small changes can lead to big differences.

Friday, August 20, 2010

blue island.

My mom grew up in Blue Island, Il - which is right on the edge of chicago. My grandma and aunt still live in the house they were raised in, and when I was little, trips there were frequent. I have many memories there - nature walks, picking up garbage with my aunt, the park right across the way, being afraid of the upstairs, halloween parties/christmas parties etc, and of course, the large amount of cats my aunt and grandma had.

Blue Island has (or should I say had?) a plethora of stray cats in the neighborhood. My aunt started taking them in, getting them fixed/rabies, and giving them a home. Since most were already feral, she knew it would be cruel to confine them to a house, so she lets them be free and do what they like outside. For a few years of my teen life, I didn't understand that this was probably the best option for the cats that ended up at her house. Cats, unlike dogs, enjoy being free & they come to you when they feel like it. Not only that, but how many thousands of cats are in shelters, waiting for a home? It is slightly unreal to think that every single cat that isn't 100% feral has a chance of being in a safe, confined home. So giving these cats their freedom to roam (and I must add, there are no busy streets for blocks. They live right on the edge of a canal) and always welcoming them inside is probably one of the most ideal options out there. Sure, there have been a few cats that have never come back and my heart still hurts when I think of that (especially being told that they went to kitty heaven when you're 10) but cats are, in my opinion, capable of being almost wild animals if you let them, and we all know they can take care of themselves! But the fact that they have a human, someone who feeds them and will keep them healthy (because of course, none of these almost-feral cats are afraid of my aunt or grandma!) is probably a win-win situation. And the cats that don't want to go outside, who want to be around people and stay indoors, are always welcome to do so.

The reason I used to have a big problem with this is because I was in full-fledged animal rescue mode for a few years of my late-teen life. I didn't understand that it was completely unrealistic to think that every cat should be domesticated and adopted into a home. The fact that my aunt is fixing these cats is probably the reason why no cats in Blue Island are ever put down. She never brings a cat to a shelter, if a cat winds up on her doorstop, she will take care of it for however long that cat lets her, no matter what. And I know you're probably wondering what the inside of the house looks like - you would be surprised! Since, like I mentioned before, these cats have their freedom, it's rare to see more than 3 cats in the house at any given time. My aunt is definitely not a cat hoarder. Trust me, I've been in a hoarders house, and I have pics. If you want to see them let me know, but it's pretty disgusting.

I am curious to know if anyone agrees or disagrees with me. Is it better that my aunt is fixing these cats/taking them to the vet/getting their shots, etc. and then letting them be free? Even the kittens and friendly cats? Or should she always give the friendly cats and kittens up to shelters to give them a chance, even though there are thousands of great cats waiting for homes already? And keep in mind again, if the cats want to stay inside they do. My grandma is always home and she probably loves the attention just as much as the cats do!

Suzy jumping over the fence.

This also brings me to another point - TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) is so, so important in getting the cat population down. Since not everyone are cat angels like my aunt and grandma, the number of kittens being born without homes is always on the rise. TNR traps feral cats (feral cats are wild cats), gets them fixed and their rabies, tests them for deadly, contagious diseases, and if they're good to go, then they are released back into the wild. I think this is the most effective way and it's so cheap to do as well. PAWS Chicago will do it for $20! If anyone wants more info on TNR, please let me know and I can direct you to some great websites and organizations.

On a side note, this entire post was supposed to be about my memories and some cool photos of my grandma's backyard. See how sidetracked I get? Insane! I guess I still have a lot of animal-rescue left in me! I will post that one later I guess!

Three friendly cats. 

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