2.15.2012

Valentine's Day - my faith in the Human race has been tested

Yesterday was a truly horrible Valentine's Day. Anyone following me on FB already knows the deal, but for those who have missed the saga it goes something like this:

Around noon we started hearing meowing. At first I figured that DS had locked a cat in his room. Checked his room, no cats. All 4 cats were accounted for, but we were still hearing meows. I looked out the windows, but saw no cats outdoors. So I put on shoes and checked the basement. We have an old house with a few additions and a crawl space with a small opening that has only been blocked to the outdoors by a piece of OSB, which has pretty much disintegrated. From the crawl space a small animal could get into our basement (which is accessed by a door outside--house is nearly 100).

Poor, sweet "Valentine"
I went into the basement and called "kitty" and looked around, but saw no cat until I looked near the base of our old pressure tank for our well. I had to turn the light on to really get a good look. Somehow a sweet little kitty (one of the recognizable neighborhood strays/outdoor cats) had gotten her head wedged under one of the pipes. I tried to lift the pipe with my left hand and push her head back out with my right, but I couldn't get the pipe up enough. I ended up calling DH at work (30 minutes away) to come help. He got home and was able to pull up HARD on the pipe while I pushed her head.

As soon as she was free she bolted around the basement, but then quickly calmed-down and let us near her (the basement door to outside was wide open to the outdoors, but she didn't try to escape). She was shaking and terrified, but let us hold her (we had on gloves). We decided instantly that we would not just let her back out, but would get her into a carrier and bring her to the nearest shelter with space (we would have taken her in to be our kitty, but we already have 4 cats and our city limit is 4).

One of my close friends works at the county shelter and said they could take her, so DS (on Winter break...I really wish he'd been at school with all of this went down) and I brought her in. While we were there she had a seizure. My friend brought her to the vet they use and it was decided to put her down.

Because of her symptoms they are testing her brain for rabies. Though I was wearing reasonably thick gloves she bit me and drew blood. Her teeth didn't puncture my glove, but she bit hard (the blood drawn on my knuckle is not a puncture, but more of an abrasion) and because of the risk that saliva could still have infected me I will have to undergo rabies treatments if she tests positive.

We're pretty heartbroken. Today DS learned how animals are tested for rabies (it requires decapitation). If she's not rabid, then the likely cause of her seizures was poisoning (either directly or indirectly from eating a poisoned rodent) or maybe I hurt her when pushing back on her skull to get her out from under the pipe. All of those possibilities suck. People who let their cats roam outdoors suck (there is never a good reason for a pet cat to be outdoors. IMO euthanasia would be so much more humane than allowing an animal to meet the sort of fate that so many outdoor cats meet).

I have now had the experience of a childhood cat losing a leg to a dog outdoors and today had to play a role in the demise of another sweet creature. None of our 4 cats ever go outside for very good reason.

I really loathe Humans. Part of domesticating a species includes ensuring that said species is properly cared for and protected. Whoever she "belonged to" failed. Because of their failure to not be complete white trash, my family had a very upsetting, tear-filled day and our cash-strapped humane society has had to pay for the euthanization and testing of an animal. Her people probably haven't even noticed she's missing...

Folks, seriously...cats do not belong outdoors.  I often see people claim that they let their cat(s) outdoors because it makes the animal so happy.  You know, a lot of kids would be "happy" playing on the interstate or in other dangerous places.  It doesn't mean that we allow them to do so.  Kids and "furkids" aren't really so different.  Ultimately what makes these smaller beings in our care happy is being safe and healthy.  Becoming trapped in someone's basement and suffering a seizure is not a happy scenario, no matter how we slice it.

Outdoor cats do not live nearly as long as their indoor counterparts.  Their health is compromised by parasites and viruses and they are at risk of poisoning and death or injury by car, larger animal, or at the hands of unkind people.  They also become a nuisance to others (this little kitty spent a lot of time around our house, stressing our cats to see a strange cat on their turf, which would cause our largest male to retaliate by spraying in the house).  Outdoor cats hunt songbirds at feeders and regularly defecate in people's food gardens and children's sandboxes.  They spread disease, as this kitty very well could have, if she is confirmed rabid.  What if I had been a child that she bit?  What if a bit child doesn't report the bite?  Rabies is fatal if not treated early.

Since our family all has February birthdays we have never really observed Valentine's day.  In the future we have decided that we will honor the holiday by helping a local shelter in some way...either through donation of money or supplies or with our time.  It's the least we can do in remembrance of the little kitty we dubbed "Valentine."  RIP, sweet, fuzzy angel.

2 comments:

  1. My two doofuses are indoor only. The only time they go outside is when they're wrapped in their kitty burritos and I have the other end of the leash. I always know where they are, they're always safe and warm, and they will never have some horrible tragedy befall them.

    I've witnessed enough outdoor cat tragedies in my time (family cat shot in eye; aunt's cat hit by car, but survived; my cat acquired FIV; the list goes on) to know that any cat I own will be indoors-only.

    OK, I gotta stop now because you're like the dreaded Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial of teh internets. *sniffle*

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a kid our cats were indoor/outdoor and I thought it cruel to confine a cat indoors...until our Oreo was attacked by a dog and went under the deck to die. Hours later my parents discovered him and my dad tore up the deck in the dark to get his boy. No one in my family has allowed a cat outdoors, since. And only 1 of our cats even tries to sneak out. He might get 10 feet out the door, then he stops, looks confused, and lets us bring him back in. It's really a game to him. Our other cats actually seem afraid of the outdoors...apparently they're smarter than they look! :p

    ReplyDelete