Tuesday, February 26, 2013

World Spay Day – What it Means and Why it is of Significance: An Author and Cat Advocate Shares her Personal Story:A Guest Blog by Deb Barnes




When Caren and Cody of Cat Chat asked me if I would like to guest post on behalf of World Spay Day, I jumped at the chance. Nothing makes me happier than an opportunity to  promote the virtues of spay/neuter as not only a safe and humane means of reducing cat overpopulation, but as a procedure that helps to ensure your cat live a longer, happier, and healthy life.
       Deb and Caren meeting for the first time
 at BlogPaws 2011


I first met Caren several years ago when I began blogging to promote the book I was in the process of writing, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the ExtraordinarilyOrdinary. I was a complete novice, the blog was barely read, and I was under the naive and ridiculous assumption that it did not matter, because I was going to become a famous author once the book was published.

Caren and I clicked instantly – both of us cat-loving Libra soul sisters who shared the same sense of humor and passion for books. I asked her if she would be willing to read a rough draft of my story and give me her recommendation for the back cover, which she did. Back then, the book was written primarily as a heartfelt means to celebrate the feline species. I had gone through an extremely dark time in my life as a result of being laid off at 48 years of age and it was during that timeframe that I was also helping my cat, Zoey, raise an unplanned litter of kittens she had at 10 months of age as a result of mating with our male Maine Coon, Zee.
      Book Cover

I can honestly say that the relationship I shared with these cats saved my life and pulled me out of my severe depression. I began to appreciate life again and I wanted to share the story of Zee and Zoey’s kittens and my inspirational message with the world and that is how and why I wrote the book. Did I know about spay/neuter and cat overpopulation on the streets and in shelters? Did I realize just how subject to scrutiny and criticism I could be opening myself up for because of these kittens?

Let’s just say that I did to some degree, but certainly not to the point where I would have published a book if I felt I would be drawing attention to myself in a negative light, especially about a species that I love with every fiber of my being. When I wrote the book, it was meant to uplift people as I shared the behind the scenes journey of my life with Zee and Zoey. I felt I wrote with authority and if you asked me if I thought I was an expert on cats, I would have said, “yes.”

Well, as a result of social networking in a largely based cat circle of peers, I soon came to realize that I knew very little about cats at all and that much of my understanding of them was fraught with misconceptions and misinformation, especially when it came to the subject of spay/neuter and cat overpopulation. Count me in the categories of “someone who thought she had plenty of time to get Zoey spayed before she became pregnant” and “what’s the big deal with one more litter?”
Zoey with kittens


I was shocked by what I was learning - the numbers were staggering – even one homeless cat is one too many in my opinion, but millions is inexcusable and I became consumed with educating myself about cat overpopulation. I could not comprehend how a country as well off as ours could be responsible for such alarming figures, let alone that we were euthanizing millions of cats as a means to controlling the population. I came to the simple conclusion that if me, someone who is relatively well educated and has had cats her whole life, did not know all the facts about conception, then how could the mainstream public possibly fare any better? How could we get a grip on cat overpopulation if we were not armed with accurate information to make better informed decisions as a collective society? I quickly realized two very important points – that you can never assume, no matter how ridiculous it might seem, that everyone knows what you think is an obvious fact, and that change cannot occur if you leave the problems of the world for someone else to solve. You must become invested, however small or large the effort, in what you want to change.
Dorian, Christine & Deb

And so that is what World Spay Day means to me. I am now an award winning blogger who has raised thousands of dollars and awareness for shelters worldwide, a freelance writer for Cat Fancy Magazine and Catster, as well as Secretary for the nonprofit Organization, Pawsitively Humane, of Miami, Florida. Not only do I know that kittens can conceive as early as 4 months, but I know that they can be safely spay/neutered at 8 weeks of age or when they weigh at least 2 pounds.

I know that there are over 70 million cats on the streets and in shelters. I know that approximately 75% of kittens that are born outdoors will die. I know what a feral cat is and how effective TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) can be to managing their population and I also know that spay/neuter significantly decreases the chances of uterine or testicular types of cancers and infections in cats and virtually reduces the negative behavioral issues associated with an unaltered cat such as loud yowling, spraying and territory marking, and aggressive fighting.

I also know all the reasons and excuses people give for not spaying or neutering their cat. I know all of it because I have made it my purpose in life – to educate others about just how vitally important spay/neuter is if we are to reduce the overwhelming numbers of cats living on the streets and in shelters, or worse, tragically euthanized because the number of these animals is far greater than the number of people willing to adopt them.

