The Cat Discussion

1. I have 10 cats in my house now and all I do is clean up after them.

2. We have a dog door for the dogs but all the cats use it, too. There’s no way to make him live in the barn – he figured out the dog door right away.

3. The shelters are full.

4. The shelter I foster for takes dogs only really and if they did agree to take him, they’d ask me to foster him until a home could be found.

5. I have tried very hard to provide for all my animals upon my death but I’d rather have them euthanized than be abused.

6. In 10 years I’ll be 84 years old – and this cat will only be 10!

7. I promise I will try to find another rescue – I’m sure I’ll have time to do that, too, along with everything else.

8. And thanks to the low life who dropped him off here.

You’re a tough crowd.

65 thoughts on “The Cat Discussion

  1. DebMac

    Mary, you had to make a tough decision but one that sometimes needs to be made. If others don’t like your decision, they can come and adopt the cat and leave off hassling you. I grew up on a farm and too many people took the easy way out and my father had to make the tough decision to deal with their unwanted animals. You do a wonderful job helping animals and people need to cut you some slack.

  2. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Hi Mary,
    Don’t allow yourself to be bullied! You have every right to decide what is best for you and your situation, and that includes having a cat you didn’t ask for humanely dealt with if that is the only viable option. Readers should realise that your posting the cat for adoption is your way of trying to find it a home, and that there are two correct responses: offer it a home or don’t, but no one has the right to criticise or judge you for making decisions about your own life!

  3. Debbie Miller

    You made the first move by offering him to a good home. It is your decision as to what to do with a “gift” cat that you feel you can’t deal with. I applaud your dedication as to having 10 in your house already-I know I could not handle that and I am younger than you. I love cats and dogs both but there is a limit as to how much time, energy and expense one person can invest into taking care of them. You are taking the higher road that the original owner did not and should not be made to feel guilty for doing so.

  4. Mary Howland

    I am sorry for whatever comments made which gave you an impression you had to justify your decision. Anyone who has read your blog for any period of time knows that you are a compassionate human being and a lover of animals and that any decision made was done with thoughtfulness and kindness. Stay strong as you are wise.

  5. Sandy

    Hi Mary, l jave been trying to think of how to reply politely to the person who was mean to jou! 10 cats is a full time job,plus dogs, and care of Rick and yourself in retirement! Wish l could be there hand out pats and cuddles to the pets and do dishes, not so great on the housework, sorry! Maybe your vet has a client who needs a new cat,just hoping, take care, put your feet up and have a beer!, best wishes from Sandy

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sandy – oh my goodness – it’s the thought that counts, Sandy! Thank you.

  6. Amy Kollasch

    I understand your frustration. I live on an acreage near Wesley and I get cats dumped here too. People are always quick to judge, but in this area, shelters don’t really take cats.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Amy K – THANK YOU! People around here treat their cats like squirrels and it makes me sick. Ask any farmer in my neighborhood if they even feed their cats and many will say “no”.

  7. Carol Eberhardt

    Oh gosh Mary, I didn’t read yesterday’s comments, but there must have been some rude ones. The problem with the internet… it has developed a rude and callous society with unsubstantiated opinions about everything. I’d be very discouraged.
    Let’s hope someone steps up, it’s a beautiful cat! Living in Western New York, I can’t be a sponsor for this particular ball of fur but I did adopt my Kitty from a shelter. She tolerates no other fur in the house, my boys can’t bring their cats here without Kitty fisticuffs … she’s extremely territorial!

  8. Elizabeth

    Thank you for doing everything you can for your new farm occupant. I hope someone steps forward to take him. ( I’m in Wisconsin). Just ignore the people giving you a hard time. They aren’t doing the work.

  9. Diane L Emanuelson

    I thinks you are a wonderful person. It a pleasure knowing you.

    Diane 🙂

    1. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central Ohio

      Ditto 😺😺. I had not read yesterday’s comments until just now. Anyone who has read this blog knows you are the ultimate animal lover! We all do our best and you do MORE so no one should be telling you how to handle this cat.
      Stick to what works for you! I’m behind you with Squeak and Buddy backing me up❤️😺❤️😺

  10. Carla

    Oh my goodness, have you been given a hard time over this kitty? I’m so sorry. I must confess I only glanced at a few comments yesterday as I was super busy. I hope someone comes forward to adopt, but if not, you need to do what’s best for you and your situation

  11. Cheryl in St. Paul

    Oh Mary, I feel so sorry that you have to deal with this. You have such a heart full of love for all God’s creatures. Your decision, as excruciatingly hard as it is, is right for you and that’s what matters. You know, too, that many of your readers empathize with you. We love you.

