We hear all the time, "I want to help, but..." If you want to help, you do it. There are no 'but's. This little guy showed up under the neighbor's house last week. He's the skinniest cat I've ever seen, including my decade of caretaking a feral colony. To me, this says he was someone's pet. Ferals usually find a food source and stick close to it. They're on the skinny side, but not bones like this poor guy. This guy was used to being fed and, once on his own, had no idea how to fend for himself.
There is a common myth that cats can fend for themselves. People turn them loose all the time when they move, when they no longer want them, when they have too many kittens. "It's a cat, they can take care of themselves." Not when you've been feeding him. Not when his meals have been set at his feet daily for the past two years. This is simply not true. It's cruel to throw your cat out or leave them behind.
When I saw his bony little body and his tiny face peeking out from under the house, I knew I had to help. I had a week full of medical tests so I knew I wouldn't have time to trap him this week. Instead, I've been feeding him. Slowly, I up his daily rations. He's put a little weight on. He'll come out as soon as he hears my voice now. I haven't pet him yet. I'm taking it slowly. We live in coyote country so I have to shut him in every night for his own protection. I open up in the morning and feed him, then he gets a few more meals during the day.
Next week, I will trap him. There are many different sources to help you help animals. If he were feral, I would trap him and take him to a local clinic. If you live in Los Angeles, FixNation is a great resource. They spay/neuter, deflea, deworm and give shots for free. If the cat is sick, they will euthanize. If it has an infection, you can get an antibiotic shot for $25 that will help. They are such a great organization. Instead of taking him there, I think I will opt for my own vet. More expensive, but I want to make sure he is healthy, know his approximate age, have him scanned for a microchip. If he's more comfortable outside, Erik and I will build him a nice, cozy box to sleep in off the ground so that he is safe at night from predators in our yard. We have fencing all the way around, but that didn't stop a coyote from jumping it one morning last year. If he seems to prefer being in the house, I have several people interested in adding him to their family.
People tell me all the time, "You're such an angel." I'm not. I'm a regular human being like you. I just have compassion and can't turn my back on an animal in need. If I don't help that cat, who will? I have the means to help him. That doesn't make me an angel. It makes me a kind, compassionate person. Everyone is capable of this. It's a choice that we make when we see that dog running down the road with no owner and keep driving, when we see that cat drinking out of a puddle and keep ignoring it, when we watch the kittens born year after year after year outside our home/apartment/condos. We can all help. We have the power. Do you choose to help? Or do you ignore the suffering that you can help end? If everyone stepped up and helped only the animals they came into direct contact with, can you imagine how much suffering would end? How much better this world would be?
The feeling that you get from helping is beyond description. Try it. Just once. And see if you don't continue to do it each time you see an animal in need.