Struggling With the Morality of Cat Abortion

How do you feel about the sanctity of ... kitten life?

A friend of mine with two adult cats recently started getting visits from a kitten. Truth be told, the visits weren’t unexpected. He first met the kitten when he was walking home one day and she came over, meowing and threading her body back and forth between his legs like she was doing a kitty slalom. When he walked away, she followed, her little mews wobbling as she bounced along behind him.

She was thin and dirty, without a collar, and seemed hungry (though cats are good at working that angle). He gave her food and, knowing a good thing when she saw one, she kept coming back.

He decided to take her to the vet, get a clean bill of health, and adopt her. But the vet was on vacation, so the kitten would have to stay on the streets for another week. He worried incessantly: What if she was hit by a car? What if she was attacked by an ill-tempered Puggle?

The danger she found was of a different kind. “Yeah,” my friend sighed. “I guess that week is when she got knocked up.”

When my friend told me the kitten was pregnant, I pictured mewling balls of fur bouncing around his apartment, flipping on their backs, biting each other’s faces, falling asleep while sitting upright, fearfully jumping back from a ringing cell phone, and other cute-kitten antics. Until they become hellions in their adolescence, there is nothing more enchanting than a scrum of kittens.

And then he told me: There would be no kittens. The mama kitten was getting an abortion.

For some reason, I was appalled. All those tiny lives, snuffed out before they had a chance to begin? I thought of the jingling plastic balls they’d never get to chase, the teenage experimentation with catnip they’d miss out on. What about the pleasure of spending 10 straight hours in a patch of sun, or the joy of sleeping on a human being’s face?

Now, I’m pro-choice. I believe in the sovereignty of a woman’s body and all that important, now legally threatened hoo-ha. But kittens?

I’ve never been one of those people who prioritizes human life above animal life simply because we have the ability to reason. Have you seen the recent public TV shows about dolphins? They’re ready to take the MCATs.

Yet with the cat abortion, I seem to be prioritizing in the opposite direction.

Perhaps it’s about culpability. An unborn child could wind up being a mass murderer, a corrupt politician, a pedophile. Worst-case scenario with a kitten? It becomes the kind of pain-in-the-ass cat that hides under the bed until guests arrive, then emerges to hiss and gesture demonically.

In truth, my cat-lover friend doesn’t have a lot of options. He can’t have the kittens and mama cat in his studio apartment with his two other cats. He has petitioned friends and family, and no one is willing to take a mother cat and her kittens. Area animal shelters and rescue groups are already completely inundated.

I know it makes sense for the cat embryos to be aborted; the vet also feels it’s reasonable, given the city’s crisis with homeless animals. So why am I ready to create a feline version of Juno?

I need your help, Philly Posters. If you see me outside the vet’s office with a sign that says “EVERY LIFE IS SACRED, EVEN THE FURRY ONES,” please remove the sign from my hands and bonk me over the head with it. Or get a dolphin to reason with me. I could use the advice.