  12. Margaret

    I can’t imagine how you do it. Your love for animals goes way beyond kind. Since I have followed you for many years you have amazed me with all th,at you do. There will be many jewels in your crown when you meet our Savior. Praying for your strength and endurance and a home for this kittie.
    Thank you

  13. Christie

    I would ignore the critics. Are they volunteering to take in any animal??

    You do more than most and should not be bullied into taking every animal dropped at your door!

  14. Kathy B

    I live on a country road and my house is not visible from the road, a perfect place to dump animals. I have 9 cats all were dumped at different times, at one time I had 30 cats! People don’t care about the burden they are putting on someone else. And it’s so easy to give advice when you aren’t the one having to deal with the situation.

  15. Kathy Hanson

    Such a difficult problem – I suspect someone knew that you take wonderful care of all animals so thought it was a good idea, People just don’t think clearly I think! I hope that you find someone that will love and care for him! I hope that you can find a new home for him soon!!

  16. Susan

    I know what you are going thru. A neighbor that has a plant nursery brought in a bunch of cats to keep the rats down and just turned them loose. Of course they are all intact. I catch and neuter/spay as many as I can, but have at least 4 generations of orange cats on my back porch here in Florida.

  17. Kathy in western NY

    It’s so difficult for me to imagine people dropping off animals with such disregard. Only thing I guess is they weren’t shown the compassion for animals like you have. Thank God for shelters and workers who do the right for all the scum who do wrong,

  18. Jill Klop

    I didn’t read the comments , but I can only imagine. I’m guessing people were upset about the euthanizing comment, but I felt you were just being honest and real. For all the people who may have been critical, are they coming over to get the cat?!?! It’s my feeling that you’ve done more for more animals that most of will ever know!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jill – thank you for your support. The comments have not all been kind, of course, and I did ask one woman is she had 10 cats in HER house – a house with a dog door that all the cats use. I’m just thankful a wild animal hasn’t moved in – haha!!

      1. Jill Klop

        Yeah…let’s hope those rats don’t figure out how to use the dog door! Ha ha.

  19. Jamie

    I’m so sorry that you are in this situation. My last cat passed when I was 70, I chose not to adopt another because of my age. I hope Karma visits the dirtbag who dumped the cat.

    I’m going to keep good thoughts that someone steps forward to take the cat. 🐈 ❤️

  20. Diane in WI

    I understand completely. We have had numerous cats dropped here at the farm, some as young s a month. We couldn’t catch one of them, and it died. A lady dropped off six orange kittens in the ditch near our house years ago. We took all of them home. I had two pregnant females wander onto the farm. The vet spayed both. He said it was the best thing to do. It didn’t feel like it though. You have to do what is the best for you. On a totally different note, my daughter called to tell me there was a Bald Eagle sitting at the very top of our huge pine tree. He was there about half an hour. He was wonderful to watch. I hope everyone has a good day.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Diane in WI – how ya doin, Diane? When I see your name I remember how your life changed so quickly. All my cats just appeared here at the farm but how many can I tolerate in my house?

      1. Diane in WI

        I am doing alright. I wish Bernard were here to see his wonderful grandson and to enjoy the new apartment my daughter and son-in-law are building for me. The new house is finally almost finished. It can’ t come soon enough. This 107-year-old house is ready to give up its ghost. There are so many things that need fixing; it seems something new every day. I so wish all people would be responsible pet owners. I can imagine the cats are a lot of work. Your heart is so big. I applaud you for all you have done and do for your animals. They are a very lucky bunch.

  21. Linda

    Cats are such comfort pets and relatively easy to care for – don’t need to be let outside or walked. I suspect you have advertised at the local library and your church about your super friendly newcomer. How about a nursing home – many in our area are adopting resident cats. The cats always seem to know which resident needs a little more loving! I’ve had only 5 cats (all from a shelter) over the last 50 years, two came as a pair (mother and son) and 2 others were adopted at the same time. I fully understand your decision. You are such a kind hearted soul.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda – I didn’t think about the care center – I’m going to ask!

  22. Kris in Naperville

    Mary, what I love about you is you keep it real. Reality is that there are too many domestic animals. You have looked at your reality and have decided what is best for your situation. Those who are criticizing are not being fair. Thank you for sharing your life, your Iowa wisdom encourages me everyday. Be blessed marvelous woman!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kris in Naperville – I loved your comment so much I read it out loud to Rick! Thank you.

