Sunday, September 19, 2010

An open letter to "Anonymous" (and anyone else who thought the same thing)

Dear Anonymous:

I appreciate your comments and was expecting someone to say pretty much what you said.  I do appreciate that you were pretty nice about the things you said--I know my pet threshold is higher than most.  But mostly, through all this hard stuff, they have been my reason for not giving up.  I give a lot to them, but they give me so much, too--while I would like to live as a "normal" person, maybe that's just not meant to be right now.

You may want to do some reviewing of my blog.  My dog has been to the vet and has been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, which is a non-life-threatening disease (unrelated to the kinds of diabetes that require insulin).  It causes her body to not be able to conserve water, so she has a lot of accidents.  The medication for this illness, according to my vet, would run about $600/month (no way to afford that) and it only works in about 50% of dogs.  The vet told me that people with dogs like this either put the dog to sleep, make the dog an "outside only" dog (not very realistic considering her age of 15 years old and our location in MN) or make do.  So we ripped up the carpet and have been "making do".

But now, instead of one accident a day, it's more like 5 or 6.  Hence the blog post.

As to the 15 cats, it's not something I set out to accomplish, but I live in a very rural area where there is no animal shelter and most cats (and dogs) that have no home or get dumped off "out in the country" end up on the bad end of a gun. And I don't really fault my neighbors for solving the "problem" in this way, there's really no other alternative.  If you live in an area where this concept is unfathomable, please do a search on "cat overpopulation" and see that I am not making this stuff up.  I can't needlessly send an animal to its death, obviously (LOL--you could see that from my blog post!), hence the 15 cats.  They range in age from about 3 years old to 13 years old, and all are spayed or neutered.  My personal policy has been and still is "if the cat will die without my intervention, then I will try to help."  Otherwise, if someone is just "getting rid of" their cat or kittens, it's their conscience as to what happens, not mine.  Each of my cats has a story, and all except three would almost certainly be dead if I hadn't intervened.  The dogs, too, but I'm just defending the cat population right now!  They are as well cared for as they can be.  They all get their shots (I do them myself, as do many people in my "neck of the woods".). They all get Frontline (for fleas and ticks), and they eat Iams cat food.  They go to the vet when they are sick, and I love them all.  However if, via attrition, I ended up with two or three cats, well, that would be ideal.

You are correct that they probably don't get the attention that they should get.  There are only so many hours in a day, after all.  However, they do get attention, and love.  Believe me, if someone came along who could offer any of them more than I can, I'd happily part with most of them. (in fact, I offer them to every trustworthy person I know, but many people I know already have a cat or two from me!) I only want them to be as happy as they can be.  While I am not an "animal activist" per se, I believe that living in my house is probably, even on its worst day, more fun than starving or getting abused or killed.

And as far as the odor from 15 cats....it's NOTHING compared to the dog pee smell.  The litter boxes get scooped every day.  You might be surprised to learn that the cat "accidents" in my house are extremely minimal and usually signal a medical issue, which can be taken care of rather quickly.  The point of me mentioning the cats at all in that post was to point out that the cats, as many as there are, don't smell up the house like this one dog (and it's very easy to tell the difference, too, as to who is creating the odor)--whom I love, too.  We have a stack of rags that we use just for the dog "accidents".  They get washed every day, twice.  But it's getting hard to keep up.  I'm frustrated because I don't want to live like this, but other than this problem, she's pretty healthy.  That was the point of my blog post.  It's not a normal thing or a natural thing for me to put my wants/needs ahead of the life of a living thing, who happens to be a family member.

Anonymous, I love all of my animals.  And I certainly am not shocked by your sentiment.  I think that the reason so few people commented is that most people feel the same way as you and didn't want to seem judgmental.  I do understand, though, too, because you're right--15 cats is really too much for anyone.  But either I have too many cats in my house, or a bunch of animals end up dying just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I hope that someday, things will change so that I won't have to post things like this any more. But until then.....

