year old lilac siamese purr-monster. Alex's best buddy.
Even though Alex was quite a bit older (a 13 year-old lilac Siamese), if
you were looking for Charlotte, you knew Alex would always be close by.
I have always had Siamese cats, even as a child. Our family always allowed
them to go outside, because after all, who can deny a Siamese cat
anything? We lived in the suburbs, with no major highways, and we were
a family to never have lost a kitty to "outside dangers" such
as car accidents or poisonings. So I carried this Outdoor Philosophy with
me into my adulthood.
With Alex being 13, my husband and I were concerned that we had better bring
another furry baby into the household. Being a member of every animal
around, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
the National Humane Education Society, PETA, (if it has the word animal
in it, I've funded it!), in addition to having sat on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Animal League (non-euthanizing shelter), I knew three things:
(1) I wanted another Siamese
(2) I wanted to give a shelter cat another chance at life
(3) I would be a shoe-in for adoption from the Siamese Rescue.
They would be begging to get me!
I completed the adoption process in record time! One of my references even
wrote, "In my next life, I want to come back as one of Karen's cats." I
thought, this is a slam dunk - just give me my kitty!! I was even asking
them to put my chosen kitty on hold for me while we got all the darn paperwork
However I began to suspect that all was not going well when I was asked
to elaborate extensively on the fact that I listed occasional outside trips on my application. I told them that Alex was an angel who had never, never
gone outside her home boundaries in all her 13 years, and now that she had
arthritis, it was all she could do to sit on the lounge chair.
And Charlotte, well, she wears a beautiful red, diamond-studded collar with her ID tag on it every time she goes out the door! And when she goes out,
she is supervised; I'm always at home when she is outside. I've had her
for 3 years, and there hadn't been a catastrophe yet!
Well, Siamese Rescue didn't like this. They would not let me adopt a kitty
unless I agreed to put both cats on harnesses while they were outside. I
had been rejected for adoption! My friends laughed hysterically - Ms. Animal Lover couldn't even get a shelter cat! To add insult to injury, I had even
done adoptions for the Richmond Animal League!
You can't imagine how angry I was with these people. I was indignant. I
called the Director and demanded further explanations. I went into excessive elaboration about my loyalty to the Siamese breed, along with my stellar
credentials. I begged. I cried. I wanted to help another animal have a home. I could not understand how these people could turn me down and not give
a shelter kitty a wonderful, loving home. These folks were fanatics!! They
clearly had taken a good idea too far. I truly felt these people were taking themselves too seriously.
But I refused to give up. I demanded that at the next Board meeting, I be
allowed to present my case for review. I wanted to be granted an exception
to the harness rule, because Alex's arthritis would make a harness too painful
for her to wear. They agreed to hear my case. Many times I approached the
computer - I was going to send a scathing letter to all of them and give
them a piece of my mind. But each time I walked away, reminding myself that I would be acting out of emotion rather than composure, and I had better
calm down first.
I never got to have my case reviewed at the Board meeting. A few weeks later,
on one of those beautiful summer days, another one of the many days I let
Charlotte outside, my beautiful, precious Charlotte was found dead across
the street. I came upon her first. We assumed she was hit by a car, but
will never know for sure. For some unknown reason, she had ventured out
across the road bordering our house. I called and called for her, but this
time she did not come home. I will never know whether or how long Charlotte suffered or whether anyone even stopped and tried to help her, but I can
tell you that these questions continue to haunt me.
I was not there for her when she left this world. I will never watch Charlotte
grow old gracefully. I will never hold her again and hear her purr. After
she died, I had to endure watching Alex look for her over and over. I watched
my husband grieve. And I feel responsible, because I should have known that no matter what my experience has been with letting cats go outside, and
no matter how smart and well-disciplined Charlotte was, I cannot control
the outside world. And our world is mean, and it is cruel. It is fast and
furious for those little kitties who want nothing more than to play and
smell and chase a chipmunk across the street. They are innocent beings in
a not-so-innocent world. And they depend on us to make their world safe.
And I failed to do this for Charlotte.
Death by motor vehicles (roughly 65% of all outdoor cat deaths) is just
one of the many perils that await your kitty in the outside world. Have
you thought about poisonings from weedkillers, antifreeze and rodent poisons?
What about the people that are cruel, and seek out animals for sale to medical
researchers and for their own pathetic entertainment through physical abuse? Cats can get caught in fan belts when seeking warmth, or picked up by owls, hawks, or vicious loose dogs. Think of the microscopic parasites, and the
diseases that can be picked up by using gardens as litter boxes. Cats, being natural predators, can pick up tapeworms, fleas and roundworms by hunting
small prey such as mice, moles, chipmunks and birds. Finally, there are
several fatal diseases out there - Feline Leukemia, for which there is a
vaccine, yes, but 100% effectiveness is questioned; and Feline Aids, for
which there is no vaccine, and which is always fatal. Siamese Rescue can
provide you with additional research statistics and information about the
dangers facing outdoor cats - this is what they base their policies on.
Remember, you are getting a cat that has already been rescued from some
form of abuse, abandonment or human apathy - you are giving them a second
chance at life - don't let them down!
Someone else has already done that!
I pray for Charlotte's forgiveness. I told her I would try to make it up
to her by agreeing to keep any new kitties indoors from now on. I called
Siamese Rescue, and told them how sorry I was for doubting them and their
intentions. I am a believer now. But I paid with Charlotte's life to learn
this lesson. It won't happen again - ever.
If you have been turned down for adoption, I can understand all the feelings you must have: bewilderment, anger, sadness, frustration, rejection, and
more anger. I know you would give a wonderful home to one of these kitties. But it has to be on their terms, because that is the right thing and the
best thing for the cat. Please reconsider your position. I had to lose my
beloved Charlotte to reconsider mine.
You don't want to be in my position:
left with just a collar.....
Here are a couple additional sites you should visit for more information on this subject.
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