Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trying to clean in the dark ...

I love making soup ... especially when there is a winter storm watch on.  If we should get hit with snow, it will make a quick and easy supper after the hard work of cleaning out.   If we wind up losing power, its something that can quickly be warmed up on the wood stove.
Its just frosting on the cake that soup is one of my favourite foods.  Setting aside its value as cold weather comfort food, nutritionally it is almost perfect ... seeing as most of the nutrients normally lost in cooking are still retained in the broth.  
Now I do realize that technically its much simpler to open a can to heat and serve.  It would certainly be simpler ... which of course is why there is almost a full aisle in any big grocery store devoted to canned soup.
Simple is fine when it comes to soup ... when the worst risk in play is a disappointed pallate.  
The other day, I was looking at the Year of the Cat campaign and trying to decide what I thought about the whole thing.  Is it a good idea that someone is actually trying to start us down a better path for the cats?  You bet!
The thing that I DO like about the campaign is that coming out of the gate it acknowledges that there are no neat and simple solutions to something so big as the current cat status quo.
What do I think about the focus on " ....to change attitudes about the intrinsic value of cats in our society. In a nutshell, we need people to start treating cats like dogs!"
Hmmmm.  So which cats are we concerned about?  Is it the owned cats that "aren't getting regular veterinary care in the last 12 months"?   Is it the "25% of owned cats that aren't microchipped?"  Or perhaps it is the "41 per cent either haven’t been vaccinated in the last four years or have never been vaccinated at all"
Hmmmm.  What about the cats that aren't owned?   The community cats?   Mention is made of improving existing TNR programs and introducing TNR to communities ... but there in lies the real crux of the problem. 
Once Fluffy is pushed out the door ... once he or she or the entire fandangle of the whole litter is dropped off .... from that moment on the cats do not actually belong to anyone.
To be perfectly honest ... at that point a microchip isn't going to provide some kind of magical shield.   If , and only if, the cat is VERY lucky and finds its way to a kind heart who will bring Fluffy into the vet, the microchip will be a valuable tool that will help Fluffy find his or her way home.
But none of the coyotes / eagles / foxes / and yes human predators are going to look for a microchip.  
Does that mean that microchipping is pointless?  Of course not!   Its a valuable and life saving tool that can help owned cats to be reunited with their owners.
It is the 'unowned cats' .. the community cats who need the help.  Any meaningful campaign for the cats has to be addressed to municipalities as well as to individual kind hearts.
It is the municipalities after all who make the bylaws.  Bylaws which can either protect feral cat colonies or sentence all 'cats at large' to a one way Unhappy Tail at the nearest veterinarian.   It is the municipalities which can choose whether to support TNR ( and Low Cost / High Volume Spay Neuter Clinics ) in their budgets or not.  
It is the municipalities who muddy the waters when they do not make all their animal control statistics publicly available online.   Is it any wonder that people cannot get 'worked up' about the numbers of homeless cats?  What numbers?  Its easy to sweep things under the rug when there are no specifics ... like the parents of the teenagers who don't actually get caught shoplifting or with positive pregnancy tests.
Estimates are easy to overlook, but actual hard numbers could be the catalyst that would really get the ball rolling.  
What time is it?  It is time to recognize that it is impossible to 'clean up the house' without shining some light in the dark corners where the dirt keeps hiding.  It will be the only way to make any real change for the unowned... but ever so valuable...  community cats.

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