Is it custom to spay and neuter your pets in southern France?
This is not a happy story, and not for the faint of heart.
A horrible thing happened to my kids and I finally feel enough time has passed that I can share without becoming overly emotional.
We have a beautiful new member of our family and his name is Elvis Presley. A grey/brown tabby with amber eyes, full of energy and character, he has made his way into our hearts and left us wondering how we lived without a cat for so long.
The way we found him, is that our neighbour’s have many cats, too many to count and they just got a new litter in May, around the time our pool went in. The kids, being curious as they are, saw the mommy cat feeding her kittens and Angelina asked the woman if she could have one. She got to pick from the two they did not want, a dark brown/black little girl, or Elvis, leaving an orange and white male and a tabby like Elvis with a white under belly for their own.
The lady said that our family must wait until the kittens reach 8 weeks old, 5 weeks from then. Of course, the kids have no concept of time and were very excited to watch over the fence as their little kitten grew. The teenage boy would bring Elvis over for cuddles and pats. It seemed like all was well.
Finally, after weeks, the lady reached over the fence and said you may take him home today. Angelina and Daniel were the happiest kids and they could not believe they could have him one week early.
A few weeks later, Elvis started exploring the fence line and eventually realized his brothers and sister live next door and would go over to say hello. The kids made a cat fishing line to retrieve him; a long stick with a string on the end, which Elvis would follow back over the fence and home to us.
If the neighbours were getting annoyed, they never said as much. The son and the lady who live there were always happy to see Elvis, his progress and seemed to love him as much as we did.
Then, one night we heard a kitten meowing in another neighbours yard. A wee boy kitten that looked exactly like Elvis, abandoned by his mom. We assumed it was one of the mamma cat’s from where we got ours from, but they went away on holidays and the cats were locked inside.
Daniel, every hour on the hour, climbed the gate with milk mixed with water and hand fed the little one with a cold medicine applicator, careful not to touch him, for the duration of the morning, afternoon, hoping the mamma would return. After 10 hours we finally asked for help, and our family friends, Jamie and Zoe came to save the little one’s life. He was 1 week old.
About a month later, the mamma showed up in the yard with another baby that looked exactly like the first our friends took away. She was a siamese cat, with crossed blue eyes. My guess is that her kitten was 5 weeks old by then. Daniel was very happy to see that the mamma cat managed to keep one of her babies and they both looked healthy and happy. She managed to set up a home for them under a woodpile at the house with all the cats and lived side by side with all the others unnoticed.
One day, the kids were on the pool retrieving Elvis with their fishing rod when the man of the house came outside. Daniel happily told him about the mamma cat and her beautiful baby and pointed them out, thinking that he would share the excitement of the story of how they helped save the first kitten’s life.
The man must have snapped, or somehow had enough of our kids popping their heads over the fence to get our cat, or he wanted to scare the hell out of them, not sure which, but he got the kitten in his hand and repeatedly smashed the innocent 5 week old kitten into the ground until he died. Daniel and Angelina came bolting in the house, crying and mortified with Elvis in hand.
I had two choices. Go over and in my poor French rip a strip off this man’s face, causing a permanent rift between us and our neighbours or ignore it. He is a well-known man of our community and not understanding the laws or traditions in France, I decided to bite my tongue. Our family was angry, but confronting the man would not bring the kitten back and we still had the aftermath of explaining the situation to the kids.
Daniel was very quiet for about a week and kept asking why he did that. Angelina talked of nothing else to anyone that would listen. They were obviously disturbed and confused. We talked them through their feelings, and managed to calm them down. They were scared something would happen to Elvis, so we locked him inside for a few weeks until he learned to come to his name and was big enough to jump the fence easily.
If by a stretch of the imagination the man was acting out of compassion or had no ownership of the cat, why so blatantly kill the kitten in front of the kids and not take him around the corner to do the deed. If he somehow got upset with my kids always on the fence line why would he not simply tell the children to scoot away? Honestly, I feel we need to build the fence higher, and never make contact again. Seems disturbing to our Canadian family where strict fines and prison time for animal cruelty are in place to prevent such incidents from happening.
I can only hope that this man is the exception to the rule and I have to believe that he is more than this one bad moment of judgement. When people know better they do better.
The lady may not even know what happened and I often hear her talking sweetly to her cat family. The man has been friendly at the market and seems nice to us when we see him. With no regrets to what he did, I have to wonder if he if this is normal behaviour. Either way, the kids no longer go to the fence any.
Elvis and the kittens cannot be prevented from hanging out and meet up on both properties often.
What would you do?
France has a huge problem with abandoned kittens and puppies. Some towns and villages have more cats than people. They do keep the canal rats at bay serving a purpose.
Might be the cost to spay or neuter your pets in France that keep the problem from being solved. It can range from 200-800€ depending on the level of greed of your local veterinarian. An enormous jump from the $50 Canadian dollars at the government subsidized program at some vets in Canada.
Then their are the kind hearted souls that take in one week old kittens and nurse them through the night until 8 weeks from an eye dropped and pay a fortune for kitten’s milk at the local vet. Our friends Zoe, Steve and Jamie are examples of what you should do in these circumstance. In return they have a devoted loving pet.
Furthermore, there are the folks that took in a stray from a vineyard, only to find out she was pregnant with 12 pups of her own. It is compassionate people that save the innocent animals around us. If anyone is looking for a puppy and like the look of these above, please contact me directly and I will forward your information to my friend Sarah. They are ready to leave the mamma around December, in time for a Christmas.
If there were a way to make a stand against the government and change the laws around animals we could find government subsidies to help people pay for the operations to prevent unwanted puppies and kittens.
The right thing always out weighs the expense.
Carcassonne animal shelter also received 12 puppies this week and are looking for good homes.
That makes 24 puppies in my small circle of friends alone.
Here is the link to the Carcassonne Animal Shelter for more photos of their stockpile of puppies. http://tinyurl.com/8nx85w9
If you know anyone that is looking to adopt a pet, please contact the SPA before buying from a pet store, loaded with puppy mill animals.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the helpless among us.
Be Kind To Animals, please spay ad neuter your pets!