Burger & Brew Fest

This Saturday, May 21, Purrfect Cat will maintain a booth at Burger & Brew Fest 2016. The event is hosted by Fremont Chamber of Commerce and celebrates—obviously, burgers and beer.  The site explains it all better than I can.

We will be there to show off photos of our current foster kittens, explain our adoption process, and hopefully make more people aware of our low-cost spay and neuter program.

Barclays

Kitten Season

Spring this year has brought us a lot of odd weather: rain; days as hot as midsummer; nights as cold as winter; and more rain.  Spring also brought us kittens, and in a way we do not usually get them—still within their mothers.   When we sell our low-cost vouchers to the public,  they often tell us that the cat might be pregnant.  Depending on how far into the pregnancy she is, a spay can still be safely performed. After a certain point, though, it becomes more complicated, and potentially dangerous.

Two cats came to us at that very point in their gestation so we made the choice to not have a spay/abort performed.  Instead, we placed them temporarily in the homes of two Purrfect Cat officers. There they can have their kittens, nurse and ween them, and eventually, the kittens as well as one mother will be up for adoption. The remaining mother cat will be returned to the family who found her once she is spayed.

Given that there are never enough homes (foster or forever) for all the kittens needing our help, enabling the birth of any is not our usual protocol, but it seemed the right choice in this particular case.  We hope to share these kittens’ journey from birth to adoption with the public, turning a debatable move on our part into an opportunity to educate.

kitten

Both sets of kittens were born this week. Over the next two months, we will update you with pictures, stories, and hopefully some useful information, too.  By late May or early June, these kittens will be ready for adoption.  By then, “kitten season” will be in full swing so we would welcome new foster homes.  If you know of anyone interested in opening their homes to adoptable cats and kittens, let us know, either through our facebook page or at thepurrfectcats@gmail.com.

 

CatSnip

Project CatSnip began in 2008 when the feral cat coordinator for Purrfect Cat stumbled upon a colony of feral cats.  To begin with, she estimated there were twenty or so cats in the colony.  As trapping and neutering of the colony progressed, it was discovered that it was an ever-expanding colony—basically, a dumping ground for the unwanted.  Over the next ten months, more than 40 cats were trapped, neutered and returned to the colony; and a few of the more social cats were placed in foster homes so they could eventually be seen at our adoption events.

At that time, PCR promoted CatSnip at adoption clinics and our (then) relatively new website, and we received many donations from people interested in helping feral-specific cats.  In the time since, our site has fallen into neglect because of some technical issues and the loss of a couple of key volunteers.  As a result, programs like CatSnip have not received the attention and support they deserve and require.

We will be working in future to completely revamp purrfectcatrescue.org, but in the meantime, anyone interested in contributing to Project CatSnip—both to keep existing colonies well-fed, and to help spay and neuter cats in recently discovered colonies—can send their donations to the following address.  All contributions will be forwarded to our Feral Cat Coordinator and allocated for the support of CatSnip.

CatSnip
c/o Purrfect Cat Rescue
PO Box 7958
Fremont CA 94537-7958

Some of the original cats who inspired CatSnip.

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Spay Day Update

World Spay Day
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Newpark Mall – Newark, CA
12 to 4 p.m.
Cat adoptions in our store on upper level near Burlington
Low-cost spay/neuter vouchers for sale downstairs near Three Kings Barbershop Drawing for the raffle will begin at 3 p.m.

 

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Next Sunday, February 24, we will be hosting our World Spay Day Event.  I previously wrote a post on Spay Day, who is sponsoring it, and what the objective is; but I wanted to bring our readers up to date on what Purrfect Cat specifically will be doing to mark the occasion.

We’re breaking out of our upstairs storefront for the day and bringing a few cats down into the mall (in cages, of course) where will be selling the low-cost spay and neuter vouchers.  We decided to extend the number of vouchers we will sell at a reduced cost.  We have committed $500 of our own towards the voucher cost, and will sell feral vouchers for $20 ($10 off) and owner-assist vouchers for $35 ($15 off).  In order to see that as many people as possible can take part, people buying a single voucher will receive theirs at the discounted rate, while those buying multiples will receive a discounted voucher for every full-price voucher they buy.

Additionally, we are reducing the required adoption donation to $25 regardless of the kittens’/cats’ ages.  Adopters will still be required to fill out an application and contract; we are lowering our price, not our standards.

Hope you will join us.

