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NOTE:  If you're squeamish, you probably shouldn't read this posting...

 I became an official nonprofit cat rescue about three years ago, and it's been quite an adventure.  I've discovered I didn't know as much about our feline friends as I thought.  Mostly, it's been very rewarding, although there are heartbreaking moments along the way. 

 Anyway, last week we got a call from a family that had just bought some property nearby and discovered a feral cat colony also lived there.  Not being cat lovers, they asked us to trap and relocate the colony immediately, or else they were going to invite their friends over for some target practice.  Eek!  Needless to say, I swallowed my anger regarding their attitude and we got to work trapping about 25 cats and moving them into my barn for the time being.  We found none of them were fixed and seven of them were obviously pregnant.  OMG, if they each have five kittens, we're looking at a minimum of thirty-five!  Over the years, we've taken many, many ferals to the low cost spay/neuter clinic, but have never taken cats that were already pregnant.  This is the first time I've had to deal with the moral dilemma of 'Right to Life' versus my obligation and commitment to reduce overpopulation.  Well, I stayed true to my commitment and scheduled all seven to be spayed and aborted on Monday of this week. 

 Well, when I went out to feed on Friday, I noticed one of the pregnant queens seemed to be in labor, as she was squatting, pushing, licking, and mewling in obvious pain.  I brought her into the house and she proceeded to give birth to six kittens.  It was obvious they weren't full term because they were pink and hairless and tiny, tiny.  But they were breathing, and then they started crying.  I watched the mother struggle to get them to nurse, but they didn't seem to have the suckling instinct.  It was obvious they wouldn't survive for long.  Well, I spent the next 24 hours listening to their cries while mom tried and tried to help them.  We watched them expire one by one.  It was heartbreaking.  

 I took that mom with all the others to the clinic on Monday morning.  I was exhausted, but trying not to dwell on what was about to happen.  When I picked the cats up that afternoon, the total count of fetuses "saved from being born" (the clinic's terminology) came to forty-three.  In fact, the mom that had miscarried on Friday still had seven more inside her!  Driving home, I couldn't stop imagining all those adorable babies that I had sacrificed, and I was suddenly overcome with shame and guilt and profound sadness.  I had to pull to the side of the road and let myself cry and cry.  I felt like a murderer, and I haven't been able to shake the feeling ever since.  All those beautiful babies!  What have I done?

 Also, none of my research warned me that those female cats were going to search for their missing babes. They're looking everywhere, calling and calling. 

 This is killing me.  I wish I would have let the pregnancies go to term.  I love the babies, always have.  I love to bottle feed them and watch them play.  And we never have difficulty finding homes for them.  I feel awful about what I've done.  I don't want to be a rescue any longer.  I need some feedback, pro and con, to help me sort this out.  

Guilty
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AnnieBirdseed
I am SO SORRY for your pain and grief.  I don't know what to tell you because I'm thinking I'd be feeling the same way that you feel right now, although I think I probably would have done the same thing you did.  Thirty five kittens all at the same time is a lot of kittens. Meanwhile,  I know this.   You want only the best for these cats and you are already doing your best.  You are not responsible for the harsh rules of this world.  I'm not sure what you should do from this point on regarding these pregnancies.  Perhaps we need to discuss it.  I'm not totally pro life but neither am I not pro life.  It's not something I could make a blanket decision about in every instance.  It depends on a lot of different things I guess.  I don't think it would be fair for anybody to judge you harshly though.  You were faced with a hard problem and there are no easy answers.  You're doing your best.  If you make a mistake along the way (and I'm not saying you did), you can learn from it.  But don't give up.  Not unless your own health is at stake.  You're needed and you are an angel.
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jphovercraft
I can't imagine the strength required to do what you have done. You have saved 25 cats from certain cruel death at the hands of uncaring humans (I use the term loosely) with guns and have prevented the problem from perpetuating itself indefinitely and resulting in even more suffering for the succeeding generations. Yes, a sad price has been paid for the irresponsibility of cat 'owners' who did not do the right thing by neutering their charges before the situation got so out of hand. That price has been paid by the cats and by you, but your love and caring brought you to take this on, accepting a responsibility that was, strictly speaking, not yours. On behalf of caring humans everywhere, you have shouldered this terrible burden yourself. It took ALL my strength, strength I wasn't sure I could muster, to have my own dear furfriend euthanized when he became so ill that his life was a burden instead of a joy. It took a long time to come to terms with the misplaced guilty feelings I experienced. Let me express my thanks to you for accepting all that weight and offer you a virtual shoulder to lean on. I can only hope it helps ...
"There is no such thing as 'just a cat'." - Robert A. Heinlein

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me." - Kermit the Frog

"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil." - Gandalf
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AnnieBirdseed
I agree one hundred per cent with what you have said JP.  I wish I had thought of it.  There is no blame here except that which goes squarely on the shoulders of those who abandoned those cats.  It was a terrible job that took a lot of courage and inner conviction.
The mothers are looking for the babies but they will get over it.  Again, I am so sorry you had to bear the brunt of this weight on your
own when you did absolutely NOTHING wrong.   Think of this if it helps.  Out of those thirty five kittens, how many offspring could
result?  NONE of these cats had any future what so ever and you gave them a chance.   I hope and pray you will continue to find the strength to pursue this task.  And make no mistake, it is a heavy chore.  Thank God for angels like yourself. 
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EnchantingCat
I am so sorry you had to make that decision. What a weight, it must have been so hard. 

JPHovercraft is a wise man; he expressed with words what I also feel. 

You are a wonderful, kind, loving and generous person to be doing the difficult work that you have taken upon yourself. Please don't beat yourself up about this. The kitties and kitty lovers of the world are grateful for your service, such important work you are doing on their behalf.

I know you did the right thing. You did the best you can and that is all Life asks of us. You are doing way more than I could take on.  

Healing thoughts,
Chelle 
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