A loving heart wears out

lifestyle September 16, 2012 00:00

By Laurie Rosenthal
The Nation o

4,450 Viewed

Assuming feeding and housing responsibility for too many animals can be very wearing, even for the kindest person


You start with one or two animals, a manageable number depending on your circumstances.
Cats or dogs, when they move into your house, they move into your heart too. Even if you don’t have enough money, you open your home, and you provide food and a place for them to sleep.
You might even be proud of yourself for taking these creatures off the soi, saving - or at least improving - their lives. It’s supposed to be good karma, isn’t it, if a cat comes to you of its own accord, but dogs can give you the same feeling.
Slowly, so very slowly, the number of animals in your home grows. Perhaps a mother gives birth to puppies or kittens. Perhaps a soi dog or cat, smelling food and other creatures in your home, decides to move in, too.
One day, you realise you’re spending more money than you had planned on pet food. Also, you really don’t know how many animals are living with you. The number is too large.
Without intending to, you are in trouble, and so are your animals.
I think I was too harsh on the woman I wrote about a few weeks ago, for years, she had done her best for the 60 or so cats who had moved into her house. When I and some rescuers visited her, her home was dirty, and the cats had eye and skin infections. Conditions were so bad that kittens died within two or three weeks of birth.
In this way, Varee, the little cat who now lives with me, lost her own babies. In addition, one of her paws is missing (the leg healed without treatment), and she is also infected with feline Aids (Fiv).
The woman wouldn’t allow the rescuers to take the healthier cats away for adoption. She felt she was making merit by keeping them with her and wept when we finally persuaded her to let us take one kitten. 
She didn’t know about neutering or vaccinating until the rescuers took the cats to a local BMA vet for the procedures.
The rescuers told me that the woman had no income at all, and taking care of the cats had used up any resources she had. Before I left, I gave her some money. An hour later, the woman phoned the rescuers in tears. That day, she had no way at all to buy food for the cats until I helped out.
Yet two weeks later, she told the rescuers to take all the cats away. She still loved them, but the unending pressure of taking care of them became too much for her.
She lost heart, I think.