Thursday, August 17, 2006

Furry Plea For Help

When my youngest sister, Samantha, turned 15, she announced that she wanted a cat for her birthday.

My whole family was perplexed. We didn’t know a damn thing about cats, as all of us had been dog people. My dad grew up with dogs. My mom grew up with dogs. Accordingly, my sisters and I grew up with dogs.

(I will save my dog stories for another time.)

Why would we need a cat? We had dogs and neighborhood kids and a bird and a fish pond and mayhem enough in our zoo of a house. What would a cat add except more hair? Besides, we-the-non-cat-havers thought, aren’t cats like, aloof?

But Sam insisted and Jiminy Kitten came into our lives and changed it forever. Because we all quickly learned how sweet and personable and loving and funny and friggin’ adorable cats can be. And how EASY they are to take care of compared to dogs, especially if they are outdoor cats. (It should be noted that now that we’re grown-ups, all three of us have cats and both my sisters have dogs.)

So a year later, we got another one. Thinking all cats must be the same. All cats must, we suspected, be just as easy to take care of as Jiminy.

Tinkerbell was not, however, quite as charming as our first love. She was tiny and demanding and not so much fond of people. We were okay, but we weren’t huntable and therefore just not that interesting to her.

And so it goes with some cats.

But another key thing we learned from Tinkerbell (and we learned it the hard way) is that cats can get pregnant a LOT YOUNGER than dogs can. We discovered Tink was preggo just months after we took her into our home.

When she had her litter, we worked very hard to find them all homes with our friends and families. But no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t help but keep two of her kittens. (And when I say “couldn’t help but keep” I mean it; we could NOT find anyone willing to take them. Phantom and Ripper seemed destined to remain in the family forever, not because they aren't good cats but because, um, they are maybe not the most attractive cats you have ever seen. And they are a bit, um, chatty.)

So there we were – my parents in their farm house running a zoo. Three dogs and four cats, with two girls still living at home. And yet before any of us had time to contemplate how crazy THAT seemed, or that if Tink got pregnant so quickly after we got her home that maybe we should get ALL of the girls fixed…

all of them got pregnant. Tinkerbell, Phantom, and Ripper. All pregnant at the same time. All giving birth at the same time. Meaning that my once-anti-cat family went from having Jiminy one year, to having a house fiilled with TWENTY ONE cats the next. Even the dogs were afraid to go anywhere near the rooms that housed all the kittens, and we didn’t blame them. It was a bit overwhelming.

When this round of kittens was old enough, we didn’t even bother trying to find homes for them ourselves (we had learned our lesson). Instead, we worked out a deal with a very reputable pet shop in a very upscale part of Connecticut, and not only did all the kittens find very good homes to go to, they found them within one day.

For years, then, my parents continued to be the zoo keepers, and it was all pretty okay. But times change.

Soon after my parents moved to New Hampshire with their cats and (by then) two dogs, Jiminy was struck by a car.

(It was night, and he darted out in front of the car at the last minute; the young driver couldn’t avoid him. She felt awful. Her mother was in the car with her, and when they knocked on my parents’ door to give them the news, she was sobbing. At least, we learned, it was instant, and had most likely been painless for Jiminy. The same could not be said for the poor girl.)

And then not even a year later, Tinkerbell just disappeared into the woods.

Which left my parents with Phantom and Ripper – the only two pets my parents had never voluntarily taken on in the first place.

And over the years, as all of us grew older, throughout my mom's illness and after her death, after the other two dogs passed, after my dad left the house he'd shared with my mom and Sam and moved to a smaller place just for himself, Phantom and Ripper remained part of the family. They even grew closer to my dad (almost protectively), ignoring that he had been the most staunchly anti-cat of all of us.

Now that my father, too, has passed away, we don’t know what to do with them. (It’s so sad on so many levels I can’t even talk about it. I’m crying as I write this.) It’s just that…

Healy has a house, but in addition to her full-time job and year-old son, she also has two cats and a sick dog who requires physical therapy. Samantha lives in a small apartment in Connecticut and is overrun with her own cat and her own dog, and can’t reasonably take on two more. And I live in a small apartment in San Francisco that is completely overrun with my two cats. (I tried living in a small apartment – hell, I tried living in a big apartment – with four cats once and it was just damn awful.)


