Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 06:00 am
One day, he just sat in my car.
I had seen him before, tapping on windows, loitering in the parking lot, seeking love from perfect strangers. He had a reputation as a young fellow who frequented shelters but didn’t have a home. Then I left the door open and fell to his charm. Soft yellow eyes and little white paws.
I am not a cat person. I don’t like conditional love or hairballs on my bed. So the cat got the living room and the rest was mine. I bought him food and cleaned out his litter. I petted him when he wanted attention. I posted his photo online, and called every lost cat number I could find. There were others like him but nobody for him. Sometimes I regretted taking him in but then I couldn’t let him go again.
In 2013, the Edmonton Humane Society received 1,396 stray cats and 2,344 kittens. Only 167 had identification. This year, there were only 479 stray cats and 637 kittens, and 121 of all stray animals brought in to date had ID.
A cat, like any other pet, is a sentient creature under your protection. Much like your child, it shouldn’t walk around outside for days. It shouldn’t defecate on other people’s lawns, or leave a trail of what you call a gift, and I call a bird.
A pet needs rules. If it cannot or will not obey your command, you need to enforce rules in other ways – a fence, a leash, any way of bringing it home at the end of the day. And don’t make excuses. A cat isn’t wild even if you let it go. Wild animals don’t eat canned food. If you buy it, adopt it, or breed it, it’s yours.
That means you take responsibility for its actions, and pay for its needs. You don’t leave it behind to fend on its own. You don’t create a nuisance for people like me.
The cat’s name was Louie. I was told that he was left behind but had him checked for a microchip nonetheless. His was outdated. It took three days to find his owners, who said, “Give him away.” Meanwhile, I had gone out and found him a home.
The man at the rescue said tattoos and ID chips are useful but not mandatory. Even if they were, people might not get them, he said. Too many see cats as a “throwaway” or trust they’ll just return home.
Yet there are always cats going lost in this city. Some, like Louie, keep showing up at the vet with no one looking for them. Some run away. Some may just “roam” for too long. I don’t agree with fining people for losing their pet by accident. But I agree with forcing them to put down their name on ID.
If you can pay for your pet’s food and the vet, you can buy a little chip or tattoo. Otherwise all that’s left is my appeal to your senses. But sadly, those often seem to be missing as well.
Viola Pruss is a reporter with the St. Albert Gazette. She loves the pets of other people but for now has no patience for one of her own.