Monday, June 03, 2013

The End is Thursday

Thursday marks the end of my cat wrangling days.  The reality has yet to sink in.

No more contacting people offering free kittens on craigslist, to try get the mother cats fixed and even the kittens, if I can talk the poster into keeping them until they are 8 weeks.  Usually they promise, if I get their mom cat fixed, then give away the kittens anyhow, before they reach 8 weeks and two pounds.

I realized quickly that was the key--getting those free kittens fixed.  They go on to reproduce elsewhere and start the problem all over again.  People who let their cats have kittens often give the kittens to the same type of people, people who won't fix them.

So tackling the problem from the free kitten angle turned out to be an extremely efficient way of finding unfixed cats.  Those people would then hand out my number to their friends with unfixed cats.  Most of these folks wanted their cats fixed and immediately realized why it was important.  This also led me to colonies needing fixed.  I called it fix hopping, when fixing one situation would lead to another, then another.

Two cat fixing off shoots resulted from my efforts.  Larissa, down in West Fir, responded to an ad a friend of mine posted at the West Fir post office, about Koos warehouse cats needing homes.  She took in several. I can't remember how many now.  She is a wonderful kind hearted independent minded DIY no whining type of  get it done person, my type of person.  She then began volunteering with the FCCO, after I told her about how big the problem is, and about the FCCO.  She became the coordinator, for a time, at the Eugene mobile FCCO clinics, then started her own nonprofit and did a world of good.

Greenhill realized the good a nonprofit to fix cats out in the far reaches of Lane County could be and financially assisted her in starting the nonprofit.

But she burned out, messed up her car from the distances she had to drive, being way out there, and tired of the demanding whiney leechy calls she got.  She closed the nonprofit awhile back. She was smarter than I.  She did it before he car was completely ruined and before she had gone completely batty and broke helping others.

We had some times together.  I remember trapping a colony at the Gateway mall and right along I5 behind the motels.  She stayed until late but then had to get home, but I stayed all night.  I took a break, and went over to IHOP early early in the morning, for coffee, maybe 3:00 a.m. and read a paper article about a man, up from Arizona with his wife to buy some RV's, who had gone missing.  They described his vehicle and gave his license plate number.  Gave me a chill.  I'd been trapping all around that jeep, parked over in the parking lot of an under construction Best Buy, behind the porn shop.   I went over to confirm it was the jeep.  It was all steamed up inside.  I tried to peer through the steamed up windshield, but I got a terrible feeling, a cold seizing chill ran through me.  I thought I could make out the outline of someone inside, someone dead.

I dismissed this feeling but raced away from the jeep like I was being pursued by ghosts.  I found a pay phone and called Larissa, woke her up, asked her to call the police for me, as I did not want to explain why I was in that parking lot at that time of night.  Like they're going to believe I'm there helping cats. And what if he'd been murdered in there.

The paper reported the man killed himself in that jeep and that he was found after an anonymous tipster called.  I still think about it.  I think about the black cat I was trying to trap, who played games with me around that jeep, about how I tried to net him when he ran from behind a tire.  I think about the fact the jeep was in a parking lot only a few hundred feet from the motel where his wife was staying, who reported him missing.  Really?  You can't check a parking lot less than half mile away for his car?

I remember Faith, a cat Larissa caught at a trailer park, who had a collar badly embedded in her neck, how Larissa saved her, and found her a home.  She was here briefly, in my bathroom.
Faith, after her wounds were healing, from the embedded collar.

I came to know Larissa when she took in Koos warehouse cats.  The Koos warehouse is a sprawling acreage of creaky ill maintained old warehouses used to store and process grass seed.  I got over 200 cats fixed there, over time, came to love the quirky employees, me being their only unpaid worker, and practically lived there while I solved the cat problem there, created largely by a kind hearted owner, and employees who dumped cats there or whose friends did.  The warehouses have long since been sold, and the cats I didn't rehome, (I rehomed well over 125) I believe were killed by the new owner.  I can't bear to drive by that warehouse now, especially at night, when in times gone by, my headlights would light up eyes, cat eyes, all fixed.  I had names for all those cats.  Now, there's only darkness.

So I avoid that section of road.  I can't bear to drive by the sterile dead warehouses now.  Deaf Miss Daisy came from there.  The catman found her, when he walked the quarter mile out to the road to check the warehouse mail.  She was in the ditch, he said, and crying pathetically.  She was found during the dog dead hot days of August, 100 to 105 degrees scorching the pavement that year.  She'd burned her paw pads on the searing pavement and had a damaged jaw and damaged teeth on the side that hit the pavement when she was thrown from a car.

He called me up and said "I got another one for you."  He lost her briefly.  She was closed into a shed by accident.  We didnt' know she was deaf and couldn't hear him coming to close up.

Just when I was moving to Albany, from Corvallis, right before I made the move, I was called by someone living very close to where I would live, once moved.  She had so many stray cats coming to her porch she didn't know what to do.  So we got at it.  I taught her to trap.  She had a collector down the block.  She even got permission from the collector to trap any cats of hers who ended up on her porch. I'd take them to be fixed.

