Not Every Cat has Nine Lives

A tribute to the cats who were not able to find homes while at an animal shelter.

The first one I remember was Saudi. Saudi was a tabby and white short haired kitten, I first met her when my daughter and I started as volunteers at an animal shelter. We had already adopted three adult spayed female cats and decided that was enough as we were on a low income at the time. Plus we really were not prepared for a kitten. So we did not adopt her, but visited her twice a week regularly as well as visited the other cats as part of the volunteer program.

As it happened my husband passed away and I found myself spending more and more time at the shelter to keep busy, they needed staff and hired me. Minimum wage, but it was a job I was passionate about doing. Anyhow, Saudi had been for adoption for a long time, and I was unable to take her, fearing I could not afford another cat, as such she (and several others that week) was euthanized. I did what was right for us at the time, however wrong it was for her. Two weeks later my widows pension kicked in, only $300 a month, it was just before Christmas.

Next was Thunder, he was a black and white fluffy kitten. I believe it was his misfortune to be given the name “Thunder” as it brought up negative connotations to people looking for cute, lovable kittens. The name sounded like a disaster in the making, as such he was never adopted and was euthanized too.

Countless others, euthanized because there were too many cats at the shelter and more coming in, most of which I remember somewhat, many of which never even made it into the adoption area because the area was full.

There was Sugar, a mother cat who came in with kittens, and while the kittens all got adopted right away, nobody was willing to give a mother cat a home. She was probably only one year of age.

Eventually I did adopt another adult cat. I was only sorry I could not have saved more, but the city had ruled that four cats was the maximum any one family could have, and probably for good reason.

Gypsy was a special girl too, calico, she had a great personality and was spared many times because the staff loved her so. She was the friendliest cat, anybody could hold her. We promoted her for adoption on television, newspaper ads, and so much more. Her down fall was that she got extremely upset, even depressed, when kenneled, as such she was not appealing, to the public, and never did get a home. Gypsy was two years old.

Oh yes, there were dogs and other animals at the shelter, and some of them were euthanized as well, but as a rule it was more often cats, and more often adults than kittens, although Saudi and Thunder were two exceptions, came in as only six or seven weeks of age, cute, but over looked, put down because at four months of age, they were not as “cute” as the younger ones.

There is no happy ending to this ramble, people who love animals will take the ones who are less adoptable and love them just as well, unfortunately there are so many that they will not all find homes. I never regretted working or volunteering at the shelter, it was a job I loved, and did well. Sad days, happy days.  Animal shelter staff cannot control who picks what animal, and what life is saved, but one life saved is a life saved. Sadly a life lost, is a life lost.

Above – Ironically two cats who were born in the wild where I live looked remarkably like Saudi and Thunder.  Pictured here are Kafka and Camus.  These are 2 of my current 6 cats, I now live on 10 acres in the country.  Both are neutered!

In the USA alone over 2.5 million cats, and kittens, are euthanized every year.  The biggest problem is owners who do not spay, or neuter, their pets, and allow them to breed.  Even one litter is too many.  Please adopt, and save a life.

Related Links

Can you Help Homeless Pets?

Advantages of Adopting a Pet Rather than Buying One

How to Adopt a Pet

Why People Leave their Pets at Animal Shelters

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User Comments
  1. Anonymous

    On May 25, 2008 at 9:47 am

    “saving one animal won’t change the world…but the world will sure change for that one animal.”

    kudos to you for making the difference. the heartbreak may feel overwhelming at times…but you are doing so much for the animals at the shelter, that it is best to focus on what you HAVE done instead of what you can’t do. you can’t save every pet…but people like you help make sure that each pet is given love and patience and dignity for whatever time they have left here. they aren’t out in the cold, alone and starving for their last days. thanks to you and your coworkers, these animals finally know what love is…and that helps carry them through to their rainbow bridge. i have no doubt that they would rather feel a few days of love than another six months of anguish, and you provide that even though it breaks your heart later. it’s not an easy job, and it takes special people to be able to get thru it all…but in the end, everything you do matters to them. whether the pet has one day or ten years, you have made their life better. and that’s pretty special.

    from one shelter worker to another, thanks.

