It is difficult to know where to start. This is a story of the chaotic lifestyle of a woman, Cynthia Serna, who has seven cats (5 + 2 rescues). She sought help on Facebook. I have read a lot of comments and I do not see a woman who is coping very well. There’s lots of talk about whether she is running a scam to get money. This does happen, as we know, on Facebook. It’s hard to know where the truth lies. I don’t think she is running a scam but it is chaotic and without wishing to be unkind the woman is not coping well but this could be due to the unusual circumstances.
“We are staying in my car. When I work they stay in the car my whole shift. They are being traumatized even more. I just don’t know what to do. And I still need to go back and get my other calico, Ttuntthine, from this awful person”.
Living in Car
To put some detail on it: Cynthia was apparently forced out of her home because of domestic violence. She stayed in a motel. Remember she has seven cats to look after at the same time. Her savings ran out and she ended up living in her car with her seven cats. That is obviously an impossible situation. She searched for a foster carer for her cats. She appealed on Facebook and people came forward. Facebook is a good place to appeal for help in the cat world.
Sadly, she entrusted her cats to the care of the wrong person who she has not named but who appears to have been in the cat rescue business. This person let her down badly. She would not let Cynthia see her cats and when she got them back bar one, they were in a terrible condition. The cat that she could not get back was a calico. The cats needed medical attention and probably still do. This is a live matter. It is ongoing. She may still be staying in her car. She goes to work while her cats are in her car throughout the entire day. She is living in California and therefore no doubt it gets very hot. I’m sure the situation is very hazardous for the cats.
The Cat’s Whiskers
She posted on The Cat’s Whiskers Facebook page and entered into a long discussion with members of that group who offered her help. My reading of the comments are that Cynthia did not show commitment in taking the advice provided to her. She was advised to seek assistance by people involved with helping woman who are the victims of domestic violence. It seemed that she did not go to these people. This prompted some members of the group to think that she was running a scam.
One kind person even provided her with the telephone number of a veterinarian and asked to call the veterinarian who was ready to receive the call and provide assistance. To the best of my knowledge Cynthia did not call this veterinarian or did not persist and make sure that she made contact with the veterinarian. This indicates a lack of ability to cope or perhaps Cynthia’s lifestyle is so chaotic that it is impossible to function normally.
There appears to be one lady who has provided hands-on help through Facebook. Her name is Karen Jacobs and she is the founder and director of the Tactical Team for the Protection of Animals. She is a former law enforcement officer and a member of a group of officers who are active in retirement working with the LAPD. She is working on the Cynthia Serna matter. After all, it all started off with domestic violence and therefore this is a potential criminal matter as well as a cat welfare matter. Karen Jacobs confirms that this is no scam. She is trying to get money to Cynthia and a motel room. In the medium to long term the intention is to get her into regular housing because it is obviously a dangerous situation for both Cynthia and her cats to be living in a car.
I think that is the current state of play on this story. Cynthia is being helped on the ground but the cats, as I understand it, are still living in her car which would seem to be an impossible state of affairs. This state of affairs could not last very long but it has. I think I have read stories where people have lived in cars with their cats and where they’ve been prosecuted under the animal welfare laws for animal cruelty. I’m not saying that that is going to happen but it is not good. It exposes Cynthia to action by the local authority.
One great problem with Facebook is that there’s lots of fakery on it. We all know about it. We know about the fake news. We’ve seen fake cat rescue situations and people pleading for money to help their cats. Cynthia has a gofundme.com fundraiser. She started this two days ago on the advice of a member of The Cat’s Whiskers. The goal was US$1000 and at present it has raised nothing. But the trouble is that good people become suspicious when people ask for help but appear not to accept it. Users of Facebook have become more wary and less trusting of people posting for help on Facebook. This may be a long-term trend and it may severely dent the effectiveness of Facebook.
Finally, I don’t wish to criticize Cynthia Serna. It sounds like I am. I think she is genuine. It is just extremely frustrating when you read the comments because it is developing in a less than positive way.
Update 5th June 2018
She posted this:
“Our blessing came via The Compassion Project.
Staci, the founder contacted me yesterday morning. And TCP will be providing foster care for all 7 of my kitties. And have helped me keep a roof over my head for a few days.
We are at pet friendly motel6. Exhausted, but safe and relieved.
In a few days these babies are going to camp (foster care) and I can’t be more excited for them.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart The Compassion Project, Cat Whiskers Group and everyone on FB that advocated for us.