So we don’t know what to do. The two cats who -- for better and worse -- remained at my parents' sides, now desperately need a home.

They have grown up with each other and shouldn’t be separated. They are also outdoor cats and have been their whole lives. They are sweet and dutiful and chatty and good. And if you happen to know of anyone, anywhere in the country, who could provide them with a good home, please email me as soon as possible.


Thank you.

35 comments:

  1. oh my god, how i wish i had the room in my apartment. :( i just got one cat, and my apartment is too small for the two of us already.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Living two people and five cats in a one-bedroom-apartment I feel your pain. Although it is a lot better than when we were four people, five cats and a (not housebroken) puppy in this place. Don't try that one! I really really hope you find a home for them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hope you find someone. I am allergic to cats and already live with five dogs (was six until last Friday when my 18 year old dog died) and a parrot. When I met my husband he had two kittens and I was very allergic to them, so when we moved in together we shipped them on a plane to his sister and she still has them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My dad passed in January. He, my mom and their dog Blackie live or rather lived out of the country. Mom is coming back to the states soon but we are still trying to figure out what to do with Blackie.

    I feel your pain and I am sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wish I could help. Like everyone else, I'm already crammed to capacity. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Been lurking here for a while, wanted to speak up to say hi and I hope you find a home for your kitties. I am out in Arkansas, so that doesn't help much. I enjoy your blog, though, and am happy to see you posting again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll repost this on my blog to see if anyone can be of help. My cat has decided that it's just going to be her and that's it. And, I can't have outdoor pets in this complex. Which is why I had to give up my other cat, but that's a whole other sob story right there.

    Here's hoping!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've never had a cat (darn allergies), but I've heard good things about these folks: http://www.petfinder.org/shelters/VA140.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. where are the cats now??

    there should be no-kill shelters,pet stores or adoption agencies in all parts of the country who can help locate homes for the cats.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I recently had to find a new home for my cat. It sucked a ton, I'm similarly damp-eyed when I think of it.
    Point here is this, craigslist.
    I posted him on 2 pet home finding sites, a breed specific site, and craigslist, as well as a mass email to the animal shelter I volunteer at.
    I got a lot of responses from craigslist (try the one in your area, as well as your dad's, sister's, etc...).
    Also, try emailing the volunteer coordinator at your local animal control. Certainly don't bring the cats there...but they may have a volunteer base that can get the word out, or may be interested themselves.
    Best of luck to you! I feel your pain.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I can't find your email address...ummm...maybe I am not doing something correctly..

    Look at this website:http://www.bestfriends.org/
    It is the largest animal sanctuary in the US...They may have links that will help you. They may even be able to accept your cats.

    You can also try googling:

    "No Kill Shelter New Hampshire"
    (or California or New York...wherever.) There are alot of shelters that are set up to be good homes for cats while they are waiting to be adopted or as permanent homes if the cats are never adopted.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Is there any way that they would be happy in a home where:

    a.) they are indoor cats and
    b.) not the only cats in the house?

    ReplyDelete
  13. thank you all for your concern!

    not bridget -- i am sure they'd be okay if they were with other cats.

    they might be okay to be indoor cats, too, but that probably depends on having some space (i.e., not sharing an indoor space of 400 sq feet with other cats) (which would be their situation here)...

    thanks for asking!

    ReplyDelete
  14. How old are they?

    ReplyDelete
  15. It was incredibly irresponsible of you and your family not to nuetur Tinkle Bell.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Monica,

    That is very helpful feedback to be giving me and my family nine years later.

    We were also well aware of our error in judgment/research then, what with the 21 cats and all.

