In A Perfect World

Cats get a bad rap in North Iowa. Most farm places treat cats like wild animals, livestock at best. Cats don’t get to live in houses, they barely get in a barn. Some of them get fed but most likely a cheap dry cat food if that. Cats are supposed to earn their keep and kill mice. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard people say that they don’t feed their cats because that will force them to hunt for mice. Nothing could be further from the truth! My cats are well fed, fat and healthy and they are great mousers. They hunt for the fun of it and rarely eat their kill.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anyone spaying and neutering their farm cats. Nor do they get any shots. Inbreeding is rampant until the cats become so sickly and frail that they all succumb to one disease or another and then the homeowner starts over again. Kittens are expected twice a year and if they live, fine, if not, that’s no big deal. There’s always more cats.

Our local shelter has over 100+ cats for adoption. They simply cannot take in any more cats or kittens and it appears that not very many ever get adopted. Might the fee be too high? Are too many restrictions placed on families wanting to adopt? Nobody wants a cat. Some people MIGHT want a kitten but what about all the cats living their lives in a cage at the shelter?

The kitten that wandered here yesterday and sadly lost it’s life was feral and too thin to have had any semblance of care. It was likely hungry and showed up here in search of food but it was terrified.

I have 19 cats – all rescues in some form. Rick doesn’t care for cats but I love my cats and he tolerates them. When they misbehave, it’s always YOUR CAT did this or that. I defend them every day.

So – in a perfect world – this stray kitten would not have died. It just might have had a good life and not even have shown up here. Or I would have been able to coax the kitten into a carrier and delivered it to the local shelter. I feel badly that the kitten died. Honestly it was so thin and frail I might have caused it harm just picking it up.

In a perfect world…….sigh.

64 thoughts on “In A Perfect World

  1. Polly Perkins

    I volunteer (work) at a non-profit humane society and work every Monday morning cleaning cages, feeding and playing/grooming cats and kittens. The county gets $2 million and is now refusing trapped cats and will not spend their money for affordable TNR programs. This is disgusting.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Polly – oh that is so sad! I don’t know how people can NOT see that a cat is a companion animal and needs to be cared for! Yes, disgusting!

  2. Karen Juergens

    I recently raised and cared for 4 feral cats for 8 years and miss them a lot. We have a Feral Cat Coalition here in Portland, Oregon, that provides traps and very inexpensive neutering for feral cats, if you agree to feed and care for them afterwards. You are a true hero to take in so many cats, and I agree that they don’t deserve the sad life they are left with-neutering my cats helped me keep many more out of the cold and rain, and we owe them that much, don’t we?

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Karen – these cats are owed more than that -they deserve the basics in life. Years ago I left a chunk of money at my vets and allowed a member of the community to take whatever feral cats she could corral to that office and have them spayed. I didn’t get a break on the price either and not long after that the city or certain citizens trapped the cats and killed them!

  3. Stef Breslin

    This makes me so sad. I love cats but my allergy to them stops me from having some. God bless those of you who devote your hearts to these beautiful creatures!

  4. Louise K.

    I admire the great efforts you take to care for cats, and am sorry to hear that so many in your community feel so indifferent to another living creature. I also live in a rural area, and witness much of the same attitude, some of it so cruel such as throwing kittens out of vehicle windows. Cat overpopulation is a big problem. Thank goodness for caring people here, who try to help cats, especially in the area of spay/neuter programs. I’m forced to believe in Karma, when it comes to how people treat animals!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Louise – I think what goes around comes around – that’s my karma.

  5. Cathy D

    You have a beautiful heart Mary! Thank you for loving and advocating for all the animals that find their way to you. I told my dear friend Geri once when we visited the quilt shop, that I hoped to be reincarnated as a cat and live my days at Country threads amongst the fabric and quilts 💕

  6. Susan Fiorito

    What a sad outcome! I always love your cat stories and pictures of your kitties snuggled up someplace. They are beautiful. My grandfather was a farmer in rural Kentucky and cats were mousers and that was it. They were all feral. Kittens every time I visited. I would sit on the porch and watch for hrs. the kittens playing under the house. Never allowed to touch. I will say my grandmother did feed them every night all the cats with leftovers. She would make a little extra so the cats could be fed, they knew too, they would all start gathering around the back door early evening waiting and yowling. It wasn’t perfect for the cats but they had access to the barn, out buildings an under the house.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susan – it’s that way still on many farms but animal awareness is making itself heard. I doubt I’ll see the compassion I’d like to see in my lifetime but we’ve got to start somewhere!

