Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Homeless animals; when their humans relocate


I’ve lived in this area for only six months, and I’m already looking for another place to move into. My particular reasons are simple – my current rental is no longer going to be available for rent, so I have been asked to vacate. The reasons could have been varied and more difficult – lost job, broken relationship, new relationship, fire, flood, relocation, and the list could go on.

I have had six weeks to find a new place, and first it seemed like it would be a repeat of the situation I found when I moved to this area six months ago. Rentals that were okay, but seemed expensive, and would still be snapped up if I gave myself a day to think about it. I was halfway through my first day’s drive in my relocation last August before I knew where I’d be living when I arrived.

abby on balcony

This is not an ideal situation. I have a cat, and for me it is not an option for my life changes to negatively impact her own life. Yet that happens all too often when people move or find themselves in a relationship where the other person “just doesn’t get along” with the cat or dog or whatever companion animal was committed to.

Years ago I relocated with a job and happened to be going back to where I’d just moved from for a business meeting a week or two after the move. Lucky for a co-worker’s cat, who they’d left behind. Offhand they mentioned having left her behind. Horrified, I said “I can pick her up and bring her back for you.” They were surprised, but happy to take me up on the offer. It turns out she only managed to make it from California to Phoenix with them because she got in the car when they were about to drive off, having made no provisions for her. They shrugged, and figured if she was a problem, they’d just put her out of the car.

Yet they loved this cat. I’m being completely serious, they cared for her. I sometimes hate that word. “Care”. What meaning does it have for the cat that is left in the driveway as her owners who love and “care” for her leave her homeless, unprotected, and uncared for? What meaning does it have for the chickens, cows, pigs who are slaughtered for the consumption of people who “care” about animals?

So this cat who had showed up at their door in California after being left behind by other “caring” people, managed to go with them to Phoenix, was then left behind because they simply didn’t want to make the effort to bring her with them on their next move.

I think I mentioned that it was a company relocation? That means that they would have had NO out of pocket costs associated with moving the cat. There was no effort, other than putting her in a carrier and putting her in the car, or handing her to a company that transports “pets”, that they needed to make. They claimed that they couldn’t find a hotel for a short term stay until they found a home that would take cats. I just looked at them when they told me this. I stayed in the very same hotel for my first week. With my cat. With the full approval of the hotel staff. They hadn’t bothered to check. And the relocation benefits would have covered boarding her, regardless.

So when I went back to Phoenix, I picked their cat up. She was a good traveler, which she had to be or she would have been dumped off I-10 on the way to Phoenix from California. They were very happy to see her when I showed up at their door with their cat. They love their cat, you see. They really care.

I was reminded of her story when I was in NYC last weekend. Mooshoes does a lot with cat and dog rescue, and one of the cats that lives in the store, The Grumpy Cat, reminds me of an older fluffier version of “Kitty”, who somehow managed to find herself a home, against some pretty significant odds. There are so many more cats who aren’t as lucky. We owe them homes, safety, love, companionship. It is our fault that they are here, forced to survive the concrete jungles, the rivers of asphalt. I know everyone cares. We need to make sure we don’t leave it at that.

mooshoes grumpy cat


12 responses to “Homeless animals; when their humans relocate

  1. Gary February 1, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Sometimes people lie when they say they care. They do this when the subject is humans, too. People say they care about the homeless but can’t be bothered with doing anything about the situation; they say they care about the environment yet they idle their SUVs in the drive-through parking lot and eat innefficient meat-centered meals.

    People may say they care because it’s the right thing to say; or because they think they should care and say what they think they should feel.

    Or people care conditionally, or superficially. Or have become, for any number of reasons, incapable of (or too immature for) true committed care. I’m reminded of the habitually abusive husband who in between beating his wife breaks down and sobs over his mistreament of her and feels pangs of love and affection, promises to reform, and asks, with some sincerity at the moment, to be forgiven. If you asked him if he cared about his wife, he’d say yes.

    In theory (and sometimes in faith), caring – real, deep, compassionate, developed, honest, respectful caring – is enough. Or close to it; to paraphrase John Lennon, love is almost all you need. In practical terms, of course, we need institutions like the law. But really when you get down to it, as peace activist and author Coleman McCarthy points out, the law is there as a hedge against insufficient caring (and to a lesser extent, I suppose, incompetency).

    I had to say “close” because in addition to caring, on a personal level we need wisdom, knowledge, reason, and intelligence to create a world that is peaceful and makes sense. And those qualities have to inform our actions. Although caring – the real stuff, not the watered-down phrase that’s sometimes trotted out for automatic, convenient indemnity – may inspire, motivate, and be a multiplier for all those other qualities.

    I love the picture of Grumpy Cat. She is precious among the shoes.

    You’re right, she’s one of the lucky ones. (I was just writing about that myself…) Of the 11 billion or so domesticated animals in the country at any given time, perhaps one-fiftieth of one percent will be “lucky.” Not a very good average. In fact, what a shameful and horrid legacy.

