Ebony and Ivory

There are two new tiny graves in my parents’ backyard. Sadly, amongst the many childhood pets—to include a beloved ferret and family dog, two rabbits and even a fish named Fred—lay two tiny kittens.

My Dad’s carpentry shop is located beside a storage “field” for a trucking crate business that houses a large feral cat colony. He has “visitors” from the colony often; a tattered fellow he calls “Woodchips” shows up every other day or so to “supervise,” and another path-work gal he has named “Birch” seems to enjoy watching him paint.  He has gotten used to checking the shop when he leaves—so kitties don’t get locked inside for the evening—and checking under his truck (and hood on colder days) so as not to inadvertently injure his furry neighbors. This checking-for-kitties ritual proved to be a worthwhile caution last week when he found two newborn kittens cuddled together in the dust beneath his truck, umbilical cords still attached, crying as loud as their tiny bodies would allow. Hoping “Mom” would come back for them, he gently moved them to a tree near the crates that house the colony. As many hours ticked by and their cries grew louder, my Dad—who has a huge heart for animals—decided he needed to try to help them.

It was late Friday afternoon, far past normal veterinary hours. An emergency vet would surely just put them down which, while many might agree would have been best in the long run, my parents just can’t understand. They collected all the supplies they thought would help from the local pet store, and began the through-the-night feedings, stimulation rubbing, cleaning etc. My Dad even fell asleep with them on his chest one evening my Mom tells me, “because they like the warmth and hearing your heartbeat” he had explained.

The first one died Sunday around 2:00 p.m. While he had eaten well, was going to the bathroom regularly and was surely not lacking in attention, he simply stopped breathing in my Dad’s hands. The second, while seemingly the stronger of the two, died later that evening, much to my parents’ dismay; “we had actually thought about keeping them,” my Dad says, “were going to call them ‘Ebony’ and ‘Ivory.’” Instead he had to bury them.

The worst part about this story is that there are probably countless more kitten corpses in and amongst those piles of crates; kittens who were born helpless, and suffered horribly for the few hours of their short, miserable lives. And surely there are millions more across the country, born to the millions of feral and outdoor cats who were carelessly abandoned or left to roam free outdoors without having being spayed or neutered. Indeed, this sad story of helpless, dying kittens all started with one person’s irresponsible decision.

Not spaying or neutering just one cat or dog can indeed result in millions of animals being euthanized in shelters because of the lack of responsible homes…or animals who die alone in the cold dirt beneath someone’s truck, or in a ditch, or a shipping crate etc. If you know of ANYONE who had not spayed or neutered their animal, for any reason, please print out the statistics found on our web site to help convince him or her to have this done immediately. Refer him or her to www.GetYourFix.org if money seems to be the issue. Together, we can truly help prevent the need for more tiny graves.

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