  7. Linda Baker

    Mary, I am a cat lover too. My old cat is twenty and has lived most of her life an an indoor cat. The past two winters have been hard on her, but she’s managed to pull through and keeps on going, just like that Energizer bunny, lol! We haven’t gone on vacation for the past couple of years, just because I have NO ONE to feed my cats while I’m away. Is that cat love, or what?
    My other cat is about eight, totally deaf, and has my husband and I trained to all of her wants.
    It makes me very sad to think about all of the shelter animals that never get adopted. I know there are a lot of people who can’t stand cats and wouldn’t think of having one as a pet.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Linda Baker – we have never gone on a vacation because I can’t find anyone who wants to move in and take care of everybody! It’s ok – I don’t like to travel anyway.

  8. Linda

    Several years ago, our daughter volunteered to take in a cat from IA that was not getting adopted. One ear had been partially frozen off along with some other problems. While waiting for the cat to be shown at a local pet store here in MN, I went over to her house and made the comment, “I think this cat already found its home.” He never was taken to the pet store to show for adoption, as they decided to keep him, and he is doing very well. From your post, Wally is one very lucky cat.

  9. Martha Engstler

    I can’t get your blog out of my mind. When I think of the love these fur babies give it’s hard to realize the thinking of so many people. Our most lovable cat was one someone dropped off. She was a beautiful long haired black kitty. We miss her so much. She had a tumor and we had to have her put down at 13. We wonder if it’s the food because she was the second one. We now use organic food.

  10. Nikki

    I was never a “cat person” but a feral half grown cat appeared, after several days I got him kenneled and off to the vets. Neutered and ear clipped (policy of our vet), shots and back home he came….named Lover Boy as he is the most affectionate cat I ever saw. I now have 6 cats (4male 2 female) all neutered or spayed,that adopted me, all feral at one time. Well feed, fat and sassy, they bring me dead mice…also never seem any eat a mouse…great mousers.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Nikki -you are living proof of the kindness of some people – not a CAT person but look at you now! Your cats are 6 of the lucky ones that found someone who loves them! Thank you on behalf of all the homeless cats everywhere!

  11. JustGail

    No, it’s not just your area, or even city/town vs rural, that treats cats like that. I grew up on a farm (eastern Iowa) and there was a “no animals in the house” rule, but our cats were fed. Often it was leftovers from our meals, or cheap cat food. And sometimes when the pigeons got too many, I was told if I wanted the cats fed, I had to get them pigeons :-/ At least until they got smart and flew away when they saw me coming. Nice, no. But then too much pigeon poo in the cattle feed isn’t good for the cattle either. Since the cattle and hogs are gone, so are the pigeons, and I’ve been off the farm for decades. I remember after the 2008 flood, in Cedar Rapids there was a huge kerfluffle on what to do with all the cats left behind. So many said just leave them (or kill them), others said catch and haul to shelters (no room!) and others said trap-neuter-release. I think the last option won out, at least in parts of the town.

    As others mentioned, there are places that do reduced cost spay/neutering, but there’s a big problem. We inquired at a vet how much to neuter a stray dumped at our house and was quoted $300. They said NOTHING about any clinics available in the area. We had to find that out ourselves. By the time we found out about them, the stray got tired of beating the crap out of our spayed/neutered cats and wandered away. And it’s not only cats that don’t get spay/neuter. How many times do we hear owners (usually male) of male dogs cringe at the thought of neutering their dog? Or hear people say they want one litter of puppies/kittens “to teach the kids facts of life”. GAHHH! And sad to say DH’s uncle would not spay their dog, but had no problem drowning her puppies as soon as they were born 🙁

    Sorry about the kitten. Two of our current cats were kittens dropped off by a neighbor’s barn cat during their initial hunting training travels. I don’k know if they couldn’t keep up with momma cat and got lost or if they just got tired and found the food dish here was way better than hunting 🙂

    I did not mean to go so close to ranting, especially as I think this is the first time commenting here…

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      JustGail -Right on, Sister! You’ve got the real picture and said it all so well. My mother also said no animals in the house and let them go catch a mouse if they’re hungry! I felt bad about it as a kid but now I’m appalled!
      There is no vet around here who would sponsor a spay/neuter day. My 3 kittens in the barn cost $575 to spay and get shots. I had to do it though because I did not want to get a feral cat colony started on my farm. And then there was Mama, too.
      Rant? You did not rant but now I am. Gotta quit. Thanks so much for telling it like it is!

