Irina and Isis, Saved From the Flood

black and white cat in cupboard

Irina in her cabinet

Meet a couple more of the rescued kitties I’ve met in the past few weeks, these two from a house that reminded me of my own through the years!

calico cat in cabinet

Isis in her cubby.

Irina, above, and Isis, at left, had a period of homelessness in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan hit Western Pennsylvania causing catastrophic flooding in communities that hadn’t seen any in decades. Many animals were lost or displaced as the floodwaters rose in a matter of hours during the afternoon when people were away at work. In the aftermath many homes were uninhabitable and people needed to find other accommodations, either long-term temporarily or permanently, and many pets were surrendered to shelters when living arrangements didn’t allow a pet.

Here is the course of events. Irina and Isis were surrendered by their person to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society when a private assistance organization secured long-term housing for her while her home was rebuilt, but didn’t take into account her cats. FosterCat, an organization you’ve read about on this blog, took as many cats as they could find foster homes for after the flood, and placed Irina and Isis with their current mom, who was fostering for FosterCat at the time.

She had heard their story and decided they’d been through enough disruption for one lifetime and decided to keep them. This is otherwise known as a “foster failure”, but it’s not a bad test to fail since a kitty gets a home; she also kind of decided she wasn’t any good at fostering.

Lucky for Irina, named for Irina Vorobieva, Olympic Russian figure skater, and Isis, the goddess, of course, they made their way to this mom! The reason I’ve posted photos that aren’t so focused on the cat is that I wanted to show the environment—a really nice house, full of decorative things, and lots of happy spots left for the cats, Irina in her cabinet, the door always open for her, and Isis in the cubby by the front door where she quietly watches the house.

Irina is a little frightened of her doggy brothers, two harmless little Pomeranians, so she stays in the kitchen, but according to Isis’ mom she’s a bigger cat and somehow intimidating, so the dogs don’t mess with her. Could be that tri-color gene.

More rescued kitties to come from this house.


Want a Good Deal on a Used Cat?

five black cats at basement door

We do many things together.

“Cats are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one.”

Years ago, a friend of mine had a refrigerator magnet that read that phrase, and it still makes me laugh, and it’s still true.

More cats are owned as pets than any other pet—73 million as opposed to 68 million dogs—and I think it’s partly because of what I discovered. I had six cats plus fosters at the time, and there always seemed to be room for one more.

And unfortunately, there always seemed to be a big supply of cats to fill the need.

heart cats

Brother and Sister

Right now, in the middle of “kitten season” when shelters are overflowing with unexpected and unintended litters of kittens, it’s time to help take the burden off of shelters and foster families who have taken in cats and kittens to foster, so if you have room help to celebrate Adopt a Cat Month.

Read more about Adopt A Cat Month, co-sponsored by the Catalyst Council website, dedicated to helping the country’s most popular pet get the respect and health care they deserve, and American Humane, protecting children and animals since 1877.

Locally, Animal Friends is offering an adoption deal between June 1 and June 30: cats two years or older are priceless, and adopt two cats younger than two for the price of one! Animal Friends is a no-kill shelter, so adopting cats from them will open up more cage space for more cats.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is also waiving adoption fees for adult cats and offering a two for one adoption special on kittens. The WPHS is taking in 50 to 60 cats and kittens each day and needs to find homes for cats every day in order to keep the flow of cats moving.

The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania always has adoption deals and plenty of cats for adoption.

cat for adoption

Allie is still waiting!

And all the foster families in of FosterCat would love to see their foster kitties in new homes and then be able to help other homeless kitties! Allie, at left, is still waiting for her forever home!

So if you’re not already overflowing with kitty love, fill that spot with a homeless kitty!


Allie Really Needs a Home!

Shelters are full of moms and kittens and FosterCat wants to help as many as possible. Allie is ready to go home and that will free up space in her foster home to help save more cats and kittens. She needs to be the only cat—do you know anyone who might be able to adopt her?

Hi. My name is Allie. I am about two-and-one-half years old, so I am still just a baby myself.

