I was reading an issue of Cat Fancy this weekend. It’s an issue totally devoted to the Rescue effort and it brought something to my attention that I had never even considered – euthanasia of newborn kittens. Am I naive or does this sound horrific and surprising to anyone else? Euthanasia of animals is a very serious problem, but somehow, it never occurred to me that newborns might be euthanized, even though I know that newborn kittens and puppies are orphaned quite frequently when their mothers die in childbirth or through some kind of accident. I had always read that kittens and puppies were adopted much more frequently than older animals, so I guess I thought that extended to newborns. They would at least get a shot at being adopted. However, it turns out that most shelters are not able to provide the round-the-clock care they need. Not many people are willing to do it at all.

The article profiled a remarkable woman named Fran who regularly takes in orphaned newborn kittens. She has a job, husband, and kids, but she still does this for herself, she says. I believe her. Nothing makes you feel as good as giving of your time to help others. So, why is it so hard to do? I keep wanting to do something, anything to help all of the homeless animals, so that they won’t be needlessly euthanized. There are all kinds of excuses to be made. You have other pets, you have a job, you have kids. Well, so does Fran. But she still does it. She totes them everywhere and the people who run the local shelter know they can call her at 3 a.m. with kittens who need a caretaker and she’ll say “Bring them right over.”

People don’t want to let chaos in to their lives, even if it’s good chaos. They want to be safe. They don’t want to make mistakes. You have to, though. It’s the only way you’ll find happiness, the only way you’ll learn. We need to look for ways we can help, our role in changing the world in whatever way we feel it needs changing. If you see that something is wrong, ask what your role is in fixing it. Then do it, no matter how small it seems. If it doesn’t work out, you still tried. You can stop and try something else. And you will have learned something about yourself in the process. The world will get better, even through your mistakes, if they were made with a sincere wish to help. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.

Ask what you can do. Try the first thing you can think of that sounds palatable. If you can’t take newborn kittens, then take in a foster animal. Or two. Or three. Donate money. Donate time. Donate things. Everyone can do something. When I was a grad student, I donated toys and other items my cats didn’t use anymore and/or didn’t like to the local animal shelter. I went to the shelter and played with the animals and took them out of their cages and just cuddled them, even though I didn’t formally volunteer. Their lives would be so much brighter for just a few minutes of love in their day. The shelter volunteers are too busy trying to keep them alive. They don’t always have the time to do that. But, I’ll bet you do. I also had five dollars a month drawn directly from my bank account. I did that for a time, even after I moved away.

The problem can seem too big to be solved or, to some, it may seem that there are so many more important ones. I believe the treatment of the most innocent creatures in our society says a lot about society as a whole. Helping anyone at all, even in the smallest of ways, will have a ripple effect. Even if you believe the problems of people are more important than the problems of animals, they are still connected. Humans caused the animals’ problems. We have been neglectful and selfish and turned a blind eye, because we didn’t want to be bothered. It is our fault that they are homeless and starving and being killed for no reason. It is our job to fix it. It could be the first step to fixing the world. Even if you just believe in good karma, it could spread that around.

Don’t listen to all the excuses in your head about not being able to take vacations if you adopt a pet or it being too expensive or it making the house dirty. You can make it work if you want it. It will enrich your lives in ways you can’t even imagine or are trying to make yourself forget if you have been a pet-owner before. I was nervous and scared that I wouldn’t like it when I adopted my first cat back in 2002. I had never owned a pet, except fish, and I worried that something would happen to her, because I didn’t know enough about cats or just wasn’t good at taking care of animals. I had never even held a kitten or puppy before I held her for the first time! I learned quickly, though, and it was the best decision I ever made. It completely changed my world to one that was sometimes upsetting, but full of more love and joy and satisfaction than I could have ever imagined before I experienced it. Adopting CC made me a more compassionate person. I was already very sensitive and compassionate, but I had never prioritized the needs of animals or even realized what horrible straits so many were in. Now I know and it hurts, but I would rather know about it and care and try to help than be the oblivious person I was before.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: