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The Rescue House Saves Cats No Matter the Cost

"We take the unwanted, abandoned, homeless, abused. If it costs many thousands for one cat, then that’s what the kitty gets."

Angela Lutz  |  Jun 30th 2015


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When a cat named Minnow was rescued near El Cajon, California, she and her brothers had been living on the rocks down at one of the local jetties. Born to a feral mother, the kittens scrounged for whatever food they could find, including discarded fish bits.

Someone in the area caught the kittens and fostered them for five weeks before turning them over to the Rescue House, a nonprofit, volunteer-based rescue group in Encinitas, California. When the kittens went to the vet, they discovered Minnow had a unique problem: Due to her diet, a fishhook had gotten lodged in her throat.

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Rescued as a feral kitten, Minnow is now a happy, healthy cat.

Minnow required several surgeries and the intervention of a specialist to recover from her injuries. After Minnow healed, a family adopted her -– and a local news station even picked up her story. Now Minnow spends her days hanging out at home with friends, including cats and a Corgi. Not bad for a homeless kitten who seemed destined to live a rough life!

“She is the sweetest, most loving little cat,” her foster family told Rescue House. “I can’t believe she was once a feral cat. I love her soft squeaky meow; you can barely hear it sometimes.”

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Minnow, pictured here with her vet, required several complicated surgeries to recover from a fish hook that was lodged in her throat.

For the Rescue House, saving cats like Minnow is all in a day’s work. The organization, founded by Linda Routh and Joan Star in 1998, is more than 250 volunteers strong. They work together to rescue and adopt out more than 600 cats each year. Instead of a central shelter location, the Rescue House functions as a network of foster homes, meaning long-time volunteers such as Debbi Flint often temporarily house up to 75 cats in a year.

According to Flint, the Rescue House is adamant about taking in cats regardless of expense.

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After being rescued from a situation of neglect, Lance and Chance both required surgery.

“What makes it wonderful is all of the cats get whatever they need,” she says. “We take them in without regard for age, handicap, anything. We take the unwanted, abandoned, homeless, abused. If it costs many thousands for one cat, then that’s what the kitty gets.”

Thanks to the organization’s dedication to doing whatever it takes to save cats in need, two kitties named Lance and Chance were able to receive veterinary intervention after languishing for years in a neglectful environment.

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Chance ended up needing steel plates inserted in both of his front legs.

For starters, Lance needed some serious dental work, ultimately having all of his teeth removed. Chance, meanwhile, had a dislocated kneecap that required surgery. While he was recovering, vets discovered he was walking on his front “elbows,” requiring yet another surgery and the insertion of steel plates in both legs.

The surgeries may have been costly, but they were worth it, as both cats have now been adopted. Flint was excited to hear that Lance and Chance are happy in their forever home.

“[Their adopter] commented that her Border Collie has lived with a black cat before and goes up to Chance and looks at him, probably thinking, ‘You look like someone I used to know,’” Flint says. “All the animals are very happy, easygoing, and get along well.”

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After her owner died of a heart attack, nine-year-old Lily Cat ended up at the shelter.

The Rescue House won’t give up on senior cats, either. Lily Cat’s life “was turned upside down” after her guardian died of a heart attack -– and “because she was considered a senior cat at age nine, finding a new home was going to be harder,” Flint says.

After being treated for a mammary mass, which fortunately ended up being benign, Lily Cat did end up getting adopted, with excellent reports from her new home.

“After the requisite period of cat indignation, Lily Cat and the resident cat, Sequoia, have worked things out and are doing amazingly well, playing together and sleeping in chosen spots on the bed,” Flint says.

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She might be a senior, but Lily Cat has adjusted well to her new life in her new home.

Because the Rescue House turns no cat away, creative fundraising is a must. According to volunteer Sarah Lifton, who heads the fundraising committee, the organization’s annual Cause for Paws event blew her away the first time she attended.

“I expected to find 50 people sitting around someone’s living room,” Lifton says. “I got to the place and there were golf carts doing shuttle duty up and down the street. It was a really big deal –- 250 people at least, and a major silent auction, food, beer and wine. It was really impressive. I was so blown away that I decided to volunteer in one of the adoption centers.”

This year’s event, to be held in June at a private residence in Poway, California, will include a live auction for the first time. (Watch the Rescue House Facebook page for details.) Lifton hopes for a good turnout, which will help the Rescue House continue to do what it does best: giving cats in need whatever they need to thrive.

Do you know of a rescue hero — cat, human, or group — we should profile on Catster? Write us at catsterheroes@catster.com.

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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.