I have been slacking in my writing, I confess. But I do have a good reason (or excuse?)
I fostered a cat and her 5 kitties for 2 months. My husband calls them the "refugees" (joke, no political correctness at all).
I have written about cats in Lebanon before. There are loads of them in the street. Since I love cats, this is like an awesome thing for me since my landlord doesn't let us have pets in the house.
For my husband, he thinks cats are the Lebanese equivalent of street rats. I couldn't disagree more. Cats have personality. And personality goes a long way (any Pulp Fiction fans?)
So here is the story of the Mum and the 5 kitties: I am walking past the dumpster next to my house and say, as usual, hello to my feline neighbors. I notice this time though that there is a new cat in the block. She is skinny, and frankly sort of ugly. But she starts following me (street cats don't do that) and meowing and meowing. She then goes to a little corner behind a pile of trash and shows me 6 little little cats. Maybe 2 weeks old.
The first thing that surprised me is that a cat never shows where her kitties are. Second, street cats don't follow people. This was a house cat. Long story short, I go to my house, bring milk for her in a little Tupperware and she drinks it like crazy. Poor Mum-Cat is starving. So I pour some more milk and go home.
The next day, there are only 5 kitties left. There is a little fur ball further away, but it looks crushed. Maybe a car backed down? I panic. These kittens are going to die if someone doesn't do something.
I call my friend who volunteers at Animal Lebanon. She sends a volunteer to pick up the cats and brings them to the vet. The kittens have an eye infection and need medicine. The Mum-Cat is malnourished.
So I call my landlord and my husband and we found a happy arrangement: the cats are allowed home as long as it is not a permanent arrangement and they stay in the balcony. Yahoo!
Having 5 kittens in my house was so much fun. Even my husband warmed up to it, as we saw them grow stronger, get better, and wrestle with each other. I wouldn't say Mum cat got fat, since she was breastfeeding 5 kittens after all. But she looked much better.
After the 6th week, it was time to find a home for the kittens. Friends, friends of friends and people who contacted me through Animal Lebanon came to the house and took them to a loving home, one by one. It made me so happy to meet such generous people. These kitties were going to have a much better and healthier life.
The problem was the Mum. Usually people don't adopt adult cats. And then, a co-worker of mine told me about H. H lives in Saida, a city south from Beirut, and is a huge animal lover. He has a garden and rescues street cats and dogs (in separate locations). He has 60 cats and 50 dogs. And he pays for their food and medical treatment out of pocket.
So I contacted H and he told me no problem, he would take the cat as long as she was spayed. So Animal Lebanon helped me find a very professional vet who did the operation for a good price. Mum cat recovered within a week.
I drove down to Saida with 2 friends, and H invited us to his house. We sat down in his garden, surrounded by cats of all shapes and sizes. He served us fruit from his garden and fresh lemonade (although he was fasting) and told us how taking care of animals made him feel that his heart was turning softer and sweeter. He truly believes that it is humanity’s duty to take care of defenseless creatures that can’t speak up. And he doesn't stop there. Every time he sees a wounded, abused or abandoned animal in the street, he brings it to the vet and keeps it in the garden. He has even made a deal with the local butcher, and he comes everyday to pick up the meat scarps to give them to his dogs.
I was just amazed at his compassion and commitment. He is by no means a rich man. But that doesn’t stop him. He only asked me to bring a big bag of cat food. And he took another cat in.
I was so proud of myself and my little cat rescue mission. This man put things in perspective…
Although there are organizations in Lebanon to protect animals and do a great job–such as Animals Lebanon- the amount of work to be done is enormous. A lot of street animals have to rely on people who pick them up spontaneously, such as H, but in all cases that doesn’t mean they will be cared for properly or that they won’t end up in the future back on the streets. I don’t know what needs to be done, but I am certain there must be a way to establish a more systematic approach to street animals’ care and protection. Any ideas?