Week 3 Prompts—Worse than Death

The cages are stacked floor to ceiling in a tiny postage-stamp sized room. Each cage was full, some with one cat, some with a mother and kittens. Each morning I’d go into the room to change the litter and feed the cats. In better times, the cages wouldn’t be full. But even when they were full, cats and kittens if healthy and sociable had a chance of adoption. Then I could let the cats out for a bit to stretch and socialize, some would let me brush them or clean their ears. But not these.

These cats were feral, picked up by the animal control officer for reasons I didn’t understand at the time. On this morning I went in and found several motionless kittens whose mothers had literally neglected them to death. Feral cats hate people, hate being in cages, won’t eat, won’t let you touch them. I had been bitten and scratched so many times my hands were a bloody mess. But I had to get the dead kittens out of the cages.

I begged the animal control officer to either euthanize the cats or spay them and let them go. No, and no. No is the only word he knows. He would make up reasons why we couldn’t help them. No we can’t euthanize them because “people will get mad.” No we can’t spay them because “the town won’t let us.”

It was on this day I finally figured out why he kept the cages full of unadoptable cats. I heard him on the phone telling a resident he couldn’t come pick up a stray cat “because we’re full.” The pure evil of this man hit me full force and I swore then and there if I ever got cancer I would name it after him. I took pictures of the cat room, listed everything that was wrong at the city pound with the dogs and cats, wrote a list of suggestions, prepared a speech. I made appointments with the city manager, the chief of police, and the mayor. They listened sympathetically but claimed they couldn’t get involved.

To those people who are dead set against euthanasia, I urge you to visit a city pound. If putting a wild animal so full of fear that she will let her own babies die while she rots away in a tiny prison isn’t worse than death, then you tell me what is.

Stephanie from Be Kind Rewrite provides five prompts on Inspiration Monday. I struggle with them woefully because I’m no writer of fiction. All I know is how to write the truth, which makes each story more depressing than the last. It’s not the prompts, which are always good—it’s me unable to fashion a story from them. I love fiction but writing it couldn’t be more foreign to me. I think this will be my last attempt.

8 responses to “Week 3 Prompts—Worse than Death

  1. Debra. Really. “Attempt”? What kind of talk is that? You have told stories, you have made important points in powerful ways, and you have done it eloquently. I think “accomplish” would be a much more fitting word. You need to have more faith in yourself. The only reason NOT to continue is if you don’t enjoy writing it, because we certainly enjoy reading it.

    I hope you keep going. But whatever you decide to do, thanks so much for the idea to post prompts, and for getting the ball rolling. You rock!

    • Dear, dear Stephanie, I am duly chastised. I run on fear, angst, and stress. I want to do this and all I do is come up with excuses why I can’t (as you’ve mentioned in your posts). Instead I should use these natural traits (natural to me I mean) to stop being so pathetic. Change, even for the better, is so damn inconvenient, isn’t it! Thank you for all. I’m about to try a new exercise that might help.

  2. Oh this made me cry. Very well written and beautiful in its horror. I’ve liked all your attempts and they inspired me to try, so please don’t give up. From what I understand with the prompts, they do not have to be fiction, they can be whatever you want. Besides, the best fiction has truth in it. Either way, whether you continue with the prompts or not, I always enjoy reading your blog.

    • Thank you Indigo. I don’t want to make good people cry, even though I know you mean it as a compliment. It made me cry too. There are enough tears in this world. Maybe it’s OK that these stories be told because a lot of people aren’t aware of the miseries of animal rescue. Thank you for your encouragement, it means a lot to me.

  3. Debra, this prompt made me feel like you did as a kid when you could not bear to read some of the classics like “Old Yeller” or “Black Beauty.” But because it concerned cats, and my neighbor and I trap, neuter, vaccinate and release ferals at our own expense, I felt I had to get through it. Hideous and heartbreaking situation. If trap-neuter-release is not possible, then yes, euthanasia is by far the humane option. May the universe bless you for your efforts with the blind-deaf-dumb authorities ( qualifications for the job, no?) and I am so glad you took a stand. Most people are anaesthetized, either by choice or apathy. Neuter and spay, it’s the only way.

    • Ann, then you know what an emotional subject this is. There are many people here who are against euthanasia, but you’ll never see them helping out because they can’t take dealing with the stress of it. But they try their hardest to make me feel like a murderer. They have NO clue what the conditions are like, they only have their indignation that it’s immoral. I had a huge fight once with the guy at the front desk of the local vet over euthanizing a sick stray cat. Do you think he had one damn alternative option? None of them do. They all have a million reasons why they can’t foster though.

      My beliefs about euthanasia are because of my compassion, not in spite of it! I can only imagine what I would want for myself if god forbid I was ever jammed into a tiny prison and left to languish by myself. These animals have committed no crime and do not deserve this vile sentence. They don’t want the damn cat chow, they want their freedom. When that is not possible, there is only one humane choice.

      Thank you for your understanding and compassion. I didn’t know you were involved in TNR. You’re an angel.

  4. Good to see you writing again. Powerful stuff but terrible that this situation is allowed to develop then continue. The horror of claustrophobia, of being encaged, for a wild thing. At least you are doing something about it and hopefully some good will come of this

  5. Hi John, thank you. It goes on ad nauseam in every pound in the world I’m sure. I think animal control officers are the biggest reason for volunteer burnout.

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