Would You Work In A Cat Shelter?

The cat shelter is firmly a part of society in Europe and the United States or indeed in most counties of the world. They have been around for ages. How long? I guess as long as there have been too many cats or at least too many cats that were unwanted. There was a time, let’s not forget, when there was not one cat shelter to be seen in America. That time was probably around the 1850s. One of the first was the Women’s SPCA of Pennsylvania which was opened in 1869.  I am guessing, but I suspect that before that date unwanted cats were simply euthanized at a government pound of some sort.

The cat shelter does sterling work. Some do better than others. But all have to contend with the actual or potential problem of too many cats coming in and not enough cats going out. That leads to one inevitable decision – euthanasia.

And for that reason alone I could never work in a cat shelter despite the fact that I am certain that I would be a good employee. I would thoroughly enjoy the work. I have no problem cleaning out pens or cages or litter trays. Good, honest labor is good for the soul.

The trouble is someone has to organise the killing of cats and it is actually killing not  euthanasia. I know I keep making that point but it is an important one because I would not object to genuinely euthanising a cat. This is because it is the humane thing to do. It is being kind to a cat. Although it would be very distressing.

But straight cold-blooded killing by the thousands year in and year out would kill me as well as the cats. I am convinced that I would become depressed – more depressed than I already am at the whole thing – and that it would damage me psychologically.

I wonder how many other people who would be great workers are put off by this aspect of working at a cat shelter? The same sort of problem exists at veterinary clinics in America. I couldn’t work in one of those places either because of the declawing.

I wonder too if the fact that most shelters have to euthanize cats whether this aspect of the work attracts people who are not the ideal sort of employee? I am being a bit provocative in asking that question, I will admit. However, let’s be open to that possibility and think about it. If a person wants to kill cats by the hundreds, legally, he can do it at a cat shelter. Makes me think.

Euthanasia of unwanted cats at shelters or rescue facilities happens all over the world. America discusses it more that the other countries which is brave of them. I respect that. I just wish more was done to find a proper solution to unwanted cats than simply killing them which effectively brushes the problem under the carpet.

Which are the best animal shelters in the USA? There is no league table. Maybe there should be a league table based on the least number of animals euthanised and the biggest number re-homed. Why not?

One that seems to stand out is Best Friends Animal Society. They have a sanctuary. The word “sanctuary” almost demands a commitment to non-euthanasia otherwise it would not be a sanctuary. They say nothing bad ever happens to their animals. Therefore they don’t euthanize any animal. And they run courses on rescuing cats and on running a sanctuary. There are also courses on dog caretaking.

Addressing the other end of the problem – companion animal caretaking is brilliant because it can only help in reducing unwanted animals. This is the sort of place I could definitely work in. I used to be a trainer anyway before I became a lawyer so Best Friends Animal Sanctuary seems ideal for me! Unfortunately, I bet there are a lot of people who’d like to work there too.

3 thoughts on “Would You Work In A Cat Shelter?”

  1. I read the other day that PETA sent flowers or chocolates to some shelter that is a no kill shelter that had a numbers problem and was going to have to kill cats by the end of the month unless something was done. The community ended up helping and they remained a no kill shelter. But when PETA heard about this they sent them gifts and a note saying ‘thanks for making the right choice for the animals’. Now we know they dont just spend their money on PR, but apparently also on chocolates and gifts in the name of killing healthy animals. I’ll not put as link here but I’m sure it can be found easily. I could never work there either if it involved killing. Elisa wrote a very good article some time ago about PTSD associated with working in a shelter and having the job of killing animals. It’s a seriously messed up side effect of modern culture and I’m sure being involved is quite seriously damaging to a persons well being. Modern culture enables itself to be so downright immoral and horrid with it’s structure of specialism and expertise. Thereby allowing the mainstream of population to not see the horrors of its own creation. IE: there’s usually somebody messed up enough or willing to sacrifice their sanity, who will take care of the various dirty work that has to be done. Elisa’s article is very good in demonstrating just how powerful said ‘dirty work’ is. I dont have the link or name of the article it I’m afraid.

    But I too would be fine to do just about everything else. Infact I want to do this kind of work with my spare hours but I have not found a vacancy in this sort of work here in Switzerland in part due to the fact that lots of people already volunteer so I must get in line, but also because we dont really have a stray cat problem here.

  2. REMINDS ME OF A FAMOUS QUOTE FROM THE BOOK “ANIMAL FARM”, QUOTE,”SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL”. Its a sad fact of life that life itself is very unequal, both with humans as well as animals.

  3. I often wonder if I had my time over again I would choose to work with animals. Not so much because it’s poorly paid and you get some dirty jobs, but because of the heartbreak it brings.
    Many times I thought about leaving the vets I worked for as I felt I couldn’t take any more, not so much euthanising very ill animals but the heartlesness of people bringing simply unwanted cats and dogs in to be killed. With the best will in the world we couldn’t rehome them all and some people refused to give us permission to try, some in fact watched the animal die, to make sure! But I felt compelled to stay and do what good I could but it did affect me greatly as does any abuse of animals.
    I was glad to retire as I’d had enough of the human race and coming home at night to cry. Volunteering was different as we don’t have any kill shelters here, I could never work in one of those places!
    Yet maybe if you are an animal lover you don’t even have to work or volunteer with animals for it to affect you, just hearing about it can fill you with despair if you really care. I’ve never been in a laboratory yet the thought of the suffering of animals in those places deeply upsets me, even without seeing pictures. I think a person has to be very cold hearted towards animals for their suffering and needless death not to affect them at all.


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