I volunteer at an animal shelter. It’s rewarding work but often sad as well.
We’re a no-kill cat shelter. On the surface, that sounds wonderful, and it is. We don’t kill cats that have been there “too long” in order to make room for new cats. However, what that means is we become filled to capacity quickly – and often. If our older cats are not adopted, and sadly, most people choose kittens over adult cats, then they remain with us until they live out their natural lives, never to have a loving family of their own. That severely limits our ability to rescue new cats or kittens and get them into loving homes.
This is kitten season. Kittens arrive at the shelter en masse now and while MOST of them will find homes, the young mothers of these kittens will be returned from whence they came. Yes, they’ve been spayed, so they will not repopulate the area, but they’re out there on their own again, having to fend for themselves. Why? Because we haven’t the room to house them.
The most humane way to treat the cat overpopulation problem is with a relatively simple thing called “TNR”, or trap-neuter-return. Strays are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, allowed to heal, then returned to their community. Sadly, some of the trapped cats were once family pets but have since been abandoned for various reasons – some of which you cannot imagine. They’re friendly and innocent and have only survived the ‘wild’ because of luck. They need homes. They need to feel and be safe again. Unless the cat population is controlled by the practice of TNR, too many of these sweet things will continue to reproduce and add yet more strain on an already strained system – where too many shelters filled to capacity will destroy the animals they hold or be so overwhelmed they’ll unwittingly lose sight of the reason they’re volunteering there in the first place. To rescue animals and to find them safe and loving homes where they can give (and receive) affection only those privy to a cat’s world will ever fully appreciate.
Trap-neuter-return. A solution to so many problems.
And on a personal note – Bonita, you sweet beautiful thing, you will be missed by all of us, human and feline alike.