Friday, June 4, 2010

A cause you can get on board with- Feline Fridays

Earlier this week, Libba Bray broke her cone of multiple deadline silence, to talk about 
A. protesting to save the New York public library system and
B. the oil spill.
Now I don't live in the states, and although I live close by, I'm not financially set up to rent a car and drive to Brooklyn for read-in's to save their library system... but if I could, I would.  I mean how cool is a Read in with Libba Bray??!
And the oil spill, well I freely admit it makes me so sick to my stomach I just avoid reading about it now.

That being said, I found her blog really inspiring in the, get out and fight for what you believe in way.  She talks about her parent’s boycott of Nestle, and grape farmers when she was a child, which amounted to no grapes or chocolate chips, which she didn't understand.  And her parents answer was lovely, the sort of thing I wish my mom had told me growing up Sometimes you do something because it is the right thing to do.”.

Her blog not only got me thinking about what I could do to help save the New York public library system, but also what I've cared about enough over the years to do something about.

It started simply enough, at the age of about 24 or 25, me and my now Hubby started boycotting Walmart.  We weren't exactly rolling in money as two aspiring artists in a big city, but we made the decision one day that we couldn't condone all their various infractions weather it be the death of independent businesses around them who just couldn't price beat them or the way they treated their staff.  It seemed like a difficult thing at the time, but it's a good 6 years later and I still haven't bought anything there.

As I got older, I started getting much more involved than just simply boycotting places.  It's funny how a single event can really change how you view things.

Obviously, or maybe not obviously because you can currently see all the cats lounging around my house sweating out the heat wave, I'm a bit of crazy cat lady.  It pretty much took affect around the time I could vocalize my own thoughts so I'm thinking it's a genetic thing (likely from my dad who loves a good cat).  Over the years I had eventually become the proud parent of three beautiful fuzzy kids.  Topaz was my first, and I flew her out with me (under my seat, she loved it!) when I moved out here.  Several years after moving here I was inspired to get my first kitty with the hubby, and that's when we adopted our little grump Deliah from Annex Cat Rescue.  I wanted a rescued cat, because I already had very strong feelings about the whole thing, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't bring a sick cat into the house with Topaz, which is what lead me to Annex instead of the Humane Society, or Animal Services.  

When Deliah was one and a half I was laid off, and in a fit of loneliness (it was the dead of cold winter and I was spending 8 hours alone at home everyday, until the hubby came home), I insisted on our third cat Cheddar Cheese, an adoption from Toronto Cat Rescue.  I often refer to him as the best impulse purchase of my life.  Until he came along Topaz and Deliah tolerated each other, but there was no real love lost between them.  Cheddar brought everyone together and made them a team.  He's a charmer who loves nothing better than to look after both people and kitties.

So I had more than enough cats, three was plentiful but not yet full on nuts and was where we were going to draw the line.  The constant plight of rescue groups in need of foster homes touched my heart but I thought it unlikely I could bring a kitty in need into my house and then adopt it to someone else.  I knew I'd just end up with fuzzy kid number 4, or a broken heart.  I just couldn't do it.

Then one may long weekend this wonderful cat started hanging around our house, we live on a very busy street, and I was worried about it's safety.  I hummed and hawed about what to do, but in the end decided I wouldn't take him in since every time I "rescued" a cat it turned out they lived right near by and the owner didn't care about it running around on a busy street.  Unfortunately this was the one time  I would be wrong (and hopefully the last).  The next morning I turned out of our house to walk up to work and he was lying there, on the sidewalk.  He'd been hit by a car, who'd then had the curtsey to pick him off the street but not the kindness to try and rush him to the vet.  He'd died, right before I found him.

I was inconsolable, it was my fault, I should have brought him in!  Who cares about the owner, I was the one who thought I should do something and I was the one who didn't.  Eventually missing cat posters went up and we had to phone his owner and let her know.

At that point I decided it didn't matter what I thought it would feel like for me, I owed at least one cat a safe haven to make up for this cat who had been hit.  I applied to foster for Annex Cat Rescue, fully thinking it would either break my heart or we'd end up with cat number 4.

I was wrong; it was hard when our first, Pashmina, got adopted.  But it was also wonderful.  The adopters came to our house, we got to watch them fall in love with her, and her with them.  And to this day I keep in contact with them, occasionally hearing updates on her.
I've been a foster parent for Annex for three years this summer; we're currently fostering cat number 15.  
15 cats I've helped not only save their lives but also give them the best possible life, the kind I would give them if they were mine.  And sometimes its a bit sad, me and Cheddar tend to kick around the house for a few days after they leave missing them and wanting the distraction of a new foster to distract us.  But mostly it's rewarding and fulfilling.

We've only adopted one of our fosters, number 14, Baxter.  When Topaz passed away a couple of weeks ago he was our foster, and I loved him too much to let him go.  So we made something good out of something bad and adopted him.  He had a rough go of it for his first three years, out on the street and then almost euthanized, but he's going to have the ultimate good life now for the rest of his days.

A year into fostering, I went to Annex Cat Rescues, Annual General Meeting and was blown away by what its members were doing every day for the welfare of cats in Toronto.  I decided I wanted to do more; my fostering was such a drop in the bucket.  So I started Coordinating Events for them, I arrange all varieties of craft sales and tables all over the city where we sell donated goods, cat toys, cat beds and try to inform the public about spaying and neutering their cats.  It's a great deal of work, and sometimes it can suck up my life and make me crazy.  But I've just finished my second year, and when I look back at the money we've earned to support the organization I feel fulfilled.

Would I have thought that as an adult my most fulfilling role would be as a volunteer and not through my work?  Nope.  My mom and dad weren’t the types to boycott or volunteer for causes.  But nowadays it's one of my proudest achievements. 

My recommendation this Feline Friday?  Sit down and think about what's important to you, a cause you can get on board with.  Then give it a try! You don't have to jump in with both feet, but dip your toe in and see how it feels.  I'm telling you, it's a great way to feel like you've done something important at the end of every day.

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