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Norwich Bulletin - 5/13/2007

Lament of a Lost Soul

She drags her thin, tired body through another dark back yard. Her coat is damp from the cold rain, but hunger drives her on. Will there be food by this garbage can? Will there be a mouse in the grass? Will the back porch light go on and a kind person see her and offer some food and shelter?

There are the questions she asks herself day after day, and too often the answer is “not tonight little one.” Last year she was the free kitten in the newspaper and adopted by a young woman and her boyfriend who just moved into an apartment together.

They fell in love with her cute fluffy coat and playfulness. They spent a lot of time with her – she had plenty of toys, food and a clean litter box. They thought she was the best pet ever, but they kept forgetting to take her to the vet to get her shots and spayed.

At first her home was in total harmony between her humans, but then the boyfriend started staying out late and not bringing home his paycheck to pay his half of the expenses. They started fighting and the poor kitten was frightened. They began to neglect her, forgetting to give her water or food and letting her litterbox overflow.

Finally, the man moved back and the girl could not afford the rent, so she called her parents and they told her she could come home, but not with a cat.

The girl opened the door to the apartment and put the poor cat outside. She did not bother to call friends or family to try to find her pet a new home. She did not advertise on line or in the paper, nor did she go to the rescue organizations. In fact, she didn’t even bother to go to the Humane Society. She just told herself that her kitty was so beautiful, someone would take her in.

Well, that didn’t happen. It was winter and so very cold outside to a young cat who had never even been outside before. Somehow she scrounged up enough food and found places to sleep and she survived. But then came spring and a tom cat sought her out.

Before she knew it, she had five kittens in her womb. So her hunger increased, and she became thinner, but struggled on. In April she found an old shed with a hole in the door and crawled inside and brought five tiny babies into the world.

The world is cruel and kittens do not have immunity to its cruelty. The teenage mother cat does not have enough milk and the two smallest babies die within a couple of days. Living outside, the little cat is full of fleas, which find themselves on the babies. Two more will die of flea anemia, leaving one pretty little calico kitten left. Only the strong survive, and unfortunately, the pattern continues on, and now there are two young females having kittens until they die, usually at the age of two or three.

A sad story? Yes, and it happens EVERY spring in EVERY neighborhood. Good people turn their heads and do not allow themselves to see the suffering of the abandoned cats in their neighborhood. Whether it is a bus station, in back of a MacDonalds, or in the woods behind your house, they are there, with their big scared eyes and their thin bodies. Will you help?

Small organizations will probably not be able to take the cat – especially since by the time it finds its way to your yard, it will be pretty feral and not allow humans to touch it. But if you are willing to feed the cat and provide a little house for safety (which is all that the poor creature really wants), then most groups will lend a trap and even provide a voucher to take the cat to a vet to be altered and receive their shots.

Because there is nowhere to put these forgotten felines, you must be willing to become caretaker. Yes, we know it is not your cat and not your problem – but it is your problem, as well as your neighbors, as well as mine. It won’t take a lot of your time, it won’t take a lot of your money, but without the kindness of strangers, these little animals will suffer and die. Can you live with that? I know that I can’t.

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