Pet Rescues? Or Militant Animal Gatekeepers?

Remember the days when you decided you wanted an animal companion in your life, so you strolled down to your local shelter, filled out some paperwork, gave an optional donation, and walked out the same day with the new pet of your choosing, ready to bond and share your space with them?

They gone.

I mean, you can still do this at the pet shop with hamsters I guess. But the way adoption processes for a cat or dog are structured nowadays, you may as well toss in an application for a chance at a black market immigrant child too. You’ll probably be cleared for the human before the animal enthusiasts deem your application worthy.

Those close to me know I was once the proud owner of a beautiful orange tabby who lived to the ripe old age of 19 years. Last April, he succumbed to a thyroid issue that robbed his ability to see, and finally, eat or walk. I syringe-fed him water during his last days and a final vet visit ended in euthanization.

I was devastated, yes, but I know it was probably time cause my cat was pretty damn old. I’d watched the rapid deterioration of both my grandparents (who’d been old forever because they’re grandparents) when their time was up. One minute they seem just fine, and the next, a simple cold or digestion issue destroys their weak immune system and results in their (timely, I guess) departure. It took until the end of the year for me to finally feel ready to adopt again, with the enlightenment one gains from being a previous pet owner. I wanted two this time. Kip had been a wonderful, vocal cat, who initially meow-meowed-meowed his way through the house, to the point where we wondered if he’d ever shut up and neighbors shoved meat under our door because they thought we housed a starving animal. Two companions would keep each other company and hopefully cut down on this, and I felt a bonded pair of litter-mates would do nicely! The idea of a dog crossed my mind (and I work from home so I’d be in the best position to have one), but two cats are still less work than one dog. I was READY.

Twenty years later though, the adoption game has severely changed with the millennium, and I was not ready for the evolved difficulty in the approval process. It seemed a bunch of self-righteous animal zealots now controlled a huge chunk of the adoptable animal population, only willing to release them to those considered deserving of an pet. Oh it SEEMS great on first thought; we all want what’s best for the animals and making sure potential adopters are responsible and bringing them into a healthy, non-abusive environment is a terrific idea. But it’s that arrogant zealousness to find the “perfect” match for animals that causes “Adopt, Don’t Shop” to fail. Slate actually has a superb article that wonderfully sums up how convoluted the process has become here.

Some rejections have nothing to do with how well you can take care of and provide for an animal. Take a look at one of mine here:

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So…ya’ll not tryna have some kittens go to forever homes cause ya’ll don’t FEEL like making the drive? THANKS LYNN. Great effort!

In my personal opinion, it’s pretty damn difficult to neglect a cat. Maybe because I’ve had pets all my life that I was responsible for (hamsters, mice, rabbits, turtles, cats) so it’s a little more ingrained in me that animals need taking care of. Dogs require a bit more effort, but at the bare minimum, you give a cat food and water, change its litter and play with it some. At the bare minimum, someone walking into a pet shelter or rescue organization looking to adopt knows they have to do this. An animal-hater is not going to walk into a pet shelter interested in adoption and pay the fees required, unless some really SICK individual wants to adopt a pet to secretly torture them, but sick individuals will always find ways to do their sick things and I’m pretty sure these guys are in the isolated minority. At the very least, with any adoption, an animal gets taken from a cage or enclosed space in a shelter (I understand foster situations are different, but still) and goes to a home where they get far more attention and room to roam. It is usually going to be a better situation for them to be in. Someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, scrounging for enough money to feed their children or keep the lights on this month, is likely not going to waltz into a shelter and add a new expense of caring for an animal, no matter how cute it is. But still, financials seem to be a huge part of the application process.

References are generally required now, which is fine, however, the world knows how references work. You pick the people who will paint you to be a shining star and say whatever required to make you glow. References are kinda one of society’s biggest B.S. schemes. Even shitty pedophiles have acquaintances who will vouch the high heavens for them if given as references. Mine were apparently asked if I was economically stable enough to own a cat. What, were they going to say NO?