  23. Marj in Western Wisconsin

    I am right there with you on euthanized animals. People who I have “gifted” my beagles to do not take care of them. A woman wanted a beagle who her son could rabbit hunt with. I gave her a beautiful female and the dog was dead 2 weeks later, hit bya car. Someone found the dog, took her to the vet, and they refused to pay to have her broken leg fixed, had her put to sleep. I will pay to have my dogs euthanized before I have them mistreated by others. It seems that if people don’t have to pay a big price for something, they don’t have to take care of it.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Marj – oh how sad! They wouldn’t pay to have her leg set? Not acceptable to me nor to you. And how did she get hit on the road – they weren’t really caring for her if she was allowed to run free by a road. I’ll bet you were heartbroken.

  24. sheryl harrison

    I love reading your emails, Mary, and today’s email is close to my heart. I have 0 pets for two reasons. One is similar to #6 on your list. I will be 69 years old next month. I follow the local shelter on Facebook and many times I wish I had an application on file. I have to remind myself of the 2 reasons for not having pets.
    When I moved to town 20 years ago, I had 3 dogs. After my 17 year old min pin and my 15 year old Boston passed away, my lab and I added 2 dogs and a cat to our family so there were 5 of us for many years. Two years ago, I had to say goodbye to my cat. I had offers to take kittens or cats and was tagged on Facebook when someone was offering a cat. I had to be reasonable and remember why I couldn’t take a cat. Last August, my 15 year old dog failed quickly in a day’s time. The vet did blood work and discovered my dog had 3 organs shutting down. He said my dog was dying and said to take him home and make him comfortable. I cried and said “Skippy and I are all that’s left in our pack.” He died the next morning.
    The 2nd reason is because my mother is 94 years old and has a 13 year old tuxedo cat. Her cat loves her, tolerates me and hates everyone else. It breaks my heart to see pets in shelters or on the streets if something happens to their person. I have to think of mom’s cat because all she knows is mom and her apartment. If needed, the only option for her is living with the person she tolerates (me). If she comes to live with me, it would be easier for her without another pet in the house.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sheryl – thank you for such an honest comment – I hope the tuxedo cat warms to you when the time comes – you are his only option between life and the shelter. Good luck – and let me know what happens.

  25. Deb

    The people giving you advice should walk in your shoes for a day. I don’t know anyone who loves animals more than you do. We have had many cats dropped off at our farm. A person cannot raise them all. Stick to your plan. You know what’s best for you. Blessings on you, Mary!

  26. Elaine Kopischke-Trejo

    Mary…I am so sorry people are being rude/mean regarding the cat. Unless you live on a farm and deal with drop-offs, strays deciding your home is theirs, etc. no one understands. You are a blessing to the animals you rescue/care for, and do what you feel is right. Please know that at least one person understands your painful decisions and also the issues with extra animals. You are truly a saint.

  27. Peri Tighe

    Mary, you are the kindest and most loving pet owner I have ever seen! I have never commented and do live the sewing part of the blog but I really enjoy the farm and all the animals the best!

  28. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central Ihio

    Oh, Mary, I hear you. Buddy is only 3 so in ten years, I’ll be 82 and he’ll be 13. My cat from childhood lived to be 22!!🙀🙀. Squeak is almost 12 so she probably won’t be here. Grand daughter Emma will take Buddy, if necessary, but he is definitely our LAST cat!! There is only so much we can do for stray animals. I HOPE someone will take your little guy ..He is beautiful!! Goid Luck. Yes—curses on all those who mistreat and are evil to animals. Grrr.

  29. Kim

    It seems that an honest acknowledgement and discussion on aging and pets is needed here, rather than useless criticism. Thanks to those who spoke up in support. An aging body wears out and energy wanes, we may live to be 100 but that doesn’t mean we can run the same race until the day we die. I agree that you are taking responsibility for the future of your existing pets and having a stranger foist their unwanted responsibility on you does not require you to change your plan to accommodate that. It’s just too bad that after all of the education on pet population overgrowth that we still have more than can be supported. The cost of vet care plus food and supplies is so expensive! I’m getting older too but I’ve allowed myself one stray cat, a fixer upper and a lovely heart warmer who can go live with my family if need be. So, one cat, no dog and one husband is what keeps me company these days. It’s enough to care for…I can’t imagine cleaning up after 10 cats, two dogs, chickens, ducks, goats and one husband. Did I leave anyone out?

  30. Carmen

    Don’t get down on yourself. Those of us who love animals can only take in so many. And you’re right, whoever dropped the kitty off is a low life. They should be treated so well.

