‘Tis the season to look back on the year that is passing away. By far, the thought that traveled across my consciousness most often in 2015 was:
Why in the world did I think it was a good idea to become president of a 501(c)3? Even our small Derry Township Community Cats?
Did I really need a second full-time job?
Even worse, am I that much of a workaholic? (Actually, the answer to that one is pretty easy. Hi, my name is Debra and I’m a workaholic.)
Trying to take our little Derry Township Community Cat program to the next level this last year has been one of the hardest tasks I’ve taken on in many years. But let’s be honest. It has also been one of the most rewarding.
Can I see another’s woe, And not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, And not seek for kind relief? — William Blake
On the worst of days…and there were more than enough of them…it is still all about the cats. Cats that were abandoned, in some cases. Cats who have been injured and need medical care. Cats who have to survive cold winter nights outside, and sometimes don’t make it to morning.
Cats who have litter after litter after litter of kittens, who often don’t make it either, and if they do, they just start making their own babies. That’s why we – and I mean those of us who do trap/neuter/return work, and those who take care of colonies of feral cats that just show up on their property, and those who donate time or money or resources to help the rest of us – that’s why we do the work. To help the cats, and to prevent even more kittens from being born to a short life or difficult existence. It is all about the cats.
“Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.” ― Albert Schweitzer
Most of them go back to their colonies. Some, too sick to return, go to one of various sanctuaries we have relationships with, to live out their lives in a safe place. Every once in a while, thankfully not often, we have to euthanize a cat. We took in four newborns recently, and one of our wonderful volunteers nursed the kittens for four weeks only to find that they all had FeLV (feline leukemina), deadly to kittens especially, and we had to let them all go. Euthanizing any cat is hard. Euthanizing kittens is heartbreaking.
Other kittens, if they are young and malleable enough to adapt to the companionship of people, go to local rescues and get furever homes. That’s the best part – getting the young ones off the streets and into the arms of people who will love them.
So, it was definitely a hard year. We didn’t have a building to house the cats pre and post surgery, or a place for the sick cats who usually need an extended stay, so almost all of the 144 cats we TNR’d this year came through my garage or basement, or my spare bedroom which was the infirmary. At times there were 15-20 cats in the house, and I’m more than happy to report that we will have a building soon, where the cats can hang out. A sick one or two may still get to visit my infirmary, especially if they need constant care, but most of the cats will enjoy the hospitality of our new facility.
Making that happen was the hardest part of this last year, but it is underway, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and our municipality. It was a hard year…a year in which I was sorely tempted to give up several times. But it came together in the end. We will be starting 2016 with the resources we need to finish trapping and caring for all the cats of our municipality. (Here kitty, kitty…)
We’ve made amazing progress in the three years we’ve been in existence. We’ve TNR’d around 750 cats. 70% of the cats we trapped this year had already been “done.” (They had ear tips, a small slice off the top of the left ear, to indicate that they’ve already been spayed or neutered.) Finishing the job is in sight, especially with a building where we can do so many more cats at a time. I look forward to what we’ll get done in 2016, and I am going to resist thinking about what I can spend my days on once all the cats of Derry Township have graduated from our program. Hi, I’m Debra, and I’m a workaholic.
Happy 2016 to us all!