Dear Michigan Humane Society,
I am writing to you a letter of great appreciation. Now, I am confident this will be a bit different than most of the gratitude you receive for rescuing animals and providing them with shelter and significant medical treatment when they are lost and need a warm, compassionate place to stay. I would like to thank you most significantly for what you didn’t do.
You see, for the better part of four years, I have thoroughly enjoyed my life. I live in a suburban-rural area and spend a good part of my time hanging out on a farm. It was on this farm that I was born with seven siblings. I don’t think my mom planned to have us, but we quickly learned to make the most of our environment. We greatly benefit from all the comings and goings associated with the horse barn on the property, including the people, the many warm, soft places to lay and, oh yea, the steady supply of mice!
Now, many of my kin would prefer the more predictable comforts of an indoor life with you humans – something you have a specialty in finding for them. But while most of us have become fairly domesticated, others are thriving by living outdoors and fending for ourselves as we have done for thousands of years! I think sometimes humans forget that we are quite the hearty species and that we are smart and highly adaptable. Again, while my life is not for every cat, for me and many like me, it is the only life. Don’t confine me indoors, don’t feed me the same prepared food every day, and don’t constantly have a need to handle me – I like you humans just fine, but I am not the cuddling type.
So, back to how MHS got involved. Well, back where I make my living as a working feline, catching rodents on the farm, entertaining the humans and just keeping the place in good working order, I have the benefit of being looked after by many of the humans who frequent the farm. And honestly, we don’t often turn up our noses at the food the farm patrons bring us working cats on a consistent basis – it is a great supplement to our lifestyle. Anyway, a new tenant to the barn decided that I needed to be “rescued,” and she swept me up, put me in some kind of “carrier” and took me to the Michigan Humane Society. Bless her heart, really, and I appreciated that she seemed well-intended, but I did not need rescuing. In fact, she took me from the only life I know and dearly love.
Needless to say, I did not react well to my time at the shelter. I am not one for confinement, life indoors, dogs, and all that handling. My hats off to your staff as they were very kind (despite my best efforts) and worked hard to understand me – oh, and please tell Chelsey I am sorry about those scratch marks. I think I made them understand that I am no housecat.
Now, here is the key to my story. Though I’m not what you would call a social cat, I don’t do well with people handling me, and I have an urgent need to be outside, I am happy and healthy. This is a fact confirmed by the MHS veterinarians. However, my lack of social skills and unsuitability for permanently living inside clearly make me not eligible for a traditional adoption. Therefore, in most sheltering environments, my outcome would be euthanasia.
Now, I don’t blame shelters for that thinking. For decades, you humans have convinced yourselves that without your care, we can’t survive. You are a caring and nurturing kind, and many of my kin are indebted to you for that care and companionship. Yet, as a group, we cats have found our way on this planet for thousands of years without much human intervention. Anyway, back to my point – we all agreed that I was not suitable for adoption. However, and as I said at the beginning, it is what MHS didn’t do that saved my life. MHS didn’t continue to hold on to that mentality that cats cannot survive outdoors without constant human intervention. MHS didn’t continue to subscribe to that old adage that healthy cats who don’t have the proper social skills for indoor living are better off dead than living outdoors. No, instead, you listened to the latest science and most importantly, you noticed that there is a population of us cats who are physically healthy and thriving outdoors – productive, happy, working members of society.
Therefore, you stepped outside of the box and did the best thing for me with my life. You put me back in the environment from which I came and was thriving; granted, this came after you provided me a few shots to keep me healthy, and you did sterilized me. This might not have been my first choice, but I get it as a necessary means to prevent an unplanned litter – bottom-line, you gave me back my home! My home may not be a four bedroom , two-and-a-half bath ranch, but rather a larger community of opportunity best suited to my needs and experiences. Also, I have more than a few feline friends to keep me company. Again, our lifestyle is not for all cats; yet, for some of us, it is the life.
So, thank you for not putting me “in a box,” for taking an honest look at my unique and specific interests and acting on my behalf. And when your house is not overrun with rodents, or I give you that wink from afar, please accept that as my most gracious thank you.
Thomas the Cat