But really, let’s look at the economic status of the nation as a whole. The majority of the U.S. currently lives paycheck to paycheck. :/ They find a way to manage, however, this does insinuate that only the small percentage of wealthy would fit the “perfect appliCAT” adoption (see what I did there?). Most applications ask if you’d be able to afford an animal’s vet bills, but let’s not act like in today’s times, finding affordable health care for HUMANS isn’t a large task in itself already, and many millennials simply go without it!

We’re living though.

Some applications specifically ask how much would be too much a vet’s bill for you. I started putting things like $3000 because I’m not sure what they were looking for. If you can’t afford a $3000 vet bill for your cat, does that mean you shouldn’t be allowed to have one? Because a $3000 doctor’s bill for a human would wipe most people’s savings. Does this mean we should be banned from caring for them? The richest person with an endless supply of fortune could adopt and give a cat a whole wing of their mansion, vet bills pre-paid, and still only be giving the bare minimum: food, litter, a home. Doesn’t mean they’re petting the cat on a regular basis or playing with them, or giving them love. Most hire nannies for their own children, so I’m sure said nanny or housekeeper would be caring for the pet as well. And let’s be real, the wealthy usually don’t saunter into the ASPCA looking to rescue; they find a pedigreed breeder and dole out a handsome sum for a certified, purebred, exotic prize.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t take my last cat in for yearly vet check-ups. I saw no need. He was an indoor cat, had all his shots, vaccinations, and got neutered within the first year of his life. I gave him good quality food and he was not only part of my immediate family, but my extended family too. Once in awhile he got sick, just as we humans do. But most of us know you don’t immediately run to the doctor when you get sick, unless it’s serious. In fact, 75% I’ve run to the doctor for a perceived ailment, I didn’t have to GO. It was something that would have passed and I ended up with a stupid bill, a prescription for some shit I could get from Duane Reade over the counter on my own, and a “This too, shall pass” diagnosis. When he had a REAL issue, I took him. The rest of the time, he got monumental love and support from all of us.

Let’s move from the financial aspect. Many applications ask if I have kids or plan to. Umm…shit, what if I did? It could happen in the future, as I am…an adult woman with working ovaries. Can cats and kids not live together? Do families not have pets? Okay, maybe they’re just screening so they can let you know which of their adoptables don’t do well with children. Understandable! But then they proceed to ask if you DID have a kid, what would you do with your cat? Umm I’d have my kid. And I’d have my cat? “What if you moved? Would you take your cat?” No, I’d leave it in the empty apartment and hope the super overheard the hungry yowls eventually. *Sarcasm alert.*

wallstreetcatguy“Will you ever let the cat outside?” I mean, in a carrier, unless I travel to a family or friend’s house that has an enclosed backyard maybe? What, you think I’m going to walk outside down a New York City block with my cat in my arms? Maybe someone who had a damn good trained cat could do that, like the one who used to show up around Wall Street. But most indoor cats would likely claw the shit out of you if you tried to take them outside in your arms amidst honking horns and barking dogs. Most owners know this. Why the hell would someone who lives in a New York City apartment let their cat outside unless it’s a bodega or apartment complex cat? Common sense. Sure, there’s the cat leash movement going on but I have only come across ONE urban cat-walker in my New York City life. Why are we asking this question like it’s a common thing lol.

“How many hours the cat will be left alone during the day?” Well that’s pretty easy to ascertain if the person has a standard fucking 9-5 job. That they’ll need to have in order to be financially stable enough to adopt the damn cat in the first place and afford those $3000 vet bills, right?

“We require a home visit.” This one may be the most invasive of them all. What’chu mean you wanna come to my HOUSE? And see if it’s SUITABLE for a cat? Some folk are sensitive about their small spaces, or day-to-day messies. What if the “inspector” is a Trump supporter wearing a red #MAGA cap and I have an Obama “Yes We Can” fleece throw on my couch? I’m probably not getting that damn cat.

One place tried to call my apartment management company to verify pets were allowed and ended up getting a new girl that gave her the runaround. I was surprised my management company even answered the phone. You know how hard it is for ME to get ahold of someone there? But trust me, I doubt most New Yorkers would be willing to take in an animal if they weren’t allowed. Especially when it’s rent-stabilized. We ain’t risking that. But what if someone rescued an animal off the street and hid it from their management company? More power to them! We can’t say it doesn’t help the rescue plight.

