Tag Archives: pets

Rescue Pets

Every day I see videos and images of shelter animals that need  homes. They’re frequently asking for donations while showcasing their sad, pathetic faces. I’m wary of large organizations that ask for money because I never trust that much overhead. Most of those large organizations spend less than 10% on their mission and over 90% on marketing and the business aspects. I don’t want to give to those places.

Calypso 13 wksWalking the Wiccan path means taking steps to make the world a better place. While I don’t give to the ASPCA, I do rescue animals. Every animal I’ve adopted has been unwanted. Right now, I have a dog I got from someone housing hoards of abandoned puppies. Callie is a mutt, mostly hound dog, and the ways in which she’s enriched my family can’t be adequately expressed. She’s helped to teach my daughters responsibility and improved their self-esteem. She’s the emotional support anybody needs whenever they need it.

20160221_202940_resizedI have two cats. One met my wife by following her down the street, mewing because she was a kitten who’d lost her mom. Skippy is kind of a jerk, but he’s calming down as he ages. The other cat came to us as an adult (age unknown) because she appeared at an adoption fair at a local store. We went in for grass seed and came out with Alice. Alice is a sweet, klutzy cat who drools when she purrs—and she purrs a lot. In the few short months since she’s come to live here, she’s made a positive impact on everybody. Skippy is noticeably happier 20160506_212525and friendlier (by friendly, I mean that he no longer bites every time when petted.) Callie is happy to have another animal who will play with her (Skippy doesn’t play. Ever.) And we’re happy to have a cat who is so affectionate and playful.

Rescuing a pet isn’t an altruistic endeavor. In Wicca, we believe that what you put out there comes back to you. Adopting an unwanted animal is one of the ways in which we can fill our lives—and the lives of the creatures around us—with positivity.

Cat Friends

The cat is the archetypal witch’s familiar, closely associated with magic and uncanny goings on. Many people see cats as aloof creatures, far less companionable than dogs. ‘Cats have staff’ as the wisdom goes. Certainly, you cannot own a cat, they are too independent and if you do not please them, they will leave if they can. Cats expect to be well treated. However, people who do bond with cats find them incredibly generous creatures. I thought today I’d honour human-cat relationships and share a few good stories.

My cat goes out sometimes, but usually he sits next to me (or on me) while I work, occasionally getting on the laptop. Otherwise, he’s with the child. Coming home from school, James would run to greet his cat, who would run to meet him – an unusual behaviour, but very sweet. In my teens, I had a cat who knew if I was crying, and would come racing down the garden to find me and make it better. My experience of cats is that they give comfort to folks who are in pain, and it often seems deliberate – bedside vigils with the sick, staying close to those who are heartbroken. If a cat bonds with you, it will guard you, and watch over you.

The purrs and puds of a cat are very healing, the soft vibration seems to help with tension and distress, and cats deliver very good massage – especially to painful, menstruating tums, I’ve found. That warm presence, when illness makes you cold, is such a blessing. Cats know how to play and relax, they encourage us to chill out a bit more. Stroking them is soothing, and is a recognised way of easing stress.

Cats are not without issue though – they can have terrible impact on wildlife. (There is a case for housecats, and they shouldn’t be let out at night when they are most likely to hunt). It is important to consider the dirt tray, the food, and any other waste they create, to minimize their environmental pawprints.

Being sensitive to atmospheres, cats will make it known to you if all is not well. A relaxed, happy cat is always a good sign. If a cat is troubled, then things are wrong. You can’t bullshit a cat, you can’t lie to them, they judge you purely on your actions. Treat a cat well and it will repay you many times over, with love and purrs. And possibly also mice, which isn’t so good. Mistreat a cat, and it will leave. Possibly with a chunk of your flesh under its claws.

So, if you have a kitty tale to tell, please do post it to the comments section. Let’s honour and celebrate the fur-babies who give so much.

Fur Babies and Familiars

People have lived with animals as companions for a very long time. Certain creatures, we accept into our households as additional family members. Owning a cat is an iconic witchy thing to do as well. If you have no children, or are living alone, a fur baby may seem a good alternative. They give warmth, companionship, affection, they make us feel better, provide an alternative to siblings, create laughter and bring joy.

Why is it that we (as a culture) prioritise some creatures while giving so little regard to others? In Living with Honour Emma Restall Orr points out – “…for the vast majority, the incredible hypocrisy of choosing to care deeply for a dog, while eating bacon without a moment’s consideration for the pig (a generally more intelligent creature who has suffered a life of traumatic abuse), is not only rampant in our society, but perceived to be rational and acceptable.”

In many ways our attitude to animals reflects how we relate to other humans. We choose who is inside the clan, the family, and who is ‘other’ and therefore ok to exploit, eat, etc. It may be part of human nature to be clannish, to distinguish ‘us’ from ‘them’ and have different rules accordingly. That doesn’t mean it’s a thing to celebrate. Looking at how, if and why we relate to some animals as family, and others not, can teach us a lot about our own values.

Keeping pets and raising creatures to eat has environmental impact. There’s a New Scientist  here- http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427311.600-how-green-is-your-pet.html about the impact pet keeping has. Anyone concerned about carbon footprints needs to also think about the impact of creatures they keep, or who are kept on their behalf. Cats are a disaster for wildlife. Whether hungry or not, many of them hunt, doing horrendous damage to rodent and bird populations. It may be in the nature of cats to hunt, but we keep them in a density that is far from natural, and they deplete the species around them. Animals kept as pets, in cages, for amusement, as living toys… can be ethically uncomfortable too. I write as someone who has kept hamsters. It takes work and imagination to give a caged animal a decent standard of living. Children should not, I think, be given animals as toys.

I keep a cat – he doesn’t hunt, so far as I can tell – he doesn’t go out much and is lazy. He’s taught my child about sharing, and respect, and the effects of pointy paws. These have been good lessons. He sleeps on my bed and I am glad of his presence. I’ve lived with cats who savaged the wildlife. I couldn’t do that again. I would not have taken this cat on had I not been assured that he doesn’t hunt.

As with all other aspects of life, the keeping with animals needs thought and consideration. There’s scope to do it well, or to do it very badly indeed. So much of what is wrong in the world stems from people acting without thought, serving their own immediate desires with little care for long term impact on themselves, much less anything else. How we make our families, who (furry or otherwise) we choose to include, and how we handle that, is of vast importance in terms of how we shape the future for everything that will live in it.