Charles for Purrfect Cat Rescue

Mazeppa, the cat generally seen napping on the counter in our store

Mazeppa, the cat generally seen napping on the counter in our store

World Spay Day

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Co-sponsored by Humane Society of the US and Humane Society International, World Spay Day 2013 will be held on Tuesday, February 26.   Prior to that day we are doing our best to further raise awareness on the importance of spaying and neutering cats, both pet cats and those who are free-roaming.   In under four years, I have had approximately 40 cats spayed/neutered.  Many of those cats have gone on to be adopted, a few were placed in an animal sanctuary, and the remainder—because they could not be fully socialized— live their lives on their own terms out-of-doors.

Those 40 cats left to their on devices would have gone on to produce thousands of others over the course of their lives.  There is a statistic commonly used by various animals groups that suggests one unspayed female can lead to a couple hundred thousand cats in her lifetime, but I think it’s flawed due to the variables you have to take into account: number of kittens in each litter; how many of each sex; how many survive to maturity; do the cats live in a temperate climate where two or three pregnancies per year are possible, and on and on.   But it’s important to note that even if that statistic has been overblown just to make a point, the point itself is still worth making.

I usually make that point by talking about my nemesis Momma Threadgoode.  (Yes, I name feral cats.)  In the three-and-a-half years I have been actively trapping cats and kittens, five litters have belonged to Momma.  While two-thirds of her kittens willingly walked into my trap, their mother has outwitted me at every turn.  The story I tell people about her sidling up to me when I don’t have a trap but heading for the hills when she sees me with one, has an almost comic edge, but there is not actually anything funny about it.  Of the 17 kittens I know to be born to her, seven did not survive their youths; and at least half of those died under very unpleasant circumstances.

At times I’m a little fanatical when telling people about spaying and neutering.  It’s hard not to be. When you have had to trap and euthanize a kitten that suffered stomach-churning injuries after climbing into a car engine for warmth, you’re likely to develop a strong opinion on pet owners slacking off in their responsibilities .  Those outdoor cats who do not meet such violent ends still have a difficult life out there on their own; something that was brought home to me this winter when I had to euthanize one of Momma’s free-roaming children, Idgie, who was just three years old but suffering from severe asthma.

Having World Spay Day as a vehicle to spread the word I preach daily is a great opportunity and a great help.  The Humane Society has resources for people wanting to spay their companion animals,  as well as people looking to help out the free-roaming cat population.  Some agencies are lowering the cost of spays and neuters, and a few are even waiving their fees altogether.  With so many shelters and rescues taking part, there is very likely one in your area, wherever you happen to be located.

For our own small part, we will be holding a Spay Day Event on Sunday, February 24 at our store at Newpark Mall from noon to 4 p.m.  The first ten people to come in to purchase low-cost spay vouchers will receive one at a discounted rate, and we will be ending a fundraising raffle; the prizes include (among other things) two hand-made lap quilts.  We hope you will join us.

Charles on behalf of PCR

idgie

This is Idgie shortly before I had her euthanized.  Something a lot of people are surprised by is the trust that can be built between a feral animal and its caretaker.  Not socialized enough to be adopted, she went back outdoors and remained there for three years with no more human intervention than a daily meal from me. Yet when she was sick and needed help, she allowed me to pick her up and carry her home, somehow knowing I was on her side.

Having euthanized several sick or wounded cats over the past couple of years, I have probably mentioned this before: It’s a unique privilege to see an animal through its death.  However fierce or wild or antisocial it may have been in life, it welcomes your being there, holding it and caring about it, as that life ends.

You Mistake Me For Someone Else

I’ve had a few trying days in relation to my cat rescue duties.  Last week I was asked by one of the Purrfect Cat officers to attempt to trap a litter of kittens and their mother in the yard of a man who called several pet rescue groups looking for help.  One of them—not ours, is able to take the kittens but not to trap them, while all our fosters are full up on cats but can manage to find the time to do the trapping.

I took on the job and have been wondering why ever since.  I understand that the general public (of which I was a member not too long ago) does not understand how an animal rescue functions, but I’d think that most rational people understand there are limits to how much we can do and what we are willing to do.

 During our phone conversations and while picking up each trapped kitten and resetting the trap, it became obvious that he had no clue whatever what it is we do.  I began to realize that he saw me as someone who could randomly trap any animal he regarded as a nuisance and take off it somewhere and “find it a home with somebody.”  This seemed to include the animals that may very well belong to his neighbors, but happen to come into his yard on occasion.

