I have written previously about the wonderful benefits we can gain from the presence of companion animals in our lives. For years I have supported a multitude of animal welfare charities and done occasional volunteer work. One of my greatest frustrations has been how to better contribute to animal welfare, particularly through employment. The few related (paying) jobs in my community either did not use my specific skill set or were not jobs that I could deal with on an emotional level – I don’t know if it is a weakness per se, but I could not face abused animals or unnecessary euthanasia situations on a daily basis. So I keep looking, and hoping, and continue donating money when I can.
In the meantime, the number of cats in my house has increased a bit over the last couple years. I rescued an abandoned domestic cat who was living in my yard, along with her two surviving kittens, but before I could get her to the vet, she had another litter – of seven. They lived in my rec room, and I set out finding various places for them, including a couple friends’ homes, and several no-kill sanctuaries. In the middle of this tumultuous period, I was home alone one evening near Thanksgiving when I heard a small, terrible cry coming from outside, repeated over and over again. I grabbed a flashlight and stepped into the darkness with trepidation. Huddled on the breezeway, a tiny kitten, not four weeks old, sat abandoned. I have to admit that my eyes filled with tears as I scooped her up – not just because I felt badly for her, but because I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of cats I was trying to help.
The story ends well. I found places for all the cats. I never discovered where the baby kitten had come from; I often wondered, as I bottle-fed her and cleaned her and taught her how to use the litter box. There had been no female cats, let alone pregnant ones, in my neighborhood. I think she was abandoned by some callous creep, but at least she was left at the right place. Her name is Mija (Spanish for “my little girl”) and she lords it over my older cats with the supreme confidence of a beloved creature. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I believe that we human animals have a strong responsibility for the well-being of all other animals, particularly the ones that we domesticated. There are so many ways to help, and every small contribution, whether cash or volunteer work or simply being a responsible pet owner, adds up and makes the world a much better place. Please help any way you can.