“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do every-thing, I will not refuse to do the something than I can do.” - Edmund Everett Hale
My husband Dave and I are in the process of registering our cat colony, after more than a year of feeding increasing numbers of strays in our neighborhood. With the exception of the neighbor just behind us, we are the source of security and nourishment for more than a dozen cats and kittens. This morning, Dave found a small cream colored kitten in the street next to my car. The tiny creature had tried to cross our not very busy residential street and been mowed down by a heedless driver (possibly the UPS truck that careens past at odd hours in excess of the speed limit).
Animals die every day from the thoughtless acts (or outright cruelty) of humans, and when the mother cat appeared this afternoon with her remaining baby for their meal, I could only apologize for her loss and warn her to stay away from the street. Accidents happen, and the body of her kitten was placed in the corner of our yard where it would serve as food for predators. The cycle of life continues, but there is a lump in my throat, and my heart has broken for the mother after the needless death of her baby.
We will continue to feed and shelter these cats, to the best of our abilities. Trap-Neuter-Release will prevent another litter, especially when we are able to catch the male who seems to have done much of the fathering. Three litters have arrived since we began the feeding. Only the two long thin black kittens survived the first litter of four. Now, there are five from the smaller of those two: Brave, the grey tabby, is the leader, and Rusty his timid sidekick, grey with red-brown patches on his sides. The cream colored Siamese-like Sunshine will remind us of the tiny one who died today. The sleek black Shadow resembles his mother. Misty, the gray tabby with smudged stripes, rounds out the pack. We will try our best to keep them together, or find them good homes.
It is the tiger-striped Elmie with the large yellow eyes, winding quick and agitated circles through our legs as she begs for her meals, who needs us most. Of the three babies we first saw a few weeks ago - the cream Siamese-colored, a grey tabby, and a roly-poly fluffy grey, only the tabby accompanies her today. Will we be able to keep this baby safe? Will we catch her before she again becomes pregnant? We don't know, and it annoys us when family members and friends advise us to simply stop feeding them. Because once we doled out the first meal, we made a tacit agreement not to let them starve.
If you are reading this, you are probably a lover of animals. You try to do something to help them - make donations to shelters or rescue groups, adopt strays or rescued animals, volunteer to help in emergencies, or any number of other roles that fit the resources you have available. You have a limit to what you can do, and you might occasionally resent the people around you who make excuses - no time, no money, other priorities. But you keep doing the right thing, because you know that people have assumed stewardship of the Earth and the living creatures who share the planet with us. And you know that those who care must work harder than ever before to make up for the poor, ignorant dolts who are happy to leave the work to us.
Don't give up the fight. Dave and I know that we won't have the money to spend on having our yard cleaned up, or our basement remodeled, or our unfinished master bathroom completed - at least not this year or the next. We won't be able to take a cruise or have a romantic long weekend in Paris. We are spending thousands of dollars on cat food, shelters, and veterinary care - for our six indoor cats, all rescued, and the 14 or 15 outside who are now depending on us. Some of them want to come inside, and we aren't able to make room. Our family members are dog people, or allergic, or just not interested in assuming some of the responsibility. So we'll keep doing the right thing. And we'll keep trying to convert other people to join the cause. I know that you will do the same. Because the animals need us. Keep the faith and do the right thing.
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