So often in our feral cat rescue (Marin Friends of Ferals) it feels like we’re barely making a dent in controlling breeding. You think rabbits and mice are prolific baby-makers? Well, unaltered felines are like polygamists with 5 kids per wife, or maybe the Duggar family (19 Kids and Counting). They have no Off switch.
But the difference with cats is that they can’t control their mating and subsequent reproducing. No, I’m afraid this one’s on us. People refuse to spay and neuter pets for many reasons: they believe it will make the animal lazy and fat (false); some are simply against birth control; others just can’t be bothered. You name it, I’ve heard it.
But here’s the thing – I see on a daily basis what those beliefs produce and it’s often heartbreaking. One unaltered female might have 3 to 4 litters a year. That could mean 20 kittens, all born next to the woodpile in your backyard. When we ignore their predicament, it only gets worse. Life is not an easy ride for ferals left to fend for themselves.Without human contact, kittens fear people, so they may not be adoptable. That’s why time is not our friend here. We only have 2 to 3 months to reach them before they become feral, never to have the cushy life of loved domestics. So that brings me to Ebony and Harmony. Normally, trapping kittens is simple. But these two black beauties took us days to catch. We were stumped as to how they evaded the trap until we finally caught them. Turns out both were essentially blind.
When our vet diagnosed the 8-week-old kittens with Small Eye Syndrome, we learned their vision ended mere inches from their noses. Our nonprofit raised funds for surgery, but still, their eyesight only minimally improved.
E & H now had 2 strikes against them: they’re black cats (normally the last to be adopted in shelters) and they remained special-needs felines. Oh joy.We placed E & H on numerous adoption sites but after months with no nibbles, we contacted Gwen Cooper, author of Homer’s Odyssey. Gwen has a Facebook page dedicated to her late blind cat, Homer, and she allowed us to reach out to Homer’s fans. Within 4 hours we had over 500 messages! My phone pinged every few seconds.
Anyway, we discovered there’s tons of folks who love black fur and don’t mind that E & H have sight-impaired, unusually small eyes. We considered many potential adopters but ultimately chose a couple in Southern California.
Now for the next step…how do we get them to their new home?
Linda, my coworker, and I prepared to take the 20-hour round-trip drive when Carol, one of our volunteers, offered her and her hubby’s plane for the transport. Can you believe that? Carol and Jerry are also volunteers with Wings of Rescue. Jerry happened to be flying south last Sunday and agreed to deliver the cats. I knew then that it was meant to be. (Timing is everything!) Once we chose their guardians, it all just flowed. How rare is that?
Months of fostering, showing the cats at adoption events and reaching out to numerous rescue groups finally paid off; E & H were going home.
Retrieving the pair from their foster mom, I met Jerry at our small local airport Sunday afternoon. Rachel, our photographer, chronicled it all.
As the cats began their journey home, texts, phone calls and emails flew back and forth between all who had formed an emotional attachment to them. I have to admit, I had goose bumps watching the plane fly away. (What can I say, I’m a sap.)
That night we received a photo from the duo’s new family. The cats lie snuggled together on their mom’s lap like that was exactly where they belonged. Now don’t get me wrong; I know it’s only 2 cats, so it hardly makes a dent, right? In the end, does it really matter? Allow me to answer that:
Yes, it does. It matters to Ebony and Harmony.
So all in all, I believe last Sunday was just about purrfect. Or, as I like to say in feline rescue, it was a good day at the office.
“Saving one won’t change the world but it will change the world for the one you save.”
Writer’s note: Since I just adopted my latest foster, a black cat, I thought I’d post this column from March, 2014 in his honor. I’ll tell you about him next week…