Feral Fixers began as an organization in the Fall of 2007. The number of ferals euthanized at DuPage County Animal Care and Control in 2007 was 521, too soon to tell if we were having an impact. In 2008, the number fell to 486, still on the early side. In 2009, the number of ferals euthanized dropped to 314, a decrease of 35%. Last year, in 2010, 243 ferals were euthanized, an additional decrease of 15%. This is a decrease of 50% since 2008! Almost across the board, intake and euthanasia of all cats at DuPage County is lower in the last three years! And their cat adoptions are up!

I’m very happy to see that the number of cats brought to DuPage County for aggression and behavior problems is down, perhaps assisted by the number of cats that we have neutered for people who just could not afford the cost for their own pets. Litter box problems are caused in part by raging hormones.

This is such a win-win for cats and humans alike!

As If They Were Our Own

Feral Fixers has become a “shelter” for ferals and strays. We did not set out to be that, but it has happened nonetheless. When there are injured cats outside, we get the call. When ferals get upper respiratory infections, we get the call. And when these cats turn “friendly”, we get the call. We cannot turn these cats away, they deserve the same quality of care that any inside, “owned” cat would get.

This has brought us to our Summer fundraiser – “As If They Were Our Own.” As you can imagine, costs mount up when making trips to the vet. They can be as simple as a former feral turning friendly and needing a snap test in order to go into a shelter adoption program. A feral develops an URI and needs a Convenia (long acting antibiotic injection) shot. Or they can be as complex as a cat who can go to a shelter for adoption but needs an echocardiogram because they need to know how severe his heart murmur is prior to adopting him out, or a cat with an atrophied right front leg that needs that leg amputated in order to be pain free for the rest of her life. A whole slew of cats with abscessed front paws due to fighting or accident. There have been a few that were beyond healing and required euthanasia.

Just as you would not hesitate to bring your cat to full health, neither do we. We don’t get crazy, we know our limitations, but these cats just seem to be attracted to us because we will care for them and make them better. And then set them free if that is what they choose. Last year our costs for vet services other than spay/neuter were about $1,500. We seem to be on track to go well beyond that at this time.

Once again our matching funds donor has offered to match funds up to $1,000! We would like that to go towards our “As If They Were Our Own” Fundraiser. Our average expense per cat that we bring into the vet is $35, they have been as high as several hundred, as low as $8. This fundraiser will start on May 1st and will be prominently displayed on our website. Please help us to continue caring for these cats and help us to save them from pain and slow death due to infection and injury.

Fosters Needed

You may have noticed our newsletters are not showing up on the 1st of the month or anywhere close to that. Part of that is my fault, as there are only so many hours in a day and believe it or not, there is a limit to how many can be spent on Feral Fixers.

I currently have seven cats in my care. Beau, the echocardiogram cat, Lisa, the amputation candidate, Willow who is almost completely recovered from his severe leg wound, Marty who seemed recovered from URI but now has symptoms again, Chloe who had trouble adjusting to children in the foster she was in, Tom who had a huge load of worms and now has URI, and Tiara, a “mean” cat that just wasn’t spayed before she was brought into a home with children. Beau and Chloe will be leaving soon (crossing my fingers), Lisa will go to a shelter as soon as she is recovered from her surgery, Willow needs to go onto a foster where he can run around and build up the muscles in his leg…

I have a special knack with some cats but am more than willing to share! To give them all the attention that they really need would take more than 4 hours a day because there are so many of them. I’m really amazed at how patient they are, they seem to understand that I have limited amounts of time, but I wish they didn’t have to be shortchanged in this way.

Not everyone can foster. They need to be sensitive to the cats but firm because cats will walk all over you if they think they can! They need to be aware of the limitations of our organization, sometimes the cats don’t move to shelters very quickly and then, whoosh, they all go at once. It’s a huge investment of time, but the rewards are huge and the cats are extremely grateful!

The cats that need fostering are not all cute, 4 week old kittens. Many adults are coming in from the cold to enjoy life indoors and they need to have a chance to experience a room of their own and prove that they can use a litter box!

If you have that to offer, please contact us!!!

And then you will get your newsletters on time!!!

Spay/Neuter is the Cure!

My trip to the SNIP Summit hosted by Humane Alliance in North Carolina was very educational and rewarding. I had the pleasure of reconnecting with people I’ve only been able to e-mail recently and meet in person people I’ve only interacted with online.

Anyone who has benefited from the use of our drop traps should know that Laura Burns, of HubCats is a warm, wonderful person who is trying to overcome the challenges of TNR in her own area. With limited access to low cost spay/neuter, she is looking to start her own s/n clinic to remove that roadblock. We all have our own individual challenges with TNR, yet we share so much!

I did have a chance to speak to Bryan Kortis, formerly of Neighborhood Cats, now program manager for PetsMart Charities Grant Program. He convinced me that while cumbersome, their grant program might be a good fit for Feral Fixers and we’ll be looking into that soon.

There was one vendor there, Austin Cotton – they produce Rescue shirts, caps, etc. Many items promoted spay/neuter by 5 months. No one had explained the 2 pounds/3 months (or sooner) goal of early spay/neuter. They were very receptive and I hope they will make a change to their product line. We have seen proof that 5 months is too late, cats are already having their own kittens by that time.

I wore a Feral Fixers shirt everywhere and it was extremely gratifying to hear comments as I passed thru the halls or workshops “Feral Fixers, that’s a great name!” Even when we weren’t in the conference, the general public wanted to know more about what a feral was and what we did.

One workshop was very important, they had documented proof that cats neutered in the months of March, April and May had a greater impact on the ending size of a colony and the number of cats that end up at animal control than cats neutered at any other time of the year. There are more litters born in the spring and the litters are of greater size with more survivors. That doesn’t mean that any neuter is wasted, just that those in the spring have a greater overall impact. Don’t know how we could work any harder than we already are, but this definitely gives us inspiration to continue!

Both PetsMart and the ASPCA offer grant programs to increase spay/neuter. Humane Alliance offers to train organizations in the use of their spay/neuter clinic model (I had not been aware that the Tree House Bucktown location is a HA clinic), with 90 clinics across the US. ASPCA is also offering training in their mobile clinic model. There has been great progress in high volume low cost spay/neuter and it really seems to be kicking into gear.

And, from talking to other organizations – WE ARE SO LUCKY! We have volunteers, we have donors, we have much less opposition from local government and residents than other organizations do. Our thanks to everyone who helps us, each and every day, to make a difference!

The phrase that will stick with me –

Euthanasia is a disease – spay/neuter is the cure!

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