Most of us are probably activists and vegans because we care. A lot. Too much sometimes, it seems. And if we’re working to save animals, that means we’re also dealing with situations where we are bound to be faced with loss.
This happens through my work at the sanctuary, of course. It is part of the cycle of life, no one would deny that, but it is also extremely painful. I see these animals only once a week, and there are many who I never get to know. Others hit a lot harder, sometimes for reasons I can’t fully explain.
I learned today that Amanda, the mute swan, died about 10 days ago. This is a loss that has hit me hard. Amy, another of the volunteers, had the same reaction, and I’m betting that she also wouldn’t be able to explain why the loss of Amanda, specifically, hit her hard. A couple months ago one of the rescued geese died, and it hit me in a similar way. Perhaps it is that these birds stick out, as they are among the very rare wild birds that I have had a chance to get to know (in a very limited way; they are wild, after all) due to their wing injuries. So their loss seems especially large.
Another loss, of a different kind, is of Smoke, the FeLV cat that my friend Rich rescued a few months back.
Rich tried very hard to find Smoke a home, but it was a daunting task. Smoke can never live among other cats, unless they are also FeLV. FeLV is a heartbreaking disease, and it is a rare cat who lives even to 8 years old. Their care, when they are sick, is not necessarily easy. The few people Rich found who had rescued FeLV cats in the past were heartbroken and burnt out and couldn’t face the thought of taking on more heartbreak, no matter how cute and lovable Smoke is. Others who were willing, couldn’t because they already had non-FeLV cats, and the risk of infection with this disease is too high to chance.
And of course it likely goes without saying that the people most likely to be willing to rescue a cat, in general, already have cats.
Rich contacted Angel’s Gate, and has nothing but glowing things to say about them based on his interactions with them. He feels that Smoke will be in good hands, and will finally get to be around other cats. Smoke, quite ironically, being one of those rare cats who absolutely adores other cats. Angel’s Gate has a lot of experience with FeLV cats, and that is another plus.
Yet the decision wasn’t easy. No matter how good the shelter is (and there are several who do take in FeLV and FIV cats, which is something of an amazing thing all on its own), it is always the second best option. Nothing is ever as good as a loving home.
Smoke and Rich hanging out in the bathroom
(picture taken by Rich)
It was a difficult decision for Rich. He loves Smoke, and after my too-brief introduction to her last weekend, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t. She’s just a completely lovable cat. (Something I can’t, in honesty, say about my own cat, as much as I love her! She’s difficult. Smoke is easy.) Yet it was definitely the right decision for them both, given that in order to protect Rich’s other rescued cat, Smoke was limited to living in Rich’s bathroom.
Rich took her to Angel’s Gate today. A painful goodbye, of a different kind.