    For those asking: I believe the cats are about nine years old. They have been spayed, they are healthy, they are up to date on all their shots, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  17. you infuriate me. these animals are members of your family and you need to be responsible. i.e. dont let them outdoors, dont let them breed (for each kitten you found a home for, you killed another at the shelter that didnt get a home and was euthanized). if you give a rat's ass about these cats that your family loved, you will not take them to a kill shelter / humane society. i guarantee they will be euthanized because no one wants an old cat. but maybe that's better than living with your family. poor cats.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Robin and Monica -
    Who put a stick in your a$$?

    Get over yourself and quit bothering people.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Um, holy crap robin. They don't breed anymore, they've both been spayed now. She obviously doesn't want to take them to a shelter or she wouldn't be posting on her blog looking for someone anywhere in the country to adopt the cats. She and her sisters are trying their best to do the best thing for all the cats, these two and the ones they have at home. If you're so appalled why aren't you offering to adopt them?

    Kristy - My apartment is tiny, my roommate is allergic, and the one kitty I have that he tolerates has a serious heart condition that requires I keep her life as stress free as possible, but I will ask around and see if any of my friends can take them. Also, can I suggest maybe making profiles for them on Catster.com? They have a whole section for kitties that need to be adopted. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Robin & Monica - ummmmm ...WOW!?! Somebody's been watching too much Price Is Right!

    ReplyDelete
  21. A) Robin is a maniac. Cats shouldn't be let outdoors??? WTF. They're animals, they love it.

    B) I'd offer up my parent's house, but they just had to take in my brother's two kittens after his neighbor threatened to kill them if he ever found them in his backyard again. Again, WTF, who doesn't want to find cute cuddly kittens in their backyard??

    People are crazy out there. Good luck finding a happy home.

    ReplyDelete
  22. A) Robin is a maniac. Cats shouldn't be let outdoors??? WTF. They're animals, they love it.

    I'm not getting involved in the spay/neuter issue because obviously Kristy's family learned their lesson. And they obviously have no choice but to rehome these two cats. This is due to horrible circumstances totally beyond their control (the premature death of both of her parents).

    However, it is true that cats should not be let outdoors. The reasons why include:

    1) It is likely to shorten their lifespan signficantly. Outdoor cats frequently get run over by cars, injured by other animals, and contract illnesses from contact with other animals.

    2) Cats have a very negative impact on local wildlife. For example, they have significantly decreased the songbird population in many areas. Domestic cats are NOT a part of the natural ecosystem and they do have a negative effect on it.

    3) They are a nuisance to neighbors with gardens. While the previous 2 reasons are of the "scientific fact" variety, this one is personal: I am so sick and tired of having to clean up after my neighbors' cats that use my garden as their litter box. It is disgusting and I really, really, really hate it.

    It may be true that cats love being free to roam outdoors. Dogs do too, but since they are not allowed to, they deal with it. Cats can and do live perfectly happy lives totally indoors.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This webpage has a lot of information on why cats should be kept indoors:

    http://www.abcbirds.org/cats/

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anon 3:34 – Thanks for posting so concisely (and politely) why outdoor cats are generally a bad idea. Took the words right out of my mouth.

    K – I’m so sorry that after all that’s happened your family has this to contend with. If re-homing pets were easy lord knows I might have considered it by now because my dog has had us on the verge of being evicted and had the neighbors threatening to call the authorities a few times (noise issue, he has terrible separation anxiety). But it’s just not that easy. I hope you find a solution that gives you all piece of mind.

    ReplyDelete
  25. These are the funniest comments I've EVER seen here.

    This was my personal fav...

    "Domestic cats are NOT a part of the natural ecosystem and they do have a negative effect on it."

    I wonder what part of the natural ecosystem they are part of then ? I suppose by this logice domesticated humans are not a part of the natural ecosystem either.

    SAVE THE SONGBIRDS!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anon 6:32, that was unnecessary.

    ReplyDelete
  27. i know of a CrazyCatMan (and his equally feline-tastic wife) who live in marin -- they're usually an easy touch when it comes to taking in more cats ;-)

    best of luck, sweetie. i hope one of the online channels pans out.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I volunteer at the Humane Society here in Santa Clara, and I see lots of cats come in for various reasons. To all the people who harshed on you before, they can bite it. You are obviously doing tons more than a lot of people I see who just dump their cats somewhere (sometimes just in the parking lot of the Humane Society!). I hope you find a home for yours.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have a couple questions.

