We have three cats.
We feed them, had them neutered and declawed when they were young, and in general treat them with the same respect we treat our human family members. If Riley, Perry or Charlie is lethargic and we suspect that any of them are sick, or notice blood indicating that they may have been in a scrap, we take them to the vet. They also wear collars with identification including our phone number. This, we hope, will encourage a neighbor to give us a call if they’re found, so we can pick up whomever it was that strayed away, or in a worse case scenario, was found smooshed on the road. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. No one is going to call us if they observe our cat killed on the road.
We live two miles outside of city limits. Some of the dog owners in our neighborhood have obviously bought their pets from breeders. You can tell by their (pets’) pedigree. They also walk them on leashes, perhaps for the protection of neighbors, but also to keep their canine friends and investments safe from vehicles.
Cats appear to be another story. All of our kitties came from animal shelters. Riley came from an animal shelter in Texas, Charlie from one in Oklahoma, and Perry, our oldest kitty, entered our home from an animal shelter in Pennsylvania, 17 years ago. However, there are lots of cats in the neighborhood that don’t seem to belong to anyone. We say that this cat belongs to so-and-so, or that cat belongs to our other neighbor, simply because these are the homes that we usually see the cats hanging out at. Perhaps they feed them, or perhaps they just share affection with them, but they don’t appear to take care of them. We’ve been here over a decade and our cats are the only ones we see with collars. We have a large fenced back yard that they are usually quite content to stay within. One of our kitties in particular, Charlie, likes to wander outside the gate now and then, but in general they all stick around our property and come inside at night when we call them around 10pm. In the summer we often hear coyotes and other wild dogs out in the fields behind our neighbors’ homes. We’re not taking any chances at night. Our kitty boys sleep inside.
The animal shelter that we got Charlie from told us that someone had found him huddled in a corner of their garage one winter and took him in, and then to the shelter. Charlie was already around 3 months old by then. Perhaps he spent the major part of his life outdoors prior to his trip to the shelter, and that’s why he likes the outdoors so much. However, he was a very friendly cat who had obviously had plenty of interaction with humans before. We’re especially glad to have a collar on Charlie, as one of the cats that hangs out across the street looks just like him, except for his eyes, and we’d hate to have our kitty taken in by someone else thinking that he was theirs.
My pet question, “When does a pet become a responsibility” is an old one. As a pet owner since childhood, I like taking care of my pets. I may not like changing kitty-litter, but that’s just part of the deal. What I don’t like is when people treat a local (stray) cat as a pet to a certain degree, but don’t take responsibility. If someone is going to take a cat into their family, they need to treat them with respect and look out for their welfare, as they would any other member of their family. Here’s the deal with pets… first things first: have them neutered or spayed, unless you’re going to take care of their offspring. Having your cat declawed is also a good idea if you want to have cats from the age of kittens, or you can kiss your furniture goodbye. Clean the mites out of their ears if they get them, and give the poor kitty (or dog) a flea-collar so they don’t suffer miserably in the warm months. If they get sick or you can tell something’s wrong with them, you know what to do.
Here’s a picture of our three happy boys, Charlie, Perry & Riley.
Here’s the motivation for today’s article: I dropped my wife off at work this morning and then went for a walk in the neighborhood. If you read my post from the other day you heard about the black and white kitten that was smooshed by our house on that day. It wasn’t much later in the day before the Langoliers (in this case, turkey vultures) enjoyed the kitty for lunch. Only spatters of red on the gray concrete remain to testify of his/her former existence.
This was not my kitty Perry, but his look-like (though much younger) that used to live/stay across the street.
Motto of the story: If you’re going to “take in” a pet, then do it right. Be responsible.