"We are in trouble with cats," Pam said.
That was the reason our Program Partner gave for the early Christmas present for cat owners living on the Flathead Nation Reservation. As the Director of one of the local animal shelters, she would know.
So what was the gift? Two Animal Welfare agencies came together to offer a $5 Fix Challenge for cats and kittens through the end of 2011. You know there is a serious overpopulation problem when two budget-strapped agencies collaborate to offer nearly free spay and neuter services to their community.
This was a great deal and a wonderful service for the community, but Pam added, “It’s going to cost us. We are getting about 70-80 cats/kittens per week and the altering costs are typically about $25-$45 per animal, depending on gender and age.”
Her shelter was at capacity again. The cat room was full with over 10 adult cats, while the kitten room had almost the same amount (with two being held in isolation for skin issues and an injury). The reports that the Program Partner provided to us each month showed a similar picture of the overpopulation. In the September report, it stated, “We continue to get boxes of puppies and kittens left on our door.” Their September cat population was at 53 — with 16 residing in foster homes and 19 adoptions.
One month later, they reported, “More and more animals are being brought to the shelter every day. Even some of our foster families are not being able to foster anymore due to the economy.” For October, the shelter reported that they had 33 cats — with 9 residing in foster families and 9 adoptions.
When we spoke with Pam, she shared that adoptions typically see a downward dip as the holidays and winter approaches. A stray in the summer does not look as needy as a stray in the winter. Many times people will take strays in during the colder months because they feel bad for them, but the same animal in the summer remains a stray.
Fortunately, the cats and kittens that were being fostered were learning important forever-home skills while they are staying in their temporary digs. They were gaining socialization skills with other cats, while discovering how to be loved by a human, how to stay healthy and appropriately playful, and how to cuddle with potential companions.
The shelter was still doing all it could to get the animals from the shelter into forever-homes. They used every avenue for advertisement they could think of, including announcements on Facebook, newspapers, Pet of the Week sites, and flyers.
The sign on the door entering the cat area said it all: “Let Me Show You What Love Really Means.” Inside, Marius — the handsome, dark, long-haired fellow on the desk pictured on the right — was ready to greet visitors, help process paperwork, and show them around the place!
During this holiday season, the community enjoyed the gift of more affordable spay and neuter services, the shelters rested easier knowing they continued the battle against overpopulation, and the cats and kittens were more assured of a healthier life.
Without the help from Program Partners and generous supporters like you, events like this would not be as possible.
Thank you for caring!