  12. Jinny

    I can only say that my heart cried when i read your blog.
    Jinny from the Nederlands

  13. Sharon Lowy

    Sad about the kitten. My Mr. Peach was probably a feral cat. I found him in a park and took him to the vet. He was about 5 weeks old. That was 11 years ago. How I love him! I would have more but he hates cats! When I brought him home my 2 ancient Silkie Terriers raised him so he is positive he is a dog.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sharon – ha! Terriers raising a cat – sounds familiar.

  14. Janet Baer

    I’m so sorry about the kitten. Sorry about your bite too.
    I know people that farm have different ideas about animals than we town folk do.
    I have had six cats in my life and my son has had two. There are 2 that live with me now.
    All of them have been “found” cats or cats that someone was going to take to the pound. I have loved every one of them.
    I don’t like the attitude that some people have about cats but I try not to judge. I just try to rescue and take care of what I have.
    I admire your love that you have for people and animals. You seem to be a very special person.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Janet – yes, my attitude needs to be more like yours – not so judgemental but it’s so hard to witness negligence and indifference.

  15. Carole

    Sadly, I don’t think mistreatment of cats is confined to farms. We have three precious babies, all rescues, and couldn’t love them more. I just don’t understand how people could mistreat an animal. Yes, cats can be little rascals sometimes, maybe even destructive, but look at how humans are destroying the earth. We just label it progress.

    You have such a kind heart. When someone criticizes you for your animals, come back and read the comments of this post. There are an awful lot of us who think like you do.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Carole – and honestly, that’s the only way I could continue to write this blog. Thank you for your support!

  16. Jinny

    I can only say that my heart cried when i read about the life of cats in North Iowa.
    Jinny in the Netherlands

  17. Patti Chapman

    I am so sorry that the kitten passed on.

    I have two dogs, a Scotty and a Springer Spaniel. I
    love them very much. They get the best food, the best
    healthcare and as much love as we can give them.
    There are some good pet owners out here.

  18. Sue

    That is so sad. In a perfect world, the farmers there would take more of an interest to neuter their cats. The fee for doing that should be Very minimal.
    In the small town where I go to my quilt club meetiings, we all made a cat block and then made them into a quilt. The library hung it and sold tickets and we sold more tickets at our quilt show. We made a nice sum and all of the money went towards neutering stray cats in that small town, which had become overrun with feral cats.
    Here in our larger town, there is a clinic which operates once a week and the neutering fee is greatly reduced. I believe the Vets in the area take turns performing this service. Anyone can take a feral cat in, not just the owner. Of course, they have to catch them. These things make inroads, though, and just might help teach people the importance of neutering.
    Out here in the country, you rarely see a feral cat. The coyotes and bobcats take care of the problem. Everyone has to eat.

  19. Rebecca haines

    Thank you for caring so much, at least the kitten had kind thoughts from you on its short journey. I wish I had a solution.

  20. Diane

    Ahh, Mary, your words are so true. Ohio does ok, but not great. We do seem to have many soft hearted cat lovers who take cats in to foster and keep. Most of ours were stray kittens that someone had taken in the mom and she had kittens–you know that story!! Sometimes we were the ones who took in the mom and she had kittens!! Two came from our vet who is Mister softheart. He said if we hadn’t taken them, he would have. And of course, Squeak ( we think she’s number 12 in our marriage) came from the Big Lots parking lot where she would have died in the August heat 7 years ago. I hate that people don’t think of animals as worth helping, neutering, healing, petting, being kind to, etc. That kitten knew a loving hand before it died and that counts for a lot!! Bless you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane -I was going to write to you when I read that Ohio has banned puppy mills! Oh, how I wish Iowa could enforce penalties on those terrible people who raise litter after litter of puppies in small cages until the parents collapse. We have a great group in Iowa working so very hard to ban puppy mills but I’m sure I will never see it in my lifetime. I just want to hide my head in the sand so I don’t hear about the atrocities. It makes me sick. Squeeze Squeak for me!

