Jane is gentle and soft spoken with deep sienna eyes and long chestnut hair she pulls up loosely away from her face. She speaks slowly, with a steady determination and she fights for what she believes is right and defends those who can’t defend themselves. She left her job teaching special needs children to stay at home with her newborn daughter six years ago. Once her baby started school, Jane wanted to do something meaningful with her extra time and became a volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance. Her husband is kind, generous and supportive about what she does and her daughter is a bright, loving child with an amazing maturity and sweetness, no doubt learned through her mother’s work.
The RMACA estimates there are over 125,000 feral cats in
Some of the cats trapped are tame. They are domesticated cats that have been abandoned and these are often the saddest cases because they aren’t born with the survival skills feral cats have. The RMACA volunteers try to place those animals in foster homes. In
Jane provides foster care for abandoned cats and finds homes for them. Sometimes, people call her about a stray or abandoned cat to see if she can help and she can rarely say no. She’s careful not to volunteer how many cats she’ll temporarily house because she doesn’t want to be stereotyped a “crazy cat lady”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jane also works, often over long periods of time to get “cat hoarders” to voluntarily surrender animals for placement in more suitable homes. I asked Jane if all the catch and release work was having a noticeable impact on the feral population. Despite having spayed over 2,000 cats in 2006 she says some days it doesn’t appear to make a difference at all. The cats continue to breed and the colonies continue to grow. It’s hard physical work and it can be dangerous; some of the people Jane and the other RMACA volunteers run into aren’t happy to see them. It’s emotionally difficult. Each time she rescues a cat from a deplorable situation, has to euthanize an animal, or a sick or wounded rescue cat doesn’t make it, it’s painful. She speaks with such tenderness about the animals she rescues and with controlled anger about the humans who so often neglect or abuse them. The stories are hard to hear and it’s harder to comprehend how so many human beings can have so little regard for other living creatures in their care.
I asked Jane what keeps her going and if she ever feels like giving up. Jane told me that there are so many of these animals who need help and so few people to help them that she is certain this is what she was meant to do with her life.
When the snow starts to pile up outside and the temperature drops I think about the cats, and I try not to. And then I think about all the wonderful people like Jane who are out there making sure the homeless animals get food and shelter. I know they can’t save them all, but it gives me comfort to know someone tries. I feel lucky to know Jane and grateful to realize that there is a small, but dedicated army of guardian angels trying to care for these helpless creatures.