A Tale of Two Kitties – Featured Letters of the month

I would like to show you a sample of my mail.   We get a TON of mail here. We can’t take in every animal that we are asked to take in.  We do the absolute best we can, but every animal is considered on a case by case basis and every animal is considered special to us.  We agonize over the ones we can not take and lay sleepless at night, wondering what will become of them, what will happen to them and are they safe right now.  It is a terrible part of this job and one that torments those of us that are involved in these decisions.  I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it when these please actually follow up and let us know they were able to keep the pet, or they found good arrangements.  Below are two examples of people asking me to take in cats.  You will note the difference immediately.  Isn’t it interesting?  The first is from a volunteer that comes here every single week, a few times a week, with her two children.  They walk dogs and help out any way they can. They are gracious and loving and wonderful and also adopted two dogs from us.  Two “not so easy” dogs I might add.

kitty22.jpgHi folks: This is a long shot–I know you guys are always full up with cats, but…..
The kids and I were away in NYC for a week and my nephew stayed at the house with Kip and Henry (Note: those are the dogs they adopted from us). While we were gone Matt (nephew) was driving along Shoddy Hollow Road and came across a dead cat in the road–with a kitten sitting next to it. He got out and moved the kitten off the road, and of course it returned to what was left of Mom. So he brought it home with him.

I found out when we got back yesterday and told him to put up some signs in Otisville, though the kitten was full of fleas and the Mom had no tags–probably not a pair anyone was looking for, but who knows?

Matt has taken the kitten back to my sister’s house but is not allowed to keep it (they have a load of animals already so my sister doesn’t want anymore. We are trying to find a place for it. My husband, the kids and I are all very allergic so we can’t take it. I’m not big on outside cats—too many cars on Derby Road, too many other nasty things could happen.

If you guys could consider taking it in that would be terrific. My sister is willing to cover the surrender fee, I think between all of us we could cover the neutering.

It is a young kitten, very playful. Eats solid food. Classic grey tiger type. We don’t know anything else about it. It hasn’t been vetted at all as of now. It has been bathed.
If you guys can’t help out, we fully understand. (And we promise not to dump it on your doorstep!) If not, do you know of any other no-kill cat groups that are fairly local that might be able to help?
Thanks for your time– The kids and I will probably be up there walking dogs tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

I wrote back:
Of course! Bring the little guy in as soon as you like. Staff is onsite by 8am. Janet can take a look when she gets in to make sure all is ok!
…and no surrender fee. You do a lot for us. Just bring the little guy in.

…and then THEY wrote back:

Hi Kerry: Just checked my email…thanks so much. We’ll come up later today–we have to wait for my nephew to come over (he is 19 and as such is so not a morning person!). I passed the good news on to my sister and she is sending along a donation anyway because she is well aware of the costs involved in taking care of even one small kitten. We’ll hope to see you later today, and thank you so much again.

OK, so there you have an example of the kind way to get a dog or a cat into a facility – VOLUNTEER there or donate there! Offer to try to help with expenses! Be polite! Do what YOU can first to try to help the animal!   OK, so on to letter number 2 from this week:

Hi My name is xxxxx. I have a cat that I want to get rid of. The reason I need to give her up is that she is a horrible cat. I have tried breaking her bad habits but cant seem to do it . She goes in the garbage and she also steals food off the counter. She gets fed 3xs a day so there is no reason for this stupid behavior. When I origanally (sic) got her I was told she was a male. Next thing I know she is giving birth and spitting out kittens left and right.  No one wants her. I don’t blame them. She’s a pain in the ass and there is nothing good to say about her. I don’t feel it would be nice to lie about her bad habits. Let me know if you would be willing to take her. I can’t give any money for any fee though. She really isn’t worth it and I have other things I’d rather spend the money on anyway then this dumb cat. Also can you come and pick her up. It isn’t convenient for me to drive all the way over there, but let me know when you can come and I will make sure I am here to give her to you.


So there you have it.
Who do I feel worse for?
Who should we help?
Should the cat suffer because her owner is a piece of garbage?
How would YOU decide if you could only take in ONE?
Not too easy, is it?

Filed in Featured Letters by kerry on Aug 11, 2009.  There are 10 Comments

10 Responses to “A Tale of Two Kitties – Featured Letters of the month”

  1. Trudy Says:

    #1 Bravo!
    #2 Are you serious? Kerry I will pay the surrender fee just to give that cat a chance.

