Toes, Tails, and Testicles

tttI admit it; I failed the first test of any foster parent – I fell in love with my foster felines. They are such innocent, loving, inquisitive young beings, so consistently delighted with everything they encounter. While their affection may not be as sycophantic as a puppy, they have their ways. From loud purring every time they greet someone to playful antics over things as mundane as a cardboard box or a piece of string, these two are endearing. I finally surrendered to them and their tomcat ways. I have become putty in their paws.

Declawed and De-tailed

Because they have been declawed, their ability to function in the world has been seriously truncated. Fortunately, they seem to have healed quite well and leap with all the enthusiasm they can muster to spring on top shelves and cabinets, on refrigerators and tables. Without claws, though, they have no room for second chances and no way to defend themselves should a challenger surface. They say being declawed is the human equivalent to having each finger amputated at the first joint. Imagine doing that to a human child, just so they won’t leave marks on the furniture. Declawing a cat is an invasive procedure to make life easier for humans, but it doesn’t do much to enhance the lives of cats.

As if that wasn’t insult enough, they also have no tails.  Manx cats have a spinal deformity that prevents the development of a tail. One of the fosters is completely tailless and the other has a half tail, commonly called a stubtail.  A relative who has worked at a veterinary clinic mentioned that the former guardians may have had their tails cut; some people do that. Our resident female feline uses her tail quite effectively – I can tell pretty instantaneously when she is perturbed, for that amazing appendage will begin making a hard-to-miss statement as it swishes. Not happy. Definitely. Not happy.

Invasive Intervention for Animal Control

It is essential that animals be shorn of their ability to procreate, with millions of animals losing their fight for life each year due to our human inability or unwillingness to care for and feed them all. When only a few months old, these boys were forever separated from their testicles, too. Snip, snip, snip – we humans do what we will – then abandon them to their fate. Our local Texas SPCA works mostly with saving animals relinquished by their owners. They do an admirable job of advertising them online and on television, and find homes for nearly all of them. I used to help advertise their animals and was always shocked at the reasons for their abandonment: lost jobs, ended marriages, but also excuses like: too busy, too many animals, moving to a new location, can’t be bothered.

Loving and Letting Go

The one last thing these brothers now have is each other and their shared experiences in life. Even that, though, may be taken from them. Once they enter the rescue group’s program, they must accept whatever homing options find them. With so many animals dying, these beggars may not be choosers. Humans make the rules, and we do not play fair. As much as I have tried to protect these two, I know I have to let go and hope they find a loving forever home. I hope they will be two of the lucky ones that won’t re-enter the system at a later date. Just by being accepted into the rescue group, they at least have that – if the new guardians ever need to relinquish them, they will go back into the rescue group’s program and not enter a kill shelter. I know that they are, therefore, much more fortunate than the average feline these days, with over 60% of shelter felines losing their chance at life. Loving and letting go is part of being a foster guardian. The loving part is easy; the letting go—not so much. These two young beings are a constant reminder, though, of the importance of focusing on what we have, not what we have lost; it is what allows them to love again and appreciate every little scrap life has to offer.  It is a good reminder for the rest of us, too.