As much as it would be nothing short of miraculous to find safe, loving, lifetime homes for some of the cats in my house, mostly my SOS is SMS--Save My Sanity by finally saying out loud what I've kept secret from so many people for so long now, and I'm exhausted. 4 1/2 years ago a pregnant feral gave birth to 4 kittens on my doorstep at a rented townhouse. All doors open onto the parking lot, so I brought the kittens inside as soon as they were old enough to be weaned and got them spayed/neutered the moment the vet said they were old enough. I tried for the rest of the year to trap the very feral momma (I'd trapped cats at feral colonies in the past w/ success), but she was somehow able to get the food w/o tripping the door. The following summer she had a litter of 6. This time she got close enough to me that I once her kittens were old enough to be weaned, I was able to scruff her and drop her into a carrier to take to the vet to get spayed. But the damage was done...I now had 10 kittens + a feral momma living IN my apartment. At the same time, a kitten at a feral colony I was helping to care for at the time leaped into my car and came home w/ me. So make that 12 new cats.
Problem is, I already had 14 cats at home...all rescues...all but 3 that had showed up at my door...3 others had been born to another momma who showed up at my door the year before (who was not feral). So when I saw those little faces of the new 6 kittens as I drove up to my apartment one evening, I was devastated...almost suicidal. The total at my house was now 26 cats. And just turning 60 myself, and looking ahead, I was terrified. Since then 4 have died--one from FIV, 3 of old age ailments (all 3 17+ years of age). So currently my number is 22, w/ only one who is quite geriatric (19 years), and 5 remaining who are 12-14 years. So in my 70s I will still have 16 cats at least, unless any of the younger ones get terminally ill. They are all indoor cats and never go out. My feral momma is spayed but still quite feral, and 1 of her boys in the second litter bonded to her before I could socialize him and before I could get him neutered. He is still in tact and very feral. Only 2 or 3 people know the truth about my situation, though people on facebook know I am overwhelmed by cats at my house (they just don't know how many).
In my rural agricultural town, our small local no-kill shelter is run by just lovely, caring people. They have 150 cats; they participate in a multi-state adoption chain for the dogs, but there's nothing like that for cats. So they can't help me. Same w/ all the shelters where I live. Cats around here are so numerous that it is very difficult to find them homes.
I lay awake nights in absolute terror about what will happen to them if anything happens to me. I'm exhausted all the time. They are so expensive to maintain (today I took my 19 y-o to the vet b/c she had a really bad tooth abscess...she's already on medication for chronic digestive issues). They've destroyed my rental apartment. I'm afraid to contact the landlord whenever there's a plumbing issue or something b/c I am sure to get evicted. So I am stressed and tense pretty much non-stop. And I feel schizophrenic b/c I'm so ashamed that I let this happen that I can't tell anyone. But it affects my entire life, my sense of self, my hope (or lack thereof) for the future, my economic well being, my health, my work, my fear of the future--for both these cats and myself. I feel so completely alone. I wrote to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for help after that Ebony's second litter; tho' they promised help, they ended up being no help at all, which only added to my sense of being utterly alone, which only adds to my sense of almost terror for the future.
I quite accidentally came upon this site tonight. I didn't even know it existed. My "SOS" is for myself. Because I just need SOMEone to know who I really am and what my life really is like...someone who will not judge me...someone who might even understand a little. So thank you for listening. And if any of you have any insights or wisdom to share, I will appreciate it!!