  31. Jane

    I grew up on a farm, I have a Masters in science and taught environmental science for almost 20 years – I support you 100%. What might seem kind at first blush may not once we stop to consider the true consequences over time. I could go on and on with examples, but you already get it. When we need a new dog or cat, we always go to a shelter and get a mutt. I’m getting older and while I love aminals I have to decide what is best for them. Unfortunately we do not live where I can open the door and let the dogs out. We take them to a nature preserve and to neighboring woods to let them get their [and out] exercise. Not sure we will be able to do that for the next 14-17 years which is how long our mutts typically live. Just know that I, as a silent appreciator of your blog find your common sense approach to be refreshing and laudable. Keep up the good fight.

  32. Susan K Fiorito

    Oh Mary you are such a good soul. I hope someone will come along and help resolve this
    situation for you. He’s a pretty kitty.

  33. Teresa

    Mary, I get it. We live close to an intersection and if you turn left, it’s a level B road so, very convenient for people to drive down a ways, toss out their cats and dogs and disappear out of sight. We get strays here a lot too and of course, not spayed or neutered so the male cats often harass my barn cats so we have to shoot them. My barn cats are all spayed/neutered, regularly dewormed, treated for fleas and ear mites and vaccinated every year.

    I wish to heaven that people who cannot be responsible and loving pet owners would just not get pets. Instead, they leave their mess for us to clean up.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Teresa – the most interesting part of your comment to me is about the vaccinations – do you take all the cats to the vet office for shots, etc or does the vet come to you? All my cats are older (except the newcomer) so I quit giving shots- I think they’ve probably got plenty of natural immunity at this point.

      1. Teresa

        Mary, I give them a 4-way vaccine every spring myself that I buy at the local farm supply stores, and when my equine Vet comes to do yearly work on our horses, he vaccinates them for rabies.

        Having pets is expensive and people just don’t think about that when they get a puppy or a kitten or a rabbit or a goat or a pony.

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Teresa – giving a shot just makes my head swim! Thanks for your reply, Teresa – how can you round them all up at just that time when the vet is there? This is my biggest problem!

  34. Lynn in Scottsdale

    We had a stray cat show up in our backyard when we lived in Colorado . Friendly cat so we knew it had been someone’s pet.

    My hero husband took it to the animal shelter and it had been chipped. We got a call thanking us for taking the time to take it to a place that could scan for a chip, and it was returned to the grateful owner.

    Since this cat hasn’t been fixed, it probably hasn’t been chipped, but you never know.

    I understand your feelings about euthanizing, and how you are going out of your way to prevent it.

  35. Betty Klosterman

    Mary, I have read a lot of the previous comments and the above comments, too. My mind is fuming and my computer must have known I was ready to cuss as I hit an unknown key and the screen was filled with all sorts of letters, formulas and numbers.
    These people should stop and look at the problem — and it is not Mary. These sneaky people have a “pet” and don’t want it any more. Instead of taking responsibility for it, they throw it out of the car into the unknown, perferably near a farm. These animals don’t know how to hunt to eat or find a warm place to sleep. They are terrified and try to find food and warmth to survive. Personally I think the person is the one who should be dumped and the pet goes back home. A pet may be an animal, but it is closest thing to the most dearest friend for life.
    Think about it. If Mary ends up with an abandoned cat (dogs not included) a week. She would have 52 cats a year. Plus what unneutered cats like to do. She would become a wierd old lady with an awful lot of cats!!!!
    Mary has a heart of gold and a real problem of saying “NO MORE.” She can’t save the world and has to draw the line. What are YOU doing to stop this problem?
    I’ll get off my soap box. It makes my BP go too high.
    Betty in Rapid City

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Betty – it makes my blood pressure go up, too. My neighbors probably wouldn’t even feed this poor cat if he showed up at their place. Oh, the unfairness of it all. One of the things I’m looking forward to in Heaven is no animal neglect or abuse. Smile, Betty!

    2. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central ohio

      Oh Betty, you always say things so well. Thank you. You are right! Do you think they’d rule justifiable homicide if we shot people for animal cruelty, abandonment etc? Just a thought.

