Dumping a beloved family pet is something that I would never consider, it just doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet, it is something that happens very frequently the world over. I have never really questioned why someone would do this other than they have changed their mind about having a pet or they are moving on and don’t want or can’t afford to take their pet with them. Our latest rescue may have given us another answer in the fact that she wasn’t spayed.
In December last year, I heard the now familiar call from my husband… “Babe, can you come and help? Bring a cat box!”. Another waif or stray on the doorstep, in need of our help. Imagine my surprise when I see this beautiful Persian girl, sweet as anything! She was purring, happy to be picked up and gladly trotted into the cat carrier so she could be taken to the vet for a microchip check.
We were sorry to learn that she had no chip so finding her owner would be that much harder. We tucked her away in a spare bathroom, separated from all of our cats, with the necessities to keep her safe and comfortable until her family could be found. The Facebook posts and knocking on doors commenced to try and find her owner.
The next day, my husband had noticed something strange about her. Whenever we entered the room, she did not react at all, she stayed fast asleep. After a quick Google search and a little test we came to learn that she was completely deaf. This didn’t stop her from coming to us for lots of fuss and cuddles. She immediately recognised the cat brush, flopping over, belly exposed, ready for her beautification. There was no way this girl was a street cat, she has definitely been cared for by humans at some point.
We got her vaccinated at the local vet so that we could let her out of the bathroom to have free roam of the house while we continued to look for her owners. We put a contingency plan in place and arranged for a potential home for her over in the States. It was decided she would stay with us until we could get her ready to fly. She got on well with our hoard of rescue cats, although we were concerned they would take advantage of her deafness and bully her relentlessly.
A week or so passed, then we started to hear the most horrendous howling. We immediately think that some of the cats are fighting, a common occurrence in our multi-cat household, but a quick sweep of the house shows no sign of a fray. Cloud, as we now call her, trots into the living room and flops on the rug in front of the TV as if butter wouldn’t melt. 20 minutes later, the noise starts again but this time the source is right in front of our eyes. Sweet, darling Cloud is howling as if in the most tremendous pain. She starts pacing around, this guttural yowling echoing around the whole house. When Jareth, one of our male cats, approaches she adopts a tell-tale position. Head down, bum up and the noise she is making changes to something a bit more alluring. We realised then that she was in heat and she wanted some action! All of our cats are already neutered bar one. Thankfully, he is very young and was showing zero interest in Cloud’s antics.
We have experienced cats in heat previously as our kittens had “come of age”. As soon as we knew they had been in heat the vet visit was booked for them to be spayed so neither they, nor us, would have to endure this heartbreaking racket that they cannot help but make. Cloud had not yet been booked in for a spay and we read online that it is best to wait until after their heat to carry out the spay operation. This is due to an increase in blood flow to their reproductive organs, making the procedure more complicated. She is off to the vet today, as I write this, for her spay to finally be done.
Now, I am not sure if all female cats are quite as loud as this genteel girl when in heat, or if the fact that she is deaf and can’t hear herself made it that much worse. What I did realise was that if someone did not know what was causing an otherwise healthy cat to make this awful noise, or how to make it stop, this may drive them to dump their pet on the street. Most people know they shouldn’t shout at their pets, that it does little other than cause additional stress but again for those who don’t know, shouting at a pet to try and make them shut-up may seem like a reasonable approach. Not very effective with a deaf cat! Getting rid of her may have seemed like the only option. Given that we had no success in finding her owner, we finally agreed that she had been dumped on the street.
After the heat had passed and Cloud returned to her floppy, loving self we arranged for her to go to a foster. She was immune to the warning growls of our resident cats and loved to chase them all around the house, a game the other cats did not enjoy. She wasn’t getting all the attention she deserved, so we felt it best she went into foster to be spoiled before her flight to Texas. Her foster mum has had cats before but never females. After Cloud had been there a week she messaged me with a video she had taken in the middle of the night, the now familiar howling in full force asking “is this heat? Or is she sick?”. I told her it was heat, it had come on a lot sooner than we had expected (only about 2 and half weeks since the last one) and that it would continue for the next 4 days. She even said herself, a total cat lover, that she could understand why someone would put the cat out when they behaved like that! I think she was nicknamed “Terror” for those few days. You can listen to the audio clip below. Just imagine trying to sleep when this is all you can hear!
I will be very happy when her operation is completed tomorrow and she can go back to her foster mum until all the preparations are complete for her to fly to Texas. I know she will go on to have a happy and secure life in a loving home, without her hormones and instincts kicking in every few weeks taking over her every thought and action. It is very distressing for all involved, a spay is really one of the greatest gifts you can give a pet.
Cloud’s story has made me realise that we can be quick to judge, to label people as monsters for dumping their pets. It made me realise the importance of educating our friends, neighbours and colleagues about their responsibilities as pet owners and how they are helping their pets and themselves by having this procedure done. By helping people to make the right decisions for their pets, hopefully they will remain pets and not be added to the ever growing colonies on the streets of the world, putting additional pressure on the volunteers and government agencies who are trying to get the stray animal populations under control.
So, help me out here. Talk to the people around you about their pets, ask them if they are spayed or neutered. Don’t judge or force the issue but educate them, gently does it. Answer any questions they may have and never make anyone feel stupid for what they do not know. If you don’t have the answers, direct them to the TNR website or Facebook page for more information on the benefits of neutering their pets and how to go about it. Finally, if you have pets and they are not spayed or neutered, I recommend making an appointment with your vet to get it done. You won’t regret it!