She called me late one night to tell me she'd trapped a badly injured cat and sent me pictures.  I didn't know how I would pay to treat that, so even though it was late night, I posted those photos on craigslist, requesting help with the vet bill and transported him up to the vet, to be fixed and his terrible wound checked the next morning.  Soon, I was called by an Albany police officer.  I'd just moved in here.  the collector had seen those photos of her cat "China" and despite her promise to Tamara, her neighbor, that she could trap any cat on her porch, she raised a holy stink, even in the end, proclaiming Tamara had broken into her place to steal China.  Instead of admonishing the woman for not fixing her cats, or finding out the truth, that she had given Tamara permission to trap cats on her porch, the officer treated her like a victim.  The woman was living with an old woman she called "grandma" but who was not related, and the old woman confided in me she didn't know how to get away from her.  She was being used.  I told her to call senior services and talk to the elder abuse people.

The police officer threatened me with arrest and I lived in fear the next two weeks, I would suddenly be hauled off in handcuffs, for helping out a poor cat.  A year after that, another neighbor of that collector woman called me, an old woman, said she had strays in her yard, didn't know what to do.

I told her I don't trap on that street and told her why.  She said "One of the cats is that gray one, that one you're talking about, because he has a terrible scar across his throat."  China had been abandoned by the asshole collector.  Of course.

Tamara's family moved to Coos Bay.  Same problems there as exist here in Albany.  No low cost spay neuter and a population that doesn't fix their animals.  She started a nonprofit spay neuter clinic.

A few months after she moved, a large white cat showed up in my yard.  With a right ear tip.  I recognized  him immediately.  He was one of the strays I got fixed that Tamara had trapped.  After she left, there was no more food there for him.  He likely also was a throw away of the collector.  He'd been in my garage a few nights before and after surgery.  He must have remembered.  He came back here for help.  Snowman was with me for a couple of months then got about the best home in the world, with a Eugene couple, who still contact me, and sometimes help me out, like recently, they sent me Revolution.

Through all this, helping so many other people, I lived, myself, in ragged poverty, with cars that often broke down along the road, and scrounging cans to pay for gas to buy bait and transport cats.   Most people I helped probably had no idea how I lived and struggled so, the abuse I'd endured throughout my life or even at that time, the terrible physical pain I went through, after a beating by staff at a psyche ward, that sent a neck disc into my spinal cord, or the prejudice and discrimination I suffered, for being labeled crazy, by shrinks and sent into a destructive abusive mental system.

I endured.  I was saved, given meaning and purpose, to endure the pain of discrimination and no hope given me through labels and imprisonment in a brutal system, by helping cats.   The physical pain alone from spinal cord injury is not easy to live with.  Two surgeries and two metal plates have lessoned that pain.  Getting those was not easy.  I was judged by the medical system and denied human status or the right to even live, after the beating.  It's not easy to live with that, to walk the streets and wonder if this person or that person was on that god squad at Good Sam who denied me treatment for a severe spinal injury.  I got surgery finally, because I fought for it.  But I'm left with a deep fear of the medical system. I survived all this by finding companionship with cats living homeless and unwanted and unloved, like me, along the river.

Then I got to help cats.  Pay back.  Screw the hardships, the pain, the sadness, the nightmares, the fear, the encounters with the abusers in this world, I have loved helping cats, and the people who care for them.  I loved it!!!

It's been a privilege to experience all these things, hard as they have been, helping cats.  Nothing is needed more in the low income rural areas, like Linn County and within the poorer populations of Benton County.  There are no services for cats in Linn County at all.  A few years ago, Heartland Humane in Corvallis stopped taking in the unwanted cats and dogs of Linn County.  Linn County residents dumped them off there, in the neighboring county, by the hundreds, each month.   Leeching off Benton County instead of changing and doing the right thing here.  Then I ended up here, in the midst of it, and was horrified.

I've fought hard.  I've given it my all, using Poppa Inc. funds, ruining my car, taking in so many of the unwanteds and often failing to find them placements.  I began to hate adoptions, as so many people would not keep their cats in and so many of my precious rescues ended up dead, killed by cars, dogs and predators.  I began having nightmares, seeing faces of beloved lives, now gone.

And now it's almost over.

Three of the cats who will be fixed Thursday, three girls, come from a woman up near Independence, who has volunteered to take in the Lynx Point boy, abandoned on me last week, after he was fixed.  Turns out he is tame.  He's in my bathroom now, since my garage is too hot for life, after heat hit the valley, the last couple of days.  And he's doing fine.  He's not super friendly because it's been awhile since somebody loved him, but he is going to be ok and leaves Wednesday for his new home.  He is very content in my bathroom.  The woman taking him has three unfixed girls so she's taking him and I'm getting them fixed for her. On the last day. How fitting!

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