  21. Tricia Moore

    Sadly I understand. We now have 16 cats that we feed and care for. They all came from around the area . We get them neutered and we feed them well. The feral cats have become friendly. They all seem to give back by their friendliness and even some love. They get beds in the house if they want. I don’t think we can handle more, but I guess “if they they come , we will build”. Hmmm, I think that saying got mixed up from the movie. LOL I love them all.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Tricia – I’m with you – if more show up, I’ll take them in but I’m getting old and I worry about what will happen to them all when I die and they outlive me.

  22. Gwen

    When I was growing up on a small farm in Iowa we had many cats. They were treated just as you say. My parents both grew up on farms during the depression. We had a dog for a pet that lived in the house. My mother had had one growing up too so she was fine with a dog in the house. The cats were never allowed in the house and just as you say, my mother said they were supposed to catch mice to eat. Only after I grew up did I start to realize how poor the life all of our cats had. I feel really bad about that now but knew no better as a child and I think my parents were just doing what they grew up with.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Gwen – you didn’t know better as a child. My mother said the very same thing!

  23. Angie

    You probably did the very best thing you could have by telling the truth about this sad statement of our society. Thank you for that and for living a life that shows love and respect for all God’s creatures.
    God Bless!

  24. Tammy Guerrero

    Your comments made me very sad. Here in Indiana I think cats are treated quite well on farms. I have a farm and have all my cats spayed. I dont think its fair for a cat to have litter after litter. Then I know I would want to find good homes for the all the babies. I also feed my cats. They are locked up at night in our tack room so they are safe. They are then fed soft catfood as a reward for coming into the barn at night. We also installed a heater in our tack room to keep them warmer in the winter. They are loved and considered part of our family. Shame on those people who have cats and do not care properly for them.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Tammy – thank you for that excellent care for your cats. You are an exception! How many cats do you have?

  25. Carolyn Boutilier

    Hello Mary, You have a kind heart to take in 19 cats. I am sorry about the kitten but you did the best at the time. We have a rescue cat and she is a house cat and has given us hours of amusement and love. My husband never like cats but he was the one that suggested we get another cat after years of being without a cat. She is a house cat and loves to curl up with my husband. He brushes her every day. Carolyn B

  26. Sue Davis, Argyle, Texas

    Mary, I have texted you a time or two about loosing my cat to the unknown. She was just gone on night. We talked about if you or I lived closer I would have taken two of your feral kittens but remember I was afraid of my standard poodle, Oliver Henry. Well in January I did take in two kittens (10 weeks old) who’s mother was farel and left her kittens at two days old I guess to die. They were found and given to a lady and her daughter who foster kittens and cats. There are not many people who take bottle babies. I met Jackie at a quilt retreat in January and the rest of the story is history. I now have two 10 month old brother and sister babies that are so loved by us and the fearful Oliver Henry who has surprised us by loving these babies. We always make sure the kittens have a safe place to go. All of our fur kids are getting along so well is unbelievable. But mark my word my kittens are always kept safe. Taking no chances! My kittens names, Ruby and Billy and are inside, no more outside cats for me!
    I am saddened by the cruelty of our society. Animals and humans have feeling and hurt in the same way. 😢🐩Sue Davis, Argyle, tx.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue -I am thrilled that you got two cats and obviously Oliver Henry must think they’re ok, too! What a great story!

  27. Pat Smith

    You are not the typical farm wife, Mary. Growing up in Iowa I always heard the “dogs don’t belong in the house” litany. I grew up with no pets because my parents wouldn’t let us have any. My husband and I got our first cat the first year we were married and have not been without a cat since. We have dogs too. They are all from the shelter, vaccinated, spayed and neutered. Many of the dogs in our shelter are transported up here to northern Vermont from the south where they just don’t have the same care for pets. All this makes me sad as well. The ones who come here are the lucky ones.

