You might remember I mentioned last week that we have new kittens. After we had to put our cat down, and knowing that the remaining one would be following that route soon (sob!), we looked around to see if we could find some more cats to take on. We knew we wanted to get more than one, because when our old guy does die, it would be sad for a new cat to suddenly be in a still unfamiliar place without anyone of its own species. So when we saw an ad for a special deal on two feline friends looking for a home, I rang the number immediately.
I spoke to a woman who takes cats in and re-homes them, making sure they’re healthy and checked by the vet beforehand. I arranged to go over to meet the cats, so that I could make up my mind if they were for us.
When I arrived, she welcomed me into her home, and introduced me to our potential pets. We talked about cats, pet ownership and responsibility, the different personalities of different animals… it was a really good chat. I said I’d speak to her on the phone during the next few days and we’d discuss which ones would be best to take home with us.
After we finally picked them up, I brought them home and we introduced them slowly to the old cat, and our Offspring. The kittens were shy at first, but we kept them in the room where I usually work, so there were no other loud noises or distractions for them. I went in during the evening and sat at my desk, and sure enough, soon I had two kittens rubbing my feet, and vying for my attention. I sent a text to the woman: ‘You can tell that these two come from a loving home. They are such confident, affectionate cats. Thank you so much.’
She is, I know, a self-confessed cat-lady. She and her housemate happily take in strays and look after them, letting them go to new homes only when they’re sure that they will be secure and loved. Talking with her was wonderful, because I admire what she does, and her passion for it. I don’t have the time, space, or energy to take on as many creatures as she does, but I can understand that this is her ‘thing’. This makes her happy, and it makes a difference.
A friend of mine recently found herself at the middle of an internet-based confrontation, when she made an off-the-cuff comment which was misconstrued – this is the internet, after all! And such confrontations are to be expected, now and then. The point that bothered my friend was that she was lambasted for not caring as much about the issue as those who were attacking her. And my mind went back to the woman and her cats.
One of the biggest problem when getting deeply involved in something is that it can give us blinkered vision. We start to believe that only what we’re doing is important; we begin to get annoyed that others can’t see the worthiness of our cause. Of course, it’s that blinkered vision that allows individuals to have such passion for that which they’re working towards, and that is to be admired. It’s so important to have people who are very dedicated, because they are the ones who keep going when others have given up. They care and they have the stamina to commit to their beliefs in the long-term.
But that doesn’t mean everyone has to care in the same way, or as deeply. Indeed, we need for people to be passionate about different things – if we all cared that much about one issue, nothing else would ever get done!
It’s easy, on the internet especially, to find those who are like-minded and similarly dedicated to an issue. And having found such a group, it’s then easy to convince ourselves that ours is the most important and relevant issue. In particular, the internet has really allowed us to shut down conversations which offer up alternative views to our own. I’ll admit that I’m sometimes surprised that people can hold certain beliefs, but I’m also ever more aware that what is said on the screen is never really the full story, and can be taken very easily out of context. How easily we can slide into polarised debates, when all we need to do is take a step back and realise we’re just different people who could learn from each other, if we only took the time.
I’m not about to become a cat lady. Not yet, anyway. But I love that the woman I met is, and that she is willing to provide a wonderful space for animals, where they are cared for and loved. And while I support a long list of social, environmental and political issues, there are few that I’m going to commit long hours to, apart from writing about them here. Right now, my focus has to be on my family, my friends, and my work, and they all take up most of my time. That’s my choice, and as much as I respect others who give their time up for other causes, I expect the same respect for this, my cause, right now. Given more free time, as our Offspring get older, I’m sure I will devote it to some of the many issues about which I’m passionate, but which must necessarily take a back seat at this moment. And wherever I decide to spend my time, most important of all is that those who aren’t in that same field respect what it is I do, and that I do the same for them. Another person’s lack of interest or dedication to my cause doesn’t diminish it, after all. It just means their passions lie elsewhere, and that is the wonder of diversity.