Tuesdays with Toes – The Best Option isn’t the Perfect Option

When Toes went into quarantine for rabies observation, I told the animal control officers I wanted to adopt her once she was in the clear. But a few days into her confinement I wavered in my resolve. I’m allergic to cats and grew up with asthma triggered by allergies so adopting Toes meant potentially compromising my health.

The observation period ended, and when I didn’t hear from the animal control officers, I decided to move on with my life. Toes would be a blip. An almost. A cat I let get too close too fast. I determined to never love like that again.

And then a few days later someone from animal services called.

“I have a note here that says you want to adopt this cat,” the worker on the other end of the line said. “She’s very sweet.”

I tearfully explained my allergies and asthma and how I could never give Toes the home life she deserved.

The worker, in turn, explained to me that Toes could be happy as an outdoor cat if she were spayed and allowed to roam in the neighborhood she already knew. Also, her options for adoption were limited since she’d been brought in on bite quarantine. The best she could hope for was becoming a barn cat, which I don’t think was a euphemism like “being taken to the farm” but could have been.

So David and I did it. We took the plunge and adopted Toes officially in the eyes of DeKalb County taking responsibility for her livelihood even though we knew we couldn’t give her the perfect indoor cat life we would have liked to offer her.

Like many people, I want to do the best I can for those I love–cats included. But I struggle when the best I have to offer doesn’t align with my vision of the perfect option. And then sometimes that struggle is compounded when I wonder if what I’m doing is best since I can’t observe any scenarios other than what I am doing.

There’s no easy answer to this dilemma. The best we can hope for (I think) is to recognize that the perfect option is a myth (everything comes with problems) and we’re left with the challenge of trying to maximize good while minimizing harm in the face of a host of unknown variables.

For Toes, that meant taking a chance on having her be our outdoor cat although that’s not exactly how it all played out…

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