This is not a brand new story but it is ultimately a happy cat story and one which focuses our minds on the practice of mass euthanasia at animal shelters and how to stop it.
You may have heard about Andrea but perhaps not. She is all over the cat internet, I have just discovered although it first came to light in October last year. It concerns a black cat named Andrea who for a while lived at shelter in Utah, USA. You probably know that black adult cats are one of the last types of cats to be adopted. They are unpopular perhaps because superstition surprisingly still exists with respect to the black cat. I find that odd to be frank.
Anyway, like many black cats before her, she was destined to end up in a gas chamber. Pause. Stop and think. Did you read “gas chamber”. I am afraid you did.
Gas chambers for killing cats at animal shelters is considered cruel, isn’t it? It is a cheap and efficient way of destroying a cat, healthy or otherwise but it hurts and terrifies the cat for while until dead. That is the hideous bit of the story.
The good bit is that Andrea refused to die in the gas chamber so they put her back in. She refused to die again but they shelter people did not know that she was still alive after the second attempt so like all killed cats they put in a plastic bag and into the cooler (or freezer). Question? Why was she in a plastic bag in a cooler if she was in effect a piece of disposable rubbish?
The wonderful bit of the story is that shelter staff discovered that Andrea had not died after all she had been through: two gassings, one plastic bag (suffocation?) and one night in a cooler.
This little, nondescript, ordinary black cat had achieved the extraordinary and survived humankind’s best attempts to get rid of her; a testament to the toughness of the domestic cat.
The story should remind us of how inappropriate the concept of mass cat and dog euthanasia is in a civilized society like the United States particularly when it is carried out in gas chambers. Some of these cats were family members.
Gasing should be banned. Apparently carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide is used. Surprisingly gassing of feral cats still happens.
In fact there is an argument that all so called euthanasia at animal shelters should stop unless it is genuine euthanasia (cat is terminally ill).
Another bit of good news. There seems to be slow but general trend away from euthanizing animals at rescue organizations. It appears that before 1970 about 20m where killed and in 2011 the figure in near 4m. Also in a poll 79% of people under 30 supported euthanasia for genuine cases only while for people over 50 the percentage is 67%. This indicates the the practice is losing support.
Perhaps people will find better ways of dealing with the overpopulation of domestic and stray cats. I have always felt that killing unwanted cats supports more killing. The focus should be on proactive measures not reactive ones, which mass killing definitely is. Proactive measures includes, spaying, neutering and outreach to promote more responsible cat caretaking.
The true nationwide, no-kill concept is achievable, it is thought.