(Inspired by a twitter conversation with Temerity Jane, Awlbiste, and Naithin)

I make no secret of my love of animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, even fish and reptiles (and amphibians!) are worthy of admiration from me. Yes, I’m the weirdo that feeds the garden toads, chases the cats away from the geckos that get in the house so I can catch them and put them outside, won’t step on spiders (and, in fact, will feed the big outside garden spiders), and chirps at the tree frogs in the yard.

I also am currently the caretaker of two (mostly) fabulous felines. Max and Charlie are a great deal of fun, and rarely a day goes by that I don’t at least smile, if not laugh at one or both of them being … well, cats. They love string. They love playing Kitty-WWF on my bed and then tearing after each other through the house like tiny furry rockets. They love playing chicken with my laptop.

Unfortunately, this time of year is rife with people doing horrible things to animals – particularly cats, especially black cats.

I get that not everyone is a cat fan (preferences, we has them), which is totally fine. Being annoyed with a cat is… well, part of living with cats, and when they do annoying things, generally it seems that the appropriate response is to shut the door, ignore them, go somewhere else, dump them off your lap, etc. Or possibly to engage in some corporal cuddling, whereby you are as annoying to the cat as it is to you.

Being annoyed with an animal does not equal maiming, mutilating, or otherwise doing horrible things to it – as TJ was noting had been happening in the news where she lives in Arizona, and which has recently been on the news from Florida. It doesn’t mean torturing an animal that is essentially helpless. (I’d rather not go into any more specifics, simply to avoid getting internet hits from creepy fuckers who want to do that kind of thing, but I’m sure a little Google-Fu will find you everything you never wanted to see, and more)

Reading about it, hearing about it… honestly makes me a little sick.

I look at Max, who was obviously someone’s pet that ended up out on his own for several months (whether through ill will or escape tactics, nobody knows), starving outside until he got picked up, and realize he was lucky. And that to live with us, he’s /really/ lucky. When we got him, he barely weighed 7 lbs and his fur was scrawny and thin.  Now he weighs 14lbs and is considered healthy – if a bit chubby – by the vet, with a gorgeous cream coat with pumpkin points.

I look at Charlie, who has taken the better part of two years to get over his fear of my husband and of anyone’s shoes and of loud noises, and see that he’s warmed up into a happy and sociable cat. And I realize he was less lucky than Max, but that he still has a happy ending that includes gooshyfood and feathers-on-a-string and a screen porch to watch birds from.

So if there’s a critter in your life that you love (or maybe just tolerate most of the time), give him/her/it a pat from me today.

I don’t know what any of us can do to keep horrible people from doing horrible things, so I settle for doing the best I can for the two I signed up to care for.

Obligatory note that if you are looking for a pet, rescue organizations that you can find through Petfinder.com are a great place to look (whether you want a young animal or an adult, and whether you want the standard cat or dog, or something a little less common).

Particularly if you are interested in a cat or kitten, adopting a black cat is often less expensive because of the superstitions commonly associated with them; you may not be able to adopt a black cat or kitten in the months of October/November, however, due to people doing horrible things to them and ending up on the news.

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5 thoughts on “Critters

  • October 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I had to pretty much skim this entry and try not to look at it too hard. 4 cats live in this house and I admittedly don’t care for them, or cats in general, really, but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea of someone hurting an animal, most especially one that isn’t a bear. I just don’t understand WHY.

  • October 30, 2009 at 2:43 am

    I personally love black animals. My dog was a black lab, we used to have 2 black cats (brother & sister), and my current cat Buster is also black. It’s one of the prettier colors in the animal kingdom, imo.

    Holidays like this make me glad that Buster is a house cat and doesn’t go outside. If anything ever happened to him, I may not be responsible for my actions. >.>

  • October 31, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    My parents’ black cat tried to bite my hand off today. I thought it was oddly appropriate, considering…

    My favorite cat ever, who unfortunately we had to put to sleep when I was in college (he had a stroke and could neither eat nor breathe properly, and there was no chance of recovery), was kind of like your Charlie… We named him Spike because at the time we were obsessed with this awesome new movie, The Land Before Time (lol showing my age?), and through sheer accident he matched Spike the dino almost completely in temperment. (We gave him the name because of his size, I think…gray tabbies are almost never small.) He was sweet and shy to the last…he always seemed to know when I was upset and would come and form an obliging, rumbling furry pillow.

    If anyone hurt any of my cats, past or present, there would be HELL to pay, but he is always the one I think of when I hear stories like this, because he had a hard life before the pound picked him up. (Yes, the pound, not even a shelter. We got another cat, Sara, at the same time, and she was never quite right in the head.)

  • October 31, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I strongly believe in corporal cuddling! If my cat is being annoying I pick him up, give him a firm (but not painful) hug just until he gets a little squirmy and then put him back down. He hates it, it doesn’t hurt him, and usually he stops whatever he was doing.

    I live alone and honestly could not imagine life without an animal companion. Simon keeps me from being lonely, and he’s very social and clearly needs me. In fact, I can’t even leave a room without him following me wherever I go.

    Also, in terms of adopting animals–oftentimes cats and dogs who are considered adult (usually 1+ years old) or senior (7+ I believe) badly need homes and can be cheaper due to them not being as desired as kittens and puppies. I’d urge anyone considering adopting an animal to give consideration to an “older” pet.

  • November 2, 2009 at 5:26 am

    #1- Omygolly Max is so gorgeous!
    #2- Cuddling always wins. Buster actually has a ‘pause button’ on his shoulders/back, that if you start rubbing or scratching him, he will totally stop whatever he is doing and just flop. So cute.
    #3- people that do that stuff to animals are just sick. 🙁 *agrees with Sarai*

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