Today I’m going to touch on something a little bit controversial. As you would know by now, I try to stay away from controversial topics here, mainly because I believe that you cannot change anyone’s mind unless they are open to it. And people who have strong beliefs tend not to wish to change their mind.
So today I’m only going to touch on this topic, just to try to get one point across. Now as you would all know I love animals, I love them more than people in most instances. I believe that the worst sort of human gets pleasure out of torturing an animal, and that’s not the topic here. Here it’s more about how nothing in life is black and white, there are always shades of grey.
In a couple of months I will be travelling, something I did not intend nor expect. But it’s happening and it’s not something I can change. I will be keeping up the rent on an apartment and there will be someone living here and taking care of my cats while I am gone. It’s the only way that I feel I can be sure my cats will be happy and properly looked after. Here animal care is different to more prosperous parts of the world.
You all know that I love my cats, I adore them and if I could bring them with me I would. But I can’t so this is the best way I know for them to be cared for. A few weeks ago we had an earthquake, the first one I have been in and it started me thinking. Yes I know that seems off topic but it will come together for you in a minute. These thoughts led me to this blog post so bear with me while I set up how my train of thought went.
First, I want you to consider; if an earthquake or something similar happened to create a situation where my cats were in danger and I could rescue them, where I would be hurt but not killed, would I do it? Would you do it? For me, yes of course I would. But let’s add in something else. What if I had the choice of saving my child and my cats? Again of course I would, my child first and then my cats. Now, consider; what if I could save my child, go back to save my cats but with the high possibility that I would be killed in saving my cats. Would I do it? My answer is no, I would not take the risk of leaving my child motherless. I would not make him carry the guilt of knowing that I saved him, then tried to save my cats and died in the act.
If I didn’t have children would I try to save my cats? I think I would, but I do have children and my first responsibility is to them. This is the sensitive part of the topic, because there are people who passionately believe one should put the animals first, take any risk to save them. There are people who would say that I should die rescuing my cats, and that my son would be proud that I sacrificed myself to save them. I understand that, just the thought of having to allow my cats to die fills me with anticipatory grief. I would be devastated if that scenario actually happened, I would grieve for months, years even. I do not think I would ever be able to have another cat. But, I would still have to take that decision, because my children come first. My son may be proud that I tried to save my cats, but he would still be without a mother – and right now he would be in a strange country without a mother.
This is what I mean by shades of grey. No decision is ever straight forward, no choice is made without something being sacrificed. Here, there are dozens, hundreds of street cats and dogs. I have three cats, if I had the space and the funds I could go outside today and bring home a dozen more. And another dozen would take their place. I could take every kitten and cat that is rescued and needs a home, I could end up with hundreds of cats. I would love to be in a position where I could give a safe home to hundreds of cats. But I’m not, and I can’t. Maybe in the future I will find a way to do it, but not now. So that means when I read on one of the animal care pages about a cat needing a home I can’t take it, even if it means that cat will be put back on the street. I don’t have the space or the money to take another one and continue to give the same level of care to the ones I have now.
The people of this country, and other poor countries, are not necessarily deliberately unkind to the animals. In some cases yes, just as there are cases of cruelty to animals in any country and any society. But in others it’s a variety of reasons that leads to poor decisions – poverty, ignorance (by which I mean uneducated ignorance), unexpected circumstances. If people are never taught how to properly look after animals, how can they be expected to do so with the ones they have? If people are desperately poor then it’s natural that they will feed their families first, and the animals after. When people are trying to stay alive themselves they don’t have anything left over to give to animals. This is a generalization I know. I’ve seen desperately poor men sharing their bread with the street animals. I’ve seen acts of kindness and acts of unthinking cruelty.
I believe that education is the key, and so do most of the animal shelters. That’s why many of them encourage school visits to the shelters. That’s why many of them go into schools to teach the children how to properly care for animals. With education comes a better understanding and better treatment of the animals, and it starts with the children. But, you can only do the best you can, and sometimes you have to make decisions that others will not agree with.
A few of the shelters here are heavily criticized for not taking in every animal that is in need. They take what they can, but they have to consider the animals they already have. Animal shelters do not have unlimited funds, they have a responsibility to the animals they have already, they have a responsibility to their staff. In the same way that I would have to sacrifice my cats in order to take care of my son in my scenario, animal shelters have to sacrifice some in order to take care of the ones they have.
What can the people who love animals do? Wherever you live, chances are there is an animal shelter near you. If so there are a number of ways you can help. You can donate, or become a volunteer. You can adopt, or foster, or tell everyone you know to adopt. When you adopt an animal from a shelter you save two lives – you save the animal you take home, and you save the animal that can take its place. There are so many cute, funny, friendly, sweet, loving, beautiful animals in shelters – or in the streets in some parts of the world. A rescue animal will give you companionship, love and loyalty. There is no animal more loving than a rescue animal, the rewards greatly outweigh the expense.
The shelter best known around here is the Bluemoon, it’s the one I’m trying to figure out how best to present in a book. The Bluemoon does as much as it can for the animals, but it is not wealthy so it is restricted in what it can do. Monique is a remarkable woman, someone who loves all animals and is sad every time she has to turn one away. But she has to, in order to look after the ones she has. She herself lives a very simple life, all that she has goes into the shelter. If you want to check out her Facebook page the link is here: Bluemoon Animal Shelter
It seems fitting that I share photos of my cats here, all Egyptian street cats. They share the DNA of the cats that were revered by the ancient Egyptians, they are almost unchanged from those days. They are magnificent animals and should all be cherished.
Topaz when I first brought her off the streets, and now
Amadeus, the biggest cat I have ever had
Sabrina, I know you've seen her before in her book
Sabrina and Amadeus are a bonded pair