Friday, May 17, 2019

A New Life in the Pacific Northwest

A friend who has made helping felines her life mission contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if we were up for fostering some kitties from high-kill shelters in California. As a foster parent, we could be part of the rescue chain that gets these kitties into permanent, loving homes. A group of volunteers transports cats who have no hope of making it out of these shelters alive via plane or automobile to our state, where a small group of foster homes wait to help them get healthy and get ready for adoption. Then the cats will go to cat cafes in Redmond or Bellingham to be adopted.

Some people feel that there are plenty of companion animals in Washington who need help, so why help cats form another state? While the Puget Sound area has amazing animal shelters, Eastern Washington shelters could use some help getting their "live release" numbers up. My view is that kitties have no idea what state they live in, or why they are homeless and having litter after litter of kittens they can barely take care of because they are so hungry and barely surviving themselves. They don't understand that they should have a chance at a better life when they arrive at an animal shelter but maybe they won't be so lucky. Maybe they are "too old," "too black," "too sad looking," "too unpredictable..." You get the idea. 

I believe the kitties DO know that once they get into a safe, clean room with comfy beds and delicious, abundant food, that maybe things will be okay. And although we can only help a small fraction of the kitties who need a lifeline, my hope is that we can inspire the shelters to not work harder but smarter. To implement subsidized spay/neuter programs, get out into the community, speak their own language and educate folks on why spay/neuter is important for all cats. Maybe even reward the people who bring in their cats with vouchers for pet food or supplies. To have a van that transports the cats to and from surgeries so that senior, disabled and impoverished folks who can't drive can still get their cats sterilized. To develop a huge foster network so that these homes are ready when "kitten season" hits but that each year the number of kittens actually goes down. To simply sterilize and vaccinate community cats and return them, NOT kill them, which creates a vacuum effect. How much more pleasant for the kitties and the humans who work at these shelters, knowing they don't have make up a "list" and lethally inject cats on a daily basis. Plenty of shelters are getting to that happy place - why are California and Texas lagging so far behind?

Our first two foster cats include a boy, estimated to be 8 YO and recently neutered. He's affectionate but would likely do well as an only cat or with safe, outdoor access. Also, a darling little girl barely a year old. She apparently has flea dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea bites. She should be an indoor only kitty. They are both coincidentally tuxedo kitties!

Former Tom cat, waiting for just the right name


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