  36. Patty McDonald in Southern California

    I agree with the comments above. Mary, you can only do so much and taking care of pets is expensive and time consuming. We’re aging (hubby will be 80 next year) and still live on acreage. We have 3 dogs and it takes a lot of work picking up poop each day and keeping them fed, bathed, and vetted. We love them and are commuted to this task. Being in the middle of a So. Ca. city , we get many pets dropped off at our place. Guess people think it would be great for their pet to live the country life not thinking about us. We have turned over many strays to animal control. We’ve had water turtles left in our yard and two scorpions! None of them are native to our area. We keep thinking of down sizing (tract home) but it’s hard leaving after 46 years. At least you don’t have to deal with people dumping trash on your road. We just hauled an old refrigerator and broken kids toys to the dump yesterday. So many people around here have the idea it’s vacant property around us and use it as their personal dump. We call code enforcement but our city does not have a task force to remove this junk….it’s up to us. We got help loading the refrigerator but the dump is 30 miles and cost $19.40 to dump. Sheesh, I didn’t mean to rant but peoples values, respect, and commitment have changed greatly over the years. We keep our eyes on Jesus and Biblical values.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Patty – oh , good grief! A refrigerator?? I am so thankful I don’t get peoples trash, too. What am I complaining about? I made my new fellow a vet appointment for neutering next Monday. If anybody does adopt him, at least that issue will have been taken care of and I don’t even mind paying the bill. Would love to hear about your dogs sometime!

  37. Elaine Nixon

    Knowing of you I totally understood where you were coming from. Your compassion is a known entity and I respect your decisions. Life is hard. Unfortunately we can’t save the world, or please everyone. Take care of yourself please…

  38. Kris in WI

    People, people, people – Be kind! I couldn’t comment yesterday. Those negative comments made me feel so sad on your behalf. Who can’t understand the overwhelming pressure you have been under the last year with the rats, mice, and bats, Covid, Rick’s injury and now, your own? And yes, I can guarantee that 74 makes a difference in our physical abilities no matter what our minds may tell us we “should” do. Mary, you have given so much of yourself to your community and readers. I applaud and support you in making the decisions you feel are needed to be able to cope. Covid and my husband’s Parkinson Disease have kept us at home the last two years and we have so enjoyed getting a glimpse into life on the farm, a trip down the nature trail with you, Farmer Tim’s fields, your flowers and gardens, feather and fur friends (except for the rats, but DH always asks what Hazel and Telly are up to and what the “count” is rat-wise!), thrift shop treasures, and quilts, quilts, beautiful quilts from you and your readers! Most of us know that your tender heart must break to have to make a decision like the one you face with the homeless cat. I’m so sorry there are folks who can’t or won’t understand that. Please know that there are supportive friends out here and simply put, we love you.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kris – your comment just brings tears to my eyes! It has been a terrible year and surely things can only get better, right? We have just been to the barn and Hazel is not too excited anymore – I think I may have won the rat war – at least the huge numbers – and it just gives me the creeps to go to the barn! I used to love going there but not so much anymore. Orkin warned me it would take 6 months and I believe it. I have felt so overwhelmed for so long – tomorrow will be a better day.

  39. Marylou in VA

    There are so many wise and thoughtful comments, written by readers (fans!) whose words were just right.
    I’m here for you Mary. Let me know if you need me to give someone a smack to their head! I’d do it… for you!

  40. JustGail

    Yeah, it’s awfully easy to sit at a keyboard and type “how DARE you!” about euthanizing a stray. Unless you have a *viable* alternative – actually taking the animal, know of a shelter that WILL take it, will help transport to such a place, etc., just hush up. There’s a limit to how much a person can take on, and that’s a different number for each of us. You’ve done an awesome job on your fostering and taking in of strays.

    Our local shelter won’t take cats either, as they are full. A year and a half ago, one of our outdoor cats had to be euthanized (brain tumor). We waited until spring to look for a playmate for the young one that was left without a playmate as we didn’t feel right about taking a cat from indoors to outdoors in winter. I called the local shelter telling them we were looking for an outdoor cat only to be told they are only looking to adopt out indoor cats. WTH?!?!? So not only can we not take cats there, we can’t get an outdoor cat from them either.
    We ended up finding a young adult cat at a veterinarian, just neutered and vaccinated waiting to go to a shelter/foster. He turned out to be terrified of other cats, until this spring he finally started to think our young cat, the entire reason we got another, isn’t going to hurt him. Now they do play, but he’s still afraid of other cats.

    That was a very long way of saying the timing on JB3 showing up stinks. Sadly, our kitty huts are full, so no more room in the inn, so to speak. And I’d hate to bring in yet another cat to scare the one we adopted last year. I would have taken him otherwise.

  41. Jackie in New York

    Hi Mary – just catching up on email after a few days off. I’m sorry someone dropped that cat off on your doorstep (why not on mine? Hubby says no more pets but if one were just dropped off here….). Sorry also that others think they can tell you what you should do. No one want to see an animal euthanized, but sometimes there aren’t any other options. Hopefully another option presents itself for this pretty guy.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jackie in NY – it looks like he’s staying – it’s ok, I’ll take good care of him

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