One of the hardest things about loving animals is sometimes, well, loving animals. I’m the kind of person who will do anything (and I mean anything) to help an animal in need. I just can’t turn away.
I’m a good person. I know.
I have a big heart. I know.
I am making a difference. I know.
And I’m also exhausted, often stressed, and break down every couple months because I take on too much, care too much, and probably do too much. But the animals … If I don’t help, who will?
If I see a cat that looks lost, I have to stop and see if it has a collar. There are feral cats in my office parking lot that I have to feed. There are kittens that are dumped in places they likely won’t survive, and I have to rescue them. I have to, because I simply can’t do nothing.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people who is unaffected by these things. Someone who sees a stray cat and doesn’t even look twice, doesn’t even wonder if that might be someone’s much-loved pet who needs a little help getting home. Someone who can just park at work and not care that seven beautiful black cats are hungry and thirsty, and just walk to the office and ignore them.
I wonder what it would be like to be someone who has never e-mailed everyone you know begging someone, anyone, to please give a cute little kitten a home. Or someone who hasn’t spent hundreds of dollars in vet bills for cats who live outside and aren’t even technically theirs.
Sometimes I think it would be easier. But then I wonder what it would be like to be missing out on so much. It must be horrible.
People like that don’t know how special it feels to earn the trust of a feral cat that lets you pet it for the first time. They don’t know how good it is to know you’re giving cats who aren’t lucky enough to have homes a better life and the love they deserve.
People like that have never had their hearts fill up with happiness when one of the many friends they e-mailed offers to give that kitten you found a home — to know that you probably saved that kitten’s life, and because of you, it will be safe, well-fed, and spoiled.
I just will. And I will continue to. Because I wonder why anyone would want to be those other kind of people.
P.S. If you’re the kind of person I am, I stumbled upon an amazing article yesterday, Compassion Fatigue — Emotional Burnout in the Animal Care Field, which was such a great read. It really hit home on so many points, and made me think about how much more I need to think about myself. I highly recommend you check it out!