My friend, Maria Soroski, finds her way into my posts pretty often, whether I name her here or not. Maria is the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association's mad trapper. She probably doesn't remember me from back then then, but I met her about fifteen years ago when she came out to rescue a couple of litters of kittens on Hamilton Street in the wilds of New Westminster. I was living in the neighbourhood, and I got to take care of one of the little moms until Maria found time to pick her up.
Contrary to legend, Maria does have a home, but she's rarely there. She camps outside at all hours, in all weather and in her time has rescued cats, kittens, ferrets, skunks, rabbits and hoary marmots - these are examples, we don't have space for a list. She also has a houseful of lotions, potions, herbs and unguents to treat the poor, sickly little tykes after she's trapped them.
Maria keeps a lot of the hardcases herself. The feral, the frail, the frightened and the forgotten may become her long term cohabitants. Four hundred years ago, the pious churchgoing members of our communities would have burnt her as a witch, and she probably is. If so, she's a good 'un.
My theology is somewhat elastic (as those of you who've read this blog before know very well). I don't believe in hell, but I suspect that if cats go to heaven, it will be something like Maria's house.
The four little ones in the picture at the top of the post were named Cindy Who, Seamus, Tommy and Oscar. The two cuties at the right are Kirstie and Callie. They came to Maria's house (with a seventh kitten, whose name and gender I missed) when they were only a day old. Their mom had rejected them, and of course, they were failing to thrive. Over the last three days, Maria has had to watch them all die one by one. Seamus was the last to leave, and it was his turn last night.
Sometimes, the best care and the best of intentions can't help to keep these tiny tigers alive, but I know that Maria gave them both.
What makes me saddest about this is that their mom is an owned cat and these babies are her second litter! I think that the owners still have a little girl and boy from the first batch, and they haven't been fixed yet.
Kitten season is here again, and randy cats will do what randy cats will do. Please make sure that your little babe or buddy isn't a part of the problem.
GET HER SPAYED; GET HIM NEUTERED!
Last year VOKRA fostered around thirteen hundred cats and kittens, and most of them have found good, loving homes. Still, too many are dying on the street - still, too many are being born because we neglect this one simple, safe, inexpensive aspect of our pets' healthcare.
I'm skeptical about the Rainbow Bridge. I don't believe that Shep, Ol' Yeller and Thomasina are waiting on the other side for us. I think that loved ones who've gone only live in our hearts and our memories now. I fear that the ones who are not loved and homed might just as well not have been here at all. There's nothing to mark their lives or their passing, and that is very, very, very sad.
They are supposed to be cared for - that's why they're called "pets". They aren't a disposable, renewable resource. They are life, they are joy, they are wonder, and they deserve better from us all.
Thank you, Maria, for all that you do.