  2. kerry Says:

    It isn’t about the surrender fee.
    You have room to take in only ONE cat.
    What do you do?

  3. Trudy Says:

    I know! I was taking the easy way out :)
    I’m glad it’s you & not me to make these choices! Sorry :(

  4. Brett Says:

    Actually, I would probably take the cat from letter #2, because there is NO TELLING what a person like that might do to a helpless animal. Maybe I have too soft a heart, but it would eat at me and worry me to death if I left a cat with an owner like that. Make sense at all?

  5. kerry Says:

    Yes, it makes a lot of sense! But allow me to play devil’s advocate for just a moment. Imagine it is YOU asking us to take in a cat, offering us compensation, noting that you come and volunteer at least 2-4 times a week to help us, donate money to us and suddenly you find yourself with a kitten and you’ve done everything you can to try to place it and protect it, and you can’t keep it. Would YOU expect us to help YOU?

    Let me also add that the kitten is probably very placeable while the older cat is probably not.

    As director of the sanctuary, does this change anything for you?

    Again, there simply IS no right and wrong here. I am very interested in your opinions!

  6. Maureen Says:

    I agree with Brett; he is right. Whether or not the person with the animal is nice, volunteers for your shelter, or donates time and money, has nothing to do with the animal and its urgent situation. Otherwise, you would be making the animal a victim yet again of another scummy person.

    The situation is not really a lifeboat survival scenario, that only one person could survive, or that you could take only one cat. It is a crisis situation, since you really could take one more cat, you just wouldn’t be able to care for it properly. It is more like which hungry children don’t get fed; the answer is they all have to get fed. You have to find more resources. Call other shelters and ask for help. Best Friends took in $35 million dollars last year to take care of 2000 animals, spent $5.3 million on fundraising and had a $1.5million dollar surplus. Maybe they could share a little. Otherwise, do what the rest of us do who are caring for too many strays already; clean out a spot in the closet and get out another food dish.

    If I had time to volunteer I would, and if I had extra money I would give it to Pets Alive. You are absolutely the best. But please take in cat #2. Cat #1 just needs a home, Cat #2 needs to be rescued.

  7. Liz Geyer Says:

    Oh God. A moral quandry. If you can only take one cat, you take the kitten… then worry about the one that is the horrible cat, spitting out kittens left and right. (UMM what about those kittens, then…did the owner drown them or something?) Unfortunately for my marriage, I would take the adult cat to my home, and try so save whatever kittens he hasn’t destroyed, and get the kitten from the nice people onto Pets Alive for adoption. I come from a family of animal lovers, and that’s just what we do. My aunt was famous in her neighborhood on the lower east side of manhattan, for taking in cats, getting them socialized, neutered and adopted out. And if she couldn’t find a home, she kept them.

  8. kerry clair Says:

    Let me just say that there IS no right or wrong here. There are positive and negatives to both sides.
    But….Nice thought provoking comments! Very interesting. Keep them coming.

  9. kerry Says:

    Well, it isn’t true that there were just two requests – of course. There are dozens and dozens every week.

    So how does anyone decide who to take in.
    Very difficult.

  10. Bonnie Egger Says:

    Bad situation, interesting quandry. Many moons ago when I was at Pets Alive with Sara a woman drove up the driveway in a van with five dogs. She asked Sara to take the dogs. The woman said she was moving away due to all kinds of bad circumstances and had no home for five big dogs.
    She need to leave by the end of the week. Sara could not take the dogs and tried to explain it and why she could not and was sorry.
    The woman was angry, crazy frustrated and declared she would just let the dogs loose in the woods. She accused Sara of not really loving animals. Sara walked back into the office without a word.
    I stayed outside to talk to this woman.
    I said to the woman that I understood her terrible anguish and pain of not finding a home for her dogs. I asked her how she could go without them. She said she had no choice. It was terrible for this woman. I also many years ago came very close to losing my home and my animals, but did not. I did meet Sara then and she did help me and that is the beginning story of how the Carriage horse got to Pets Alive, but that is another story.
    I also know people sometimes will make up terrible stories so somebody will take the animals and rescue the people too. The story may be true about the cat and the terrible owner or it could be somebody so desparate for help they say anything because they cannot keep the cat. I would go that person’s home and check it all out first.

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