King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
There’s the sound of little feet scampering around as Sissy’s Chihuahua—Hannah—and one of the “Ginger Twins”—Sethra—play. And I smile, because their antics include wrestling, rolling, nipping and licking. Little Bit—a calico with big green eyes—sits on the dresser watching me. Again I smile, this time directly at her. I have to say my visit with my sister and Mom has been enriched by spending time with all the energetic personalities of these beautiful creatures.
My sister’s passion for them has led her to have an understanding and commitment to them, to make their lives as good as she can. For her, they are the children who will mature, but never leave home.
Perhaps there are some of my readers who wonder why she doesn’t consider taking in foster children. But the responsibility of caring for Mom was stressful enough—not to mention the expense of them.
And in honesty, I think she stumbled into caring for stray cats. Feeding an extra cat costs less than sponsoring a child through Compassion or Feed the Children or providing a home for a foster child.
But more than that, feral cats play a part in maintaining the ecological environments of local areas. Did you know that besides eating small rodents and reptiles (snakes, lizards and geckos), cats will also eat large bugs? They help to prevent over-population of birds in some areas. Feral cat colonies are usually made of family groupings and establish a territory based upon the availability of food and shelter. The colony Sissy recently adopted includes a mother and two of her grown kittens.
Local Humane Societies urge concerned local residents to get involved by becoming caregivers which provides an opportunity to create a managed feral cat colony. Caregivers monitor the colony primarily by feeding the cats. However, they also help to apprehend the cats, so that the health of the felines can be evaluated, vaccinations administered, sick cats treated, and veterinarians then sterilise them. This prevents the cats from over-populating an area.
I was shocked to learn that cats as young as six months can go into heat. If they do not mate, they can go into heat every two weeks! Often this means that these young female cats are kittens themselves, and turn out to become under-nourished, aggressive and prolific breeders. Caregivers often work with Humane Societies and other local cat sanctuaries to provide what is called “Trap-Neuter-Return” services.
If a kitten is caught young enough, they can be adopted into homes—and make wonderful pets. Sometimes stray cats, those who were previously domesticated but have become lost or been abandoned, join a cat colony. If these cats are found by a caregiver, they can be rescued and placed into new homes.
Cats who are too wild for adoption are returned to their original habitat. The benefit of this is that it allows caregivers to maintain a healthy colony in an established area. When a territory is evacuated by removing the original cat colony, a vacuum is created. However, the vacuum only creates a place for more wild, unsterilized cats to come.
The benefit of the “Trap-Neuter-Return” programme is that the lives of feral cats are improved by preventing prolific reproduction. This in turn provides better feeding and shelter options for the cats in the colony. Public health is protected because returned cats have been vaccinated against feline leukaemia, distemper and other contagious cat diseases. “TNR” is more cost efficient than capturing feral cats that are held until they are killed and later disposed of; a cost of less than half.
TNR was brought to the U.S. from Europe and the U.K. during the 1980s. The practice of TNR grew rapidly in the 1990s when Alley Cat Allies began providing information and assistance to people caring for feral cats who recognized that their numbers must be controlled and reduced through sterilization. In communities where TNR is widely embraced, feral cat numbers have dropped. TNR programs operate largely or entirely through the dedicated efforts of committed volunteers.” http://www.floridacatrescue.com/glossary.html
As I said in the previous post, my admiration of my sister has grown. Daily she demonstrates patience, persistence and kindness to these little souls who have refuge under my sister’s roof. She has explained it to me that although they are not human, they deserve to be treated with respect.
“Then the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you? Or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and took You in? Or when did we see you sick and come to you? And the King shall answer and say, Verily, I say, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)
Sissy has often said that this is her heart. I think Jesus and St. Francis would agree.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
Blog Regarding the life of animals...Proverbs 12:10 Saturday, 07 April 2012