Hope you had yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Happy New Year’s Eve!
My last post talked about being lucky enough to have the luxury of choosing to overindulge, during the holidays or any time. There are many — too many — people who don’t have that luxury. We all get the big push, especially over the holidays, to donate and help good causes like the Food Bank, Salvation Army, Red Cross, etc., and that of course eases the need, at least for a little while. But we don’t hear much about the plight of our four-legged friends. That’s because, unlike the bigger, better-known SPCA, the smaller organizations doing the good works operate solely through donations. Whatever scarce resources they have go straight to the animals that need it, with none left over to tell their tales.
As petsitters these past four years, we’ve certainly seen how many animals have so little, particularly in Mexico. The stray and suffering dog population there is heartbreaking, but it’s heartwarming to know there are people who care, who volunteer their time and money to help. I honestly never really thought there was much of a problem right here in my own backyard. But there is. Not on the scale of Mexico, of course. We are, thankfully, a richer country with more resources to help. But still there are enough homeless critters to require people and organizations to help them.
Take Pierre and Bill, for instance, the two kitties we’re caring for here on Vancouver Island. Billy was born in Port McNeill, on the north end of the Island, where 300 feral cats are euthanized every year. For three years Billy evaded that same death penalty, just for being born wild. He eventually ended up in Nanaimo, where he lived at the local SPCA for three months before finding his “forever home” here. Pierre was born under a rock in French Creek (hence his name) near Qualicum Beach. He was rescued as a kitten and became Bill’s little brother. The two may occasionally fight like cats and dogs — particularly, naturally, over food — but they both know how lucky they are.
Often the only way to hear about cats like Billy and Pierre, or the desperate strays of Mexico, is through word of mouth. We got to hear of Bill and Pierre’s happy ending through the wonderful work of his parents, who volunteer with CatSpan. Established 20 years ago when a group of local women discovered a colony of 40 wild cats living at a Nanoose Bay marina, CatSpan feeds, spays/neuters, arranges vet care and spreads the word about feral cats to local communities, and advocates for non-kill shelters. Rather than simply feeding the cats, which makes the females stronger, healthier, and therefore able to continue having up to four litters of six kittens every year, further exacerbating the problem, the spay and neutering part of the program is the most vital. Every one of those original 40 cats went on to be spayed/neutered and cared for until the last one died at the ripe old age of 18.
Since we move around so much in this digitally nomadic lifestyle we’re living these days, we can’t spare much time to help. But we can spread the word. Maybe you can too, to help other wild and abandoned cats and kittens like Billy and Pierre to have a happy new year. And many more.
For more information, check out CatSpan’s website.