    (1) What are the cats like? I only have a dog, and I've never done the whole cat thing. But I understand some of them are pretty dog-like (i.e. friendly, personable, social) and some are... not. More aloof, detached, etc.

    (2) Pictures?

    (3) I wonder if there's any chance they come with their, um, furniture? Meaning that I bet it'd be expensive for someone who didn't have cats to get things "set up" - when I got my dog, it was pricey. Big initial outlay of money for things like bowls, toys, chewbones, food, shots, etc. I guess cats probably need all that and litter boxes, too?

    ReplyDelete
  30. My parents live on a farm. They have plenty of outdoor cats. The cats are provided for and treated well, they just prefer to have 100+ acres to enjoy rather than 1900 sq feet of house. Do you blame them really? My guess is most of the folks who left comments are city folk. Nothing wrong with that, but farm cats are a little different in my personal experience.

    All that being said, I wish I had a way to get to Connecticut (that's where they are, right?) to get them, because I'm sure they'd be right at home on my parents' farm. But they're in Ohio and I'm in Tennessee. And I don't know anyone up that way who'd be interested. But I've had great success with things on Craigslist myself...

    ReplyDelete
  31. "My guess is most of the folks who left comments are city folk. Nothing wrong with that, but farm cats are a little different in my personal experience."

    The only real difference is that farm cats are less likely to be hit by cars than city cats. Other than that, farm cats have a similarly negative impact on the environment.

    I wish you would read some of the information in the link above, particularly this report:
    http://www.abcbirds.org/cats/NFWF.pdf
    (It doesn't address farm cats, but it explains the whole issue.)

    ReplyDelete
  32. sorry kristy and riceyp -- I just can't help out these two kitties. we still have a Katrina kitty at our house that my husband flew home with him from New Orleans who also needs a home. Best cat ever but hates our cats. I've now learned how hard it is to find a home for a cat. But our house is better than the bathroom he lived in for the 7 months prior to getting rescued by my husband...

    I know people have bashed shelters on this post -- but it is an option. Make a deal with them that they _won't_ be put down and _will_ get adopted together. I know Marin Humane would agree to that. Maybe Sam's local shelter will too. Good luck. Sweet kitties!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Not Neutering bad!
    Finding Homes for Kittens Good!

    The past is the past and we cannot change it. As for the two cats in question, do a search for a local foster society in you area. Maybe you can find a temporary location for them until they can be rehomed.

    Or try the neigbors. let them know that two outdorr cats need a home. If they are true outdoor cats, then other than a little attention once and while, they will be no extra drain on the farm's resources.

    PS. Offering some money for food wouldn't hurt. (Hate to be distrustfull, but one time offer only)

    ReplyDelete
  34. If you live on a highway, then letting your cats outside is dangerous. Many people live in suburbia and let their cats outside because they have researched the fact that indoor cats are suffering from numerous problems like urinary infections, thyroid problems, diabetes, and numerous other diseases thought to be brought about by depressed immune systems.

    If you don't keep your kids inside full time, then does that make you a bad parent? Of course not -- a responsible pet owner makes the decision of indoor/outdoor for themselves.

    My last three cats lived to over 20 years old and were let out to sun on the brick sidewalk, or sit on the top of my car. They were happy cats being cats and not substitute children for lonely, neurotic women with control issues.

    At least one of them died directly because of an unnecessary distemper booster administered by a vet at age 20.

    There will always be risks when living a full life, whether you are an animal or a person.

    Keeping a cat in the house for no reason is just keeping them in a big cage. I agree with that concept as long as all the humans in the house also protect themselves from life and never leave the house either...but then...there could be a lightning strike, or a gas leak...arson, spontaneous combustion, alien abduction, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  35. love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.

    study abroad

    ReplyDelete