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Forgotten cats look for some good homes

Forgotten Cats Inc. works to give stray and abandoned cats a second chance

The Kennett Paper - September, 2004 By Gina Ralston

Starting on September 11 Forgotten Cats Inc. will be adopting their rehabilitated cats and kittens out of Paws & Claws pet store on State Street in Kennett Square.

Forgotten Cats is an organization founded and run by Felicia Cross of Centreville, Del., that works to reduce the unwanted cat population without killing them and to stop the suffering of the thousands of kittens born to abandoned, homeless cats.

Paws & Claws has agreed to help their cause by giving them a place to introduce their kittens and cats to the public.

Cross started Forgotten Cats three years ago when she realized the extent of the feral, or displaced, cat problem in Delaware. She started out small, but word traveled quickly and the demand for the services of Forgotten Cats has grown enormously. They work primarily in Delaware but have reached out to concerned cat-lovers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.

"We have never said 'no' to any one," said Cross. They trap about 100 to 150 cats per month and still have a waiting list. With more abundant resources they could trap about 500 cats per month.

People call Forgotten Cats because they have discovered a feral cat, or a colony of cats, living somewhere near their residence or work place. Because feral cats cannot survive on their own they congregate in colonies around food sources such as dumpsters. Not knowing what to do, the people call the people at Forgotten Cats who come and trap the cats.

"I have had people sobbing on the phone to me," said Cross. In many cases the people have already begun feeding one or two of the cats and have become attached.

After trapping, Cross and her team take the cats to get veterinary care, have them spayed or neutered, allow them to recuperate and then return them to the colony. This process is called trap, neuter and return, or TNR. Cross firmly believes that TNR, not killing, is the only way to significantly reduce the feral cat population. Their hope is to stabilize each colony one by one resulting in an eventual reduction in the size of the feral cat population.

About 10 percent of what Forgotten Cats traps are kittens and another 10 percent are adoptable. For these kittens and tame cats that need loving homes, Forgotten Cats uses foster homes to socialize them before adopting them out.

First time foster parent Marlene Myers says, "Fostering the kittens has had the greatest effect on my kids because they learn responsibility. It requires a lot of understanding and is definitely a family project." Myers also pointed out that the kittens arrive at her home scared and slowly learn to trust so that by the time they are ready to leave they are healthy and ready to go to a loving home.

Before allowing a cat to be adopted, Forgotten Cats does a background check on the potential owners to ensure that they have cared properly for previous pets. "We do as much as we can to ensure that the cat is going into a responsible home," said Cross. They charge $75 to adopt a cat, which is less than half of the cost of caring for it before adoption. And they also take a cat back if a problem arises after adoption.

Currently Cross and her team are overwhelmed with requests for trapping mainly because their resources are so limited. They only have two people trapping, two people handling adoptions and six foster homes. In February 2004, Forgotten Cats became a non-profit organization and relies completely on volunteers and donations to keep it running. In many cases, the volunteers have to pay for expenses out of their own pockets. But even with their limited funding, they have still managed to trap, neuter and return 2000 cats in the past 18 months alone.

They also rely on pet stores to help them with their adoptions. They are already adopting out of several Petsmart stores, and beginning during Mushroom Festival weekend, Paws & Claws will display cats and kittens that are ready to go to good homes. Paws & Claws has purchased all of the crates and food necessary to support the program so that Forgotten Cats has only to provide the cats and the adoption network.

Owner of Paws & Claws Elaine Black is hopeful about the program. "I believe in helping out local adoption/rescue operations with placing their animals with families."

 

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