Category Archives: Little Cats

Photo essay: Cat Welfare Association

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I visited Cat Welfare Association.  I wrote about our visit in this blog post.  Unfortunately, the post had room for only a few photos, and we took a ton.  So I’m using today’s post to share more of the photos that we liked.  Hope you enjoy!

Cat Welfare outsidecat tree

orange look

oranges

cat bucket 2Color codes

cat toy

big boy

cage cat

outdoor yard

outdoors

red collar

white cat

cat tongue

cage cat 2

whole floor

cat box sleep

cat arch

cats toy

cage cat 3

sink cat

little black

Day 21 Swim Report
Number of laps: 40
Time: 60 minutes
Pace: Sightly fast

Day 21 was easier than the day before.  I did an easy 40 laps in an hour, which is slightly faster than my normal 35 laps an hour.

Day 23 Swim Report
Number of laps: 45
Time: 65 minutes
Pace: Fast!

My goal today was only 40 laps, but I got done with that in less than an hour, so I had time for 45.  Good thing – I think I will need 45 a day until the end of the month to make the marathon.

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Cats and kittens galore!

Many thanks to Bob Nunnally of WCMH-TV NBC4 in Columbus for having Doug Grotegeer from Cat Welfare Association and me on his Daytime show yesterday! Doug brought two adorable adoptable kittens, littermates Sal and Dorothy.

catwelfarespecialsJune is kitten season, and Cat Welfare is currently housing 350 cats! They are on special right now. Adoption fees are normally $80, but are now half price at $40, with a second kitten or cat for only $20. Check out this video preview of a few kittens they had available as of Friday.

I always advise people who are thinking of getting a cat to get two so they can keep each other company. We have four cats of our own — two sisters (now 13 years old), and two strays rescued on my husband’s birthday in 2010. They are best of friends.

Cat Welfare is at 741 Wetmore Road in Columbus. It’s open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Any day is a good day to stop by and see some cats!

Day 18 Swim Report
Number of laps: 45
Time: 65 minutes
Pace: Fast!

I was a little late getting to the pool today and thought I wouldn’t make my goal today of 40 laps. Instead, somehow I managed to swim a few extra. It really helps when you can get a little ahead of the game because sooner or later, you’ll need to cash in those chips.

A webinar you won’t want to miss

In May I attended the Animal Care Expo in Nashville sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.  Animal rescue and sheltering is often dominated by dogs – cats are often an afterthought to the discussion even though there are more cats in homes than dogs, more homeless cats coming into shelters, and many more stray and feral cats roaming at large.

Some of the 2,000 people in the audience at the HSUS Animal Care Expo.

Some of the 2,000 people in the audience at the HSUS Animal Care Expo.

That’s why I was so happy to see consideration of cats get central billing at this conference, including a special plenary session on “Tipping Point 2013 – Radically Rethinking our Response to Cats” (handouts here in pdf).  Led by the country’s top expert in shelter medicine, Dr. Kate Hurley of University of California at Davis College of Veterinary Medicine, the session also included Dr. Julie Levy of University of Florida and Jon Cicirelli, director of San Jose Animal Care and Services.

The session was an eye-opening look at a whole new paradigm for managing feral and stray cats.  It will also be available for anyone to see through two webcasts sponsored by Maddie’s Fund:

I highly recommend that anyone interested in managing cat populations register for these events.

With up to 90 million feral and stray cats across the country, there is no way shelters can rehome them all – and feral cats are not suitable candidates for adoption anyway.  Yet shelters have been admitting most of the stray and owned cats that people bring in to them, and euthanizing the majority for space.  In California alone, Dr. Hurley said, shelters euthanized 2.5 million cats over 10 years – or 756 a day.

Ohiocatsintake

Credit: Kate Hurley

As Dr. Hurley’s presentation points out, these high levels of euthanasia are doing nothing to address cat overpopulation.  In Ohio, for example, intake of cats into shelters rose 10 percent from 1996 to 2004, while the number of cats euthanized rose 11 percent.  During this same time period, intake of dogs fell 19 percent and euthanasia fell 40 percent.

The problem is that even though shelters are euthanizing a lot of cats, they are taking in only a tiny fraction of cats in the environment.  The rest are left out there to keep reproducing.

Of all cats in the outdoor environment in California in 2010, Dr. Hurley said, 61 percent were stray and feral, 35 percent were owned cats allowed to go outside, 3 percent were impounded and euthanized, and 1 percent were impounded and released.

