“Cat rescue is like a virus,” says Des placidly about the cat obsession that has taken over his life. “And once you’re infected, it’s incurable.”
― Denise Flaim, Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck,and a Few Turtles
One of the great challenges of rescue work is knowing what you can do, and what you can’t, and being okay with that. It can become an obsession that takes over your life, and eventually becomes no fun at all – just pure drudge. Or you can maintain a healthy balance, doing what you can and knowing that there are others doing the same, that the world does not rest on your shoulders alone. That is, of course, easier said than done.
Some years ago I volunteered with PAWS of Central PA helping to clean out the cat’s cages at a local pet store that helped the kitties get adopted. It was very rewarding, but it didn’t take long before I had three of their cats in my home on top of the cats I already had. We were up to eight cats before we knew it. My pet sitting business was just starting to take off then, and I couldn’t count on being available at any particular time, so I stopped volunteering, with regrets and also a little relief. Clearly I did not know how to say “no” to any cat who seemed to need a good home.
Blackie, who has been with us for about six weeks or so now, would be the eighth cat again, and that just isn’t an option. Annie, our seventh, the little feral I nursed last fall, was not really in the plan either. But as I’ve nursed Blackie, as sweet as she is, I became so clear that I can’t keep taking in every sick feral cat I nurse. My house will overflow in a very short period of time. I’ve learned a little about boundaries and limits in the years since I volunteered with PAWS.
Alternatives were discussed. No adoptive homes presented themselves. Blackie’s eye that had been so badly lacerated is semi-healed, but semi is as good as it is going to get. She still has a small protrusion on the cornea, and it doesn’t seem that will go away. Her sight is probably limited to motion and light, but since we can’t ask her to read the eye chart, we can’t say for certain what she sees. And she is a feral cat. Between 1-2 years old, which is old for a feral coming inside. She is not at all aggressive, but she is fearful. If approached carefully she will let me pet her and she does purr for me. But she will never be a lap cat or anything close to it.
Luckily, there is a wonderful place for her, and I am so grateful that they have a space with her name on it. The Best Little Cat House in PA takes in cats who have no other place to go. They have an area for FIV/FELV positive cats, which is a godsend of a ministry. Blackie, however, will be going into their Well Room, a place for feral cats with disabilities, cats with chronic illnesses who are unwanted, and a variety of other non-infectious cats who need some care and a place that is safe and loving.
If Blackie had to go back outside, we would have had to take out her eye so it wouldn’t get infected, but in her new home she can keep the eye. If she needs drops from time to time, there’s someone there to do that for her. She will have inside space and access to an outdoor area as well, and will have a very good and safe life in her new home. I will miss her, but am deeply grateful to these good people who have a space for her.
She’ll head for her new home sometime soon. I hope it is the perfect place for her, and she finds the perfect playmates and the very best toys to fill her days. She does love her toys, and I’m sure they have all the best ones!