Responsible Citizens Should Take Care to Consider the Lives of Strays

Dagnija Tomsons


Here’s Gracie, lounging by our back door. Photo Credit / Dagnija Tomsons

Late one night while my mom hung up the laundry outside, she asked me to help her out. I happened to notice that there was a large ball of fluff coming slowly towards us from between my house and the neighbors. I went over to check out what the form was. I could barely make out what the lump was at first, but as it came closer, it moved into our neighbor’s garage light. I could see what it was, the fluffiest and fattest grey cat I’d ever seen.
This wasn’t the first time a stray has made itself comfortable around my house. Last time it was two golden labs that scared my cats half to death. Before that it was a Beagle who I still see around. Honestly, it seems like we always get the lost pets and the strays. I can barely recall how many times I’ve witnessed a dog sniffing around my yard or a cat having a nasty conversation with one of my own.
I named the new stray Greyson, and she was a great companion, hanging around me almost all the time. There was only one problem. All my cats are male. That wasn’t helpful whatsoever. Most female cats stay away from males, or at least tolerate them up until a certain point. Unless they grow up around each other, it’s ignore zone. However, Greyson (later renamed Gracie) decided to take a different road, attacking the cats we already had.
We wanted to keep Gracie–at least my dad and I did. My mom, however, was skeptical about the whole ordeal, but we softened her up and got her to at least not grumble about that fact that the cat was inside the house.
At first, there wasn’t much of a problem. Gracie was very nice and tried her best to stay away from our other cats, and our cats did the same. But nothing lasts forever. She turned into a Garfield, eating practically everything, just like our other fat cat, Biggie. Not to mention she took over Biggie’s chair and table! She bullied our smallest and more playful cat, Pecin, as well as our oldest and skinniest cat, Paris.
By this point, I was ready to throw in the towel and just shove her out the door.
She has her good attributes; she’s really soft and nice. She snores a lot and she loves to sleep on people and other odd things, like newspapers. We have no idea where her original family is, but I once followed her to where she may have come from. She went under the stairs of an old lady’s house on the corner of the street.
As you might expect, it’s hard to reject her from coming into the warmth of our home. Then again, she’s constantly attacked my cats, so it’s hard to decide whether I’m on her side or not. Nobody is allowed to harm my cats. The same would go for any mother and their child.
So, what happens now? I had a cat that I didn’t want, but the cat had nowhere else to go. I had no idea. I just had a huge problem on my hands. Maybe there was a solution, but I know of no one that has zero cats, male or otherwise, that would want her.
In this huge dilemma, I turned to Facebook and wrote a ‘Hey if you want a fluffy cat…’ post to see if anyone out there wanted her, but there was no response. I didn’t want to shove her to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), but if nobody wanted her it would be the only option.
If you find a cat, the best option is to take it in, take good care of it and take it to the vet to check if it has any sort of chip. Also check to see if any family has come to call for a missing pet that might fit the description of the one you found.
According to the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.”
If the pet doesn’t have a chip or there haven’t been any calls about it, the next best option is to take it to the SPCA if you aren’t thinking of keeping it. Don’t take too long to make this decision because you might get too attached and not be willing to part with the animal. If the SPCA doesn’t have space for the animal, the last option is to hand them over to the local Animal Shelter or the pound.
I was informed that the Animal Shelter would not be the best option for a pet either waiting for adoption or to be reconnected back with their original owner because of the care and possible short waiting time for it to be euthanized.
The Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement will keep a pet for a seven to ten day holding period, seven days if there is no ID for the animal and ten days if there is an ID. They claim that if the animal is injured, has a disease or the staff is authorized to perform euthanization for a specified reason, they will carry out with that option.
According to Do Something, “Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.”
This would explain why Gracie was left alone, without a home. She had no identification on her. She looked well cared for, with a soft and shiny coat. At first, we thought she had just escaped from her house.
Pretty much everyone knows that you should try your best to find a lost pet, which can include posting information on social media and around the neighborhood, while also contacting any shelters around your area.
According to Animal Legal and Historical Center, “If your pet ran away from home, there are several things you should do. First of all you should contact local veterinarians, animal shelters and [an] animal control agency. There may be more than one animal shelter in your city and oftentimes there are shelters for the city and shelters for the county. Do a thorough job locating and contacting all possible places. Continue to check up over the next several days as your ownership rights over the animal may be extinguished in as little as two days if you do not find and reclaim it.”
The Animal Legal and Historical Center also has tips for if you do happen to find a stray pet:

  • If you want to help the pet out, but not adopt it fully, take it in and care for it until you are able to take it back to it’s owners or give it over to a good home.
  • You could also surrender the pet to animal control but if that is followed, the pet could be euthanized after a period of time depending on if it has tags or a chip.

According to Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, “KAR animals are kept in foster care from intake until adoption. For the majority of our animals that time is spent within one home, where the animal can get accustomed to family life. Animals are only euthanized in cases of severe illness or aggression.”
Some pets will have a collar with the owner’s number or at least the vet’s number, but that sometimes isn’t the case. If you find a friend or family member that wants a pet, that’s even better for your cute little animal friend.
Update: Gracie has not been given up to the SPCA or an animal shelter. She has instead been adopted by my family.