  28. Angie

    You are so right about the life of a country cat vs our cats that live the life of Riley. I have met your cats and they have it pretty cushy compared to many other cats. I always say “my cat lets me live here”. She was adopted at ten and she is perfect and if I begin to forget that she reminds me loudly at 5am

  29. helen freese

    Hope you received the wooden cat thread holder. Little did I know when I was mailing it that you would have “the cat experience”. Hope it cheered you up.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Helen -I got that wonderful surprise in the mail yesterday and will show it in a blog post soon. Thank you so much, Helen!

  30. Lisa Chaplin

    So sorry about your Kitten experience, it just breaks my heart how people treat animals and worse, other people! My husband and I are country people, we have 3 adopted stray cats at this time. We love them, feed them, spay/neuter them and they have their shots! They are excellent mousers, they also get ground squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional bird. Unfortunately they do like to roam about our acreage in the good weather, we have lots of wild predators, so some of our rescue cats don’t last too many years. I love cats, but am not a dog person in the least. Sorry, but I just can’t tolerate how dogs smell, even very clean ones. Keep up the good work! Love to hear all about your life in Iowa!

  31. Beth T.

    Oh, Mary. There are so many sad things in the world that people have the luxury of looking away from. It is much harder to know what is going on and then do what you can to make a difference. So much depends on those few, and on the hope that the number will grow. Bless your heart for making a difference every day.

  32. Charlotte Barnard

    Mary you state the case for cats so beautifully and perfectly. I’m sorry you were bitten yesterday but the kitten died in the hands of a person with a loving heart. Probably the only love he/she ever experienced. God bless you!!!!!

  33. Jan B

    You are so right about cats, Mary. Here in TN many don’t neuter/spay cats OR dogs! The Shelter and a number of support groups are fighting hard to change that but the city/county government officials think nothing about cats & that dogs are for hunting so it’s ok if they’re left outside 24/7 regardless of the weather or shelter or running loose or tethered to a damn tree! It’s going to be a long, uphill battle that’s already been going on many years here but these support groups are raising money & awareness to help with education, spay/neuter “sales”, fundraisers, etc. I know other parts of the country are slowly changing their laws to make it illegal to treat “pets” so cruelly but………..sigh! So, I feel your pain & realize that you & your county & state & neighbors are not alone. That’s a sad but true fact!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jan B -don’t get me started on dogs! Why is “just a hunting dog” not worthy of care? I’ve heard that said many times and I just don’t get it. Also -oh, he’s just an outdoor dog. What’s the difference? Makes my heart just ache ! I can tell you understand what I’m saying.

  34. Kathy

    Oh Mary my heart breaks at your thoughtful compassionate words. Cats can be wonderful companions. It makes me sad they are not treated as they should and I always say what goes around, comes around. You never turn your back on an animal needing you. Bless your heart. It’s funny cause we have had dozens of cats in our married life and I was always like you with wanting them, not my husband but he treated them all well. Then one night a stray wandered in the door just like that and it became my husbands buddy for some odd reason. He’s still here with us inside and when I took the cat to the vet to be checked, the vet said if you don’t want him, we do cause he’s the kind that would be great around everyone here in the office. This cat runs to the door to greet him when he comes home from work!!! We all think what would have happened to this great cat if I hadn’t opened the door! And our two rescue dogs and the cat go off in the motor home with us as they are our family not to be left behind.

  35. Jan Smith

    That was quite a bit of information that I didn’t know. Thank you for that. If only people would neuter their own, at least.

  36. Susan Lenz

    Mary,you are an amazing Mama to all your animals. I applaud your huge ❤️.
    My husband and I have 4 cats at present,but have rescued many many more over the years. They are all family members to us,with unique personalities,they all matter!!!

  37. Sandra Goddard

    It is not just your area that treats cats/ kittens so badly. It breaks my heart. I too have cats. My family says I am one cat short of crazy. Maybe I am. They are all fixed and well feed. But most of all they are loved. And if another stray shows up it will be feed fixed and love too! They are not left out in the cold or extreme heat either. Thanks for your post it made my night.

  38. Synthia Noble

    I’m so sorry about the death of this kitten and the hurt you are feeling. You have a kind and soft heart. Blessings to you.

  39. Dorothy Adams

    When my mother retired to the family farm 35 years ago, one of her many activities was raising cats. Most of them were spayed/neutered and all were well fed and vaccinated, because she loved her cats. Know that there are people who care.

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