Guest post: A harsh truth

Guest post: A harsh truth

Pele and Lightning McQueen

If there is anything that most folks can agree on – even folks who disagree on almost anything else – it’s that kittens are CUTE.

So wildly cute that a grown adult can be reduced to a child-like state at the very sight of a pokey-tailed little kitten, or giggle over a baby ginger knowing that the particular kitten will have to wait for their turn with the one brain cell that all ginger cats share.

The tumultuous tumbles, the ball-chasing bounciness, the wand-wanting wavering.

Rocky, saved by the generosity of our donors

It’s adorable.  It’s impeccable.  From the fabulously cute and frisky kittens to the wonky, chonky ones – we adore kittens.  Perfect or imperfect – we love them all.  And Tabby’s Place loves them all.  (Including Rocky, who was born ‘broken’ but found his way to Tabby’s Place and by way of Tabby’s Place, he found his way to me to foster him for hospice care.)

It’s currently kitten season.  It starts early and ends late, every year; with approximately 600 million to one billion cats on the planet, that means a lot of kittens.  The average queen – a female cat that has not been spayed and has had a litter of kittens – can have as many as 180 kittens in her lifetime.

Multiply that by millions of cats.   Hundreds of millions.  Rocky got very, very, very lucky.

Kitten season is booming; Reddit is loaded with photos and videos of the cutest pokey-tailed kittens, each as deserving of love as the next.  Some are desperate pleas for help.  Some are just showing off for internet points that mean nothing but provide an image and a clever title that gives us a smile.

Either way, they are loved; with subreddits that specialize in pokey-tailed kittens, ginger cats sharing one brain cell, illegally tiny kittens, pirate kitties missing a foot or an eye – there is no lack of love for the littlest and most fragile of our most beloved.  They are important.  They are special.  Even if they are one of a billion – we love them.

The small but mighty Weetabix

It is why our magnificent donors generously sponsor the Kitten Fund – we, they, all of us – we adore kittens.  We want them to experience the joy in life that we receive from having them in our lives.  Our appreciation to the sponsors for the Kitten Fund is endless.

The hard truth, however, is that when you work with any sort of shelter or rescue or sanctuary – you see the reality of what 600 million to one billion cats can produce.  And for every healthy, cute, bouncy-boundy round-bellied kitten, there are several more who did not get to be healthy, cute, bouncy-boundy round-bellied kittens.  More than several.  An unfortunately higher number than ‘several’.

Kittens die.

Kittens suffer.

Kittens are shunned by their mother if they are deemed to be too weak.  They are dumped by humans on the side of the road in a box because they are an inconvenience.  They are tied in plastic bags and thrown into dumpsters.  They are shot and incapacitated but not killed, or hit by cars and incapacitated but not killed, like our beloved Rose, who recently passed to the Rainbow Bridge. They are shot and killed.  This is the reality of having 600 million to one billion cats on the planet.  An animal that we – humans – domesticated.

I have to insert a note here; this is a shockingly harsh blog.  And I do not intend it to be.  This is the time when donations are most needed.  This is a time when our work has its greatest impact, and that is all through the generosity of those who donate.

Fission, equally small but more mighty

Trap-neuter-release (TNR) is critical; without donations, non-profit organizations cannot afford to carry out their operations.  Places like Tabby’s Place cannot function.  And as I said, the unfortunate reality is that every kitten season – which runs straight through the spring to the autumn of every year – kittens will die.

A lot of them.

Yes, that is a hard thing to write.  It’s probably a hard thing to read.  It’s a hard thing to think about.  When we only see the cute, thriving kittens, we don’t see the long line of sick, dying, and dead kittens behind them.  I am sorry to be so blunt.  Years of volunteer work in this field have brought me to this point.

I follow a number of rescue organizations on social media and have been a volunteer for Tabby’s Place for a decade and a half or so at this point.  I have bottle-fed babies whose eyes were not yet open, their little ears still folded.  I have rubbed their bellies with a warm, damp cloth to get them to urinate.   And I know – for every one that I fed and rubbed and nurtured, there were so many more that did not get that chance.  They just did not get lucky enough to have that chance.

They deserved that chance; they just did not receive it.

Pele, taking a tremendously well-deserved break

Take Rocky, for example: if it were not for Tabby’s Place taking him in, it is likely he would not still be alive today.  He is one of the few among tens of thousands who were dealt a winning hand.

Far too many lose.

As kitten season hurricanes forward, and the doors are slammed open by the flood of littles and queens who need help, please consider sponsoring the Kitten Fund.

Without support – without the physical labor of rubbing bellies to produce urine, syringe feeding to provide nourishment 24 hours a day, and surgery to sterilize to prevent the onslaught – kittens will die.  That is the harsh truth of it.  And it is a very harsh truth.

Please consider it.  And consider donating.  A single donation could mean that a group of kittens do not suffer.  That alone is a worthwhile purpose.

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