I am by no means the hero. The heroes are the staff and volunteers who work tirelessly each and every day in the physical trenches of the shelters and rescues trying to help cats. The heartache that they have to witness is unbearable, yet they do it with such love, conviction, and dedication. I can’t do that. But, I can write, and I can care. My voice and passion does provide a crucial function and it is the torch to empowering others with factual information so that misconceptions and misunderstandings don’t continue to dangerously perpetuate. I can’t change the fact that Zoey had kittens. But, I have no regrets, as they have led me on a journey I am certain I would not have otherwise traveled. I took full responsibility for them and I love them all very much. They have made me a better person and the strong advocate I am today. I don’t feel that laying blame, pointing fingers, or making judgments is the right way to handle problems. We all make mistakes and we all can learn, but what is the point of those lessons if we can’t teach others?
Kizmet-Adopt

My greatest gift is when I know I have made a difference for a cat – when I get an email or a comment on my blog that I have enlightened someone with a certain something they did not know before. Or when my post is compelling enough that it is shared with others. My greatest wish is that the message of RESPONSIBILITY and why spay/neuter is so important becomes part of mainstream society and not just banter in our current cat circles. Cat overpopulation was created by people and people alone are the only ones that have the wherewithal to change it. Let’s give meaning to this day and make it a lifelong commitment to helping make the world a better place for cats.   

I thank Caren and Cody again for the honor of guest posting on World Spay Day. For more in depth information on the subject of spay/neuter, please visit Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection for my month long series which includes:







FROM CAT CHAT: Cody and I couldn't be more honored to have had Deb Barnes guest post today. We cannot stress enough the importance of Spaying/Neutering your pets. For this day, we wanted something truly special appearing on our blog. Thank you Deb for accepting our invitation to guest post and for all of your efforts in educating the public about the importance of Spaying/Neutering.

42 comments:

  1. Thank so much for the guest post, Deb! You have done so much good work for kitties since your book came out, and I am so happy that you and my human are friends!

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  2. Pawsome Post, Caren !!! Love you !!!
    And Deb, don't be silly ! You are a hero !!! You have done lots !!! And I do proud of you ! And I proud of myself 100 % cause I've been fixed ; )
    Love you both
    xoxo

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    1. Puddy I love you too!! Always have, always will! I don't get ANY credit for this post...it's ALL Deb's!!
      xoxoxo

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story Deb and thanks for all you and Caren and so many others do to spread the word on World Spay Day and every OTHER day.....the problem with not taking the initiative to spay/neuter is evident when you see/hear about all the animals who are dying in kill shelters - who can ignore the reality of the situation we wonder. Everyone who is a responsible pet owner is a real hero in his or her own way by having them spayed or neutered.

    Pam (and Sam)

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  4. You are far too modest, Deb! I have seen you grow and develop by leaps and bounds since I met you on the blogosphere! You are a true hero and advocate for good kitty practice. Having one's pet spayed or neutered is something I have taken for granted over the years, but I think I had good example set from my parents. xx Thank you Caren for asking Deb to guest post today!! xx

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    1. you are welcome!! Couldn't agree with your comment more! xoxo

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  5. Caren-

    I feel that you and I have come full circle since we met a few years ago and I was struggling to find my voice and true self. It means a lot to me to be able to share my story with your readers on World Spay Day and I appreciate you asking me to guest post to talk about what the day means to me in an honest and open fashion. You are a dear friend and I thank you for all you do to inform, educate, and entertain us with your posts on Cat Chat! Xoxoxox from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang!

    P.S. Thank you all for your wonderful comments of support - I appreciate it very much and it has been a pleasure getting to know you all throughout the years!

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    1. Awww THANK YOU!! You got me all "leaky-eyed"....I am HONORED with your busy schedule that you had the time to write something for us. Your talent and dedication is OUR gift!
      We LOVE YOU!! Oh and from the second we first hugged, that was IT!
      xoxoxo

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  6. We can't believe how many cats are still not neutered - it's not the dark ages any more! Mum has always had her cats "done" as soon as the vet said they were old enough. We were part of this when we were rescued when the local RSPCA went in and collected over 100 cats and kittens from one house. They spayed, neutered, treated for fleas and micro chipped all of us and found us good homes - we were so lucky.
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

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  7. Great subject and great post. It needs to be said over and over again. Too bad we haven't figured a way to get the word out to the people that don't understand. Take care.

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  8. Wow, this is amazing. Caren and Deb, you are both so inspirational! It's so important to share this message and you both go the extra step.

    Oink oink,
    Katie and Coccolino the mini pig

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    1. thank you Katie but I am just the messenger! Deb crafted the message with her incredible talent for the written word.
      xoxo

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  9. Thank you for sharing this and for all your wonderful work with homeless and community cats!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this and for all your wonderful work with homeless and community cats!

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    1. I left both comments lol, one for me and one for Deb?
      xoxo

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  11. This is such a great guest post. I loved reading this! Wauw!

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  12. AN EXCELLENT POST AND GREAT INTERVIEW; WERE THE CATS OF THE WORLD ABLE TO SPEAK AND OR TYPE; I KNOW THEY WOULD SAY: THANX DEB AND CAREN; WE LOVES YOU.....

