Life Saving Work: On the Importance of Fostering

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Ghost, before and after foster care with Ten Lives Cat RescueAt Ten Lives Cat Rescue, foster volunteers are the core of our work and the essence of our mission.  We do not have a physical shelter, which means when asked to take in a new cat we can only do so if a foster home is available.  We talk about this a lot on our other platforms, but today we’re going to dive into the details of why fostering is so important and how it makes a life changing and life saving difference for these cats.

Shelters can be great; they can save a large number of animals from life on the street, from bad situations and harsh weather, from starvation and abuse.  Shelters are able to optimize the amount of cats they can accept in a way foster homes simply cannot.  And, of course, many animals they take in do well and go on to be adopted by their forever families.  The reality, however, is that no matter how hard a shelter tries to ensure their cats are comfortable and happy, it isn’t the right environment for every animal.  In fact, shelters can be overwhelming, even terrifying, for many cats.  In turn, this causes animals to feel extreme stress and leads to them suppressing their true personalities.  They hide, isolate themselves from potential adopters, grow depressed, or even refuse to eat—and as a result, they are passed up by families looking to adopt time and time again.

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Charlie, before and after becoming a happy foster cat

This is where foster homes become so vitally important.  Cats in foster care learn what it’s like to live in a home, something many cats have never experienced.  They get one-on-one attention with their foster family, learning essential socialization skills while being given the time they need to come out of their shell.  They begin to realize that not all humans are scary; they learn to trust and understand what it means to be given affection and love and be part of a family.  They become braver and more confident, and they do all this in a relaxing, safe environment.  Cats who were previously strays, neglected, or in shelter cages open up once they’re in foster care, allowing their true personalities to shine through and giving them a chance to work on any fears and traumas they may have from past experiences.  Shy, nervous, and timid cats who need extra time and patience can then blossom, becoming happier and better adjusted.

Foster homes are absolutely life changing for the cats who are deemed unadoptable by many shelters.  Cats with special needs, those with injuries or illnesses, pregnant or nursing cats, and litters of young kittens especially benefit from the extra time and care they receive with their foster families.  Being in a home also means the foster volunteers learn things about each individual cat, such as what foods they prefer, whether they would do well in a home with other animals or small children, along with any health issues that must be addressed.  This allows fostered cats to be better matched to potential adopters, and significantly reduces the risk of them being surrendered or returned.

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From abandoned to loved: foster cat Walter

Now that we’ve covered some of the extraordinary and life saving benefits fostering provides to the cats, let’s take a look at what fostering requires for their human counterparts.  All you need is a spare room in your home and compassion in your heart, and you can begin the process of becoming a foster.  The length of time a cat stays in their foster home depends upon their specific needs and situation; it can be anywhere from weeks to months, but fostering costs nothing for the volunteer—all food, litter, medical care, and other expenses are covered by Ten Lives Cat Rescue.  Fostering is an amazing way to help save homeless cats, and it comes with the flexibility that typical volunteer positions cannot offer.  If the lifetime commitment of adopting a cat is something you are unable to do at the moment, fostering is also a wonderful way to enjoy the companionship our furry friends provide while making a difference. 

Most importantly, by allowing these cats a temporary respite in your home, you are absolutely and immediately saving a life.  And it doesn’t end there; as a foster you are dramatically improving the quality of that life, too.  By providing a warm home, some kindness and love, you are giving these animals another chance so they may find their forever family.  And really, what’s better than that?

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Former foster Eclipse

Fostering saves lives. 

You can, too!  Ready to make a difference and become part of the Ten Lives Cat Rescue team?  Click here!

Spotted a Stray? Here’s How You Can Help!

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Have you ever been driving along or walking outside when you come across a cat?  Were you uncertain what to do, how to help, or even if your help was needed?  Unsure how to tell if the cat might be feral or someone’s outdoor pet versus a lost or abandoned cat?  Well, keep reading!  Below we’ll help break down what to do in different situations and just how you can aid cats in your neighborhood.

So, you found a cat.  First things first: let’s try to determine whether this cat is feral or a lost/abandoned pet.  Feral cats were born and raised outdoors, in the wild—in other words, they’ve had very little, if any, human contact.  These cats are sometimes called community cats and often form colonies.  Due to their lack of human contact, they tend to be skittish and afraid of people–and will typically do their best to avoid humans entirely.  If you bring out food, they may allow some form of contact, but even in such cases the majority of feral cats will wait for you to leave before going near said food.  Most feral cats won’t accept being handled and are, sadly, too often euthanized or refused at shelters.  Overall, the situation for cats at shelters is dire: 60% of cats admitted are euthanized.  Yet when it comes to feral cats, that number drastically increases to a nearly 100% euthanasia rate.  Their circumstances are in no way their fault and they deserve far better.  TNR (trap neuter and return) is the only viable option to save the lives of feral cats.  TNR organizations will often tip an ear to tell you that this cat has already been spayed/neutered; many of these organizations also help to feed feral cat colonies, but if you find a colony, it’s best to contact a local rescue organization (such as TLCR) to find out whether they are being cared for.  As well, humane traps are available from most rescue organizations and shelters.  If you believe you have found a feral cat that is not being cared for, get in touch with a local TNR group for assistance.

