Thursday, September 27, 2018

Remember Me Thursday {writing to save lives} #RememberMeThursday

Remember Me Thursday ... make a difference in the lives of cats. If you don't know about Remember Me Thurday, you may read more about it in last year's post or on the event's website. Both of my cats are rescues. To read last year's post describing what my cats mean to me and have meant to me: Remember Me Thursday {writing to save lives} #RememberTheRescue. I probably can't put it any better than that. And last year we won second place in the Remember Me Thursday contest for my story about Bear. Hard to top that! 
So I'm going to do things a bit differently than last year and let last year tell the story of how my cats were rescued. First, instead of highlighting MY rescues, I talk about the animals themselves - the value of each life. You'll hear from the rescues themselves. How can you ignore their call? How can you ignore their value? They live and breathe just like the rest of us. Take a second to care and you might just find that you didn't rescue a cat, but that one rescued you.

The problem: Orphan pets in need of forever homes.

Story #1: Where did my people go and why won't they let me back inside? I've sat here on the front porch for hours meowing but I guess they can't hear me. Maybe they'll realize I'm missing soon. I hope so. It's getting cold and I'm hungry. They couldn't have possibly left me out here on purpose, right? I know I peed outside of the litter box because the new puppy just overwhelms me. I'd rather hide and not be scared than deal with the puppy jumping around and sticking his nose in my face. Would they use the bathroom if an over-exuberant hippo was guarding their toilet? The next thing I knew, they held the front door open and I was too excited to explore to think that they might not let me back in. Why won't they let me back in? I swear I'll never pee outside the litter box again! It's cold out here. And I'm starting to get really hungry. I wish I could just lay in my window and watch the birds again. Those birds are so much more scary without a window between us.

Story #2: Where are my people? What am I supposed to eat? They said something about moving and me being an inconvenience. If they just told me what I could do to not be an inconvenience, I would've done it! I don't mind moving as long as I get to stay with my people. I don't really need anything! I would've been a good kitty in the carrier! I don't understand why they'd just abandon me. I thought they'd love me forever and now they're just gone. How am I going to sleep without my blankie and my warm cat bed? The cars on the street are so loud too and they get so close! It's almost like one will come barreling off the road and run me over. Maybe one will bring my people back to me. My belly is rumbling. Maybe my people will realize they love me and come back to feed me. They said they love me - but how can you casually dispose of something you love?

Story #3: The street is a scary place. I've heard fairy tales about cats who have cushy jobs indoors - but I don't know where to apply. Life on the street is scary. Cars, mean humans, starvation, safety ... there's not one moment of peace. Not one minute to relax.  I'm glad I found my hide out under the deck. The leaves provide good cover and I'm safe under here. It still rains in there though. How do all the cats get their food? I keep trying to catch food - but I'm not very good at it and the outdoor creatures are just too scary. I wish my Mom had stuck around. Then I would've at least had milk. But she told me it was time to strike out of my own so she could have her next litter. I'm lonely. I'm hungry. I'm scared. Everyone just walks past me in a rush - they won't even look at me! Am I really so unimportant? So without value? I don't understand. I don't know how to survive like this. I thought cats are domesticated - we're not equipped to live outside - despite the people convinced we are.

Can you imagine you or your human child in these circumstances? What would you think and feel? Many people think that they are just cats and they don't garner the respect and treatment humans do. It's a slippery slope when you start assigning different values to life. If humans lives are somehow more important than feline lives, does it follow that some human lives matter more than others? And by which parameter would you value life? Income? Whether a person has children? Contributions to society?

If you're a regular reader, you know the stories above are personal. I suspect the first [at least partially] matches Ellie - I combined her story with the one of Allie below. Bear matches the last. They are my rescues. They are my heart. When you choose to "rescue" a pet, you "rescue" so much more than one animal. You rescue yourself. You celebrate and foster your humanity. You rescue a second animal that would've otherwise been euthanized if your adoption hadn't given up the space at the shelter. And your adoption fees support the rescues' missions.

