Thursday, February 23, 2012

So, why the repost?

Yesterday I reposted a blog entry from last Spring, called Saving Jean-Luc. I was thinking of doing it anyway because this is the time of year when all those un-neutered pets link up with other un-neutered pets and start little families of their own. Families that owners have to deal with. The sad fact is, many owners deal with it by dropping those dear family pets and their off-spring onto some empty country road, mistakenly thinking that pets have what it takes to make it in the wild. They don't.

Jean-Luc's situation is an example of this. He is an example of another mistaken belief, that dropped-off animals will be taken in by people (okay, that part came true for Jean-Luc, but NOT for his mother, and many, many others) and that being dropped off doesn't affect them negatively.

This leads me to why I ultimately decided to repost the entry about Jean-Luc. The other day, we ran out of cat food. We usually have two bowls, one for Min-Min and one for Jean-Luc. One of the dishes was still 3/4 full when I went to bed, and the next morning I came downstairs to Jean-Luc finishing off what was left in that bowl. He left quite a few bits of kibble in the bowl, so he wasn't feeling hungry. But he was feeling anxious.

If you remember from Saving Jean-Luc, he went hungry for a week while he was out on his own as a young kitten. When we found him, he was very, very thin. He continues to have food issues, and after 10 months of adequate food, he still grows anxious when his food bowl is empty. He hasn't ever gone hungry since we found him, and I keep his food bowl full all of the time because I know it bothers him when it begins to get low.

He has ways of letting me know that it is bothering him. The morning that I got up and he had finished the food, he stood by the bowl, flipping it up by the edge with his paw and letting it fall back onto the floor while looking at me with large, anxious eyes. I knew that he wasn't hungry because there were still bits of food in the bowl. He wasn't interested in them. His anxiety wasn't caused by hunger. It was caused by a lack of access to food. He still doesn't trust that even when the bowl is empty, when he is hungry there will be food there for him.

This makes me sad. I know that Jean-Luc lives a charmed life now. He is petted and fawned over, and has taken up an inordinate amount of space on my blog. Still, after 10 months, he hasn't recovered from one week of being lost and alone, starving in the wild.

On the scale of world issues, Jean-Luc's anxieties are beyond minor. I know this. I love animals, but I love people more. This is truly a "first world problem". Still, it is something to think about. Something to be aware of.

Pet ownership responsibility begins before the pet enters our homes. If we can't afford to spay or neuter our pets, we can't afford to have them. Or if we do have them, we are responsible to keep them away from other unspayed and neutered animals. We are responsible. Even when it's a hassle. Even when it is hard. If we do slip up and we end up with a pregnant female, it is our slip up, not hers. So we are responsible to deal with her in a way that is the least damaging to the mother or her babies.

Ultimately, the message is, think. Think about consequences, about responsibilities, about possible problems. I may post a gazillion pictures of cute, furry kittens on my Facebook profile page, but cute and furry is not a reason to get a pet. Are you lonely? Honestly make sure that your sense of responsiblity and commitment to a pet will equal your loneliness, because as much comfort as a fur friend can be, there will still be vet bills, behavioral issues, and the work that is involved in the proper care of pets.

In the end, we need to get past our desires for cute, fluffy, companionship and attention. We need to get practical.

We need to just think.

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