For those new to the process, the BIG FIX starts with a call to our hotline from a caretaker (someone taking care of an outdoor cat). Caretakers may be caring for one cat or 30! Most caretakers are able to provide food, water, and shelter for the unowned cats in their area. The only thing missing is spaying and neutering and this is where the BIG FIX comes into play. If you are interested in helping but not yet a volunteer, check our link under Volunteers for new volunteer orientations or e-mail us at email@example.com
We’re expecting some cold temperatures in the coming days. Here are some tips for caring for your community cats …
• Cold weather can increase a cat’s energy and nutritional needs. Don’t forget extra water to prevent dehydration. Check it often and place in an area protected from the wind to minimize freezing.
• Wet food in insulated containers is ideal for cold-weather feeding-because it takes less energy to digest, that’s more energy for keeping warm. Cats need more food for energy in the winter.
• Use two storage bins (like Rubbermaid). Line the bins with Styrofoam and cut out a doorway to create an instant shelter. Visit http://alleycatadvocates.org/resources/creating-winter-shelters/ for other ideas.
• In a Pinch, a cardboard shelter is better than no shelter. To keep it from getting wet, elevate off the ground, line with newspapers and cover the lid with plastic (a garbage bag will do).
• Use sheets of plywood to weigh down lightweight shelters made from plastic, cardboard, styrofoam, etc.
• Cats rely on body heat to stay warm, so keep your shelters small for colonies with just a few cats. For more populated colonies, go with multiple shelters of a larger size.
• Because it resists moisture, straw is the top choice for insulation and bedding in your feral cat shelters. Avoid blankets, which absorb moisture like a sponge.
• Cats can get snowed in, so it’s important to remove snow from all entrances and exits to their shelters. Shovel regularly to stay ahead of the game.
• Avoid using salts and chemicals designed to melt snow near your colonies. They can be toxic when licked off paws or ingested from melting puddles, and can hurt a cat’s paw pads.
Ode to Billie
Billie, beloved inspiration for the Billie Emergency Fund, has passed away. Read her remarkable story below and help us celebrate her life and legacy.
Alley Cat Advocates has created the Billie Emergency Fund in honor of sweet Billie.
Billie’s relationship with Alley Cat Advocates starts in August 2001, when we were called to a neighborhood to help spay a momma cat and, eventually, her kittens. A property owner (Billy) had seen this momma cat carrying her kittens, one by one, over the privacy fence in his back yard. Unfortunately, with the last kitten in her grasp, the momma cat slipped and caught her leg between the slats of the fence. In horrible pain, she cried for help. Property owner Billy rushed to her aid. He released her from the fence and she scampered away, dragging a horribly wounded and broken leg behind her.
Because we knew she was injured, our volunteers stayed in the neighborhood for hours trying to trap her. Hours dragged into days and days dragged into weeks. But we were determined. And, three weeks after her leg was broken, we were successful. Billie (as she was now called) was trapped – and just in time to be spayed at one of our BIG FIXes.
Unfortunately, three weeks with a wounded, broken leg had taken its toll on Billie and she was in grave condition. Gangrene had set into her leg and no amount of antibiotic care was going to save it. We knew that options were two in number: Euthanize this beautiful, determined momma kitty or find the funds to amputate her leg. Of course, wonderful people stepped up to provide us the funds we needed and her leg was amputated.
Billie recovered from her amputation and her spay and came to live with the founder of our organization as, being three legged, we questioned whether she would be ok if returned home. Watching her run and play with her new found kitty friends taught us that she would likely have been just fine back home!!!!
Billie never wanted to be touched by humans, even after 12 years, as she was critically ill and dying of (suspected) FIP, touching by those who had fed her, twice a day, for each of those 12 years, was not allowed. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t loved and cherished. (And well fed and warm!)
As the first cat to come to one of Alley Cat Advocates’ BIG FIXes in grave condition, it was she that taught us loud and clear that having funds to help critically wounded or ill community cats was an essential part of our mission. She embodied that need.
If you would like to help us help future Billie’s, please consider giving a gift in her name. Specify that the funds go to the Billie Emergency Fund and we’ll see that future Billie’s are put back together so that they can live full, happy lives – just like momma cat Billie.
Thank You … Bistro 301, guests, volunteers and sponsors who made this year’s Cat’s Meow our greatest yet. Visit http://alleycatadvocates.org/catsmeow/ to see winners, sponsors and photos!
When Alley Cat Advocates was founded, we asked ourselves what this community wanted us to do with the community cats that came to us for their spay/neuter surgery but had medical needs beyond that scheduled surgery. What were we to do with those with an eye that was ruptured and was incredibly painful; those with a huge abscess that had drained, leaving a large gaping wound; and those with a broken leg, who endured pain every day as a result? The options were pretty clear.
1) We could decide, as a community, that those cats should be euthanized, as tending to this type of medical issue was not our group’s focus, and resources would always be in short supply. It was best to cut our losses and move on, we could reason.
2) We could decide, as a community, to ignore those issues and focus on the spay/neuter surgery alone; after all, our goal was to stop reproduction, and using resources to amputate a leg or close a wound did not move us closer to that goal. Let us just spay or neuter the cat and return them to their home, hoping for the best, we could also reason.
3) We could decide, as a community, that these issues needed our attention as well. Now, that would be radical! Most groups do either (1) or (2) and for good reasons. But neither of them felt right. Euthanizing treatable cats was not something we wanted to do. Nor did we want to put cats back outside with known, treatable (and often painful) conditions. But would the community provide us with the resources to do this AND spay and neuter, our goal in all of this?
The answer is a resounding YES! Whether the cat needs a dental, as did Ms. Drools-a-Lot or Clark, or an amputation, as did Billie (for whom the Billie Emergency Fund is named), or a severe wound closed, as did Fuzzy Face, the community has spoken loudly and clearly. The “gold standard” of care for these wonderful cats, in the few days that we have them, is what they get. Enjoy their pictures throughout this issue and continue to work with us to make this community the best place to live for all cats! It is the right thing to do!
Euthanizing treatable cats was not something we wanted to do.