Sunday, January 17, 2010

RIT cats

Have I written about the cats at RIT? I don't remember and can't seem to find anything referring to it in previous posts...

I suscribed to a RIT's Caring Hearts Yahoo group, really just to feel connected to others doing the stray and feral "cat thing." It can feel quite lonely sometimes, feeling as if you're the only "cat person" around. No matter what anyone says, there is a definite negative stereotype associated with those who go beyond owning a cat or two. Or those who seem to think cats are on par with dogs. If you talk about your cat the way you would a dog, you are a "cat person." And cat people are weird, right?

I used to protest when I was referred to as a "cat lady." No matter how much I protest, however, those who came to know me through work think of me as a cat person. I attempted to explain that I love dogs just as much - but happen to not share my life with one at the time. (Thanks, Dad) I would try to show that I started the "cat thing" through working at the animal hospital, educating myself on pet overpopulation, and meeting a feral cat in the woodsy area behind the hospital. But I'm still referred to as the "cat lady." One woman even went as far to say that she could never see me sharing my home with a dog.

For some reason, I take major offense to that statement. Nobody likes to be stereotyped in the first place, but certainly not when people are being downright rude about it! That's like telling someone who wants to have children some day, "I can't see you as a parent." Oh, well, thank you. I definitely appreciate your input and will keep your opinion in mind as I go on with my life.

Fortunately, my friends, especially the ones who knew me before I got into this "cat thing" know me more. They know I am more than a person who cares about cats. And they like me for me. Which may sound a bit corny, but it's something I comfort myself with when I am frustrated with closed-minded (is it close or closed???) people.

Anyway, by following RIT's Caring Hearts group on Yahoo, I found out that they needed a place to take their stray and feral cats to be sterilized, as Lollypop has suspended their program for the time being. And preferably a place that doesn't charge full price for a stray or feral cat. As they are located here in Henrietta, they're eligible for our program. I contacted one of the group leaders to tell them about our program (and our limitations) and soon everything was set up to go. At that point, they had no new cats to be fixed, but she emailed me this morning telling me that they will need three spots when available. She also wants to call me to tell me about their new "project." The group takes on one particular place (besides RIT, of course) at a time, trying to help their surrounding areas with their feral/stray cat issues. They've done a couple of farms here in Henrietta, with great success, I believe. I'm kind of excited to hear about where they want to help out next, because I want to be involved. I am quite inexperienced as of yet, and always benefit with a little bit of direction. I'm hoping I become more comfortable taking the lead as time goes on, because sitting back and letting others control the reins just isn't doing it for me, lately.

SW (acronym to protect privacy) invited me to come with her one evening as she makes her rounds around campus, feeding the cats. I need to take her up on that when I talk to her next. I think it would be interesting to see how others manage their colonies. I always wonder if I'm doing enough/doing things right. I'm sure anything is better than nothing, but after a while, you tend to care about your feral cats and want to provide for them as best as possible. I used to worry that the people at work didn't care enough to feed the cats on my days off, but over time, I've realized that not only do they feed them b/c it's part of their job now, but they've come to care about them enough to notice when one doesn't come for food, or when one has some bald spots. Or to notice that their water has frozen over and they need to refill it. I feel much better about not coming in on my days off anymore to feed them. I know now that my coworkers do care enough to haul their butts out there, even in the wind and snow, to feed them and give them fresh water. And it makes me a bit happy. = )

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