In the wake of the furore caused in Wisconsin on 11th April 2005, it seems that we live in a disposable society. More and more things are instant and disposable. Instant coffee, disposable nappies, (diapers) and you can even get a ‘use once’ camera – you take the entire camera to the developer and the film gets developed and the camera is discarded.

Picture is of Ellie who had been kicked, beaten and put down a toilet before landing on all four paws at the Daily Mews Mansion with the 6 Daily Mewsers

A boxful of Ellie - who had been disposed of - down a toilet before coming to live at thedailymews.comAnd it would also seem that our pets fall into this disposable category too. I have heard countless tales of unwanted kittens who’ve been tied up in a bag and left out in the freezing winter or thrown into rivers or ponds.

One of my neighbour’s daughters found a carrier bag tied to a lamppost and inside was a tiny little kitten, almost dead from the cold. They kept the kitten and Eddie became Ollie’s friend and he pops through the cat flap on a regular basis to top up his calorie intake.

Elderly cats with health problems, which perhaps their owners are not able to afford, are routinely being abandoned miles away from where they once lived. The cat, in a confused state, unable to find food, often dies from a mixture of dehydration, starvation and hypothermia – and in great pain from its illness, or at the mercy of predatory animals. Can you imagine the confusion that poor animal feels - lost, alone, abandoned, away from what he thought was a loving family? 

Can the people who do these terrible things really live with the consequences of their actions? Presumably they were once pet lovers so how in Heaven’s name can they just discard a much-loved family pet? There are always alternatives and if someone can’t afford to pay the bill, most vets are happy to work out a reasonable payment scheme until it is paid off.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the cat (or dog) is given the medical treatment it needs and is made comfortable. I once had someone write to me to ask what she should do because she thought her cat had broken its leg and she couldn’t afford to pay the veterinary bill.

Here in the UK there are animal clinics where people on low incomes can take their pets for treatment and they pay a token amount, no pet is ever turned away because its owner cannot afford to pay anything.

And insurance policies are an excellent means to protect your pets. Most people have health insurance, household insurance, car insurance, and insurance for household items but overlook pet insurance. But as many pet owners have discovered over the years, that living with a cat or dog can be quite costly in vet’s bills.

For a small premium each month you can have peace of mind for those times when Tiddles or Rover are going to need emergency life-saving surgery and the bill will be astronomical – but thanks to insurance – you only have to pay the excess which is hardly anything to worry about at all.

The answer to unwanted kittens is of course very easy to solve – have the kittens neutered and spayed when they get to about 5 months old, before sexual maturity. Once again, there are organisations here in the UK that will help with payment of both operations if the owner is on a low income. Spaying a cat is more expensive than neutering because surgery is more invasive and the cat has stitches but financial help can be given for both operations if the owner requires it.

My view is that if you can’t afford to get a cat neutered or spayed, and can’t afford its medical bills, then maybe you should review whether or not you can afford to have a pet in the first place.  Ultimately, a cat (or any pet that shares its life with you) should be treated with the utmost of respect and dignity. It deserves decent food, warm bedding, social interaction with members of its human family, and access to medical treatment when needed.

Anything less is inhumane. Our companion animals give us humans so much more than we could ever give to them – don’t they deserve our all in terms of love, affection, and respect? 

© Pauline Dewberry 2005


Five Good Reasons for Having Your Cat Neutered

  • Reduces fighting, injury and noise
  • Reduces spraying and smelling
  • Much less likely to wander and get lost
  • Safer from diseases like feline AIDS, mammary tumours and feline leukaemia
  • Reduces the number of unwanted kittens

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