I was found in a park in McKeesport in May 2009 with my five babies. A lady took us home until she could get us into Fostercats. We went to live with another lady, who still has me. My babies have found great homes, but I am still looking for that perfect person.

I am not shy, so I am great with people, even kids who will play with me, and even a dog might be okay. I love to play with flippy toys or just run around the house like a crazy cat. When I am ready to settle down, I like to do some snuggling. I will accept little kisses on the head as only a queen can. If you have a couple of sunny windows I can perch in to watch nature, I would love that.

I am frisky, a little feisty, and have some attitude, but I also have lots of love to give—just not to other cats, and that’s been the problem with people who’d like to adopt me because they already have other cats. It’s also the problem with being in a foster home, because there are other cats here too.

I would prefer to be an only pet, as I need to be the queen of my castle. Do you think I would be the perfect fit for you?

FosterCat would love to find Allie a fur-ever home before she reaches her second year anniversary in a foster home in May 2011. Allie’s birthdate is around September 1, 2008. She is spayed, tested for feline leukemia and negative, has all her shots and everything else a kitty could need to come home with you. If you’re interested in Allie, you’ll also find her on the Adopt Me! page on the FosterCat website and scroll down to find Allie’s photo.

fostercat logo

FosterCat Inc.

Foster Cat, Inc. is all about saving lives. It’s as simple as that. We are an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the proposition that all cats and kittens deserve safe, loving, permanent homes.

Our foster parents provide temporary care for cats and kittens in their homes until they can be placed for adoption. Their compassion provides the second chance that so many stray, abandoned or homeless kitties need, and the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped save the lives of these helpless animals.

FosterCat provides training and support, medications, food and litter as needed, and absorbs all veterinary expenses associated with the care of our kitties. If you love kitties and would like to be a part of our lifesaving team, consider opening your heart and home to cats or kittens in need. We promise you won’t regret it! If you can’t foster, you can still help save lives as a volunteer or supporting member.


Urgent: Can You Foster a Mom and Three Kittens?

mother cat and kittens

Tabby mom with tabby babies

Meet tabby Momcat and her three lovely tabby children! She’s looking for a nice foster home where she can raise her children and stay until all are adopted with assistance from FosterCat. We need to know ASAP.

Right now she’s at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, but the shelter is already full of kittens—and they are taking in 50 to 60 cats EACH DAY! Please help to take the burden off an open door shelter. See if you can fit a frightened mom and her curious kids into your home for a couple of months with the guarantee that you’d have assistance helping them find homes.

fostercat logo

FosterCat Inc.

This mom cat would be fostered through FosterCat, which would also handle all the adoptions. She and her kittens would NOT be returned to WPHS in order to allow the cage space for more needy cats.

If you can foster, call Clare Collins, (412) 352-2886 (cell number).

If you can’t foster but would like to help, make a tax-deductible donation to FosterCat, www.fostercat.org, or the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, www.wpahumane.org. This donation goes directly to helping both organizations take care of homeless cats and other animals by paying for veterinary care and food which is in urgent need right now during “kitten season”.

If you missed the chance on this mom and kittens but can foster other cats or kittens, please contact FosterCat, www.fostercat.org, the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society at visit http://www.wpahumane.org/foster.html or call Chris Whyle, 412.321.4625, x 221 or your local shelter.

And always NEUTER AND SPAY!


My Two Year Anniversary…in a Foster Home


Hi. My name is Allie. I am about two-and-one-half years old, so I am still just a baby myself.

I was found in a park in McKeesport in May 2009 with my five babies. A lady took us home until she could get us into Fostercats. We went to live with another lady, who still has me. My babies have found great homes, but I am still looking for that perfect person.

I am not shy, so I am great with people, even kids who will play with me, and even a dog might be okay. I love to play with flippy toys or just run around the house like a crazy cat. When I am ready to settle down, I like to do some snuggling. I will accept little kisses on the head as only a queen can. If you have a couple of sunny windows I can perch in to watch nature, I would love that.

