Dealing with the life and death of cats and dogs

Our second cat (who is the mama of our other cat) had three kittens in May.  The mama cats, older kittens and new kittens shared a bed together for a few days. My host family was uncertain that they would find homes for the original five kittens so the three new kittens were killed. I did not know this was going to happen and it has made me think more about the issues of dogs and cats in society.

My host mom and I talked about how it was better to happen when the kittens were just a few days old rather than when someone dumps the young kittens off in a field and the kittens end up starving or being eaten by something else. I shared with her that it is not just an issue in Moldova, it is an issue in every country, including the US.  A former neighbor of mine in Austin that is a veterinarian goes to South America regularly to provide care for animals in villages.  While I knew that there were issues with cats and dogs in other countries, it never dawned on me that part of the situation is that the cats and dogs live outside to perform their jobs, cats catch mice and dogs are security.  They are not family pets like we have in the US.  Many Moldovans find Americans love of cats and dogs interesting and are very quick to point out that the animals are dirty so you need to wash your hands and clean off your clothes quickly after petting them.

When one of our dogs went into heat for the first time, there were at least five male dogs swarming her dog house every day.  I finally learned where the “chase” stick was, only after freaking out while one of the dogs was with our dog and I had no way to separate them.

I am not sure what the answer is to preventing the dogs and cats from getting pregnant as getting animals spayed and neutered is expensive in terms of both money and time for people in villages.  It would take at least a day to get anywhere that would preform the operation and there are few months when there is extra income to spend on non-essentials.  And I like that dogs are not always tied up and can wander the property but I don’t like that the dogs can get aggressive and chase me when I ride my bike or when I run.   And of course cats would not be effective at their mouse job if they were tied up.

Being closer to the life cycle with the animals around me has given me many things to think about in terms of the way that I live my life in the US and has also provided me with many times to practice watching my emotions and finding my way back to calm when I am distressed by something.

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