Feb 142012
 

feral kittensYesterday I wrote about how I was going to help with a friend’s feral cat colony. I mentioned that there were kittens in the group that had health issues. I got some good news about them today.

The Tuscarawas County Humane Society has a cat shelter, and they have agreed to take the kittens. Yay! Not only will they take them, they will also get them vetted and nursed back to health, and then put them up for adoption when they are ready.

I plan to catch the kittens tomorrow (I hope they won’t need traps) and take them in to the shelter in the evening. I will follow up with the shelter and keep you posted on their progress.

There are still adult cats who will need to be trapped, spay/neutered and returned to the wild. I am considering 2 programs for this. One is One of a Kind Pets in Fairlawn, OH. Fairlawn is quite a distance, but the program has better availability.  The other program is the Tuscarawas Co. Humane Society who uses the mobile Rascal Unit for low cost spay/neuter. Although it is closer, there is less frequent access to them.

Whichever program I choose, both will entail some costs for the spay/neuter process for each cat. I have started a ChipIn fund raising event to raise money to cover these costs. (Please see widget in sidebar.) Each spay/neuter will cost around $60. Transportation costs may need to be covered as well, if we use One of a Kind Pets. Any assistance that you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

All of the donated money will go to a dedicated account at the CSE Federal Credit Union in Canton, OH. If donated funds exceed actual costs, the money will be used for another rescue effort.

Please follow the rescue efforts on the Okey’s Promise Facebook page. Wish me well!

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Feb 122012
 

ragdoll birman cat artI have been helping a friend in her recovery from open heart surgery. Her recovery is going well, but it will be some time before she is able to resume her usual activities. One of her usual activities is tending to the numerous feral cats who show up on her doorstep.

My friend lives in the country – one of those picturesque, rural Ohio roads that we all dream of in greeting card bliss.  It is one of those places where deer roam freely, the snow drifts in beautiful, undisturbed mountains of white, the grass and meadows shine in verdant greens in summer, and the trees are a blaze of color in the fall.

You know. One of those places that people go to dump the unwanted offspring of the pets that they failed to get spayed or neutered.

I am not sure how many cats there are, but my friend’s colony is growing. I feel a need to help her intervene at this stage, especially since she has her own health issues to worry about.

I have been considering the prospect of expanding Okey’s Promise into actual rescue efforts for some time. In fact, I have been considering helping this friend with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) with her colony for awhile. I believe that the time is now for Okey’s Promise to take action. There are cats in need, and we have the opportunity to help.

There are some adoptable cats in this colony. Some have already been vetted and spay/neutered. I will be posting images of them in the coming days. If you have an interest, or know someone who does, please let me know.

There are also kittens in this colony approximately 3-4 months old. These kittens have health issues – eye problems and possible upper respiratory concerns. I plan to start a fund raising campaign within the next week to make it possible to get these kittens well and hopefully ready for adoption.

There are adult cats in the colony who will not be likely candidates for adoption. Fund raising will be initiated for them as well to get them spay/neutered and vetted from disease. They will be returned to their habitat so that they can protect their colony, yet avoid further reproduction.

I have learned from engaging in the Okey’s Promise projects and this website that feral cats are perhaps the most vulnerable creatures when it comes to animal abuse. Not only are they cast offs from society, they often become victims to those who abuse animals as a way to release their own sense of powerlessness.

Caring for a colony of feral cats is a preemptive strike against animal abuse. I plan to research the best methods for managing and providing TNR for this colony so that my friend can rest assured that her cats are getting what they deserve. Your help in this effort will be greatly appreciated.

I look at my 5 cats and realize that, had someone not intervened, each of them would have had the same fate as these creatures at my friend’s home in the country. My beloved pets were each one step away from a sad ending to their stories. Yet they are living happily ever after.

My hope is that Okey’s Promise Keepers will help make this feral cat story have a happy ending too.

 

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Oct 162011
 

The video above explains what National Feral Cat Day is all about. Best Friends Animal Society is a major leader in addressing the needs of feral cats and other abandoned pets. Many rescue groups look to them for guidance in developing shelters and and other programs for abandoned pets.

