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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Real Story Behind Animal Rescuers


                Most people do not understand what drives a person to rescue animals. Some rescuers stick with one type of animal, other rescuers will rescue all types. I cannot speak for all rescuers, but I can tell you why I do.

                I was married to a very abusive man for 20 years and had 5 children by him. I gave those children up and made sure they all stayed together to get them out of the situation. I was born with the instinct to “mother” and care for things. I have a gift with neonates and pretty much any four-legged critter. I never lost the need to be a mother to my own children, so I pass that to the kitties I rescue. Like Dany on Game of Thrones, the kittens are my children and I love them with all of my heart.

                Nonrescuers tend to see a stray or feral animal as a problem. They see a dirty, starving animal and think it should be put down, even if it is a baby. Some might pick it up only to dump it on a shelter that is already overrun and will euthanize the animal. These kind of people assume that is the “humane” thing to do. In some cases it is, but in most cases it is not.

                A rescuer like me sees a soul, a spirit that is lost and scared, in desperate need of help. For me, I see the look on their faces and in that look I see my own children the day I had to say goodbye. A rescuer like me will overextend ourselves to care for more animals than we should. All we see are those little souls begging for help and with a will to live no matter what. We must give them every chance possible.

                Many of these animals are the products of unfixed pets and have been dumped because the owner is not able to handle all the litters. Some of these animals are from true ferals that are essential for all neighborhoods, but seen as a blight. Without feral cats, cities would be overrun with rats, mice and other disease carrying vermin. They are needed but ignored by most.

                As a rescuer there is something we all implicitly know and understand. We cannot save them all. We know that some will die in our arms. We will shed tears for every single one of them and we will be protective when it comes time to let them go to their forever family. It is something we accept without question because we are lucky enough to be blessed with the ones who do survive and thrive. We are blessed to have known them before they get a forever family.

                Rescuers understand that our hearts will break with EVERY rescue we take in. But the joy we experience while watching them grow and thrive is priceless. When you see a kitten that has “fading kitten syndrome” pull out, gain weight and play our hearts nearly explode with joy! When a kitten that was hissy, bitey and scratchy suddenly purrs as you hold it – nothing can match that experience!

                Rescuers are very protective over the kitties they rescue because of the effort we all put into them to help them thrive. We fear they will not get the love and care that we have given them. But, we let them go because we also know that we must. We know there will be other kitties that need us and it is a cycle that ONLY spaying and neutering will fix.

                It breaks our hearts when a kitty we adopt out then becomes a kitten making machine. We watch on social media, we follow the kitties we adopt out, much like a parent will watch their grown child when they go to college. We take the risk in holding kitties until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered. This also makes them more difficult to adopt out because people seem to want tiny kittens.

                The sad part about people who get these extremely young kittens is that MOST will never spay or neuter those kittens and the future babies will end up with rescuers, some of the same rescuers who had the parent kitties!!! We see so many litters that end up dying from diseases that are 100% avoidable, but they suffer because of irresponsible pet owners.

                We always make sure the adoptive parents have a full list of resources, including FREE spay and neutering information (even if we get the pet spayed / neutered before adopting out). The adoptive parents go and neglect the pet and then get unwanted litters of kittens that they call US asking us to take them in. Of course, we take them in. We know if we don’t they might end up dumped in a ditch somewhere.

                Rescuers flood all social media outlets with posts begging people to spay and neuter. We offer resources to those who cannot afford it so they can get it at a huge discount or even FREE and people still will not make the effort to be responsible. People do not seem to understand that by spaying and neutering it will prolong the life of their pet, meaning the loved kitty will be around much longer!!!

                Some rescuers began as fosters. I hate the term “failed foster” because there is NOTHING failed about keeping a foster. When a foster ends up adopting the kitty they had been fostering it is because the kitty has bonded with them to a point it would die of heartbreak to be away from their human. There is NOTHING failed about that. When this happens, it demonstrates that the foster is a success and should foster other animals!!!

                I have a few “failed fosters” myself and I love them dearly. They also help me with new fosters and are incredible helpers. But sadly, there are simply not enough fosters to handle all the abandoned kitties out there. Some do not like dealing with true ferals either. True ferals will bite, scratch, hiss and fight until they begin to trust. This means the foster will bleed many times for this kitty to become adoptable. It takes a special kind of person to take on true ferals and help them adjust. I am one of those people. True ferals pose the greatest challenge, and I do love a challenge!!!

The process to help them learn to trust is also quite therapeutic to me as well. After leaving my abusive husband I have SERIOUS trust issues, but working with the true ferals helps me through the issues. We all learn to trust together and they understand I am not afraid of being bitten and I am not going to hurt them.

Rescuers need your support both financially and emotionally. It is a financial burden to try to rescue the many abandoned kitties people toss out like trash. Rescuers need the emotional support because we see death on a regular basis. It never gets easier to hold a kitten as it takes its last breath. Our tears wet the fur as we make sure it knows love before it crosses the rainbow bridge. Then we wipe them away and go take care of the surviving kittens in a cycle that never ends.

When someone on social media is a KNOWN rescuer – support them as much as you can. Share their posts to help them. It is expensive to rescue – some of these kitties have medical issues and vet bills add up fast next to the cost of food.

Rescuers tend to dip into their own food money to feed the rescue and they will go without to make sure the babies eat and are taken care of. When they tell you about their foster kitties listen. We know these babies inside out and the adoptive person will benefit from this knowledge.

When we cry because we want people to be responsible and spay / neuter their pet LISTEN and help us educate everyone! We sometimes feel overwhelmed with the care of the fosters and trying to educate the masses to spay / neuter!!! We ALL have a list of resources handy to help anyone who wants to spay and neuter and we are disheartened when very few people ask for those resources.

Most of all – if you see abandoned kittens let a rescuer know immediately!!! Summer is hard on newborns and young kittens the heat can kill them quickly!!! Well meaning people will also try to give the kittens cows milk – NEVER ever give a kitten cows milk it CAN kill them! Believe it or not but cats are lactose intolerant!!! Never give them human baby formula either!!! The best thing to do is keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer and contact an experienced rescuer. We are all over social media so it isn’t hard to find one of us!!! We do not mind a 2 a.m. call about babies in need of help.

Please be patient with us, we are exhausted, over extended, counting pennies to buy wet food and medications for the babies, trying to find loving homes for them and all the while balancing our own lives in the midst!!! Understand that you might be our best friend, but a sick baby is gonna come first with us. It is how we are wired and we cannot change that. We will sit up all night with a sick kitty no matter how tired we might be.

Care packages would help. We need wet food, dry food, kitty toys, kitty litter (feed store pellet bedding is what we prefer and it’s much cheaper), pee pee pads, kitten nursing bottles, miracle nipples and so much more! When we share an amazon or chewy wish list – try to send something because if we are sharing those then we are desperate for those items! Even the smallest item helps us reach the goal of getting the babies old enough to find forever homes!!! In return we bless you with kitty videos and stories as they grow!!! We might not be the best video taker or have good equipment to do so, but we try!!!

Keep rescuers in your prayers so we do not get burn out because there are so many other pets out there that will need us!!! Thank you!!

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