I'm not going to defend my animals beyond this post.  Those readers who have been reading for quite some time seem to have an understanding that this is who I am and that's how it is.   I'm probably not going to change my core beliefs, and, if you have a huge disagreement with how I live, well, you're probably not going to change yours, either.  The point of my post was only to point out that I am troubled by the possibility of having to put a relatively healthy dog to sleep just because I can't live with it.  That's all.



Anonymous said...

I grew up out in the country and brought home strays all the time. My family probably had over the years 10 stray pets. The three legged dog my parents have now was astray. So I totally get it. Best wishes for your doggie.

Marie said...

I am so with you. No we only have 4 cats but you are right about the smell. I used to have a dog and when she had an accident. MY gosh. That just smelled so bad. The cats never have an accident. They are indoor/outdoor cats so in this nice weather they are outside during the day and in at night. You are doing a wonderful thing for all the cats. And I am sure they are happier and get more love than they would in a cage at a shelter.

I was thinking about you dog. What about doggie diapers? http://www.amazon.com/SnuggEase-Washable-Dog-Diaper-XX-small/dp/B001VI7TPY

That is the route I would go. I am with you and would not put him down unless he was in pain and no longer had a good quality of life.

Grace. said...

Oh for heaven's sake! I don't like pets and have never had any. But I get why you have them and love them--my guess is that they often give you the love and respect you'd really like to get from your husband and your daughter if only Bipolar Disorder and FASD hadn't gotten in the way. I don't think it's numbers that make you a mentally ill "cat lady," but the capacity to truly care for the animals that you have. For you, so far, so good. Take care, Carol

perphila said...

I grew up on a farm pretty much in the middle of no where so I get what you mean about how people drop animals to "fend for themselves." We had many a cat wander into our place and we fed them and they stuck around or left. Some were already pregnant. At a shelter it would have been a matter of time until they were put down. Even though they were "barn cats" we made sure they were fed and cared for. So we had up to 20 down to two or three.

Having less animals certainly would save you some money other than that since you take good care of their health I don't see a problem. You do what you can...:)

Kathie said...

Carol, I had one cat for 17 years and I loved MJ just as if he was one of my children. When I had to have him put to sleep in 2002 because of cancer and other health problems, it almost killed me, and to this day I still grieve for him. My husband doesn't want another pet, and since he is the one who earns the money to support us, I accede to that wish. And to be honest, I'm not sure I could love another animal as I loved MJ, at least not yet. But I have already decided that if my husband passes before I do , I will more than likely become one of those crazy cat ladys, and have several to keep me company in my house. I commend you for the love and devotion you show your four-footed 'family members'.

Miz Kizzle said...

My husband jokes that when he dies I'll probably fill up the house (and the barn) with all kinds of animals. Right now, we have a standard poodle (just about the only dog that my husband's allergies can tolerate) and in the barn are my Tennessee Walking Horse mare, my daughter's Arabian/Warmblood gelding and our donkey.
I'd like a couple of goats and some cats but cats are an impossibility because of hubby's allergies and I refuse to have "outdoor" cats because so many of them wind up splattered on the road (we live in a rural area but there are cars and most ignore the 25 mph signs).
You don't have to defend your cat population issue. It's who you are. You're making sure they see a vet for shots and when they're sick and you have them spayed or neutered. What you do in your house is up to you.
I wanted to mention that we had a former neighbor who lived about 1/4 mile from us -- that's how far apart the houses are here. She had so many cats that she never spayed or neutered until finally they overran the vicinity. An animal control officer removed some of them but she kept getting more. Eventually her house had to be torn down (after she died) because the hundred or so cats that lived indoors had urinated over the floors and on the walls until the building became structurally unsound!
THAT'S a true crazy cat lady.
BTW, my youngest son kept calling her place "the cat house" until we explained why he should use a different name for it.

Zoe and Indy said...

Thank you for this post. I've been reading, but have never commented before.
we only have 4 cats but always take in anybody who shows up and needs help.
I didn't read the comment you're responding to in this post, and I doubt I want to. Even with only 4 cats in a clean house I'm called a crazy cat lady. I usually just ask those people how many lives they've saved lately.
Anyway, the point of this comment was just that I'm always so happy to hear of compassionate people like you. Thank you.