Through all this, you have the rescues and shelters posting desperate pleas for animal adopters and fosters NEEDED NOW, because the shelters are overflowing, and animals are getting euthanized or remaining unadopted for lengthy periods; all the while simultaneously calling for “A+ adopters ONLY and if you have to ask what it is, you’re not one” (because only the cream of the crop will do and we’re not really here to educate potential adopters >.>) or criticizing potential adopters for having preferences, such as color or age, which is RIDICULOUS! If someone wants an orange cat, let them hunt for an orange cat! If a person loves a certain breed and sees they’re available for adoption with you, what’s the issue? If they prefer a kitten over an adult cat like I do (because I prefer to raise them myself and have an earlier bond), are they less of an animal-lover because of this? And then the raging fan, and I’ll quite bluntly call them “dickriding” comments that back up these ridiculous critiques, solidify the existence of an entire Internet club of perceived cat activists, who must ALL be perfect adopters who take their cats (and they all BETTER have cats lol) for biyearly dental cleanings, consider Fancy Feast actual gourmet cat food, and live for putting down “B-” cat owners on social media.

“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is easier said then done, especially when potential adopters need to pass a figurative bar exam from the gatekeepers to adopt. They are looking for perfect adopters but “perfection” doesn’t exist. I was damn near ready to go through a back-alley CraigsList kitten transaction (because when you want an animal, you WILL get an animal) when a ray of light appeared in my path.

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I spotted this adorable little face on the ‘gram. And some brief reviewing revealed he had siblings! I DM-ed them to inquire and messaged with Holland, a sweet breath of fresh air who communicated with life and feeling and energy, unlike many of the of the short, brusque, almost exhausted-sounding responses from the other places I’d looked into. I was directed to their website, https://catcastlenyc.org where I filled out a simple, non-invasive application and saw that part of their goal is non-discriminatory adoption! She sent me pics of the little guy’s siblings and I decided I wanted his brother too, and within two days she showed up at my apartment to deliver the little darlings. While this could also be construed as a home visit, it wasn’t the same in my eyes, because I was already approved for the adoption, whereas other places use the home visit to further render judgment on your approval.

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Spike and Vash

I am now the proud owner of two rambunctious bonded brothers born with little bent tails, who I’ve spent the last week spoiling with holistic cat food, organic rotisserie chicken, more toys on the way, and that cat condo I’ve always wanted. For my cats. >.>’ We’re working on getting them comfortable being held while standing, but for now they crawl into my lap for cuddles, are no longer afraid when the front door opens, and tear around the house chasing and wrestling each other before falling asleep together in a kitty hug. I make them little aluminum foil balls to play with, tossed a blanket on the floor of my closet because I know they like to nap there sometimes, and now have to carefully roll my office chair out because they like to hang out under there while I’m sitting in it at my computer.

I don’t think I qualify as an “A+ adopter,” and I’m not sure I’d even want to. I’m much happier being the imperfect human I am that loves animals and takes damn good care of her pets, happily welcoming a saved life into my imperfect world. I love that Cat Castle NYC deviated from the drill sergeant adoption routine, and equally loved being able to support a warm, friendly, up-and-coming, humble rescue, who really just seem to want to sincerely help connect cats with homes, and not play militant adoption gods who collect multiple applications on single pets in their adoption arena to determine the winner. I highly recommend and encourage other potential adopters who know they’re responsible enough to take an animal under their wing without having a snotty judge referee with a static checklist whether they truly are to check them out!

~Tael

*See You Space Cowboy*

The Facets of Feeling

I have a problem with the term “chasing happiness.” It’s too simple. The past 2 years for me were a prison of black and white, upbeat happy or pitfall sad. In-between emotions weren’t recognized or permitted. Hell, even sadness was considered intolerable, and angrily acknowledged if it surfaced. The vivid spectrum of human emotion could not be fully accessed. The only emotion allowed…was “happy.” But denying your palate the varied flavors of life through emotional suppression only creates a disastrous recipe.