I am frisky, a little feisty, and have some attitude, but I also have lots of love to give—just not to other cats, and that’s been the problem with people who’d like to adopt me because they already have other cats. It’s also the problem with being in a foster home, because there are other cats here too.

I would prefer to be an only pet, as I need to be the queen of my castle. Do you think I would be the perfect fit for you?

FosterCat would love to find Allie a fur-ever home before she reaches her second year anniversary in a foster home in May 2011. Allie’s birthdate is around September 1, 2008. She is spayed, tested for feline leukemia and negative, has all her shots and everything else a kitty could need to come home with you. If you’re interested in Allie, you’ll also find her on the Adopt Me! page on the FosterCat website and scroll down to find Allie’s photo.

fostercat logo

FosterCat Inc.

Foster Cat, Inc. is all about saving lives. It’s as simple as that. We are an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the proposition that all cats and kittens deserve safe, loving, permanent homes.

Our foster parents provide temporary care for cats and kittens in their homes until they can be placed for adoption. Their compassion provides the second chance that so many stray, abandoned or homeless kitties need, and the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped save the lives of these helpless animals.

FosterCat provides training and support, medications, food and litter as needed, and absorbs all veterinary expenses associated with the care of our kitties. If you love kitties and would like to be a part of our lifesaving team, consider opening your heart and home to cats or kittens in need. We promise you won’t regret it! If you can’t foster, you can still help save lives as a volunteer or supporting member.


Want a Good Deal on a Used Cat?

five black cats at basement door

We do many things together.

“Cats are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one.”

Years ago, a friend of mine had a refrigerator magnet that read that phrase, and it still makes me laugh, and it’s still true.

More cats are owned as pets than any other pet—73 million as opposed to 68 million dogs—and I think it’s partly because of what I discovered. I had six cats plus fosters at the time, and there always seemed to be room for one more.

And unfortunately, there always seemed to be a big supply of cats to fill the need.

heart cats

Brother and Sister

Right now, in the middle of “kitten season” when shelters are overflowing with unexpected and unintended litters of kittens, it’s time to help take the burden off of shelters and foster families who have taken in cats and kittens to foster, so if you have room help to celebrate Adopt a Cat Month.

Read more about Adopt A Cat Month, co-sponsored by the Catalyst Council website, dedicated to helping the country’s most popular pet get the respect and health care they deserve, and American Humane, protecting children and animals since 1877.

Locally, Animal Friends is offering an adoption deal between June 1 and June 30: adopt a cat for just $20.10! Animal Friends is a no-kill shelter, so adopting cats from them will open up more cage space for more cats.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania also have adoption deals and plenty of cats for adoption.

image of tabby cat

Cleo is waiting for a home through FosterCat!

And all the foster families in of FosterCat would love to see their foster kitties in new homes and then be able to help other homeless kitties!

image of book cover

Buckley's Story

In addition, our friend Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat is asking for your adoption stories, and at the end of June the most touching story will win an autographed copy of Buckley’s Story!

So if you’re not already overflowing with kitty love, fill that spot with a homeless kitty!


Eva Adds Up Her Donation

photo of Eva's face

Eva's expression

As you remember, Eva offered to donate 50 cents to FosterCat for every person who commented on her blog in April. The counting is done, and read about the total (and the counting)!

Thanks Eva and you-know-who! There will be some rescued and fostered kitties who will be very thankful as well!

Sorry Zorro ate your vegetable plants. We can’t start any here this year because the Big Four go grazing among the flats in the basement like a bunch of black cows…


Old is Awesome!

guest post by Alexa J. Howald, FosterCat, Inc.

photo of two cats in silhouette

Old friends enjoy the sun.

Oriental cultures are well known for their reverence for the elderly in their societies, but not so in the youth-oriented culture of the USA.  Here, the elderly are viewed largely as superfluous at best, and useless or burdensome at worst.

This attitude toward older people naturally spills over into people’s views about companion animals, to the extent that it is often difficult to find homes for cats that are only two or three years old, let alone the truly “senior”  kitties.

