I was speaking to someone today who is trying to help a woman who has too many cats in her flat. The HDB has been called in, and apparently there have been many complaints. The woman who contacted me, who is trying to help, mentioned that the place DOES smell. The cats, she said, are in fairly good condition, though she couldn't recall if any were over-grooming. She mentioned the woman is constantly getting dumped on and that the woman cannot turn the cats away when they need help.
You know the saying - the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Someone once said to me, everyone who does rescue work has good intentions or they wouldn't do it. It doesn't mean that the good intentions don't lead to the cats suffering however.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, finds it difficult when faced with the dilemma. What do you do when there is a small kitten that needs help? Or an injured cat? What happens if you are already stretched to capacity?
Instead of good intentions, I think it's time we have to be pragmatic. What is the best thing to do for the cats? Not the newcomer alone - but ALL the cats.
When you take in that one new kitten, bear in mind that unless you have good quarantine facilities that you immediately increase the chances of all the other cats catching disease. I know of a person with 'good intentions' who took in kittens that needed nursing and all the cats in her home catching FIP. Did most of the cats die? Yes.
I know of another woman who kept taking in kittens because of her good intentions. She felt bad they were on the street. Where did many of them end up? Buried in her garden. Yet she was convinced she was saving the cats.
Hoarders don't start out with 100 cats. They started out with arguably the best of intentions and ONE cat.
At the end of the day, it IS a numbers game. Save one, or kill five? Because no matter what the intentions are, there will come a point when there are too many cats and there will be not enough money. This means the cats are less likely to get proper medical attention, food, and attention. It also means that they are far more likely to be stressed. Disease obviously spreads faster in an enclosed environment where the cats are already stressed.
More importantly - not every cat needs to go into a home. They live perfectly well on the streets unless they have an underlying condition that prevents them from doing so. Arguably, I'd say many of them stand a better chance of living healthily on the street. They're also happier. Would you rather live in a cage or out on the street where you have freedom of movement?
For almost all of us, money is limited - and the best thing that can be done is to spend as much of it as possible on sterilisation. Again it's a numbers game. A caregiver I know got dumped on so much that she went around and sterilised all the home cats that weren't sterilised. This was of course after she had already finished all the community cats. End result - far, far less dumping. That's cheaper in the long run then taking in, housing, nursing and feeding all the new kittens that get dumped.
More importantly - it's not about feeling good, or even feeling less guilty. It's not about you feeling sorry for the cat. In fact, I would say that emotion should have very little part to play in all of this. What's most important is to consider what is the best step to take for the largest number of cats to ensure their welfare. You can't save every single cat - but you can try and help as many of them as you can and that means ensuring they live the best quality of life that they can.