A TNR Group Helps Calvin, a Feral Cat, Get into a Shelter


Catster_award1_small_162Earlier this year I started volunteering at the Frontier Animal Society in Orleans, Vermont. On my first day there, I was instantly smitten with a little guy named Calvin. Calvin is a petite, white, likely two-year-old short-haired cat. He had sutures under one of his eyes, and the shelter manager explained that he’d had surgery on his eyelid.

I loved this guy, who is expressive and extremely humorous and sweet. Calvin rolled around on his back and wiggled his paws, thoroughly enjoying the attention. I don’t think he will have any trouble getting adopted. (I’d take him in a minute, but we are maxed out in this household with the six that I have.)

Calvin at the shelter, waiting for his home.
Calvin at the shelter, waiting for his home.

Little Calvin was on my mind after I finished my first volunteer shift. When a pic of Calvin showed up on my Facebook feed, I had to share it and let people know that I had met this cutie and that he and others were looking for new homes. Another friend of mine (Bonnie Geisler, head of the Felines & Friends Foundation) saw my post about Calvin and gave me the rest of the story of how Calvin was rescued. I got a better understanding of what we often don’t hear — how rescue groups coordinate and work together, even if they have different missions.

The Felines & Friends Foundation is a TNR rescue group in northern Vermont that I’ve covered for Catster in the past. Frontier Animal Shelter is an animal shelter in northern Vermont. Groups like these can work together to place cats who may be part of a feral colony, but who turn out to be friendly enough to have a chance at adoption. Such was the case with Calvin.

Adorable Calvin (formerly "Circus Boy") -- I was smitten.
Adorable Calvin (formerly “Circus Boy”) — I was smitten.

Bonnie said Calvin was found in a barn in a northern Vermont town. This barn is pretty visible and close to the road, and apparently a popular drop-off site for animals. Calvin was part of a colony that had once been TNR’d by another rescue group. A caretaker feeds the cats daily and is on the lookout for new cats. One of the Felines & Friends Foundation’s volunteers regularly monitors that location, and feeds and traps the ferals. FFF noted that a few of the cats in the colony, including Calvin, seemed quite friendly and obviously not feral.

Felines & Friends Foundation trapped, neutered, and vaccinated Calvin (and the other friendly cats) and also had Calvin’s surgery done. Bonnie explained that the surgery is called an entropian surgery — “it’s basically an eye lift. His eye lid was rolling into his eye so that the lashes rub against the cornea. It’s an extremely painful condition and over time will lead to blindness.”

(Bonnie has a rescued Shar Pei dog who had the same surgery, although in the dog’s case, his eye was already damaged and he had lost some sight.)

Calvin in Bonnie's lap after a yoga session during his foster week.
Calvin in Bonnie’s lap after a yoga session during his foster week.

Bonnie fostered Calvin for a week after his surgeries and she admitted that she had a hard time letting him go. She nicknamed him “Circus Boy” because he was such a good-natured clown, and would do anything for attention. Circus Boy soaked up the attention, even doing yoga with Bonnie and resting in her lap afterwards.

Calvin is still at the shelter and doing very well. Despite the sleepy look on his pics, he is a high-energy, playful young cat with an extremely sweet nature. He recovered well from his inner eyelid surgery and awaits his new home.

To that end, Bonnie and anyone who fosters has to be mentally ready to let these sweeties go and go out into the world for their chance at adoption. Felines & Friends Foundation regularly does this kind of fostering in preparation for adoption and will foster for as long as necessary. Bonnie said that in most cases, the foundation does the spay/neuter, vaccination, and any additional vetting.

“It’s a great deal for the shelters because they get a fully vetted cat,” she said. “But the foundation wants to focus on TNR, and we all sleep better knowing that we don’t have to return adoptable cats, because we have our shelter partnerships.”

Bonnie (far left) with other Felines and Friends Foundation contributors, posing with awards given for good partnering efforts.
Bonnie (far left) with other Felines and Friends Foundation contributors, posing with awards given for good partnering efforts.

Shelters return the favor, too. Central Vermont Humane Society, who the Felines & Friends Foundation also partners with, provided the foundation with donated food, vaccines, and carriers.

“And they brought us over $1,000 worth of new traps and other equipment,” she said. “At their anniversary gala last year they gave the Felines & Friends Foundation a Good Neighbor Award to recognize our amazing partnership.”

Partnerships like these make sense, and they help give adoptables like Calvin a chance.

Bonnie said that out of the 1,500 cats that the Felines & Friends Foundation has helped in the last two years, almost 500 have been rehomed, “mostly through shelter partnerships, although the foundation also does some direct adoptions.”

“I always look at animal rescue groups as the safety net for animals in need. Whenever we hold hands and work together, the safety net is strong; when we don’t, more animals in need fall through the holes.”

What are your thoughts on this? How can various types of rescue groups work together to ensure that cats don’t fall through the cracks? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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