It’s spring in Panama City, and the homeless are upon us.
Some have been here all along, such as the lady who sits alone and talks to herself all day. I first ran into her in the downtown area, but the last few times I’ve seen her, she was hanging out near Millville.
Some wandered down this way to enjoy Spring Break and stayed on.
I live near the Rescue Mission, and often see homeless people in the area. Like yesterday morning when Rumpy and I were out walking and found a man asleep in the doorway of one of the buildings we sometimes pass. Or last night when Rumpy and I went for a walk, and found an older man and younger woman walking around looking lost. Rumpy didn’t like them and was barking; I had to move him away from them.
We see lots of homeless people walking around the area, usually starting around dusk. They start gathering near the Rescue Mission around 2 PM in hopes of scoring a bed when it opens at 4 PM. After dark, they’re often looking for a place to camp out for the night.
Humans aren’t the only homeless in the area.
The area is teeming with cats. Some have homes, and live both indoors and outdoors. Others have homes but are left outdoors. And some are homeless. It’s often difficult to tell them apart.
There’s the gray tom with a white face that hangs out near Charlie’s art lab. Charlie feeds him whenever he’s around. There’s the gray tabby that crossed in front of my car day before yesterday. A Siamese is often seen roaming the area, and was seen once on a neighbor’s roof. There are many more.
There are similarities in the two groups. The homeless humans don’t look healthy. Even the youngest ones look pale and malnourished. They often are thin or even underweight. Same for the cats.
Many homeless people lack health insurance, especially in states such as Florida who refused to accept Medicaid expansion. They tend to use emergency rooms for health care, and such care tends to cost more money for all of us. Homeless cats lack health care, usually because there’s no one to take them to the vet. When they do go to the vet, it tends to cost more because often the cat has to be sedated in order to be treated.
The life expectancy for homeless humans is 45-50 years, compared to 79 years for the average US population. The average life expectancy for outdoor cats is 1-5 years, or 2 years for ferals. Compare that to a 12-20 year lifespan for indoor cats.
Of course, the homeless humans have shelters and social services agencies who help as funding allows. The cats have spay/neuter clinics, rescues for those that are socialized to humans, and people who put out food to make sure the rest have a decent meal now and then. Sadly, despite all those who try to help each population, the need far outweighs the help available.
They both just keep coming, and there’s no end in sight.