Especially during this time of year, “kitten mania” abounds and younger and older adult cats sit unnoticed in their cages, many facing euthanasia, even as their offspring fly out of shelter doors.  People who are absolutely determined that they have to adopt a kitten seem not to consider that within 12 months that adorable kitten will become a cat and remain a cat for the rest of its life!

Hardly anyone will try to deny that kittens are cute and fun to be around.  But are they the best choice as a family pet in every situation?  I don’t think so and here are some of the reasons why anyone planning to adopt a feline companion ought to consider an adult or senior cat:

  • When you adopt an adult cat, what you see is what you get.  The cat’s personality has been formed and will essentially remain the same throughout its life.  You will be able to select a cat whose personality fits your life style (Eveready Bunny or couch potato, or somewhere in between; lap cat or independent sort; comfortable in a high noise level/high activity environment, comfortable with children, other animals, etc.)
  • Kittens are fun, but they tend to have very high energy levels and often love to climb and jump. If you are fussy about kitty climbing your sheers or leaping onto your dining room table or kitchen counters, and you won’t be around enough to train the kitten not to engage in these behaviors, you should consider adopting an adult cat that doesn’t have a history of these habits.

  • The average lifespan of an indoor-only cat is 15 years, and many kitties with healthy diets and good veterinary care can live healthy, happy lives into their late teens and early twenties.  So when you adopt a three to six year old cat, or even a 10 or 12 year old, you will likely enjoy the pleasure of its company for quite some time.   And many cats continue to enjoy periods of active play well into their middle years, so those who want a friskier feline can easily find an older cat who fits the bill.
  • I will no doubt be accused by some of being blunt, but if you are elderly, it just plain doesn’t make sense for you to adopt a kitten.  In the first place, kittens, who love to dart about people’s legs and feet, or sprint ahead of them as they start down the stairs, can pose a real danger to folks who are already at risk of serious injury from a fall.   In the second place, a kitten will likely outlive you and what will become of your beloved companion when you  pass on or are no longer able to care for it?   Don’t count on friends or family members taking him in, unless you know for certain that they are able and willing to do so.   Based on  our experience, most surviving relatives are looking for a way to dump kitty before their deceased parent or aunt is cold in the grave.
  • Cats are amazingly adaptable and resilient creatures.  Don’t assume that your existing cat will only accept a kitten sharing its domain.  Given time and patience, nearly any cat will adapt to a new environment, or a new addition to its existing environment.  In many cases, the personalities of the individual animals, more than their ages or genders, will determine the length of the adjustment period.

Felines of all ages make wonderful companions for people of all age groups and can and do bring much laughter, joy, love (and yes, sometimes frustration) to millions of families in our nation and around the world – and there are many more who need safe loving homes. If your kids are pestering you for a pet, or if you would like to have someone waiting to welcome you at the end of your day, please consider adopting a kitty.  And when you do, don’t forget to spend some time getting to know the more mature felines at your local adoption agency.  Chances are, one of them is waiting for someone just like you.

Alexa J. Howald

Founder and Vice President

FosterCat, Inc.

FosterCat, Inc. is the recipient of the final auction bid on “Peaches and Peonies“. I’ve long known Alexa to be a fan of older cats, and FosterCat does so much to help rescue, foster and adopt older cats, which is why I chose them as the recipient of the donation. Visit FosterCat’s website and read about the work they do and don’t forget to browse their adoptable cats! You might see your new love there. I will also mention that I designed FosterCat’s website and all photos but the home page header photo are from my archives.


Be the Change, Following Up from BlogPaws

photo of black cat and calico

Mimi and Peaches remind me that homework must be done on time.

First, I’m going to do my homework assignment from yesterday, which was the “Be the Change Extravaganza” among pet bloggers. But that can be any day, or every day.

Much of what blogging accomplishes on the internet is to try to make change in the world, getting news and opinions out, including your own, that would otherwise not be heard, letting others know about events, and in an odd virtual way bringing people closer together. This can have its downside, but so does the evening news. We take what we trust and what is useful and leave the rest behind. Most people are trying to “do good”, and in the blogosphere the marketplace decides whose information is worth reading, not a profit-oriented commercial enterprise.

