By DIANA WALDHUBER
So this week I was going to just post some more cute little creatures up for adoption, when I came upon one that was from "the Great Kitty Rescue."
Not knowing what this was, I clicked on the link and was blown away, specifically by the capacity for some people to inflict such cruelty and neglect on animals and not even care about it.
You see, in July 2007, The Nye County Animal Control, in Nevada, was called to a cat sanctuary in Pahrump, where cats were allegedly being held under inhumane conditions. They, in turn, called Best Friends because the situation was so deplorable and wide in scope that the local animal control could not handle it on their own. In fact, it turned out to be the biggest rescue of cats to date.
Held by institutional hoarders, close to 800 cats lived in blistering heat during the summer and terrible cold during the winter. (If that doesn’t break your heart, then nothing will.) About 85 percent of the cats were ill, and all were malnourished, starving, dehydrated, and in need of proper medical care and shelter. I can’t even bear to picture 800 kitties living in concentration camp-like conditions, not knowing what they had ever done to deserve such an existence.
Later, another horrible truth emerged about this supposed cat "sanctuary" -- of the many cats that stayed there, most were stray and feral, but some were pets. Yes, pets! Although many had microchips and tags, there was no concerted effort by the folks who managed the sanctuary to find the rightful owners for those pet cats. It really makes you wonder about people, doesn't it?
Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending, but mainly because of Best Friends and their volunteers.
The Best Friends team moved in, cleaned up the place, fed, watered, and treated the cats. They put them into groups for easy handling and then transported them back to the sanctuary for treatment and rehabilitation.
They thought many of the cats were beyond hope, but a vast majority survived. For those brave little lions that fought bravely but lost the battle, Best Friends has erected an enormous memorial dedicated in their honor. Check it out, but keep your tissues handy, you’re going to need them. Ultimately, 86 animals crossed the "rainbow bridge," among them two rodents, a chinchilla and a degu (a small rodent native to Chile), a dog, and Kurt the fish.
The "Great Kitty Rescue" cats have, in two years, made phenomenal recoveries, especially the ones they thought there was no hope for: the angry, hurt, and violent ones (always out of fear and mistrust of humans). Amazingly, these cats were trained by the workers at Best Friends and learned to trust and be social again. Those "lost" pets that were being held at the Pahrump sanctuary, meanwhile, were taught to adapt to homes again, and even a few feral cats made the unlikely transformation into loving pets.
People are shocked to see the "before" and "after" pictures of these cats, especially those that survived their bouts with feline leukemia. They are truly amazing! Gone are the scrawny bodies, the matted fur, the wounds and signs of disease. Instead, you have the creatures they were intended to be: luxurious of coat, healthy glows, bright eyes, and the round forms of well-fed cats. But most incredible of all is the aura of trust and contentment that comes from the photos.
There are still more to be adopted -- go check out the Web site.
What struck me about this horrific tale is that while I’m always deeply saddened (though never quite completely shocked) at the disgusting depths of vileness some people sully the human race with, I’m always gladdened and astounded at the capacity animals have for love and trust. No matter what happens, most animals, with the right human touch, will go above and beyond all expectations and love and trust with all the purity that is animal kind.
These cats, like the dogs Michael Vick damaged so badly, all deserve the most loving lives, full of the best food, attention, love and kindness that we can muster. In fact, they all do. Every animal. All the time.
It makes me glad my cat is an indoor cat. Right now he’s sprawled on the end of the bed. And I think back to this morning, where he was terrorized by the builders who are ripping out our bathroom and installing a new one. Marvin has no idea what all the noise is. He just knows it frightens him. So he burrows in under my covers (something he never does normally, especially not during the summer) and presses himself in against me. Then, when I peek in at him, he looks up at me with trusting, anxious eyes. I pet him and say soothing words to him and think, "Kid, if this is the worst life has to offer, you’re doing okay."