Friday, March 26, 2010

Babies that Almost Were

I continue to capture kitties, our feral friends, to be spayed or neutered before releasing them back to their natural habitat (our backyard).

This week, with three sardine-baited traps, I managed to capture only one. It was the one I call "Charlie," who is a timid mostly-white cat with black splotches. She or he is more easily frightened than her/his litter mates. I'm never sure of the sex of each kitty, but Charlie and her/his siblings are over a year old, now.

Capturing this solitary cat was a jackpot of sorts. When I picked Charlie up at the FixNation clinic, post-surgery, I was informed that there had been kittens inside her, which had all been humanely aborted (it's both interesting and comforting to me that they deliberately add the word "humanely").

The clinic had already told me that it is common for many of the females they fix to be at various stages of pregnancy. Unborn kittens are aborted only if it is safe for both mother and the litter, if it is not too close to birthing time.

I was surprised, though, to be struck by a bit of sadness. I felt as if we had taken Charlie's babies away from her, even if she wasn't aware of her pending motherhood. I felt as if we had taken the chance for living a quiet, healthy life away from these unborn babies.

I am the first to admit that I am much too Bleeding Heart for my own good. As unscientific as I am, I realize that it is standard for many new generations not to make it in the animal kingdom, whether or not they are born.

I focused, almost immediately after my slight sadness, on the fact that this is exactly why the effort is being made, both by the FixNation staff and by individuals like myself - to prevent future generations of homeless animals from being born, and to halt this specific natural cycle as much as possible.

While driving home with Charlie resting quietly in her covered cage, I thought again of human babies that never get to be born. It is easy for me to claim that I am Pro Choice, but honestly, I've never had to give it serious consideration since an unplanned pregnancy is something I will neither have nor be likely to cause.

But even Charlie's microcosmic world of Backyard Kitties can bring up a lot of What If?'s, in the "It's a Wonderful Life" perspective. What if I had never been born? What if any babies who had been aborted had lived, instead? How would that affect any of our lives, individually and in our communities?

How does the fall of a sparrow affect our universe? Even if one person or one animal is but a grain of sand in the Big Picture, how far-reaching are the ripples of that grain when dropped into water? And what happens when a grain or pebble never gets the chance to be dropped and cause ripples? I know that for most of these questions, we may never receive any answers.

See? I told you I was unscientific!


Michael DeAntonio said...

My in-laws took a stray cat to get fixed. The vet told them they could fix her while pregnant. What they didn't tell them was they'd be aborted. They had already found homes for those unborn kittens.

Cheryl said...

My friend was in a similar situation. Her vet was a little more open with her than Mike's, so she decided to keep the kittens--she was pro-choice but reasoned that the mama cat had not chosen abortion.

I'm with you on the bittersweetness of all of it: Great that you helped Charlie and prevented overpopulation, but still sad to see the kittens go. I'm a firm believer that mourning small creatures counts for something in the universe.