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January 30, 2006


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I also see the other extreme of pet ownership: college students who decide to all rent a house together, and someone gets the bright idea of getting a cat. So they adopt a cat, feed it when they remember to, clean its litter box when they remember to, try to feed it beer because they think it's funny, and when they all move back home in the summer, they either can't take the cat or don't want to. "Oh, just let it go," they say, "It's a cat. It'll get along okay." Consequently, our college town is full of abandoned cats every summer -- many of them un-neutered and un-spayed, because some young men can't distinguish between their own sexuality and that of their pet. "Ha, ha, neuter him? He gets laid every night! Guffaw, guffaw!"

And then there's the couple that recently surrendered an elderly Boston terrier to an animal shelter because they didn't want to be bothered with its care any more. "It's just going to get expensive from here."

I can't stress enough that responsible pet ownership means taking on full responsibility for care, feeding, and medical expenses. However, we also have to realize that pets are NOT children. Humans understand that what the doctor is doing may help, and can intellectualize their illness. Pets do not. When you have a very sick pet, you have quality of life issues to deal with. There sometimes comes the point when it may be crueler to make the animal go through painful and frightening medical procedures and subsequent recovery than it is to have the animal quietly put down. It's a hard decision, and a highly personal one that only a pet owner can make.

And let me also add that I recently spent over $100 to get a feral cat spayed and vaccinated, after she graced our garden with a pair of kittens. The vaccinations are out of kindess for the cat, so she'll have a healthier life, and so she won't spread rabies and distemper, and the spaying is out of kindness for a neighborhood that doesn't need another litter of feral kittens. One kitten that got left behind in a botched trapping attempt earlier is with a foster momcat, and the other is coming around with mama to get food, and is responding well to food and toys. He allows me to pet him a little and even pick him up briefly, so he's just about ready to come indoors.

I got advice and a discount coupon from our local feline rescue association, so the spaying wasn't quite as costly as it might have been, but I did have to pay extra for dissolving sutures, post-op pain medication, and the vaccines.

If feral cat rescue stories fascinate you, there's more here:

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