A Total Newbie’s Perspective – The Long & Short of Things

I have been very fortunate to be undertaking some contract work for WLPA.  To be honest and upfront, I'm allergic to cats (have a skin allergy), hence I come from a perspective that kittens and cats are for other people; also especially as I'm away from home relatively regularly, hence looking after any animal would be a challenge for me as well as the animal in question.  I'm telling you this so you understand - I really don't have a clue about cats.  Jonine, WLPA's Co-Ordinator has a great chuckle that apart from the colour of the cat all cats look alike to me; and if there are two cats the same colour - I'm hopeless! Hence, as you can see I'm a complete newbie to the cat and animal world.

Have I learnt a lot in the few short months that I've been involved with WLPA - you betcha!  I've learnt there is a kitten season and because of climate change, kitten seasons are far more frequent in a given year.  I've also learnt when kitten season is on, the staff and volunteers of WLPA are simply run off their feet trying to care for a high number of kittens/cats at any given time.  It appears from my uneducated perspective, that the human race could do with a larger injected dose of compassion and empathy.  Why do I say this:  well within a 3 week period, some so called humans literally dumped 3 mother cats and their combined total of 13 kittens in a lane way in Sydney in such hot temperatures on a weekend. I wonder if they would dump their children with such total disregard.  Does this sound critical.  I hope so.  Kittens and Cats are just as defenceless as a little human beings.  Kittens and Cats are in fact living creatures.

I have also learnt there are indeed some very highly compassionate and giving people in the community who give up their time and in many instances donate their hard earned dollars; and open up their homes to assist WLPA to look after, care for and rehome the kittens and cats that are rescued.  Having spent a fair amount of time at the WLPA office, it is simply not uncommon for people to pop food donations in the donations bin at the front of the building without wanting to be thanked for their generosity of spirit or pop into the office with a shopping bag full of cat food.  These people are all very unassuming and literally go out of their way to support WLPA and I know the staff and volunteers genuinely appreciate their generosity more than these caring members in our community actually realise.

Something else I've learnt is that WLPA as a not for profit charity receives no government funds in order to support the kittens and cats that they rescue.  The organisation has been operating for over 35 years.  Now I have worked in the mental health sector for 20+ years - both in government and non-government organisations.  I can tell you it's literally unheard of for an organisation to continue to exist without funding.  Yet, WLPA does this and it is only the generosity of the people in the community that allows this organisation to continue it's highly invaluable work.

The volunteers that support and assist WLPA - are people I deeply admire and respect.  One lady is supporting the cat population at the old mental health institution Rozelle Hospital.  She literally pays over $400 per week out of her own pocket to ensure this cat population are fed and healthy.  I must say as a person who has worked in mental health I was appalled to hear that the Health Service when they vacated these premises a number of years ago to relocate at Concord, they simply left the cats behind.  There was absolutely no attempt by members of this public health service to organise for the cats that were pets of the residents in the hospital to be rehomed.  I'm saying this because quite frankly only two ladies who deeply love and are very passionate about cats, took it upon themselves to care for these animals who were simply abandoned.

I've also learnt, some members of the community want to treat WLPA as the cat holiday place, so they can go and have their holidays - and expect WLPA to simply pay for the food bills and any potential vet bills that may unexpectedly crop up during this time for their pet.  Now whilst I do think on one hand it is relatively responsible of these cat owners to at least make some type of arrangement for their pet, I ask you - would you send your child off to an organisation because you can't take your child with you on holiday?  Surely these cat owners can make their own arrangements, for example: talking to their friends, other relatives, colleagues and neighbours or goodness forbid, actually pay a cat holiday home (remember I'm a newbie so I'm not used to all the cat lingo as yet) to take their beloved pet for the time they are away on holidays.  Afterall their pet is actually their responsibility.

You may think I'm being tough on people.  Well I may not know anything about cats.  I may not own my own pet (couldn't even if I wanted to because of where I reside).  I may be a complete newbie to the cat and animal world.  What I do know is in the short time I've been involved with WLPA I have seen and heard the best in people.  I have also seen and heard the worst in people.  I also know deep in my heart that an animal is in many respects a defenceless living creature and as such should be treated as humanly as possible.

Where would society be without organisations such as WLPA and caring people who want to look after animals, i.e. in this instance the cats of this world?  I also think that the way human beings treat an animal highlights the way these same human beings potentially treat other human beings.  I also have observed that WLPA literally has its very few resources stretched to the absolute limits and my concern is one day the resources rubber band is going to stretch once too often.

In conclusion:  If you can support and assist this would I know be greatly appreciated.  It only takes 1 person to make a difference.  WLPA have some big dreams, however, they cannot realise these big dreams if the community and businesses really don't come on board.  Speak to your friends, send out an email or two asking your friends if they know of someone who can assist in their own ways.  Every little bit does indeed make a difference.  You may not be able to give time or $$$ however you can forward on an email; you can let your friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbours know; you can become informed.  Ask around.  Maybe even like some of the unassuming donors do, pop a tin or two into your regular grocery shop.

I'm going to tell you some of the wish list - be warned they're big wishes however who knows you just may know of someone who knows someone who may be able to assist:

  • A van that can be fitted out so the Staff & Volunteers can transport kittens/cats to Open Days.  (You have no idea literally how much stuff has to be transported in private vehicles - it's gobsmacking huge to put it mildly).
  • New larger premises which are affordable to an organisation that receives no government funding.  WLPA has a no kill philosophy and rescue kittens and cats from the pound (who would be put down if not adopted within an eleven day time frame.)  Now I can tell you WLPA has a hard time saying no to rescuing any kitten or cat.  I'm not telling you this so you can dump a cat on them.  I'm telling you this because they from my perspective are compassionate to potentially a fault and make every attempt humanely possible to care for the kittens and cats in their care.  Try getting up every 2 hours to syringe feed 13 kittens, then work a 10 hour day and return home to do this all over again - 7 days every week for weeks on end.  Yes, this is a true story - I've witnessed this repeatedly in the past few months.
  • Volunteers who will roll up their sleeves and put in the hard yards work wise.  Whilst it's lovely that volunteers want to come and play with the kittens and cats, the real work still has to be done.  Is there a volunteers co-ordinator out there with a passion for communication and organisation who can get in and work with the range of volunteers the organisation has so things operate smoothly.
  • A big girl's fridge.  The office has a small bar fridge which is proving to be a tad bit small for the needs of the organisation.
  • Do you know tradesmen i.e. painters and carpenters who would be willing to lend a helping hand.  There's a range of painting and carpentry jobs which are required in the WLPA office.  Please speak to them and ask them if they'd be willing to assist.

I want to thank you for reading this far.  As a complete newbie I'm still learning.  Please share this article with your friends.  I hope this article will start the discussions happening.  By talking to your family, friends and neighbours - sending an email or two - who knows you just may be the pebble that skims across the water making large pools as you go.  As the saying goes, it only take 1 person to make a difference.  Will you be that 1 person?