When we moved to our current house, the previous owners had left one of their cats behind. Horrified, I contacted their realtor and told her what had happened. She came back to me later and claimed that they had in fact taken the cat with them, but it obviously ‘missed our house and found its way back’. I Googled their new address and drove to it (not with the cat – I wouldn’t give a rat I liked back to those people) to satisfy myself that there was no way this animal could have made the trek – quite a number of miles and across two freeways.
So, I tried to care for that old cat, whose name was Max according to a neighbor, as best I could. Then one day it disappeared, no longer taking the food I had put outside for it (I could not have it inside because I have a bird and this was an unknown feline). I have to admit, I was not sorry to see it go at the time as it was not exactly a friendly, cuddly thing — which was hardly a surprise given the neglect it likely experienced with that family — but I did feel deeply sorry for it.
It must have become feral, because I kept finding dead birds in the yard. The first dead bird was deposited at one of our doors, so I took it to be a gift of gratitude from the cat. Then the dead birds were arriving more frequently. Now I am not sure it was the cat or raptors who frequent the arroyos nearby and, I now realize, have spent time in my yard (for which confusion I have guilted myself ever since).
I am a dog and bird person. But really, a true animal lover has a soft heart for all species and I am one of those. It is a problem, believe me. As a vegan, I am clearly one of those individuals who takes animal welfare very seriously – to the point of profound despair.
Naturally, to do my part, swimming upstream in this brutal animal-abusive world, I have made small contributions to animal rescue charities, both wild and domestic, national and global (I have also rescued dogs and birds, some wild, some injured, finding a place to return them when I couldn’t care for them myself). It presents a unique dilemma. Once you start giving money to one charity, you are bombarded with requests from others. (Nonetheless, I do try to make even a token offering to as many as possible – I encourage everyone to try and help as well. There is a huge need.)
Now, that would not be so alarming, if it were not for the fact that along with the solicitations and free labels, note-cards and maps, come the most mind-wrenching pictures and stories. If you don’t receive these, you would be shocked to know the kinds of practices that are common, beyond the infamous treatment of greyhounds and old horses, to say nothing of dogs, Easter rabbits and chicks – ugh. The list goes on and on. The latest one that arrived this afternoon was a thick envelope with the title “Junkyard kitties running out of time…”. OMG, I never even thought about there being junkyard kitties.
What to do? I hate to admit it. I just contribute online now. I don’t even read the e-mails when they arrive, I just pass it on to someone to make the payment from my account, so I don’t have to read any horrifying words or view a haunting picture. They always seem to stay with me for years. What good am I as an animal rights champion if I am so sensitive on the subject?
I used to post a lot about it on FB but people become so enraged when you do that and I have to admit, that fellow vegans sent me things that made me cringe and avert my eyes. Along with wing-nut trolls, those horror stories (clearly true, unfortunately) drove me from social media.
So I am not going to discuss it much, if at all here, and you can be sure I will not be posting any of those tragic pictures. I just want to establish where I stand on all this. I cannot even bring myself to kill a fly (yup, I know how to get them in a jar and escort them outside), much less consume or turn my back on factory farm animals.
And now I have to go arrange a contribution for those poor, dear little kitties.