The Long Run

Maria’s friend Shari adopted a new cat this past week. He’s a handsome young fellow about 1 year old. Tabby markings in a pattern reminiscent of Bengals.

He’s kind and friendly, an obvious housecat – not feral at all. His name is Hunter.

Shari got him from a nice lady who lives in the country outside Renfrew. Apparently, some nimrod dumped Hunter in the snow outside her door. The lady found out that Shari was looking to adopt another cat after losing Onyx, and was kind enough to drive Hunter down to Almonte. So his story will end well.

But why does it even have to begin this way? What sort of person would spend a year building mutual affection and companionship with an animal and then drop him off like a used paper towel?

A cat’s love may be more subtle and complex than the robust affection of a Labrador, but it’s no less genuine. And a cat will feel the loss of a companion, the pangs of hunger, the ache of cold just as much as any other sentient being.

Whether it’s because Hunter outgrew his cute kittenhood stage or for any other reason, such an action is abject cruelty and should never be tolerated.

Fact is, owning a cat is a long distance thing. The picture above shows our beloved Sammy as a magnificent six year old. We had ten more wonderful years with him. A one-year-old is like a teenager – so much of life and love ahead.

Most cat owners will tell you that a young cat’s adult years are best. Still many years of energy and health remain, and there’s ample time to become the best of pals – and the cementhead kitten period is in the rearview mirror.

However, most cat shelters will tell you that the sweet-faced adults are the hardest ones to adopt. Everybody wants a kitten. But kittens don’t remain that way. And then trouble can start for the poor creature. Abandonment in the cold. Warehousing in a shelter. Even death, if the population gets too large and the shelter doesn’t have a no-kill policy.

My hope this year is that every homeless cat story will end like Hunter’s or like our own Mr. Oates’ – snoozing on the sofa near the fireplace, or acting like a hot water bottle at 1 AM.

It won’t be that way unless people smarten up and treat their pets as family members – not disposable wipes.

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