As the new year is about to begin, I am pausing to reflect on the year gone by. It surely has been a year filled with mixed emotions. CCN has grown in strength as we now have more cat trapping volunteers and cover a wider area. This has resulted in an increasing number of cats being helped (see our stats). The support from our followers has also been truly amazing. They know what we do and support us accordingly. This is of course encouraging and keeps us motivated. However, the success of the organisation also has its drawbacks with an increasing number of calls coming in; no matter the time of the day or the day of the week, we are expected to be at the other end of the phone and to solve each and every problem immediately. Obviously, the fact that more people are looking for help for the cats is welcome, but the demands are often impossible to meet, which results in frustration on both parts.
Although CCN have achieved so much in the past six years, it remains a small organisation, run by a small number of very dedicated volunteers, human beings whose lives can at times be dictated by improving the welfare of cats. Yet, in the eye of the public, we are just an organisation, set up to resolve the problem of cat over-population. How we manage it is of very little concern to them. Since the inception of the organisation, we are aware of the dangers of compassion fatigue; however, we are drawn by a compulsion to help cats in need, we just cannot turn a blind eye. People who know us, be they friends or supporters, keep reminding us that we need to mind ourselves and they are right of course. Others involved in animal rescue know well what I am talking about as this is not something specific to CCN. When involved in animal welfare, you face a trojan task; it is all the more difficult that it can get emotional when witnessing on a daily basis the suffering of animals. Dealing with this and other personal problems can become dangerously challenging.
I recently met up with Maggie, co-founder of the organisation, and we were discussing those ambiguous feelings. We are truly amazed at what has been achieved, but we are also burnt out and wondering about how we can manage to cope. We decided to both take a hiatus for the rest of the year and encouraged other volunteers to also take some kind of a break, so that we could catch up with unfinished work, as well as mind ourselves and reflect about the future and how to better deal with it. I have decided to write this new year’s post in the first person because it expresses personal views, but also to remind the public that behind the name “Community Cats Network” are human beings who sometimes struggle to help animals in need and raise the funds to do so.
Behind the name “Community Cats Network” are a bunch of unpaid volunteers who will go above and beyond to help cats in need. However, for this to happen, we need to be treated with the respect that is due to any human being. What gives us the motivation is the ability to assist people who care for cats and to see the lives of these cats improved thanks to our efforts. Most who will read this post are supporters who are already aware of this, but I hope it also reaches out to others and make some understand that we can achieve a lot more by finding solutions together. We don’t see ourselves as heroes saving the lives of animals, rather we see ourselves as just regular people who are here to assist and guide communities in solving the very real problem of cat over-population, which more often than not also has its toll on the humans caring for the cats.
I don’t wish much for 2018, just that we can continue our mission peacefully and help many more cats and their people. Hopefully, we can make another little step forward to make this world a better place to live for cats.
I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all the volunteers who keep CCN going: the cat trappers, the ones dealing with administration and fundraising and the ones who lend a helpful hand when they can and in the way they can; they all play a crucial role in helping cats in needs and it is thanks to this combination of forces that the organisation can achieve so much. The vets and vet nurses we work with also deserve a special mention for caring for the cats of course, but also as friendly ears and shoulders who help to keep our spirits uplifted. On behalf of all at CCN, I would like to thank the supporters, be they donors of funds or donors of kind words to keep us going, the organisation would not be without them. I wish you all and your furry friends a happy and healthy new year!