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Grrrrr - people who should know better!!!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

Oooooh, people can be so very manipulative and cruel toward cats.

I am a volunteer with a small local organization that tries to help prevent problems for and with homeless domestic cats (aka "ferals"). We put a lot of time and effort into a series of workshops we offer every month or so, to try to educate people about the issues and what we all can do together. We are, like most groups around us, still too small and too underfunded to "do for" people. Even if we could, I guess, we have found that "doing for" someone just convinces them that they are helpless, so we try hard not to take that approach.

We got a call from someone who *two years ago* came to the whole series of workshops we do. Learned about the issues, came to learn about how to use safe live traps, heard how we go about fostering and re-socializing cats, the whole deal. Took away the full notebook with a blank tracking sheet, contact information for us and for all kind of other organizations too. Spent two years feeding cats, and now she puts out an APB.

It seems she is now moving, and has started to wonder what to do about all the cats. All of a sudden, she's threatening that (she loves animals, but) she will have to call the pound to round up and kill the cats because "Nobody will help me."

I understand that it's confusing with so many different groups all saying different things about what is best for cats. But it's sure frustrating, too, when you invest in giving people the tools to help, and they turn around and give you a blank stare while they threaten cats with pointless deaths.

Hundreds of other people who have attended our workshops have "gotten it." Why do I feel like I should chose one of those cases to drop, so that I can go and attend to this group of cats under threat, when all along, the other cases are people who have been willing to devote some of their OWN time and energy to helping?

No reason, I guess. Just a guilt trip! It is much more pleasant to work with someone who's cooperative and curious -- and who doesn't try to threaten you to get her way!
post #2 of 14

I hear your frustration, and I get this from time to time via email. Folks who have read my articles, or have heard about me will contact me for help. If I don't help them fast enough they resort to what I call email blackmail and threaten to do something dumb or dangerous to the cats they are involved with. I would dearly love one day for there to be ONE large network set up where EVERYONE who rescues, TNR-fosters- owns shelters etc..would be on this list and help would be available quickly and easily. In a purrfect world perhaps, but not right now.
post #3 of 14
Aw, Linda, my heart goes out to you. It can be so terribly, terribly frustrating. Unfortunately, it's the sad reality that there are people out there like that. I hope, however, that she is just threatening and won't carry through with it!

I'm assuming you've referred her already to all the usual organizations - Best Friends Network, Alley Cat Allies, local shelter & vets, etc. to find someone to assume care of the colony?

At least you have us here to vent, and I'm sending "hang in there" vibes and (((((Hugs))))).

And BTW - what about those people and organizations out there that practice literal "TNR" - with no further/follow-up feeding, etc? Either this woman is using these horrible threats to get her way, or her mind is working something along the lines of a hoarder, where she believes the cats would actually be better off dead than without her. Either way, it's either sick or just very, very sad.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi Laurie, and All,

Yes, I think your point about the way that trap, neuter and "release" -- without any good management and advocacy for the cats -- affects things is very, very true!!!

A local vet has apparently unwittingly sanctioned this woman's approach. She has been getting some cats speutered, it seems. It's just that no one seems to know how many cats there are, how many are intact, whether the neighbors know or care!

Cat situations sometimes DO happen as real emergencies: a new owner buys land and immediately is set to develop it; or someone in good health, and not elderly, dies unexpectedly. But it is so draining for small organizations when people seem to set things up to be resource-intensive.

I really DO appreciate you reading and responding to my vent. I have to tell myself all the time, that I can't expect to be able to help every caller, and that what is important is to build a network that, maybe, some day, will be able to do more on short notice, but maybe, won't have to!

post #5 of 14
I think it is very important that we all use the same terminology and I was told to use Return since we are simply returning the cats to where we found them. Release sounds a lot like abandonment.

Also...a stray is a former domesticated cat. A feral is usually a couple of generations removed from a stray.

Certainly it is better when there is a managed colony....but I also can see Nathan Winograd's point which is that these ferals have survived without us and the most critical thing that needs to be done is to get them fixed regardless of whether there is a caretaker or not.

post #6 of 14
Sorry Katie, but those of us old school (who have done this for so many years) use Release. Release does not denote abandonment. You are releasing the cat back to the place you originally found him or her in after it has been vetted and neutered or spayed. The term may also be regional. I wouldn't get in a uproar about the use of the letter R in TNR if it were me. The important factor is the cats are being halted in their breeding process however you wish to say it.
post #7 of 14
Oh...I'm not in an uproar (the capitals were for emphasis only). I could care less if someone wants to use Release...but from the feral cat clinic, we were told to use the word Return...I think it was after what had happened in Pennsylvania.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

Just to clarify, I agree with you Katie, that "return" is a better word, but neither "release" nor "return" convey the very important management that should follow the tnr of a group of cats.