Long before blogging, individuals who cared about pets, animals in shelters, feral and stray cats, puppy mills and any other issue facing companion animals and all animals in our society were networking in the best way possible to stop abuse where it was found, educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering and health care for their pets, adopting animals for the right reasons and responsibly re-homing them if they no longer wanted to keep them—and that’s just the short list. Local, state and federal legislation governing humane treatment of animals, development and support for shelters were also on the list of topics.

I remember those days when most things were done by footwork and telephone—the old land line from your house, handmade flyers with photos copied too many times, going door to door to solicit donations…how did anything get done before cell phones and Facebook and Twitter and e-mail?

photo of two kittens looking at computer

We're getting our updates.

We have an incredible tool at our disposal in blogging and the ability to disseminate our information throughout the internet on Facebook and Twitter and all other social networking links. Those of us who had to stop volunteering at shelters because we were either in danger of taking everyone home or were too hurt by the stories brought back by humane officers, or those of us whose homes were already full of fosters and permanents, can still participate daily in finding homes for animals, passing the word about spaying and neutering, can share information on events and just share stories about our lives and our animals. Everybody has a part in this, however small they may think it is.

So our homework assignment for yesterday was to let the world know what we do for the betterment of animals, how we represent the change we’d like to see in our society. Here’s my little list.

photo of cat nursing kittens

Mimi nursing the Fantastic Four when they were just little fuzzballs.

I’m one of those who years ago had to stop volunteering at the shelter because of the abuse cases I saw and heard about, which I still can’t forget. Instead, I began rescuing and fostering cats in my home, which I still do today, fixing them up and teaching them to be good cats for their forever home. I’ve always had a houseful, but I’ve also found forever homes for about 40 cats in 25 years, and most I’ve become friends with the adoptive family. I’ve also temporarily fostered a number of cats for “families in transition”, women and children moving into and back out of subsidized housing where pets were not allowed, or who were leaving their home due to separation or divorce and didn’t want to give up their pets permanently. All of these people returned for their cats when their situation stabilized. I continue to do this.

When I began painting portraits I also began using my artwork for the good of animals wherever I could. I always ask a portrait customer what animal shelter or organization they’d like to have 10% of the cost of their portrait donated to in their name. I donate artwork or certificates for portraits to animal welfare auctions around Pittsburgh and pretty much anywhere else, jokingly saying the organization will get more from a donor in an auction than I could ever donate in cash out of my own pocket.

And, like all artists creating art featuring cats and dogs and any other animal, I love these animals, I hope it shows in what I do, and I hope that has an impact on whoever looks at my work and spreads the love and respect for all living creatures, which has a value beyond any amount of money I could ever raise.

pastel painting of cat on table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies

One project I’m working on right now is encouraging people to adopt older or senior animals. I painted “Peaches and Peonies”, an image of my Peaches who I began fostering when she was 15, and for every full-size giclee I sell I’ll make a $25.00 donation to the senior pet adoption program of the purchaser’s choice.

In addition to that, in honor of Peaches’ 100th birthday (that’s 20 in cat years), I’ll be celebrating with articles on her and other senior cats, and other bloggers will be writing their stories about senior cats and other pets as well. I’ll be auctioning a signed half-size print of “Peaches and Peonies” to the highest bidder, with the proceeds to benefit FosterCat, an organization of foster homes which has rescued, fostered and adopted out many older and senior cats. Details on all that in the next entry!

To find out more about how this initiative began, visit Romeo the Cat and click to see the video that brought tears to about 300 pairs of eyes during the last session of the conference because it simply showed all the good people are doing by helping animals via the internet. Also read about the “Be the Change Extravaganza” on Pawcurious. The article explains the reasoning and includes a list of many other bloggers and what they are doing. And click to read all the other blogs that are linked to these two and to mine. You’ll find an amazing amount of good being done, and perhaps with all this effort we can finally win the battle of ending animal overpopulation, stopping animal abuse and increasing respect for our animal companions.


