Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Biggest Cat Health Problem of All

What is the biggest health problem of all for a cat? It's not what you might think. It's not a germ or a virus, and it's not an injury.

It's being forced to live in a hostile environment, such as when they are abandoned in cities, or dumped out in the country, presumably to cavort in the meadows chasing mice. Such myths lead only to the tragic deaths of many cats who are unable to survive in unfamiliar surroundings.

Or, they could be swept up by animal control and taken to the pound, where they may live only a short time. The somewhat luckier ones may end up in shelters, where an effort is made to find them new homes.

However, much depends on the shelter, as many try very hard to find new homes while getting veterinary care if the cat is sick or injured. The truly lucky ones then get adopted.

However, many shelters' resources are stretched beyond their capabilities and this can mean disposing of "excess" cats to make room for new ones.

The reality, of course, is that most shelters simply do not have the room, the money or the time to care for an infinite number of cats coming in. Sadly, millions of cats are euthanized every year.

It's even worse at a pound, where animals are rarely treated for any health problems and are expected to be quickly claimed by an owner or purchased by someone looking for a pet. Those situations almost never include screening to assure the cat goes to a good home. If not picked up within a few days, often the next step is to kill it. In some cities, cats come in the front door alive and frightened and go out the back door in a bag.

Here is an article sent to me by my friend, Paul DeCeglie, an American writer currently based in Thailand. He wrote this specifically for me to share with you:

"The American people are not the only victims of the escalating financial crisis; cats and dogs are suffering as well. As millions of families across the country are forced to adjust their budgets, many face the choice of feeding their kids or feeding their pets. Pets lose. More cats and dogs than ever before are being abandoned, given away, or left with animal shelters.

"But shelters, too, are more strapped for cash. While new arrivals are climbing, donations are declining. Fewer people are adopting pets; numbers and costs are rising. In essence, animal shelters are overburdened and, consequently, are putting more cats and dogs down.

"Please help if you can. Adopt a pet. Or two. Or three. Contribute to local humane societies. If you are unable to donate money, donate food... or even a few hours of your time. Millions of kittens and pups are crying out for your help. They are unable to ask. We don’t know how to ask any more clearly, but we also are crying out for your help. Please. For the sake of humanity."