    SIGNING OFF TODAY AS LAURA; FOOD SERVICE PURRSON AND SERVANT TO THOSE LIVING IN TROUT TOWNE

    P S

    DEB; IF YOU'RE ON BOARD WITH CAT FANCY...WHY CAN'T MR JAZZ BE FEATURED AS THE CENTERFOLD !!! ;)

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    1. Deb gets all of the credit and your last line just cracked me up!
      xoxo

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  13. Thanks for getting Deb to share your Blog Caren! You both are such wonderful advocates! Too many people have too many mythconceptions (Typo deliberate).
    I love you both!
    Nellie's Mom

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    1. you are welcome Nellie!! Deb is a MUCH BETTER conveyor of the message than I am but thank you! Thanks for being such a good furiend and I LOVE "mythconceptions" so clever!
      Love back at ya!

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  14. This is a great post Caen and Deb,byt I have to say though Zoey and her kittens are beautiful,is Zoey a bengal cat?xx Rachel

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  15. Thank you for having Deb guest post today, Caren. She did a really wonderful job and we hope there's more awareness on the need to neuter pets and for the ferals or strays, to TNR.

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  16. the important thing isn't doing everything, it is doing what you can. too many people give up because they feel so overwhelmed, it seems pointless to even try to do something because it is so overwhelming. But everything starts with one step. Every dollar starts with a penny. (or in the case of Canada right now, with a nickle)

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    1. We absolutely agree! If each person contributed in some small manner whether it's feeding feral cats in neighborhood one day a week, trapping cats once a month for TNR, fostering homeless cats, or taking adoptable cats to monthly adoption shows, or donating a few dollars a month to a local neighborhood effort that oversees a colony...People coming together and contributing makes a difference. We would not be able to care for 21 cats if it were not for a small steps, small contributions.

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  17. I love this post! Sometimes people have to learn from mistakes they may have made in the past. I believe that educating others is one of the best ways to get the point across. Some people just need to hear it from someone who has been there and done that.

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  18. Great post and such an inspiring story Deb!
    Thanks Cody and Caren!!!
    xoxox

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  19. Excellent post, Deb! We must get the word out and educate the uninformed.

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  20. That was such a wonderful post by Deb! Deb's posts are always so insightful, right on point, and presented with such skill.

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  21. Very good, honest, and important message beautifully expressed.
    Thank you.
    Maggie @ shelter-cats

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  22. Awesome post deb!. This is the most important pet cause there is and designed an infograhic for Spay Day.

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  23. Well.......I guess.......even though I was EIGHT when they gotted hacked off, it *was* prolly for the best. I mean, it's not like I ever gotted to USE them or nuffing.

    I've adjusted now. And I guess I've forgiven the Human. But best not to think much about it.

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  24. Great post and Zoey and her babies are real cute!

    I dropped by to give you this:

    My dear fellow blogger, I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! Congratulations! Please visit this link: fortheloveofalicesfamily.com/2013/02/my-very-first-nomination.html
    ;) Alice

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  25. That is fantastic post! Thank you to Deb...very interesting and inspiring story for sure.

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  26. This is a wonderfully informative post. Thank you Deb for sharing it with everyone. And, thank you Caren for posting it on your blog. My youngest daughter has two newly rescued male kittens. This post reinforced my point to have them neutered as soon as possible.

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  27. Caren, it was brilliant on your part to have Deb guest post on this all important issue.

    Deb, you are the MOST eloquent writer I know! Your words are not just educational, they tell a compelling story that tugs the heart, sparks the mind, and motivates readers to take action. That is your strength, your gift, your contribution. We are so fortunate to have you on our Board of Directors of Pawsitively Humane, Inc. While may be small organization, we are mighty and together we will ALL Make a Difference in reversing the rate of homeless cats.

    All cats are created equal and deserve to live humanely!

    Thank you both Deb & Caren.

    Christine Michaels
    President of Pawsitively Humane Inc, & Riverfront Cats

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    1. Christine thank you! One of the first things I learned (and applied) when I began blogging in 2009 was, if there is something that you do not feel that you are an "expert" enough in.....and you want to address the issue, rather than regurgitate facts from Wikipedia or some other website, ASK THE EXPERT! I have done that MANY times!
      I also feel it is important to occasionally bring a different "voice" to the blog.
      Deb IS an incredibly eloquent writer and she has personally experienced first hand everything she was writing about. There is nothing more compelling or inspiring than someone writing from their OWN experience.
      Thank you for always being so kind!
      Love you!

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  28. We absolutely agree! If each person contributed in some small manner whether it's feeding feral cats in neighborhood one day a week, trapping cats once a month for TNR, fostering homeless cats, or taking adoptable cats to monthly adoption shows, or donating a few dollars a month to a local neighborhood effort that oversees a colony...People coming together and contributing makes a difference. We would not be able to care for 21 cats if it were not for a small steps, small contributions.

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  29. Caren - thank you for participating in the BTC4A World Spay Day Blog Hop and for inviting Deb to share her insight on the importance of spay/neuter. One thing being a pet blogger has done for me is help educate me regarding the number of homeless pets (especially cats) that are euthanized each year due to a lack of a forever home.

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