Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hobbes, Take Two

Yesterday I wrote about when Richard found Hobbes, then a very small kitten, huddling in the pouring rain and crying for rescue. When Richard picked him up, dried him off, and tucked him into the front of his jacket, Hobbes cuddled and purred.

Yesterday morning I was thinking about that and it hit me all over again. Hobbes cuddled and purred. That means he was used to human contact -- a feral kitten would have run away from Richard, and even if he had been caught, would never have cuddled -- he would have spit and fought. So, if he wasn't feral, that means he hadn't wandered off from his mother. He had been thrown away, to live or die as luck would have it. To be carried off by an eagle or torn apart by dogs or run over or, considering the weather that day, to catch pneumonia or even drown. At the very best, if no one had found him and taken him in, to starve. One minute, part of a litter, cared for by a loving mother; the next, out in the rain to make it on his own however he might.

Because someone was too lazy or too cheap to get their cat fixed. Probably thought having just one litter would be good for her or that seeing kittens born would be good for their children or maybe just liked having kittens around for a while. And then, they couldn't find homes for all of them, and Hobbes was thrown out into the rain.

I think that when you have a pet, you have responsibilities. One of those is to deal with the issue of reproduction. You have a few honorable choices: get the animal fixed (either sex), find homes for the young, keep your animal completely away from others of its species, or raise the young you can't find homes for yourself. I can't think of any others.

Allowing your tomcat to roam is not one of the choices, which someone certainly did in Hobbes's case. Allowing your cat to have kittens and then abandoning one or more of them is not one of the choices, which someone else certainly did in Hobbes's case.

It's not that I am pure here. I once, in my younger and less aware days, had a fluffy white tomcat who impregnated half the neighborhood and I was proud of all the fluffy white kittens I saw in the surrounding blocks. I've had females who I allowed to have kittens. But I only had to take a kitten to the pound once and be told that they would put it to sleep to convince me that I would get that kitten fixed, take it home, try harder to find it a home, and get its mother fixed.

But, throwing a kitten out in the rain is in a whole different class. It is cruel. It is heartless. If a person will treat a helpless animal, the offspring of the cat who curls up in their lap and purrs, like that, how do they treat people? For, we are consistent in these matters. Psychologists know that the first step to child abuse is animal abuse. That the distance between being callous to kittens and being callous to children is very short.

And, if we are allowing the cat to have kittens for the good of the children, what are we teaching the children? That life is cheap? That loving, trusting, feeling animals can be mistreated with impunity?


J said...

You're probably right about the person who put Hobbes out...but another possibility is that he simply wandered out and got lost...how many 'lost cat', 'lost kitten', 'lost dog' signs do we see every day...too many. Probably he was put out, because he was too small to have likely wandered that far from his mother...but it's possible. Sigh.

People who do those things to animials piss me off, too.

I'll tip my hat to my SIL, La Luna, here. A feral cat had kittens in her yard, and while she was never able to catch the mother, she caught the kittens, had them fixed and found them homes. Yay, Luna!

Maya's Granny said...

My friend Harold and his 98-year-old step-father have rounded up six feral female cats from their neighborhood, had them fixed, released, and continue to feed them. They have also taken in four of their kittens and put in the effort to socialize them and kept them.

Cuppa said...

Three cheers for Luna and Harold!

Zan said...

I drive people crazy with my cat collection. When I moved into this house, there was a cat in the yard. She was the cat of the people who had lived her previously, but they'd just left her when they moved! So, I started feeding her, gave her a name and she's been a good yard cat ever since. She had a litter of kittens, which I tamed and found homes for. Why? Because that's the right thing to do. You don't let an animal starve. It's not right. And, apparently, word got out to the cats around town that a Cat Sucker lives here because the buggers show up on a regular basis, waiting to be fed. And I feed them, catch the ones I can, get them all fixed up and placed in new homes. Because its' the right thing to do. It's what I'd want someone to do for me if I were a cat.

And people who don't want to fix their cats? Idiots. Really. I love kittens. I really, really do. But I get all my animals fixed because not everyone loves kittens and I can only take care of so many. Until I own my own home and land, I have to limit how many cats I have. (Once i have the space, I'm totally building a nice big barn just for stray cats. Any cat that needs a home will have one, for as long as they live. Because you just can't let them starve or be run over or die of some stupid disease that a few antibotics would cure.)

Wystful1 said...

Truly, I am a cat lover from way back--way, WAY back!

I had a friend just not long ago who was taking their cat to the vet in one of the animal carriers and when they arrived at the vet's office and opened the hatch to their SUV, and began to lift the carrier out, the cat had worked the latch loose and when time allowed, the cat batted the cage door and off it ran! The vet of course posted pictures, but as yet the sweet darling cat hasn't been found. Maybe it'll find it's way back home, who knows.

I am very much against animal cruelty, but there are times that an animal, loved and wanted gets loose, and finds itself lost or hungry and will be friends with anyone.

It's sad. I hope Hobbes is in good, loving hands now and is well taken care of.

Thanks for the visit today---and the wonderful sweet comments.

Now, I gotta go peruse your blog some more.

Happy day.

Mary Lou said...

I have all of my cats fixed as soon as they are old enough. My dog and bunny too! I LOVE kittens, they are my favorite thing in the whole wide world, but I can go to the no kill shelter and find all the ones I want. I foster parent for them, and usually end up keeping one out of each litter.

I also have "porch critters" that I feed. THey can not be caught, and are very wary and feral, but they expect their dinner to be on the porch as soon as the lights go out.

Anvilcloud said...

I agree that you can tell a lot about people by how they treat their critters. Gotta love the critters.

ShortWoman said...

Amen, Granny. Having been an apartment dweller, I know way too much about stray cat proliferation. You start with one or two cute outdoor cats, and a friendly soul who doesn't want to see them go hungry (mom), and soon you're banging the hood of your car before you start it up lest you kill 3 kittens trying to leave home. True fact about stray cats: they do not care if the cat they are being amorous with is a close blood relative.

Make no mistake, we need a certain number of outdoor kitties to keep vermin under control (not all of us are lucky enough to have owls and such living nearby). But let's make sure our housepets are spayed and neutered! (And let's send a modest check to our local no-kill shelter while we are at it).

KelliAmanda said...

Lovely post. As I am currently living with five cats and two dogs, all rescues, nothing makes me angrier than people being irresponsible with their animals. My Pip was a throw-away kitty. A woman found him and his three litter mates on the side of the road when she was doing a roadside clean-up project. She wouldn't take them to the shelter because they were too small and there was only one no-kill shelter in the area, which had no room. She found them all homes, but they are the lucky ones. My other cats (kittens) are former ferals who are doing wonderfully now and their mom, who looked like a kitten herself, was trapped, spayed and released back to her old stomping ground. But finding homes for these guys? Not easy. So, they are with me.

The thing I don't get deals with your point about the fine line between respect for animal life and respect for human life. Why is this not obvious to everyone??? If you'd throw away an animal, why wouldn't you throw away, or abuse, a human, particularly a child? Yet, it's as though the powers that be don't see that connection. Sigh.

Nicole said...

Hear, hear! When I lived abroad and got two kitties, I was horrified at the number of people who assumed that I planned to abandon them when we were ready to move back home. That was the normal pattern for young expats, apparently--get a cute cat or dog, enjoy it, and then abandon it as soon as it became necessary to move. I agree with you. An animal is a lifetime commitment.