Don’t Feel Guilty!
I’ve been saying that a whole lot more than usual this year to people who tell me they “feel bad” because they want to adopt a kitten “when there are so many adults.” Yes, there are more adults than ever before. But there are also more kittens – and kittens, and kittens, and kittens and more kittens. So adopt a kitten – PLEASE!
I don’t know what happened this winter, but the felines were definitely not living a virtuous lifestyle. And 63 days later they find themselves single moms. And about a month after that people are lined up at our intake desk with baskets, cardboard boxes, carriers, shoe boxes, Tupperware containers, and even trash cans full of squirming, mewing little bundles of joy they found under their porch, in their garage, in a window well. In the first 25 days of May, 634 cats and kittens crossed our threshold; 234 were adults and seniors. That means 400 kittens – from blind, unweaned little creatures totally dependent on mom, to two months, to juveniles.
And after the first 25 days in May, they just kept on coming. I don’t have the current count. I’m not sure I want to know what it is. We have at least 350 cats and kittens out in foster care right now. There are about 150 cats and kittens in the Cat Adoption Center all ready to go home. There are over 100 more in the main building in holding areas and isolation. Many of these are all ready to go home, too – they’re just waiting for an open cage in the Cat Adoption Center. And we have dozens at offsite locations such as Petcos at Waterworks, Waterfront, Bethel Park, North Hills and Robinson. We even have cats at Petland in East Liberty, Animal Nature in Regent Square, Platinum Pooch, a grooming salon in Verona. Anywhere we can find a kind-hearted merchant who will take in a cat or two and hopefully find them homes amongst their clientele. In my 14 years of volunteering at the ARL, I’ve never seen it quite this bad.
As one customer said today at the shelter, “When are people going to learn to take better care of their animals?” I don’t know what the answer is, but the theorizing is a topic for another day. Right now, my objective is just to get through another kitten season with my sanity.
Most days I go to the shelter with blinders on. I deliberately try to focus on the adults. But then there they are – the babies with their bright little eyes and hopeful faces, waiting for someone to pick them up and love them. It truly is a miracle how a tiny animal, a totally different species that has only been on this earth for about 10 weeks, can understand that human beings mean safety and comfort. Some of them cry and cry – like a human baby, all they want is to be picked up and held. The minute we do, they quiet down and start purring. What thoughts go through their little brains? How do they know?
Last week we had a kitten affectionately called Screaming Rita. She had pulled all her stitches out after spay surgery, so she was wearing a soft surgical collar, which, of course, she hated. She also hated being alone, and from the minute she was placed in her crate, she started to bleat in a pleading voice that sounded more like a baby goat than a kitten. The next afternoon a young girl of about 12 came in with her mother. Rita’s protests increased in volume and urgency. She knew. Somehow she just knew. A few minutes later, Rita was sleeping soundly on the little girl’s chest and mom was filling out the adoption papers.
There are many sayings about cats and kittens that I love. One of my favorites is ‘Kittens are God’s opinion that life should go on.’ I think my favorite this year and the one that applies best is ‘Blessed are those who love cats, for they shall never be lonely.’
You don’t hear about us on the news like Animal Friends. When we take in 25 cats from Butler like we did this week, you don’t hear pleas to the public for donations. Why? Because we do it every day, every week, every year. But we do need your hands and your heart.
Would you like to not be lonely this summer? Be a foster parent! If you have a spare bedroom, laundry room, bathroom, you can help! Dozens of little miracles are still arriving daily.
If you think you can help, contact our foster coordinator:
Cleda Klingensmith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 412-661-6452 x231
Direct Dial: 412-345-0343