I think promoting awareness about humane treatment of feral cats is extremely important. Feral cats are at great risk for being abused and otherwise harmed by society, because they are considered a nuisance. Colonies of feral cats also tend to be harmed by children who are not well cared for themselves. We need to look for systemic changes to address the needs of both.

I have twice been contacted in recent weeks about feral cat colonies that were being abused by children and adolescents. Both colonies were tended by caring people. Both colonies developed around low income housing areas where there were other community problems. Both areas had poorly supervised children with behavior problems, many of whom had likely experienced trauma from family and/or community violence. In both situations, the caring individuals who tended to the cats had witnessed youngsters killing – yes outright killing – the cats.

Both situations seemed hopeless, BUT THEY WERE NOT. The woman tending the cats in this story written awhile back has now started an initiative to get Humane Education built into the curriculum of the local school district. The superintendent is backing the initiative, and a group of animal and child advocates are working together to develop the curriculum.

In the second situation, the county Animal Control Officer is working with the woman tending the cats to identify the child who killed the cat. Once the child is identified, the officer is committed to finding appropriate interventions for the child to insure that his needs get attention.

In both situations, the women who bring care to the animals were emotionally stressed by the traumatic events that they witnessed. The fact that they care and put themselves through such stressful circumstances proves to me that they are not only heroes for the animals, but also for the children who have been so misguided.

It is important for such caregivers to attend to their own needs, as it can be emotionally overwhelming to witness some of the human pain that gets directed onto animals. Finding positive solutions to addressing systemic problems can help. Addressing your own needs is important too. This article gives a good resource for coping with compassion fatigue. I encourage you to read it and follow the provided resources.

The most important thing is to reach out to others. When it seems hopeless, sometimes another person can see the silver linings that are not apparent to you.

Are you considering getting involved in helping with feral cats? Check out the resource rich Best Friends Animal Society website and follow the Best Friends Blog for all kinds of great information. Alley Cat Allies is another great resource.

You CAN make a difference for feral cats, and also for the people who cohabit their communities.

Five-cats-on-bed

From bottom left to right: Noah, Brewskie, Okey, Who, Slick

Here’s a photo of my fabulous five felines who were all once semi-feral cats or offspring of feral cats. They are now the rulers of my home. I only wish I could teach them to make the bed… Sigh. I guess you have to choose your battles.

So what are you doing for feral cats or other abandoned pets? What are you doing to ensure our children learn to respect them and act in humane ways?

BZTAT

Sep 052011
 

cat-collar-wood-doorThis is the first in the Okey’s Profiles of Hope series, which highlights anonymous stories of courage and hope related to the issues of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. This story was sent to me via a follower on Facebook.

I have always known that people that abuse and neglect animals are often abused or neglected themselves, and people who are heartless are raising these children, and the children are becoming heartless.

Sadly, I get to see this up close and personally every day where I go to care of a colony of cats in a very bad neighborhood in Worcester, MA. The adults throw rocks at us. The children throw rocks at the cats. The children have killed kittens. The adults do not care. The adults think nothing of getting rid of a pet when they feel like it. They do not watch over and protect their children either.

Just yesterday as I was taking yet another dead cat from the shed and removing its collar to place on the shed door as a reminder, a woman was screaming and swearing at her child from one of the apartment buildings nearby. There is such anger and hatred surrounding these children. They take it out on the cats and they will grow older and start taking it out on people.

It starts in the home. If there is no kindness, love and positive role models in the home, there is no hope for the children or the animals. There is no hope for the future.

-Anonymous

From BZTAT: But there is hope. This writer is intervening with the cats, and making a difference. And Okey’s Promise Keepers are helping to get the word out that we need to look at the WHOLE problem – children, animals, AND emotionally wounded parents.

It does start with the children. How can we make a difference to help them see that an animal is a life worth respecting, and an empty collar is something we never want to see?

The empty collar reminds us all that there is a lot of work to be done to change hearts and minds, but it is a goal worth seeking.

BZTAT

Would you like to submit an Okey’s Profiles of Hope story? Contact BZTAT to learn how.