The problem doesn't end with an adoption. For every adoption, there are many more pets that die before they ever find a forever home. Not only do pets die in shelters from lack of room, many don't make it to shelters at all. The streets are nasty. Many people are nasty. And rescue organizations can only take care of a limited number of pets at a time. According to Animal 24-7 published by Merritt Clifton, each year, over 2.7 million pets in shelters die without ļ¬nding their forever home. IN SHELTERS. That doesn't include the number of cats that die without ever reaching a shelter.

Our stories

While I won't re-share the details of my cats' rescues [you may read about them in Remember Me Thursday {writing to save lives} #RememberTheRescue], I do want to share how we met and why I love my cats (the ways by which they rescue ME). I always feel weird about sharing how I met my cats. I impart a lot of meaning to interactions that could've meant nothing. The logical, rational side of me tells myself I can't substantiate or prove any of it - but my heart KNOWS. Some how, Bear, Ellie and I KNEW we were connected in some way - we KNEW each other as part of a connected whole. There's a quality that defies reason - something that transcends it. For years, I've tried to piece together exactly what happened between Bear and I that we decided we'd be happier together. I try to figure out why after the first time I fed him, he was outside of our door every morning. And why he'd ignore the food - even let the other cats eat it - for as long as I pet him. His name came from when he wrapped his paws around my wrist like a big bear hug to guide my hand to his belly. Here's this supposedly feral cat that around me turns into a cuddle bug. I came home from grocery shopping one day - and there he was. The first time he didn't let me touch him - he ran back to the safety of under the deck. He was there every morning for LOVE? Does that sound like a feral cat? A cat that is supposed to be driven by needs and instincts and he just wants some ear and belly rubs? Either one of two things is true - something truly beautiful happened between us or the "experts" massively underestimate the abilities and capabilities of a cat. Or maybe a little bit of both. 

And for Ellie, how did I know that the cat in the glass enclosure needed me?  We were at a pet store for a special event. I'm drawn to the cats from a local rescue. I saw Ellie - she got up and rubbed against the front of her cube. I was desperate to show her some attention - luckily her rescue's representative walked in at that moment. I never would've believed I'd adopt a black cat. Not because there's anything wrong with them ... I've just had my eyes on gingers and torties and tabby/tuxies. But my heart saw something my eyes could not. I wish I could say we got her that day - but it took a couple weeks. I was fighting my intuition and telling myself I could walk away. But I never really could. Because of the value I place on a cat's life ... because of the commitment of FOREVER, I needed some time to make sure I provide her a home forever. I think I visited Ellie just about every week between when I met her and when I adopted her. She makes my heart smile. She's just pure joy.

Why do I love my cats? The short answer is simple: who wouldn't? The medium answer is that they are their glorious selves. Cats have a bad reputation as not needing anyone or anything outside of themselves. I can't speak for all cats - but mine are not like that at all. They feed off my attention, they love me, having me around provides stimulation and a sense of security. They provide me with love and happiness. Watching them do "their" thing is reward enough. I'm often struck with strong affection when I notice one of these traits. And they do keep me laughing. I put this part off until last because I don't want to miss any - and I know there are almost endless ways my cats make me happy. So I'm going to stick to what comes off the top of my head and time it so I don't overthink it.

BEAR CAT: Daredevil. Momma's boy. Love Bug. He comes to me for reassurance and a sense of safety when he's not sure. He loves to defy just to prove he can. He'll misbehave with his whole heart and expect an involved audience.

He loves belly rubs, and ear rubs, and lower back rubs ... for all his sharkiness, he is first and foremost a Momma's boy. 

Bear has pretty much always slept with me. I suspect Bear was never taught the "love bite" by his mom - it's all or nothing with this shark-y boy. One of Bear's favorite things to do is sit on the table next to where I work and just stare at me. He doesn't actually want anything ... except to make Momma twitchy.

