Friday, May 22, 2015

Toastmasters Speech: Can't Buy Me Love

The next Toatmasters speech focuses on vocal variety. In addition to tone, pitch, variation, etc., I was trying to focus on not speaking too fast. Plus, instead of standing behind the podium, I set my notes on the table and stood beside it (the ideal would be standing in front of the table, but that makes it hard to occasionally reference notes, which I still need to do). I feel like I made a huge leap forward with the presentation of this speech last week. 

Title: Can't Buy Me Love

I hope you all had a happy mothers’ day last weekend! I’m not a mother yet, but I do have two girls that I consider my babies - our cats Imogene and Hera. I know it’s not the same, but it does involve the occasional middle of the night wake-up, feeding them mushed up food, and dealing with someone else’s feces, so there are definitely some similarities to the human variety.

I adopted Imogene in 2009; and Lincoln and I adopted Hera last fall - I think a one-to-one cat to human ratio is ideal - they each need to have a designated lap, and each lap needs a designated cat. They’ve both been wonderful companions and additions to our family, and so I am grateful to the shelters that allowed us to find them. 

If you’ve considered adding a furry friend to your family, I strongly encourage you to seek them at a shelter, rather than purchasing from a pet store or breeder. According to the Humane Society, 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized each year. With that many animals waiting for a home, there’s absolutely no need for anyone to profit from creating even more. Many animals raised for breeding are not kept in good conditions, but crammed into too small crates, becoming pregnant far too young and too often. A cat can become pregnant at as young as 4 months, and can have 5 pregnancies a year. That’s way too many kittens - for the mother and the world.

I found Imogene at the Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, and we got Hera at the Oregon Humane Society in NE Portland. A bonus you get at any good shelter, is some degree of notes on what they had seen of each cat’s personality, and whether they would be well suited for a home with children and/or other pets, and have rooms to spend time with a cat before you adopt. You get to pick the best animal for your home, rather than merely a cute kitten. Granted, even shelter conditions, as good as they try to make them, are not exactly comforting to a cat, so both were definitely a bit shy and scared when we tried to introduce ourselves.

Once I got Imogene home, though, she was pretty content and immediately took it upon herself to explore her new surroundings. Estimated to be about 3 years old, she was still somewhat in the teenage phase, and quickly found a basket of toys I’d bought for her sitting on a book case. I had planned to name whatever cat I adopted “Agatha”, but the shelter had called her Imogene, and it just suited her classy, friendly but dignified, personality so well.

Hera was about one year old when we adopted her, and the information the shelter had indicated she had been a stray cat living outside. She had a little harder transition - the first 24 hours or so, she tried to cram herself into any available corner to hide, although if we held and cuddled her, she warmed up pretty quickly. We had discussed some “h” names - we have a household naming scheme we wanted to stick to - but landed on Hera, a powerful name for her to rely on for strength to overcome her fear. Though she’s still wary of strangers, she has proved herself to be incredibly NOT shy or timid overall, and is constantly meowing demands at us and chasing her older sister’s tail.

There’s nothing like having a cat curl up on your lap on a cozy evening on the couch - except for two cats curled up on your lap - or watching the intentness with which they stare at something invisible on the ceiling. Having grown up with cats around the vast majority of my life, I’ve found them to be extremely intelligent, beautiful, and loyal creatures.

They may not be able to directly speak to us, but if you’ve had a cat or dog, I think you know what I mean when I talk about how their personality shines through, and how precious their love for you - their caretaker, their family - truly is. I’m grateful to the shelters who take them in when someone else couldn’t see that, and allowed us to find them. If everyone adopted a cat from a shelter, they could provide that much better care to the animals remaining who wait for their forever home, and would be able to stop needlessly ending lives of cats who just happen to be one too many for the space available. Trust me, the love you receive is well worth it!

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