  2. cheriej February 1, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Sometimes I feel bad for Freesia and how many times she has had to move with me, since I was 18, so probably 10 times or so! And I know it’s traumatic for our non-human animal family as well. When they see the boxes, their eyes get big and they wonder! 🙂
    The Moo Shoe cats are so sweet…and so is Tempest!

  3. Deb February 1, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    gary: as always you give me a lot to think about!

    cherie: i know exactly what you mean. tempest is only 8, and we’ve lived in 4 states (one of them twice), 5 cities, 8 apartments, and we’ll be moving to the 9th in a few weeks. She’s really focused on me, like I’m her territory instead of where we live. This is partially her personality, but I wonder if our many moves hasn’t had an impact on this as well. Regardless, we’re not letting them lose their homes, and that is important. Tempest can hang with the stress as long as she can count on me. And this time she’ll be rewarded with a patio. 🙂

  4. Kate February 2, 2007 at 9:16 am

    I have to agree with Gary that these folks must have had ulterior motives in insisting that they “cared” for her. I simply can’t wrap my head around the fact that she would have been abandoned, likely to die, if she proved a temporary inconvenience on the trip. But people can rationalize anything–there is a story in the news today about an abandoned week-old baby; the mother probably thought that she was somehow doing the right thing. I’m becoming more misanthropic with every such story I hear–it’s something I really have to guard against, I suppose, if I want to be taken seriously as a social justice advocate.

  5. Deb February 2, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    They had nothing to gain by claiming to care, so I can’t see any ulterior motives. In their minds, humans are the only ones worth being inconvenienced for. No matter how much they loved her, cared for her, she was “just a cat.” I’m sure they figured she’d be fine.

    Ignorance, sure. Ulterior motive? I can’t see it.

    Side note to anyone reading this who might fly with a cat or dog small enough to be in the cabin with you – the tranqs, while helpful to some degree in keeping the little one calmer, can also make them sick. And by “sick” I mean out both ends. Try cleaning that up in the airplane bathroom. Not pleasant. I don’t recommend tranqs.

  6. Seb February 3, 2007 at 7:40 am

    It’s lovely to see this dear grumpy cat, thanks! I could guess that Moo Shoes were probably active in animal rescue, and that their in-store cats had something to do with it. Moo Shoes rule!
    Your story about these so-called caring people is really hard to believe. Maybe because they adopted this cat at first, in their minds they didn’t “own” her?
    I had a recent experience on the ownership theme just a couple of days ago: My elderly neighbour Mona has a home aid lady who feeds a homeless cat in her back garden, and this cat apparently isn’t healthy and has trouble jumping walls. Being concerned and having lost her own cat last summer, Mona thought she could adopt this cat and give her the care she needs, including veterinary attention. But her home aid lady doesn’t want her to take the cat, so Mona told me that in this case she won’t do anything at all, because she won’t spend money on the vet unless the cat is hers. This is the human logic of ownership… But this story isn’t over yet and I plan to talk to the two women in question and make sure this cat goes to the vet, especially if she isn’t spayed/neutered.

  7. Deb February 3, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I think that because the cat just showed up and sort of adopted them, and then went with them from california to phoenix sort of on her own decision, they never fully took responsibility for her. It is hard to explain, but I have seen that same attitude many times in people. It is a sort of disassociation with any non-human animal. Family is everything to them, but only their human family. They’re very caring people, in general, so they can definitely spare some “care” for a cat that happens to live with them, but they are mostly focused on the humans around them in their life, and so…the cat becomes incidental. It is very strange, and I can’t understand how anyone could be like that. I just know that they are. It might be tied into the “ownership”, but I’m not sure about that either! Have you met people who will adopt a dog or a cat but not let it in the house because “animals belong outside”? It is similar.

    Your story about Mona is very interesting. I can’t imagine denying someone medical care, regardless of whether they were “mine”! It seems to me that knowing of suffering obligates us to act, doesn’t it? Good for you for keeping on mona and her home aid lady!

  8. rahmama June 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Wow. I can’t imagine what was going through their heads at the time they dumped her.

    p.s. I see this is an older posting, but the story is timeless just the same. There are a lot of good stories as well about rescue efforts. I post a lot of these on my blog. Check it out.

  9. Deb June 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Rahma, there are so many things that people do that I will never understand! Abandoning animals is one of them.

    Thanks for sharing your blog! Very inspiring stories!

  10. ken bratcher September 15, 2009 at 10:22 am

    i wont live in a place that will not take my cats i am fortunate to own my house renting is not evan an option.

  11. Deb September 16, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Ken, I’m the same as you – I wouldn’t live in a place that won’t take cats. I own now, but I’ve rented more than I’ve owned. It was hard when I had a 45 lb dog; I simply lied about her size. Cats are easier to find places to rent, in my opinion.

    I know that it is harder in some areas – Hawaii is extremely difficult, for example – but I don’t think it is overstating to say that most of the time when people abandon their companions due to relocating, they simply didn’t make any effort.

    It is very sad.

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