A few weeks ago, Animals Against the Odds Rescue and Rehabilitation (AATO) received a desperate message about a cat who’d been shot by someone with a BB gun at an apartment complex in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.
Volunteers searched for over a day for him and discovered that he was at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society (WPHS), but he was on a 48-hour hold and might be euthanized if someone didn’t claim responsibility for him.
Today Whitehall, as I’ll call him for the community where he was found, was reported to be purring on his rescuer’s lap. “He is truly one of the sweetest boys I’ve ever met,” said the woman who claimed him and took him to a veterinarian for an exam, have his wounds cleaned and get him started on antibiotics. “He has five ’round’ shaped wounds in a strange pattern,” she described in a post on the AATO page on Facebook. “We believe he was shot with a bb gun after interviewing several neighbors who all report seeing a group of young boys with BB guns in the same area.”
She remarked that he is doing well. “I have to irrigate and clean his wounds, but he doesn’t even put up a struggle, as if he knows it will help. He has an appointment for a re-check at the vet next week, and probably another shot of antibiotics, but I think he will make a full recovery!
“Of course, we still need to get him shots, neutered, treated for parasites, and microchipped to be ready for adoption, but we want him to have time to recover from the trauma and antibiotics before all that. So, he will be in foster for at least a few more weeks.”
Whitehall unfortunately isn’t the only cat to find himself abused and homeless this summer, and he’s not the only stray/feral cat taken in by this rescuer, or helped by AATO or any one of thousands of other individuals and organizations large and small all around the country. While AATO will help to pay for Whitehall’s care and his rescuer will visit a low-cost clinic for his neutering and shots, AATO is a very small non-profit and one cat with high-cost needs can break their budget. A portion of it is also borne by his rescuer, and with multiple cats that can quickly be unaffordable.
And a sweet young girl who nobody wants
And yet the cats keep coming. Melanie, another long-time rescuer who you may know from reading The Creative Cat who helped with Dorothy’s Pets, took in a young stray cat from her neighborhood though she already has ten rescued cats and three rescued dogs in her home, including Cocoa, a beagle undergoing chemotherapy. She spoke with neighbors and found the family that had owned the cat. They had gotten her from someone else, took her in for about 3 weeks, decided they didn’t want her and put her outside to fend for herself. Melanie can’t tell if the cat is spayed, her previous home never cared enough to take her to the vet, and the safest thing to do is to assume she is not spayed.
“This little girl is super sweet and seems to be good with everyone and other animals,” Melanie says of her, but after helping Dorothy for most of last year and her own household of special needs rescues, she really can’t handle another cat in need financially or physically, but doesn’t want to leave her outside to get pregnant, if she’s not already.
Then there are the four four-month-old kittens who are not feral but only scared, who a rescuer will support if they can find a foster home to socialize them. And the kittens and several adult cats in several stray/feral colonies that are endangered by more kids with BB guns or people who just don’t want them around and threaten harm to them.
And there area cats with jars on their heads—one locally who no one has seen for several days—disappearing colonies, and always more and more and more kittens to be trapped and vetted.
What do you do with them all?
TNR is often the option for strays who were outside to begin with. But when a cat like Whitehall is injured he can’t really be returned right away or even later, especially he has chronic conditions around the injury or if there may still be abusers in the area. Plus, it’s hard to put a really nice cat back outside, not to mention it may be in more danger of abuse because it’s friendly with people.
Shelters are overburdened for more than half of the year, and if a cat, or any animal, can be given care and found a home without adding to that burden during the shelter’s busiest times, so much the better. But in addition to the cats they care for each day, both of these people and many others work with TNR for most of the cats they rescue, trapping them, having them spayed or neutered and releasing them back to the place they came from, then monitoring them daily along with the other cats in a colony. That’s a lot of time and effort spent caring for cats, and it can wear down even the most committed rescuer, not to mention emptying their wallet, even with assistance.
What can you do?
Personally, after a few decades of rescuing, I’m taking some time off of the day-to-day work, but I’m still committed to helping raise awareness and funds for all the efforts around me as well as preaching the good news about spay and neuter and literally handing out information on low-cost spay and neuter options in my area. That’s something any of us can easily do while others are out there in the rain watching traps set for a colony of cats, hoping to catch them for the clinic next day, or searching the woods for the cat with the jar on her head, or rounding up kittens to hopefully socialize them and stop the cycle of kittens having kittens and pet overpopulation.
And you can donate to help organizations and individual causes, like Whitehall’s care and Melanie with all her rescues and now the new stray—links are below. Sometimes it’s the only way to get a grip on the problem.
Spread the word about spay and neuter, or find a low-cost clinic near you
This link leads to the spay and neuter handout I regularly update and distribute. I’ve found that handing these directly to people who mention they have a cat who needs to be spayed and neutered and reviewing the options is highly effective. I carry them with me everywhere.
Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.
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