Credit: Kate Hurley

Cat statistics in California. Credit: Kate Hurley

With only 3 percent of the outdoor cat population being euthanized while 61 percent remain untouched, there is no way shelter euthanasia will solve cat overpopulation.  Only 2 percent of stray and feral cats are fixed, meaning the vast majority of that 61 percent will keep contributing to cat overpopulation.  That is why intake of cats has continued to go up even as intake of dogs has fallen.

Dr. Hurley is proposing a whole new paradigm for shelter cats – taking in only as many as they can rehome.  This proposal is the subject of a great deal of discussion and debate in the shelter community, because it feels wrong not to take every cat brought in for surrender.

Credit: Julie Levy

Programs for cats in Alachua County. Credit: Julie Levy

Yet shelters that have implemented this new paradigm, such as Alachua County, Fla., are seeing success.  What happens is that resources once spent on euthanizing large numbers of cats can now be spent on other programs, such as low-cost spay-neuter that addresses the root causes of cat overpopulation, and creative new adoption programs to place more cats than ever into new homes.

Statistics in San Jose. Credit: Jon Cicirelli

Cat statistics in San Jose. Credit: Jon Cicirelli

Nor is this translating into more suffering for cats as many have feared.  In San Jose, the number of cats being hit by cars is actually down since the shelter implemented this program.  At the Erie County SPCA, which implemented a waiting list for people to surrender cats, 14 percent of people on the list ended up keeping their cats while 50 percent were rehomed through another rescue group.

Dr. Hurley has figures showing that stray and feral cats are generally healthy and not suffering in their environment.  Less than 1 percent of cats at Trap-Neuter-Return clinics are euthanized for humane reasons, while less than 10 percent of cats entering shelters are sick or injured.

Statistics from Alachua County. Credit; Julie Levy

Statistics from Alachua County. Credit; Julie Levy

In Alachua County, Fla., where Dr. Levy led implementation of this program, both cat intake and cat euthanasia have fallen precipitously since 1994.  Friendly cats that can be adopted are placed into new homes.  Healthy strays and ferals that cannot be placed are altered and returned to their environments.  Only those cats that cannot be placed into a home and are not thriving in their environment are euthanized.  Alachua County, Dr. Levy says, is “the safest place in Florida to be a cat.”

Of course the dynamics of cat overpopulation are complex, and it will take a variety of approaches to solve this issue.  But until we tackle the root cause of so many cats being brought to shelters, we will never be able to bring down the number of cats being euthanized.

Rather than euthanasia, Dr. Hurley, Dr. Levy, and other experts are increasingly turning to managed admission of cats for shelters and trap-neuter-return for the large population of stray and feral cats. One reason I chose to raise money for Cat Welfare Association is they are practicing the very program these experts suggest, and have been since 1945.

Day 17 Swim Report
Number of laps: 45
Time: 75 minutes
Pace:  Right at goal speed

I took a day off from swimming on July 16 in order to catch up on numerous work and home projects.  Coming back I was a little worried about being slow, but was able to keep up with the pace I want to be at.  The laps went by quickly, and I was able to finish on time.

Outrage in North Ridgeville

When one is involved in animal welfare issues as I am, sometimes a story crosses your desk that leaves you in shock, tears, and shaking your head in disbelief.

kittens shot

This litter of kittens was shot to death Monday by a humane officer in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Photo credit: Mike Smeck via Facebook

This week brought such a story out of North Ridgeville, Ohio, where on Monday a woman called animal control for help with a mother cat and her five kittens who were living in a woodpile behind her house.

The homeowner thought the humane officer, a retired policeman working for the city, would remove the cats and take them to a shelter to be euthanized. Instead, Officer Barry Accorti pulled out his gun and shot all five kittens to death as the woman’s four children listened to the gunshots in horror from inside the house.

The humane officer's truck.

The humane officer’s truck.

The mother cat got away. The local humane society, Friendship Animal Protection League, is investigating.

Such actions, especially on the part of a so-called humane officer, are unfathomable. There is no excuse. And yet in the face of outrage pouring out from literally thousands of people across Ohio and beyond, the North Ridgeville police chief issued a statement claiming Accorti’s actions were appropriate. “Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia,” the chief said.

