They come in a variety of colors: orange, black, white, and tri. They range in size from brand-spanking-new tiny to been-around-the-block big. They sport names like Mufasa and Corky and Doodle and Electra and Boris. And they all share one thing in common — they are cats who have been rescued and given new homes by the committed volunteers at Feline Rescue Inc., in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Founded in 1997, this no-kill companion cat rescue organization is powered by the passion, dollars, and time of hundreds of volunteers, as Feline Rescue has no paid staff.
As with its cats, Feline Rescue’s volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Yet these fierce cat folks share a contagious enthusiasm for providing rescue and relief to the homeless and endangered cats in their communities.
Through programs that offer shelter and foster services, social and medical rehabilitation, feral and stray management, spay/neuter subsidies, and community education, the Feline Rescue comrades work tirelessly to provide safe shelter, veterinary care, and socialization for stray, abandoned, and abused cats, until good permanent homes can be found for them.
The numbers tell their phenomenal success. Each year, approximately 500 cats are rescued and adopted to new families.
Of course, the cats bring with them their unique stories. Doodle was picked up along a road after being hit by a car. He was taken to a foster home, where he flourished along with other homeless cats. He ended up staying.
Electra was found wandering a neighborhood malnourished and exhausted. The cat had been blind since birth but had somehow survived. After a stint at Feline Rescue, she was adopted by her human companion, Jenna.
After scooting up a tree and getting stuck in a branch high above a park, Sookie was finally rescued after a team of arborists were able to shinny up and rescue the tiny stray kitten in sub-freezing temperatures.
Strays who are rescued stay in foster homes or the Feline Rescue facility, for no matter how long it takes to find a loving home. Because of that the organization is persnickety when it comes to making cat-family matches. "We don’t do same day adoptions," explains Kelley Leaf, director of community relations and foster mom to more than 20 rescue cats, including Boris, a therapy cat in training and lead cat socializer for the newbies who find themselves in Leaf’s foster care.
"We are committed to finding the perfect forever home for these cats, so we are careful during the application process. And if the relationship doesn’t work out, we promise to take them back. Once you’ve gotten yourself into the Feline Rescue system, you are a cat who will always have a home."
Thanks to a network of more than 50 volunteers who also foster cats of all ages and conditions — along with the Feline Adoption Center, which houses and rehabilitates up to 70 cats at a time — the Feline Rescue kitties are some of the happiest rescue cats in the Twin Cities.
However, Feline Rescue doesn’t stop there. "We spend a lot of time educating the community about cat care," explains Margaret Owen Thorpe, Feline Rescue’s marketing/development director. The group has created outreach programs for a number of causes, such as feral cat colony management, and for the last two years has held an event for National Feral Cat Day, organized by Alley Cat Allies. “Our outreach volunteers invited people from the community to come and learn about helping feral cats survive Minnesota’s infamous winters," says Thorpe.
Thorpe points to an especially popular event surrounding feral cats — last fall’s Building Feral Houses event, which featured a feral house design/build competition. “People brought in their houses and our volunteers demonstrated how to do build sturdy and protective structures," says Thorpe.
In addition, Feline Rescue partners with Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program (MN SNAP) which has a fully equipped veterinary clinic on wheels to deliver low-cost, high-quality spay and neuter surgeries for animals belonging to shelters, rescues and low-income pet owners in Minnesota.
Every two weeks the mobile hospital comes to the shelter and Feline Rescue publicizes its availability to provide spaying and neutering for cats living with low-income families. The outreach team will also bring in cats from feral/community colonies for spaying and neutering.
In the years since its inception, Feline Rescue has made the lives of thousands of cats better. Recently the group purchased another building to increase its fostering capacity.
And, as in years past, it continues to partner with other rescue organizations to spread the word on the value of every last cat. These are good deeds being done by some wonderfully passionate cat people.
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About the author: Kristy Abbott is a cheery freelance online content writer, hopeful blogger, and happy author of the novel The Ghosted Bridge and the children’s book Finding Home, a story of second chances for lucky creatures. She is also lucky mom to rescue cat Simon, who sports some of the most magnificent whiskers around. Follow Kristy on Facebook and Twitter.
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