Whats Up With That? - Katy Byrne


A cat speaks up

I’m a cat and I’ve got hairballs for a reason. I guess you could call them pet peeves.
I admit that when I’m stressed, I might drop a hairball, but we all have them, don’t we?
Especially these days, there’s congestion in our throats when we watch the news on TV,
or deal with healthcare or housing. But, even with my hairballs, I’m pretty low maintenance.

I know you might wonder why reading a column from a cat is important, but we’re living creatures. We’re part of community. People say we’re messy, but humans make far bigger messes. Look at the state of the world! Humans build machines and make war all the time. What’s up with that?

If people had scratching posts, just think of the change in politics. They wouldn’t have to claw at each other.

People are a prejudiced species. They say we lift our legs or drop fur in wrong places, but white carpets and pastel couches show everything. Hey, politicians lift their legs too.
My guardian is helping me write this, because I need a voice. It’s not just a cat’s meow. We long for food and shelter, like you. We crave safety and community. Some of us go from house to house looking for a morsel, or have to hide in the woods. It’s not a good life. We’re often told:  “no pets allowed.” Excuse me, we’re not just pets.

OK, I’ve got hairballs, but who doesn’t these days? I’m trying to add some humor to the mix, but it’s not so easy with winter coming. People think just because we have a fur coat we don’t get cold. Hey, does your hair keep you warm in the winter?

I remember one lucky night I found a “doggie door” and crept through it. I heard snoring, and curled up beside a nice warm lady. It was the first time that I purred. Guess what? She woke up the next morning, laughed and we’ve been together ever since!  I was one of the lucky ones.  I’m the bright spot in her day. Nowadays she plays with my tail, telling tails on her computer, trying to make sense of everything.

Hairballs abound in our world. We’re just as stressed as you .We feel the wind, the rain and heat. When we’re hungry, we can’t go to the grocery store.

With humans fighting over everything, notice how politicians treat us. It says a lot. We curl up in balls a lot these days; we look up to you for help. (Only “10 percent of animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. The ferals don’t trust humans,” says the ASPCA.  There are over 70 million feral cats in the U.S.)

If we’re really fortunate, we’re taken care of when we’re sick. My guardian cries when an animal dies but I tell her, “It’s better than longing for health or dying slowly without kindness.” It’s torture being run over by a car or left alone in the back yard.  I’d rather sleep in peace or be put to sleep than be left outside and starve to death.

Sometimes it‘s too painful for people to face our suffering, so they ignore us. But, we are a part of the planet. I don’t want to depress you but I want to impress on you, we look like fluff balls but we’re sensitive. We’re gentle creatures and we suffer. You’re taller than us and you have a voice. Talk to landlords!

Think outside the box. Donate to us; take an animal in, volunteer somewhere, call your neighbor or authorities if you suspect neglect, tell home owners to rent to us, write a letter to Congress. We’re all busy trying to survive nowadays, but take some time to care.
With all the hairballs in the world, let’s stop pussyfooting around.  Don’t leave us behind. Do something to make this world a safer place. We’re all in this together.

Katy Byrne, MFT, is the author of  “The Courage to Speak Up, Getting Your Hairballs Out.”

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