A group of concerned citizens marched Wednesday morning to protest the shooting of feral kittens.  Photo credit: AK Run

A group of concerned citizens from the Lorain Pooch Patrol marched Wednesday to protest the shooting of feral kittens. Photo credit: AK Run via Facebook

There is so much wrong with this statement that it is hard to know where to begin. First, no humane organization sees shooting as an acceptable form of euthanasia. If the cats had to be euthanized, it should have been done at a shelter by an injection from a trained euthanasia technician.

Second, while discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood 10 feet from a home full of children might be acceptable under conditions of imminent threat, there was no threat from these kittens. The police stated that the kittens hissed and the mother guarded them aggressively, but this behavior is entirely normal, and any humane officer should be able to deal with it without resorting to gunshots.

Closeup of a sign from the Pooch Patrol march. Credit: Mike Smeck

Closeup of a sign from the Pooch Patrol march. Credit: Mike Smeck via Facebook

Finally, this entire community seems to be woefully unaware of what is widely regarded as the most humane way to deal with stray and feral cats: Trap-Neuter-Return.

In TNR, free-roaming cats are trapped, brought to a spay-neuter clinic where they are altered and given basic care such as rabies shots, and returned to the environment. Stray and feral cats exist in every community in the United States. The idea behind TNR is to humanely reduce the population over time while addressing public health concerns and curbing nuisance behaviors such as yowling and fighting.

An image from Spartanburg, S.C., animal control featuring their use of trap-neuter-return to manage the feral cat population.

An image from Spartanburg, S.C., animal control featuring their use of trap-neuter-return to manage the feral cat population.

Feral cats have not been socialized to live with humans and therefore are not suitable for adoption. Kittens, however, are a different story. If caught young enough – and at 8 weeks this litter was pushing it – they can be socialized and placed into homes. I have socialized feral kittens myself. Yes, they do hiss and spit, but with some handling (gloves on at first), they soon relax and learn to be around humans.

What this entire episode says to me is two things. First, we must require training for humane officers — regardless of whether they work for the city, police department, or humane society — that addresses the needs of stray and feral cats, and provides best practice guidelines for how to manage this population.

spread word for catsSecond, we must make members of the community much more aware of TNR so that euthanasia is not the first and only option that people like this homeowner turn to. Had she called a cat shelter or rescue group, it’s possible the kittens would be being socialized and the mom spayed. Instead the kittens are dead and the mom is at large, likely to get pregnant again and continue contributing to cat overpopulation.

Stories like this are why I advocate for small cats, and part of why I am doing this swim marathon fundraiser. Cats in our society do not have it easy. Lucky ones like my four made it into good homes. The rest eke out a tough existence wherever and however they can.

It is humans abandoning their unaltered cats and allowing their unaltered cats to roam who created the problem of so many unwanted stray and feral cats. It is our responsibility to solve this problem humanely, which the “humane officer” in this case utterly failed to do.

For more on this story:
Cleveland Plain Dealer – North Ridgeville clears humane officer of wrongdoing for killing feral kittens, but animal group wants action
WKYC – SPCA wants humane officer who shot kittens fired
Chronicle-Telegram – Police chief says shooting of kittens was justified
WKYC – North Ridgeville: People rally against shooting of feral kittens
WKYC – North Ridgeville officer back on job after shooting feral kittens
Statement by the Cleveland Animal Protective League
Statement by the Brimfield, Ohio, Police Department

Petitions:
Change.org – http://www.change.org/petitions/the-release-of-duties-of-barry-accorti-release-barry-accorti-from-his-position-as-north-ridgeville-humane-officer
Ohio SPCA – http://www.causes.com/actions/1754698-fire-north-ridgeville-humane-officer-barry-accorti-for-killing-kittens-in-front-of-children

Events:
Speak Out Against the Actions of the North Ridgeville Police Department
North Ridgeville City Council meeting, Monday, June 17, 2013, 7:30pm
7307 Avon Belden Road, North Ridgeville, OH 44039

Day 12 Swim Report
No swim today. I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow morning.

On the radio

Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative logoMany thanks to Art and Tracey Jipson for having me on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative, their radio show broadcast from the studios of WUDR at the University of Dayton!

I got to explain the Big Cats, Little Cats initiative and rave about two great organizations.

If you are in the Dayton area, check out the show on Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.5 FM.  Art and Tracy have been playing indie, local and alternative music since 2004.

Day 11 Swim Report

Number of laps: 42
Time: 65 minutes
Pace: Somewhat fast

Had a great swim with no issues.  I’m getting stronger and swimming faster with less effort.