Happiness. We hold it as the most powerful, sought-after state of being for a healthy, satisfying life. But there’s a problem with those who ONLY wish to be “happy” and banish the other emotions to the dungeon-like doldrums. Happiness is just one shade. Satisfaction, for example, is not as surface-level as “happy.” Satisfaction can run so much deeper and give you a far higher sense of achievement when attained. Contentment, as well, is a warm feeling that echoes softly through your soul putting you in a relaxed state that “happy” cannot achieve on its own. Exuberance is an exhilaratory upgrade of happiness that heightens your mental state with a gripping thrill.

And then there’s the downside of the spectrum. No one wants to be sad. No one wants to be depressed. And no one should wish for it. But when it happens, sometimes you have to feel it deeply. There is no such thing as a “bad” feeling; there is only a poor way to handle it. Choosing “not” to feel it is one such example. You can never truly face your situation by running from the sentiment. If sadness happens to be your reality at the moment, then face it head on, grieve, and learn from it. Fleeing from feelings conquers nothing and produces 0 growth. It’s simply putting a lid on a pot that will continue to boil and erupt later with explosive, exponential intensity.

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It may feel like a curse to feel emotions magnified other than “happy.” If you’re like me and feel things very deeply (mood swings galore as a child), simple words with an odd inflection may cut you deep. Brutal anger may draw a curtain of red over your world. Unfair treatment might make you curl-up-on-the-floor-sick-to-your-stomach with resentment. But buoyant, spirited vibes resound within you, magnifying to a high better than any hallucinogen.

The individual you run into sobbing in public will be one of the most honest people you’ll meet. Unafraid of the world’s judgment, they are showing you their current truth in raw form, without a facade. That highly opinionated acquaintance who constantly vomits their viewpoints that everyone finds “inappropriate,” likely won’t be “two-faced” behind your back because they give you themselves without dilution. The stranger you’ve just met who heatedly shares his indignation at an injustice he recently witnessed is unafraid to display the passion in his heart. Fearless emotion is an amazing thing.

If your goal is to only chase “happiness,” how can you fully appreciate the facets of feeling? Like a brilliant diamond, there are so many glittering sides to experience that grant you new perception at different angles. Angles that illumine paths to reflections you may not have seen before. Paths that lead you to fellow humans who immediately and completely understand what you’re feeling because they’ve felt it as well. They’ve experienced that facet of the diamond themselves. They’ve tasted that emotion and overcome it before and now you’ve created a powerful connection through sharing and empathy.

We need the jarring rage you feel when a friend is mistreated, the sweltering indignance you feel when you’re spoken down to, and the simmering jealous awe that pushes us to climb and stretch for things out of our reach. Going through life cradling one feeling is a robotic pathway of monochrome imbalance. Celebrate the fact that you can feel a myriad of sentiments. Reactions that prove you’re legitimately interacting with the world and people around you. You hear them, listen, disagree, get angered by what they say, happy at their news, sad at their downfalls. Cry when you’re upset, stomp when you’re mad, yell when you’re frustrated. Shout beneath a waterfall like in A Quiet Place and let go of the composure. Embrace the wild freedom of being human.

PharellHappy

Be wary of those who are only ever “happy,” afraid to come face to face with any other emotion. Those are the ones who hide deeper currents that wash over their hidden truths and malfunction their mechanical myths behind the veneer they’ve put up. If your life is one emotion, you’re half-living, and not viewing the full panorama the human soul has to offer. If you haven’t fallen to the lowest point, clawed your way back out, coped through a mind-numbing loss, been picked up by the kindness of karmatic-hearted strangers, and even had your boss comfort you in the throes of devastation, you might not have truly lived yet.

The ending line from the Fruits Basket manga never resonated so well with me before: Repeat the good AND the bad. Do it all, and pile on the years.

Never be afraid to feel.

~Tael

 

A Thin Line Between Love and Lust

A Poly Love Story…

How the hell did I end up reading this one? In fact, I had told myself that in my support of other indies, I would actively avoid taking on erotic Western romance stories, or anything of the like. But he happened to be a Twitter follower who asked me to give a read, and I tend to be soft on my followers. Plus, this one had the whole poly-lover angle going on with it, so here was a twist.