I think that Nathan's right too, and yet it's a double-edged sword, for a rescue organization. On the one hand, it's VERY important for owned pet cats to be kept under their owners' control and care; on the other hand, it's important to recognize that NOT all homeless cats die horrible, painful deaths without human care. My group is actually struggling with the community's belief that it's "better dead than feral" for cats, and so I'm pretty sensitive about the distinction, I'm afraid. I spent a good while trying to achieve change from within one of the old-line groups here, and could not get them to listen. So I'm now "building the body" so they won't HAVE to listen to me -- the facts speak for themselves.
post #9 of 14

I think you and I are closer to each other's thoughts than we know. How to convey what a feral is?? It is such a hard thing....would you ever expect anyone to trap, neuter and return a squirrel or a raccoon?? And yet, these "cats" aren't strays...and pulling at heartstrings by trying to describe them as "unowned cats" doesn't work either. We are caught additionally by the fact that we do not want people to "dump" their cats (thus the whole...cats live shorter lives outdoors argument)but we want them to be compassionate to these wild cats. There just aren't any easy answers.

Additionally, and this is the thing that gets to me....if we wait until we have caretakers...aren't we simply taking a teaspoon to an ocean?? Admittedly, the number of people who do participate in TNR is growing..and for that I am greatful...but it seems we are struggling to win this war.


post #10 of 14
So the war is never over. This we should know by now, right, but it helps to have hope. It is winning the little battles around here that put a smile on our groups faces (they really do smile) An example of the small battle is my neighbor who wanted to destroy our colony just last year but has decided “H*ll I don’t mind them cats, I ain’t got mice no more.†I later explained that he probably doesn’t have a mole problem either now. These are the little battles that make up the war we fight for our furry friends, I think each battle is worth it. I does annoy me when people who once seemed to care so much, seem to, what I call run out of caring. They have done so much, tried so hard to fight this fight and just decided that it is too hard. Nothing worth having is not worth fighting for. I credit my colony with making me a sympathetic, kind person who is capable of showing empathy, sure I may have been that way anyway, but they pulled it out of me. Many of my neighbors and classmates at collage have adopted our once feral friends, so they too know the worth of the situation. I just wish more people did.
post #11 of 14
Hey phendric726...that is very true...we cannot give up hope for the future and I do think more and more groups/individuals are embracing TNR. Do not get me wrong...I was really happy to see some individuals at the last clinic who were there to get information on how to start a clinic of their own. It does seem a bit "overwhelming" at times...but what would life be without a "challenge".

post #12 of 14
I am always encouraged by new faces at the clinics. These people at least care enough to look into the situation. My frustration comes from the many people who attend the clinics, get all the info (printing this many info packets is not cheap) and then simply do nothing anyway. They get me hopeful, that the battel is being won and then crush my spirit when the dump their own animals. (I got two cats and a dog this way) the bad part was I found homes for them all within days of them being dumped with me as no home pets. Alot of my newer members to the colony were at one time someones pet, you can tell by the way they act, sweet, loving, not feral at all, it seems like my job gets harder as the work gets more rewarding. I guess thats the chance we take as animal lovers.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yes, there is a lot of discouragement in this kind of work. It is all the more important to be able to reflect sometimes on the GOOD side of the work and to know when you need to stop and take some care of yourself too! I think, we can't look at this issue as a single battle, won or lost on one interaction. It's hard, when I handle a call and the caller doesn't sorta "sign up" right away, or when you put a packet in their hands but they put their pets out anyway, no doubt about it. But stop and think what a short-term perspective that is!! It's better, if we are trying to change how society thinks and acts, to take a real long-term view. The person who, today, puts that packet aside and abandons a pet, or the person who doesn't come on board with my group's programs, still continues to receive all kind of inputs and messages. We have done long-term followup with probably half of our calls these days. LOTS of times we might not have hooked 'em the first time, but the second time we call, they've started learning and thinking and decided hey, maybe this group might have known some of the answers all along. Unfortunately, we can't mind-meld people to our way of thinking (and sometimes, that may be very GOOD. After all, we don't want to miss a chance at change and innovation that's good, just because it comes from a source we think is unlikely!)

Some time if you get very cool and very centered, see if you can check in with some of those non-starters. Maybe they will have gotten some help from other agencies (in which case you should be sure to let the agencies know you noticed!! Thank them!); maybe they won't and just maybe, they will start to see the light. You might be very surprised at what you learn, if you decide to do this. I think it changed my mind about this work, and about people.
post #14 of 14
Several years ago, I posted of my colony back in Indiana... its been some time since I lived there now... After all the that time I still have the colony. I moved to Vermont several years ago, My mother kept up the colony, when she too moved north, she brought them with her. Trapped 17 cats and loaded them in the van, we had shelter here for them already. Relocation was hard, it took them a while to get adjusted... but they are GREAT!!! they all made the move well and ar ehappy in the new place. They are caged now... Its outside, its heated, (as VT gets VERY cold) they still have all the feral housing from home...and the cage is larger than some shelters so I don't feel like I've really taken anything from them. When my mom was trying to move up she found none of the no kill shelters had room for them and she refused to leave them behind, it took two weeks to catch everyone, but she managed. Its hard for me to feel sympathy for these manipulative people who will "call the pound" if they don't get help, when one, lone, small woman did it all herself for our colony...
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