A visit to Cat Welfare Association

Last week my husband, Paul, and I had the chance to spend some time at Cat Welfare Association.  If you live anywhere in Central Ohio and love cats, you really need to do this.

cat treeThe 5,600-square-foot building is dominated by a large play room full of cat trees, comfy beds, hiding places, cubby holes, and sleeping perches for the cats to enjoy.  There are dedicated intake, exam, isolation and recovery rooms with separate ventilation systems.  There is also an outdoor patio for cats to enjoy the sunshine and watch the birds.

Most of the cats walk freely around the facility, but some are caged.  These are cats receiving medical treatment or those who don’t get along well with others.  A collar system shows which cats anyone can handle (green), which may bite or scratch (yellow), which have special needs (blue), and which have become permanent residents (red).

black beautyCats that come into Cat Welfare Association stay there until they are adopted, or until they are determined to be permanent residents because they are not suitable for adoption.  Cat Welfare adopted out 879 cats in 2012, and has found homes for 21,861 cats since 1990.

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of money to house, feed, medicate, and clean up after 250 to 300 cats.  Cat Welfare is supported by membership dues, donations, bequests, and fund-raising projects like mine.  It also holds a weekly sale on Saturdays through its thrift shop, Catique.

cage catCat Welfare Association is always looking for volunteers to play and cuddle with the cats as well as staff the weekly garage sale, help with fundraising and marketing, and work special events.  If you are interested, email Gail Harbert at cwavolunteers@gmail.com.  You can also foster cats and kittens by contacting Karen Lee at cwafosters@gmail.com.

To learn more about the current news, events and activities at Cat Welfare Association, check out back issues of their newsletters available online.

outdoor yardYou can visit Cat Welfare Association at 741 Wetmore Road in Columbus.  They are open Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  They are closed the first Thursday of each month.

I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did mine.  Check out these photos taken by my husband, Paul.  More to come soon!

 

Day 9 Swim Report

Number of laps: 45
Time: 70 minutes
Pace: Pretty fast

Due to a medical emergency with one of my own cats, Amy, I missed yesterday’s swim.  Amy will be okay – she has a urinary tract infection and is getting antibiotics and pain medication.  But the veterinary tests took a lot of time, and cleaning up after her urination outside the box is taking even longer!  So today when I got to the pool, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Turned out the day off was good, and I swam one of my fastest times in months.  Let’s hope that keeps up!

Cat overpopulation

One of the biggest, if not the biggest problem facing cats is overpopulation. There are an estimated 1 million stray and feral cats in Central Ohio, and anywhere from 30 million to 90 million nationally.

20130603-131735.jpg

Estimates on the number of stray and feral cats across the country range from 30 million to 90 million. Photo credit: Alley Cat Allies.

The most effective way to deal with this issue is spay-neuter. There is no way any shelter can take in this many cats, much less find homes for them all – and the feral cats are not suited for homes anyway.

Studies show that up to 90 percent of owned pet cats have been spayed and neutered. However, as incomes get lower, people are less likely to have their pets altered. At incomes below $35,000 a year, the rates of spay-neuter fall to 51 percent.

That makes low-cost spay-neuter vitally important. It is these unaltered cats that reproduce to cause cat overpopulation. Sometimes they run away or are abandoned, and end up producing litters of kittens that grow up with little to no human contact. This is how the feral cat population gets out of control.

Cat Welfare Association is doing its part to address this important issue. Their Altering Fund provides vouchers for low-income residents to take their cats to participating veterinarians for altering and other basic care such as distemper and rabies vaccines.

Prices are $55 for a neuter and $65 for a spay. This surgery normally costs $100 to $200. This may be the first veterinary care some pet cats get, and may spur their owners to establish a relationship with a veterinarian for further care.

The Altering Fund provides an even bigger discount for caretakers of feral cats. Feral cats are cats living outdoors, often in groups referred to as colonies. They are unsocialized to humans and not suitable as pets. It is vitally important to ensure they are spayed and neutered so this population does not continue to grow. Spay-neuter also reduces nuisance behaviors such as yowling and fighting.

Feral cat caretakers can get cats altered for $10 each plus one $10 application fee. An application and instructions are available on the Cat Welfare website.

Day 3 Swim Report

Number of Laps: 40
Time: 67 minutes
Pace: Average

Feeling more like myself today.  Swam normal speed.  Tired but better overall than yesterday.