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Example of a tipped ear

A lost or abandoned cat, however, is familiar with humans and often reliant on them for care.  They have more difficulty adapting to and coping with life outdoors.  If you happen upon such a cat, they may be comfortable enough around you to meow, demand attention, rub against you, or purr.  Of course, not all domesticated cats are at ease around strangers, but as a whole they are much more willing than a feral cat would be.  Remember, too, that some cats are allowed outdoors by their owners and therefore not stray.  In such a case, they really should be wearing tags to identify this, but collars can come off and some cats simply refuse to wear them.

If the cat you’ve found doesn’t seem feral, approach them slowly.  Try not to make sudden movements or loud noises, and until you know more about said cat’s behavior and personality, be wary of being scratched or bitten if you push beyond his or her comfort zone. Try luring the cat into a carrier (or even a cardboard box) using strong-smelling food like tuna, sardines, or wet cat food.  If you are unable to confine or catch the cat, call a local rescue service for help.  Ten Lives Cat Rescue can educate and help with trapping!

Once you have the cat in your care, bring them to a shelter or veterinarian to scan for a microchip.  Microchips can be great for helping reunite lost cats with their owners.  If they do not have one, it’s time to reach out to all local shelters to see if anyone has been searching for their missing cat.  Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, can be amazing resources for reuniting missing pets as well.  Pet Finder is a terrific site, too!  If the cat was found in a neighborhood, try asking around or putting up found cat posters throughout the area.

If you are able, give the cat shelter until their family is found.  Cats can easily be contained in a spare bedroom, office, or bathroom.  Just be sure the cat has plenty of fresh water, food, a litter box (disposable ones are great for temporary care) and proper shelter from the elements.  If no one comes forward, you’ll need to decide whether you are interesting in adopting the cat yourself!  If you are, get into contact with a local shelter and ask them how your state handles adopting strays, as this can vary by area.  Bring the cat to a vet to get a full examination and learn more about their gender, age, and health.  If you are unable to adopt the found cat, bring them to a no-kill shelter or rescue organization such as Ten Lives!  We provide cats foster homes, where they will be safe and cared for until they find their forever family.

Perhaps most importantly, if the cat you’ve found appears in any way injured, sick, or generally unhealthy—even if they are feral—please reach out to a rescue (or veterinarian, if you are able to trap the kitty) for urgent help.  No one deserves to suffer such a fate, and you may very well be saving a life!  Ten Lives Cat Rescue will do everything in our power to help you in this endeavor.  We truly believe that action saves lives.

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It’s Kitten Season! Meet Gracie: Ten Lives’ First Pregnant Cat

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Gracie was left to fend for herself outside when a wonderful human found her, gained her trust, and brought her inside—which is when she found out this sweet girl is expecting a litter of kittens, but guess what?  At about one year old, Gracie is barely an adult.  In fact, you might say she’s still just a baby herself!  Now, as a Ten Lives’ cat, Gracie is being pampered in her foster home while she awaits the arrival of her kittens in a safe, loving environment.  Once she gives birth and her babies are fully weaned, this very friendly girl will be available for adoption

 

As sweet as Gracie is, unfortunately her story is far too common.  With the arrival of kitten season (which spans from approximately March to October), rescues see cats like Gracie and kittens like her soon-to-be-born babies each and every day.  As cute as kitten season sounds, the reality is anything but—female cats can become pregnant as early as four to five months of age, and are able to give birth every four months.  With each litter averaging 3-5 kittens, a single cat is capable of birthing hundreds of kittens in her lifetime!  Many of these families never make it to shelters, either becoming feral or meeting much worse fates, and those that do put an enormous strain on a rescue’s resources, time, and space.  Euthanasia is another terrible reality during kitten season, with certain shelters choosing to abort pregnancies to avoid overcrowding.  Kittens are adorable, innocent beings, but as you can see, kitten season can be a devastating time.

That’s why spaying and neutering are such important procedures, but their benefits don’t end with reducing overpopulation!  Did you know spayed females tend to live longer than their unspayed counterparts?  This is partially due to the taxing, dangerous birthing process, but both male and female cats benefit from neutering and spaying; the risk of certain cancers and infections are reduced, some of which can be fatal.  Plus, neutered males no longer spray, and tend to be calmer and get along better with other cats, too.  Spayed females will no longer spray to attract mates, nor will they go into heat—which happens frequently throughout their breeding season.  Spaying and neutering are safe procedures that help ensure cats live longer, healthier lives, all while working to reduce overpopulation in cats.

So, what can you do to help?

  • Foster!  Ten Lives is always looking for more foster homes, and all you need is a spare room and your love and time!
  • Can’t foster?  Donate!  As a non-profit, we rely on donations to save lives.  Check out our wish list for items we need, or make a tax-deductible donation here.  Can’t donate?
  • Volunteer!
  • Raise awareness by sharing this page!  And if you have cats at home, please, make sure they’re spayed and/or neutered!

To keep up with Gracie’s journey (and her babies!) follow Ten Lives on Instagram and Facebook!

FIV Myths Debunked

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FIV Myths Debunked

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Ten Lives truly believes that an informed adopter is the best adopter. There are a lot of myths surrounding FIV positive cats and it’s easy to buy into them if you have a qualified professional sharing those myths with you! But we’re here to say (along with MANY reputable veterinary professionals and shelters) that they’re just myths and the science proves it! Ten Lives has made a commitment to saving homeless, abused, abandoned, and forgotten cats- regardless of their FIV status- because we believe that they deserve loving families, too.