My daughter, the police officer with a soft heart for felines (read: don't get the girl anywhere near little furry things) was told some kittens had been dumped behind a strip mall. She goes to check them out with plans to take them over to the shelter and, hopefully, get them homes. She chases them about and two of them slither under a fence and out of her reach. The third she catches because it is dragging one of its legs behind it. She plops it in my lap (the unlucky ridealong) and off we go. Later, when another officer pops his head in the window and asks what the kitten's name is, she replies snarkily, "Not mine." (she already has four cats), a name with such foreshadowing that the fool with the cat on her lap should have already seen how this tale was going to end.
Well, now the dilemma begins. One can't take a cat to the shelter with a broken leg because they will put it down. It is supposed to be the kind thing to do (yes, sure, but the little beast is now purring in my arms and looking up at me with its helpless little eyes). So, we take it to the vet and pay for x-rays. Yep, broken femur - really, bad, broken femur with two bones passing each other . The vet tells us it needs surgery to the tune of $1000 pocket change.
$1000 for a cat? A kitten? A homeless kitten? You have got to be kidding! Where are the old animal doctors - you remember them - the rough-and-tough fellow who would "do what he could for the little fellah" and charge you $20? Oh, yeah, he went away with ten years of school and a loan the size of the treasury of a small African nation. He went away with the doctors and veterinarians not run by insurance and drug companies so that there is no such thing as a reasonable price. He went away with a lawyer like Abe Lincoln who could learn law and then practice it for a price that meant regular folks could actually get some justice.
At some point in this society, we need put our foot down and say, "Let's be reasonable. Let's use common sense and not go broke with perfectionism and trying one more drug or trying to cure everything with science and money. Let's determine if this is something we can do ourselves (with tough parenting as in all those ridiculous ADD diagnoses), or not do at all (with some of those ridiculous expensive medical treatments that haven't a snowball's chance of doing more than torturing a person for an extra three months of 'life'), or do what we can without breaking the bank (as with an stray animal and its broken leg).
By now in this rant, all the animal advocates are going nuts worrying about the kitten's broken leg. I know this...because I googled "kitten, broken leg, heal naturally" and couldn't find one person who wasn't incensed that a person wouldn't pay that $1000 to get the kitty "proper" treatment. As a matter of fact, those who consider not forking out the cash are warned that they can be arrested for animal abuse, a criminal offense. At least, they demand, take the animal to a shelter and have it put down...it is the humane thing to do if you don't want to be a responsible pet owner. Anyway, I couldn't find an answer to how well the kitten might do without surgery, so I called the vet back.
I told the vet the $1000 was too much for me to pay for a stray cat and I was given an option to sign over the kitten and THEN they would do the surgery, rehab it, and get it adopted. How stupid do they think this criminal profiler is? Do they really think I believe that they are going to waste all their time and money on this kitten when there are god-knows-how-many other kittens about to be euthanized at the SPCA? I am not a fool. I sign the paper and when the door hits me in the butt, they tch-tch about how cheap I am and how if I am not willing to help the cat I should have been willing to do the "humane" thing and have it put to sleep so it won't have suffer with a broken leg. Now, they will do the humane thing behind my back while I go off thinking I have done something nice by giving it the vet.
Yeah, right. I said, "No, thanks." I told them I was keeping the cat and taking it to my vet; that way, THEY could think they had done the "humane" thing by getting me to pay for the operation, even if they weren't the docs making the money on it.
I decided to roll the dice on the kitten. From the moment I got it, it has never shown itself to be in any pain. It eats like a pig. It throws itself on me and purrs and purrs and purrs. I concluded it wasn't suffering and it didn't have internal injuries and the leg, even with the bad break, seemed to be in a good position.
A week has gone by. The kitten bolted out the library door yesterday on four legs and it took me thirty minutes to catch it. I dunno, maybe the thing will have a limp of sorts as it goes through life, but the critter certainly doesn't look like it isn't going to be perfectly mobile.
So, now I have joined the ranks of animal abusers because the choice I made for the kitten is probably considered cruel by many. I guess I just don't get the thinking of America. Are we so ridiculously arrogant about our wealth we cannot understand that spending money isn't the answer to everything and not everyone can do it and not everyone can do it all the time? Don't they understand we sometimes should do "less" than we could and just let life be okay, if not perfect? Are we that spoiled and do we need to spoil our children and pets this way as well?
We don't need to be perfect people. We don't need to look perfect until we die, we don't need perfect teeth, we don't need perfect educations, we don't need perfect...anything! We need "good" stuff. We need good health (by eating right), good teeth (by brushing them), good education (by learning what we need to know), and we need good services (that have a reasonable price). Most of all we need good behavior and good morals and good ethics. We can't buy these. And it shouldn't be a crime if we don't spend a fortune on our children and pets but instead opt for a little commonsense, hard work, and humbleness.
I am not an animal abuser. I am an animal lover who gave up her time and energy (and some money) to save a little kitten (who apparently can now be named "Yeah, it's mine"). I made those same tough decisions concerning my children as they grew up and I guess I could have gone to work full-time and spent my money on medical care and dental care and psychological care instead of staying home with the kids, homeschooling them, and seeing they had turned out to be good decent citizens. Perhaps, I was a child abuser as well (and I was indeed called this by certain doctors and dentists who wanted me to spend money I didn't have).
Money is not a cure for everything. Holding a friend as she dies from cancer is worth more than any medical treatment. Spending time with your kids is better than any after-school program. Teaching your children to be respectful and polite is better than any ADD drug. Saving a little kitten and accepting it might have a limp and spending the $1000 on something more reasonable is not animal abuse, but kindness and commonsense coming together to make a rational decision.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown