I was driving down a dusty road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of mid-America. There were weatherboard houses on both sides of the road with plenty of space between them. The sun was hot. The road was empty. “Plenty of space in America”, I thought to myself. Then I spotted a beat up sign on the side of the road, “Free Kittens” it said. There is not enough space for unwanted cats, I thought.
Free kitten signs which can be seen in any country are signs in themselves. If we are honest they are a sign of our failure to successfully manage our relationship with the domestic cat. It was probably always so. In many countries there is little “management” of cats in relation to breeding. In America there is a greater concern about cat overpopulation and so a sign that reads “Kittens For Sale” is not something you want to see.
Free kitten signs indicate unwanted cats. These cats are immediately, extremely vulnerable. A cat shelter beckons where the chances of being put down are fairly high. Or the commercial market in animal testing is waiting in the wings to pick them up. I don’t know but I do know that an unwanted kitten is in a very vulnerable place and it would have been better if he had not been brought into the world.
I am sure there are many variations on the reasons why there are unwanted kittens. All of them come down to one thing: a failure to neuter the cat. I can actually sympathize with the people most likely to fail to make arrangements to neuter their cat. They probably live difficult lives themselves. A kitten or two come along. They provide company for a lonely person. They make her happy. Things are better and there is no thought to spaying or neutering. It doesn’t enter the person’s head or if it did the cost might put them off (although there are many low cost, discount, neutering programs in the United States). They put the matter on the back burner until….the kittens arrive.
“I had two cats” she says. “Then there were five and now I have twenty”. “Please take a kitten”, she pleads to a passer by who has seen the free kittens sign.
Here are eight more free kitten signs from Flickr photographers, published here under license. They are thumbnails. If you’d like to see the full, large format image please click on the thumbnail. You’ll arrive at a new page, a large picture and a short description.
We should hope never to see a free kittens sign again. I feel for these unwanted cats. People have a responsibility to make sure that all cats born are wanted and loved. That is the ideal. We won’t make that but we can do better. So many problems, arguments (between cat lovers and cat haters) and unhappiness stems from one individual person’s lack of care in taking preventative measures. Also unwanted cats turn into feral cats and feral cats tend to give ammunition to cat haters to criticize the cat generally.