  2. Ken and Sneakers

    On May 25, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I don’t work at a shelter. I couldn’t. I would end up freeing all the animals figuring a few years in the streets is better then living in cages and getting the fate that awaits them. That said, I have now adopted 2 diabetic cats an hope that people will start realizing that taking care of a pet is a promise an a life time commitment and not like a thing to be replace at whim or when something goes wrong. Look yourselves in the mirror when you turn a cat into a shelter. You are not a good person
    Kittens will be adopted an cats will most likely be killed. Adopting a cat is a gift. Not to the cat but to the person doing the adoption. The person only saved a life but will be getting years of unconitional love an adulation which is priceless

  3. tklescz

    On May 25, 2008 at 10:01 am

    We adopted out sweet Jack Russell terrier from our local humane society last October. She had such attitude, so we named her Gracie jane, after a character on Boston Legal, who is modeled after Nancy Grace. She is missing a foot, and her other feet are slightly deformed. One of her ears is mush longer than the other and curls at the tip, and her nostrils are crooked, BUT she is the cutest thing ever, and she can outrun most any dog. She has brought such joy to our family. Everyday is an adventure… I wish the folks who pay thousands of dollars for designer pets could see the benefit of a shelter dog. They’d be amazed…

  4. cottontailj

    On May 29, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    It is unfortunate that there are so many unwanted and neglected animals in the world. It is overwhelming and very heartbreaking. If people would simply spay and neuter their animals, countless tragedies like these kitties could be avoided. As for me and my family, we always take in the adult cats. We really aren’t much for kittens but prefer the older ones. We have adopted three cats from our local shelter in the past few years. Baby was a large adult male orange tabby that had been in the shelter for almost two months so his time was very limited. He was just lucky that there had been no large influx of homeless cats during his stay. When I saw him in the cage he wouldn’t even look at me; he had just given up. He lived with us for a few years until he passed away; he had feline aids. We went back after grieving for him a few months and adopted two more female cats. They are wonderful kitties and we love them very much. My daughter also recscued a starving momma kitten with her three small babies and found homes for the babies. We kept the momma and now she is healthy and happy. I just wanted to share this with you to let you know that there are people out there who love the adult kitties and are willing to give them homes. Animal shelters do what they can but unfortunately they can’t save every animal and I think it is better they are put to sleep than to have them starving or injured and living in pain. What you do is wonderful and just giving the cats your time and attention is a beautiful thing and I think the kitties really appreciate it.

  5. Christy Tuller

    On June 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    It is sad to see the amount of animals that are given up each year. At the Humane Society where I worked we had a wonderful dog named Maude. She was a Great Dane/ Saint Bernard mix and she lived at the shelter for four years. She loved it there and was loved by everyone who worked there. Her biggest problem was that she was a cat killer. She would go through a window to get to a cat. No one wanted her for that very reason. If I didn’t have cats I would have taken her. As it was she lived her life to the end in the shelter. She ended up with congestive heart falure and the kennel manager locked her cats up and took Maude home with her to care for her until she passed away. There is a memorial to her and photos of her in the shelter now. I was touched by your story about Gypsy. We had a cat like her in the shelter at one time. The cats were allowed out of their cages every day into a room and she was allowed to stay out all the time. She got along with the other cats and was much happier that way. She did find a loving home a short while after coming to us. It’s ggod to see that there are so many caring people out there when it comes to animals. Keep up the good work even though it is sometimes difficult.

  6. Denice

    On August 16, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I learned that real animal lovers are the people who work at the shelters.. who adopt from the shelters, and so on.


    On April 6, 2011 at 4:09 am

    People choose to have pets but fail to take care of them thy are not responsible enough to have a pet or more, so the easy way out is the animal shelter, I think that is selfish and cruel

  8. real lady

    On April 6, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I cannot afford seeing animals undergo euthanasia. It is so sad. I wish there are many people like you who can adopt animals.

  9. Sourav

    On April 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

    This is a sad fact. I appreciate your article.

    On the lighter note, it’s fun to hear names of your two cats! Kafka and Camus! Intellectual cats!

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