Caring: a Blessing and a Curse

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much.  Life would be so much easier if I didn’t care. If I didn’t have nine feral cats to feed life would be simpler, I would have more money in my wallet, more time on my hands, and far less anxiety. But, somehow,  I think my life would also not be as rich as it is.  Whenever I start to get overwhelmed by caring for my cats, I try to remind myself how lucky I am for being able to care for them. Not the physically tending to them so much, but having a heart that is open enough to care about their plight, and strong enough to bear the burden of nine extra lives.  I am frequently reminded of the parable floating around the internet of the young man who thinks he has a beautiful heart because it is perfect. When he is confronted by an old man with a scared, beaten heart though, he realizes how wrong he was, because he never loved.

The weather has finally started to warm, hinting that spring might finally be around the corner.  I can finally spend more time outside, come out of winter hiding. Unfortunately, so are the cats. This will be the first spring that the garage kittens, who really aren’t kittens anymore, will be big enough to run around on their own. They are about a year old now, no longer dependent on mom, and big enough to do their own thing. And do they ever do their own thing.  The other night I went to feed them and found David in a tree, Bana on someone’s front porch three houses south and east of where she lives, Adi ran over from the house directly across the street from their garage, Mommy was hanging out in the alley, shy mr. Shadow popped out from under the truck and even Mr. Scaredy Cat himself Poosh ran over from someone else’s yard. I worry about them so much. I know there is at least one neighbor who does not like having them around, and spends more time on her deck, watching me feed the cats, now that it is warmer out.  I need to have a good talk to her about the cats, but she doesn’t seem to want to do that. One of the other neighbors tried to follow me home one night after feeding them. I had to drive around several blocks before I finally lost him. That same neighbor has a large dog, possibly part pinscher, who seems a bit on the aggressive side. I really worry that one day a cat is going to be in the yard when the dog is let out and not move fast enough to get away from the dog.

I worry about them staying here. They go everywhere, they have little fear of people. A friend came with me to find them the other night and David walked right up to my friend and looked at him, assessing him. He had no fear. If someone had wanted to hurt him, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. I mean he is fast with his teeth, but still.  And there is the regular risks of raccoons, opossums and cars that they have to avoid.  But I also worry about them if I were to relocate them. Relocating is always the last resort, and can go so wrong. I worry that they would try to run away, or would get hurt or killed by some other animal, such as a coyote. And everyone I talk to about relocating them says it is just best to leave them where they are, or to only relocate them to a new yard. I also am afraid that by relocating them I would simply be trying to get rid of my responsibilities, dump them on someone else. I just don’t know what to do with them.  I sometimes, more frequently in the past few weeks, wish I had never found them.  Or that they wouldn’t be so friendly, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about not socializing them. And I wouldn’t have to worry about them walking up to strangers.

I never intended to get so involved with these little guys. I was just going to trap and then let them be on their own. But they were somewhat friendly and I thought they could be socialized. I tried working with them outside, since it was close to winter. I tried bringing in David, the friendliest, but that also failed.  Instead, they bonded to me, and I fell in love with them.  I know that I needed to find them though, without me, there would be dozens more kittens running around, Little Mommy would have had at least one more litter since then, and the two female kittens would certainly be pregnant by now.  So I prevented more unwanted kittens.   But in the process of preventing innocent lives from suffering, I added suffering in the form of major anxiety to mine. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right.

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3 thoughts on “Caring: a Blessing and a Curse

  1. Meg says:

    I think it is a wonderful thing that you are doing for those lil cuties, although I understand the anxiety that caretaking brings with it. Have you considered relocating them to your yard and merging your colonies? (Would the cats even allow that?) That would greatly simplify your feedings. And as for the neighbors….try not to let them get to you. You are doing a wonderful thing for these cats.

  2. Yvette says:

    For me it’s heart wrenching.
    I think they tell me when they are “ready” to come in.
    It took my Sam 3 years to make that decision….and yes the anxiety was almost debilitating at times, especially when he disappeared for a week here and there.

    Look at it from their perspective – they are living the “perfect” kitty life. They have all the freedom in the world to explore and chase and climb trees, and someone serves them food so they don’t have to forage and they have no sexual desires to fulfill. They’re happy, be happy for them.

  3. easilydistractedgirl says:

    Meg, it would take a long time for the cats to accept each other, especially since my first “colony” doesn’t even live here. Besides, you know my yard, there really isn’t any place for them to live. And there is Boomer next door. He would go insane with all those little buggers around! Not to mention my mom would kill me.

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