Most days, you can find him in his window - the window where some cat destroyed the blinds on one side for easy entrance and exit.

ELLIE MAE: LOVES to talk. It's not unusual to hear her meowing at night to herself. And when she sees one of her humans, she greets them - loudly. I've started calling her Yellie because it seems like she's totally telling us off - or having an involved conversation. 

She'll eat anything (her other nickname is Ellie Belly). And she's a lap hopper. There have been days when The Boy and I have both been home and she runs from one lap to the next when one of us disappoints. She's just a merry, happy girl. She likes to listen to the sound of her own voice, loves to flip her tail in everyone's faces, loves to make biscuits on her beds, and even has a little dance when she's excited. A year in, she finally jumped on the bed and now she'll settle in on the bed with me too. This has caused some dissension with my resident snuggler. Ellie climbs on shoulders like a parrot. She will literally perch over a shoulder.

It's not just that she likes to be rubbed from her head to her tail - she genuinely seems to enjoy laying on chests and shoulders more than laps - but she's not too picky and a lap will do. She loves our new "lap bed."

Ellie's our catnip fiend - she has no problem chewing and digging to get her precious nip. And she uses a cat scratcher - which is odd for me given Bear and his redecoration of our loveseat. 

Ellie also loves to lay on anything set on the floor: paper, clothes, tool kits ... you can bet that if you put something down on the floor she'll be laying on it the next time you turn around.

What can you do to raise awareness about the millions of pets killed each year waiting for a forever home?

What else can you do?

  • Support TNR practices locally to help reduce pet-overpopulation and eliminate extermination policies in regard to ferals.
  • Make people aware that animals matter and that their lives have value. Speak out against animal abuse. The majority of people who abuse animals also abuse people. Don't let it get that far.
  • Support local rescues by donating supplies, volunteering or adopting one of their pets.
  • One more way you can help that's very close to our hearts:
  • When we adopted Ellie Mae from All Paws Rescue, there was another kitty we fell in love with named Allie. She's older, very affectionate, and probably best as an only cat. I so desperately want her to find her forever home and not become one of the forgotten that die while waiting for their forever homes. I included her in last year's Remember Me Thursday post and no one snapped this sweetheart up! She's just the kind of kitty Remember Me Thursday is meant to remember (I'm sharing her in the spirit of the day - I haven't received any other incentive - I just love her). If not this special girl, visit any rescue or shelter and you'll probably find at least a few like her. Don't let them be forgotten. For more information on Allie: Allie.
  • After speaking with Ellie's former foster Mom, we learned about Birdy, another cat waiting for a forever home from All Paws. The story behind his name is something you don't want to miss. Prepare to be cuddled: Birdy.

NOTE: Momma and The Boy have been on vacation this week. We didn't want to announce this in advance, but that's why we haven't visited our friends this week. We'll be back to visiting next week. We miss all of you! Due to Remember Me Thursday, we're posting on Thursday this week and not Friday. We can't wait to tell you all about our adventures {and MISadventures} next week! You know Bear and Ellie will have something to say about all this ... and they get the shock of their lives ...

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Momma shoots the cats? Part 2

As the Boy will tell you, I take a ridiculous number of pictures. I've learned that the best way to get good shots is to keep snapping. Just one second can affect whether a picture is usable or not - and there's no real way to know until you view the pictures on a display larger than the camera screen. Cats aren't easy to photograph - and sharing one's life with two is infinitely more complicated than one. So many of the pictures I take are dictated by specific posts - but I've been working on candid, day-to-day shots that have no obvious purpose. This post - and the last one posted Friday - share many of these pictures with you. We hope they bring you as much joy to view as they did Momma to photograph. That's why I take so many pictures - photographing the cats makes me happy.

The post is composed of pictures with captions. If you missed part 1, you may follow the link to it here: Momma shoots the cats? Part 1.