I pointed out several flaws in his thinking, but he brushed them aside and started to interrupt me with the same kind of assurance and confidence generally demonstrated by a child about to stick a fork in an electrical outlet.  Instead, I interrupted him.

I explained that the cats we take we also take care of.  I said “I have a dozen cats (slight exaggeration, but I was trying to make a point) that do not belong to me.  I have to feed them, house them and take them to the vet when they are sick, and it is me that is paying for that.  And anyone else who fosters cats and dogs is doing exactly the same thing, up until the day that animal is adopted; something that often takes months.”

Aside from all of that, I don’t go around kidnapping pets.  Yes, it would be great if everyone kept their animals indoors—or at least out the yards of neighbors who do not want them there, but I can’t carry them off just because someone let Socks pee on your azaleas.  His regard for the pets of others became very clear during my most recent conversation with him.  He called to say that a brown-striped cat was in the yard and he thought it might be the mother cat.

I looked at the cage on my patio containing the black cat I trapped three days before in his yard; the one he said at the time was the mother cat.  Aside from a lesbian cat couple who adopts, there isn’t a scenario I can think of in which these kittens could have ended up with two mothers.  I asked him about the black cat and he said I should take this one, too, you know, just in case.

I like to think I was diplomatic, but I’m pretty sure I sounded seriously impatient and annoyed.  In the course of two minutes I reviewed just what it is we do, and then explained that each time I trapped an adult female cat in his yard I would have to take it to a vet for examination to determine whether or not it was spayed (and thereby, potentially the kittens’ mother), and that this would be at my own expense.  I also told him that any cat that had been spayed was presumably someone’s pet and would have to be let loose in the exact place I trapped it: his yard.

He didn’t like that too much.  But you know what?  I don’t like that I am sitting here waiting for a vet to call me so I can find out if that poor black cat was in fact a pet that I unwittingly kidnapped.

Charles on behalf of Purrfect Cat Rescue

The Biggest Reason to Spay and Neuter

There are any number of reasons to spay or neuter your dogs and cat: reduce the risk of reproductive-organ cancers in both male and female pets; lead to better behaved females because they no longer go into heat; make for longer-lived males because they feel less competitive towards other males and are less likely to fight and roam.

I could name a dozen more reasons without much effort, but as someone who works in pet rescue my number one reason is pictured below.

 

Yesterday, I trapped these two kittens, part of a litter of four that was born in someones backyard. I was surprised they were so young since it’s not kitten season—and, yes, there is a kitten season.  Female cats have smart bodies.  They know when they should go into heat so that she can birth, nourish and ween her babies with plenty of time for them to become independent and resourceful before they are left alone to the elements.  Kittens born in late fall and in winter do not stand a great chance of survival, even in the milder winters we have here in the bay area.

A kitten has very little immune system.  Not all kittens born to a well-fed, healthy, and sheltered house cat always survive; those born to a feral or abandoned stray have even lower odds.  Particularly when the night temperatures are low.  Kittens can die of exposure, and they are much more prone to respiratory infections and other illnesses that often prove fatal to someone so young and vulnerable.  Then there are the more dramatic results of kittens being born during the colder weather seasons.

Last spring,  a litter I had been trying to trap climbed into a car engine to keep warm. The next day when that engine was turned on all but one died—the remaining kitten survived for two or three days with injuries that would have killed a person. I finally did trap him, not quite convinced (because I didn’t want to be) that I was only trapping him to have him euthanized and end a suffering I cannot even begin to imagine.

Again, I could mention all the reasons why spaying and neutering your pets is a good choice for both pet and owner, but instead, I’m going tell you why it’s good for me.

  • I didn’t enjoy climbing through litter-filled, insect covered overgrown shrubbery trying to locate a litter of kittens.
  • I didn’t enjoy listening to neighbors complain about all the “stray cats” when they had no intention of doing a damn thing about it.
  • I didn’t enjoy finding one of the kittens I had been trying to trap for weeks  in the street one morning.
  • I didn’t enjoy euthanizing sick cats whose owners let them roam free, unspayed, unvaccinated only to abandon them when they became sick.
  • I didn’t enjoy treating feral kittens for mange, ringworm, ear mites, and all the other nasty things they are prone to.
  • I didn’t enjoy holding a six-week old kitten in my arms, looking at his injuries and seeing bone, flesh, and tendons, things I normally only saw when cutting up a raw chicken (something I hope never to do again).

Yes, I’m being selfish.  I work in animal rescue and it is my most profound hope that responsible pet owners will someday put me out of a job.

Charles on behalf of Purrfect Cat Rescue