The above is an actual photo that my husband took when he had to inspect a house last week. (Yes, he was completely suited up with a Tyvek suit and respirator). There were several dead animals in this house, as well as some who were still managing to survive, along with this type of mess in every room. The estimate was about 50 animals altogether. Some well-meaning person, who thought they were doing those animals a favor, took in more and more animals until she was completely overwhelmed with their care and stopped caring for them altogether. And yes, she was still 'living' there with them.
By the way, the gray stuff you see in the photo above is not insulation. It's what was supposed to be deposited in the litter box, but the litter box was already full.
The lesson here? Only keep as many animals as you can truly care for. It's a consideration that needs to be made before bringing an animal home. Good pet food is expensive. Litter is expensive. Then there're the immunizations and spaying or neutering costs. Animals take a good deal of care, for they are completely dependent upon us.
Rule of thumb for litter boxes? Two boxes for every cat. Clean them DAILY. No one wants to use a toilet that hasn't been flushed! We have two cats living with us, and they have five litter boxes. I bought the high-sided Rubbermaid boxes so that less litter would be kicked out on the floor. They work pretty well. Also, as a cat ages, they're not as able to climb flights of steps to get to a litter box. Make it easy for them.
One thing I've found helpful: I keep a box of Ziploc freezer bags next to the litter boxes and scoop into a bag. That way I can seal the heavy-duty bag and not have to take it out until morning. I scoop them each night and give the cats fresh water and food before going to bed. When I get up in the morning, I give them fresh water again and make sure there's food in their dishes. It's just a matter of establishing a routine - like brushing and flossing your teeth.
Dogs? Dogs also need to have fresh water available at all times - and be fed once or twice daily. After feeding, they need to be able to get outdoors. Not only do they need to be able to go to the bathroom just after eating, but they need daily exercise. Most dogs can't open doors by themselves. They also can't be left alone for endless hours. They are social creatures. I knew a woman who had her German Shepherd put down because 'he was so needy.' What did he do? 'He followed me from room to room. Everywhere I went, he would go.' Well guess what. That is a characteristic of the German Shepherd breed. They are herders. They herd and protect the flock. She was his flock of sheep. He wasn't needy; he was just doing his job.
So, think twice about getting a pet. Have you researched the breed you're interested in? Are you really willing and able to deal with the time and expense necessary? It's a huge commitment. Dogs and cats can't just be tossed aside because we want to go on a vacation or are attracted to a condo that has a no-pets-allowed policy.
So, is having two dogs lying at my feet at all times really something that's worth all the dog hair, grain-free food (which my husband calls 'shredded money'), and going outdoors in the rain (if need be)? Is it worth it to have two cats who snuggle up beside us on the bed every night and lick my hair?
I wish I could show you an 'AFTER' photo, but this house, which was new and beautiful thirty years ago, has been condemned by the county and will be burned down.
P.S. My book, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies, deals with all the things that need to be taken into consideration before bringing a pet into the home. You can see it on my sidebar. In this country alone, millions of pets are euthanized each year. People wanted a cat or dog, and later, for various reasons, changed their minds and took them to the animal shelter.
It's not enough to think you love animals.
Tuppence & Lionel
Misty & Bridger