About FosterCat, and a Special Kitty Who Needs a Home

photo of tabby and white cat

Hampton

First of all, the kitty in question is Hampton, and has he got a story!

This handsome tabby and white kitty is 6 to 7 years old. He was in an adoption cage at the PetSmart in Cranberry, just north of Pittsburgh, through another organization. One of the members of FosterCat recognized that he was sick and discovered he had a UTI.

After months of treatment, Hampton was finally placed into what FosterCat thought was a good home in Butler, PA, but several months later they found out that Hampton needed to have emergency surgery for the UTI. FosterCat reimbursed the adopter for the vet bill since it was well over $3,000.

Now it seems the adopter has decided to give Hampton back because a member of the family is afraid him and many other reasons. It may have been the constant care Hampton would need or the fear of his condition—UTIs can be life-threatening and therefore frightening to many people. Most of us in feline rescue and placement recognize that as a clear signal the cat isn’t wanted.

Hampton is very, very sweet and likes to be petted and wants to jump on laps. All he wants is love. The only issue is that Hampton needs to be on Feline CD for the rest of his life which FosterCat will happily buy if someone agrees to foster this poor guy. He’s been through so much, but he’s ready to give another human a chance.

And even if you can’t foster Hampton, you can still help him through helping FosterCat.

FosterCat is exactly that—an organization that fosters cats until they can find a forever home. There is no shelter, just a system of homes and people who are glad to open their hearts to a kitty in need. Everything in the organization is done by volunteers, and all fundraising goes either into direct care for the cats in foster or to promoting the organization to find new foster homes or to place cats.

No animal likes to spend time in a cage. Any shelter will tell you that an animal who has spent time prior to adoption in a foster home is much more likely to be relaxed about the transition to a forever home.

fostercat logoFosterCat was founded by a group of individuals who saw adult cats spending weeks or longer in cages in a shelter, often becoming less adoptable all the time as they became less socialized and more stressed, and often not transitioning well to a permanent home after living in a cage, sometimes returned to the shelter for behavior issues related to stress.

Fostering cats, most importantly, saves their lives because they are no longer in danger of euthanasia from overcrowding in shelters. Secondly, it keeps them in a good frame of mind while they wait for their dream home to come along, and if they have any health issues they can be more closely attended in a foster home. Fostering families can vouch for their personality in a much more realistic way.

FosterCat is set up to support the families who foster with medications, food and litter as needed plus any veterinary expenses associated with fostering the cat. How could anyone lose?

The volunteers of FosterCat get cats out into the public as often as possible to increase chances of adoption, and maintain their own website of adoptable cats, advertising the website address to encourage people to browse for their next kitty. The organization also participates in local “Adopt-a-thon” events and utilizes the cat adoption program at PetSmart, frequently cycling cats into the store and back home so they don’t spend too much time in the cage, but just enough to remain socialized about meeting the public.

I know that, when foster space opens up, they scurry around to shelters to pick up cats in danger of euthanasia, they keep in touch with rescue organizations and occasionally take private surrenders as they did for me when a large black and white cat walked into a meeting I was attending, and although I took him home with me I knew he would have been one cat too many at that time. I don’t have the room to foster but I was happy to send an adoptive family to them who ended up adopting two cats at two different times.

In addition, they are very careful about foster homes and adoptive homes, using an application for each and conducting home visits for each as well.

Volunteers for the organization don’t have to foster cats in order to assist. The list of volunteer activities is long and varied, from driving cats to vet appointments to helping organize the annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

If you’re interested in fostering or even adopting Hampton, you can contact FosterCat at info@fostercat.org or send a message along to me and I will be glad to forward it on behalf of Hampton and FosterCat. If you’d like to make a donation to FosterCat on behalf of Hampton or just to help them out, visit their website at www.fostercat.org where you can make a donation using PayPal or find contact information where you can send your donation.

The website also includes alumni stories from adopters who have reported back months or even years after the adoption, and a memorial page for any kitty, not just alumni.

And I’m pretty proud of that website—I designed it, and all but one of the kitties you see in the header photos is or was one who lived with me, at least as a foster.