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Surprisingly, I wasn’t bored out of my mind. There were a lot of points in the story where I genuinely wanted to know what was coming next. Then there were points where I went, “For REAL? YEAH, RIGHT!” But I’m not so open-minded as Nicky, who happened to be my favorite character in the book because of her unapologetic, go-getting, straight-forwardness, and her innocence, despite her sexual appetite and awareness. You wonder if shared trinogamy could exist in the real world, outside of the Mormon countryside or Islamic marriage setups, and you question the believability of the unfurling situation. But then you get jolted by some scenes that remind you there’s a structure in place that involves honesty and open communication, like every time Prince stumbles upon a new woman he’s attracted to and fails to let Nicky know his growing interest. She is quick to show her possessiveness and let him have it, which lends an air of “realness” to the situation: there are rules. Sister lovers are permissible, but no one-night stands with bimbos, and no secrets. There’s still such a thing as cheating in this arrangement.

There were also a few points where the vernacular made me chuckle, specifically Miles’ winning line: “I don’t know about cooties, but they fa sho got coochies.” It is absolutely something I could have overheard one of my young cousins say growing up, and I was impressed with how the writer was able to nail that.

I did find a lot of Prince’s poetry and mushy sentiments to be unrealistically sappy (i.e. Carrie’s response to Petrovsky’s amorous behavior in Sex in the City), but the character also openly references his own corniness throughout the book. I would cringe if my boyfriend ever led me into a room lit by candles with a bed covered in rose petals. I AM NOT A ROMANTIC. But the book does a good job of making you think, “This can’t really happen,” and then you realize, even if you would never in your life be down with it, it’s not implausible that others would. Even outside of the fairy-tale version C.E. Long paints for you.

Also, I kind of wanted the assimilation of Nyla to fail. I almost wished she would remain resolute on her feelings toward the situation just to prove that not everyone would be down with this, haha.

I’m bad.

~Tael

The Exiles

Time for another Indie Immersion! This time it’s The Exiles by E. Leo Foster. It’s a short novel, about 140 pages, but this one seemed to capture exactly what I was looking for in an indie book: something different and uniquely creative without reading like a high school writing assignment. Ever read “Shoplifting from American Apparel” by Tao Lin? I really wanted to like that one, but I found it a very dry read with very little reader connection. The pacing flowed like a robot chanting an abstract grocery list.

For some reason, after reading the book blurb for The Exiles, I expected to read about a society of lawless vagrants who lived on the outskirts of town in a secret location like the Court of Miracles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. You don’t encounter this; instead, it focuses on one family in particular, and they aren’t even hiding from the world; just hiding secrets. Obviously the title is meant to be metaphoric.

TheExilesTwo main things that stood out to me.

A. The author created characters I didn’t really like, but could still connect with through human emotion. And I believe that’s a great skill.

B. I absolutely loved the smart style of storytelling he chose to use; the choppy flow of the short chapters that led into flashbacks building up to interesting reveals, and the witty, somewhat philosophical lines of #TruthTrebles sprinkled about that blended seamlessly with the storyline. This is a book that makes you think. So much so, that it prompted me to leave an Amazon review, which I can only do if I’m actually impressed or mentally impacted.

Doesn’t look like he used an editor; I came across some typos and grammatical incorrections (yes, I make up words that kind of make sense), but hey, I didn’t hire an editor either, and they weren’t littered throughout to take away from the overall story for me. Real readers aren’t picky. This one’s a winner. Cue the Super Mario RPG battle win music.

~Tael

I’m Feelin’ That

Immersion. It conjures up the memory of that first dive into the calm of Jolly Roger Bay in Super Mario 64 where the music immediately switches to a deeper, still soothing tempo as you descend into blissful underwater exploration…like diving into a memorable story, yah? ImFeelinThat

Extending exploration from the gaming world to the writing world, it’s not an Indie Author Journey unless you’re supporting other indies! So I randomly searched Twitter, discovered author Chris Stevens, and took a dive into “I’m Feelin That! Stories of Love, Life and Lessons Learned.” I’m not usually one to read short stories by choice, but the cultural aspect, I could connect with. It’s very straight-forward writing making use of slang vernacular, with different POVs to switch things up for a varied range of content. What I liked the most: reading about lifestyles that differ from my own. Story that stuck with me the most? Brothers In Arms.

~Tael