I have a soft spot for the less fortunate. I try to do my part, donate money and time and resources where I can, and hope that it's enough. Mostly, I think I should do more.
Two weekends ago, we were visiting Lance's grandmother. She has a stray cat population that she (more or less grudgingly) has been feeding and sheltering. Lance's mom has been doing her best to find homes for the tamer ones and spay/neuter the ones she can catch so that the cat herd thins out a bit. Kittens still turn up, however, and we'd noticed two cute little tabbies. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the smallest one was sick--she had a respiratory infection, gunky eyes, and was gaunt because she was too small to compete with the bigger kitties (including her littermate) for food. I pleaded with Lance for us to take her to the vet, but he thought she would probably get better without our help.
Last weekend, we went up, and she wasn't better. In fact, she was probably worse--and when Lance felt her tiny little ribs sticking out, he decided we could do our best to get her well, on the condition that we find her a new home (so, if you're near me: free kitty!). I took her to the vet yesterday, and she has an upper respiratory infection, as suspected, as well as suffering from fleas, dehydration, diarrhea, and possibly some other things. The poor thing weighed in at 1.5 pounds (her brother is almost twice her size) and sat hunched over and looking pretty miserable and pathetic. She didn't even fight me as we took her home, then took her back and forth from the vet.
We anticipate that under our care (and antibiotics) that she'll start to get better and go on to be a happy kitty. This is the fifth cat that I've rescued or helped to rescue (I kept two of them), so I feel pretty good about helping out tiny, defenseless animals. Especially when they grow up to be such awesome kitties:
Then I got to thinking about the time and resources I was using to rescue animals. Wouldn't it better to use it to help people? my conscience dinged. That was troubling. By choosing to spend $40 on a sick kitten, was I saying that people who are in desperate need aren't as worthy as a kitten? Wouldn't the time I spent nursing the kitten back to health be better spent volunteering to help people?
Ultimately, I don't know. Maybe I'm not directing my energies in the right direction. Maybe what matters is that I'm trying to help a suffering creature, even if she is just a kitten. I don't think it's a matter of rating animals higher than people; instead, it's a matter of taking responsibility for creatures we domesticated and who wouldn't necessarily thrive (let alone survive) without human interaction. And I'm sure this tiny kitten will bring something special to her future owner's life.