Two of the friendly community cats we rescued from our neighborhood and surrendered to shelters this spring were adopted!
I’m so happy to share that Tootsie Anne Shirley was adopted from the Marshall County Animal Rescue League in West Virginia! She was the oldest kitty there at seven years old and the woman who’d been feeding her took her there right after we trapped her in April, right at the beginning of kitten season. I was concerned she’d have to wait to find her new person at that age with so many kittens around. But she was in the cat room, a lovely sunroom where she could find a quiet place on her own in one of the many cat trees or cat cubbies on the walls, or mingle with the other cats and enjoy the company of staff, volunteers and shelter visitors coming through the room. She was actually adopted over the summer, and her former caretaker told me she thought it was some time in June. I had been checking until vendor shows started in July, and probably just missed her adoption.
Here in southwestern Pennsylvania we know that shelters in West Virginia have traditionally been pretty bad places for animals because many are still the equivalent of the old dog pound with no intention of looking for an adoptive home for the animals they take in. Shelters, rescues and individuals have regularly taken animals out of those places just to give them a chance. But several shelters throughout the state have been completely changed by a lot of hard work and they are caring and safe places to surrender pets if necessary, Marshall County being one of them.
I remembered some pretty horrible things about a shelter by that name a few years ago, and indeed when I looked it up posts from 2015 came up, protests outside the shelter and letter-writing campaigns decrying the high kill rate at the place. But then the news stories followed that the old place was shut down and new people had redesigned the shelter and made it into an open door shelter with lots of resources for the community and its pets.
What’s in a name?
When we trapped her, my first thought was Tootsie, kind of like Tootsie Roll and it’s a cute name. But after having met her it didn’t seem right. I knew there was some goddess who had a good name for her, but when I looked it up I didn’t care for the goddess’s name either, but Anne as in Anne of Green Gables kept coming back to me as a name for her—abandoned, unwanted, but still social and talkative, and a red head, where torties have their ginger speckles. With the way she had conversations with us, I could just hear myself saying, “Anne Shirley, why did you do that?” And she would answer. When her caretaker took her to the shelter she gave them both names, and they used them all!
If you want to look into the shelter, here is the contact information.
MARSHALL COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER
37 ANIMAL SHELTER DR
MOUNDSVILLE, WV 26041
Emery showed up in the community cat colony on my street back in January. He was clearly friendly and socialized, and by about March he had settled into Denise’s place, choosing a shelter and a place to eat. When I was feeding her colony in April, I found he was friendlier and friendlier every day and could be handled by me, though I’m not his normal caretaker. Thanks to Merlin’s Safe Haven Cat Rescue for the loan of their chip scanner, we discovered he had a microchip, but when the shelter contacted the phone number associated with the chip the person said they had never had a cat. The original shelter left it up to us to either bring him in and surrender him or let him live with the colony as he was doing well with it, or if a home came along he could be adopted.
Having him scanned for a chip was difficult just for the timing of clinics or COVID cautions at veterinarians. I got to know him in April as I fed the gang while she and her husband were away, and he was reliably present, friendly, hungry, sweet, just an all-around nice cat, the kind you know someone would miss, and the kind you know belonged with someone at one time.
It’s one of the things you hope when you care for community cats, that if a cat is lost you can reunite it with its owner. Because food is one of the first things cats look for when they escape and can’t get back home, showing up where someone is feeding community cats is a likely thing to happen. It doesn’t happen very often, but cats aren’t chipped at the rate dogs are, though the numbers are increasing.
A few other kitties eating at Denise’s place are somewhat friendly too, so I thought borrowing a chip scanner might be a better idea. I asked Sherry from Merlin’s Safe Haven Cat Rescue, which is about a mile away, and Sherry is often around our town helping cats. She dropped it off just about the time Denise came back. I could have scanned Emery with no problem, but since we also wanted to scan as many as possible Denise would be the best one to do that since she can pet or even brush many of them. I wouldn’t want my presence to scare them off. I showed her how to use it and she went back to feed dinner.
She messaged me a short while later with a screenshot of the scanner—Emery had a chip! She was surprised how fast it came up–she turned it on sitting next to him and it beeped almost immediately while the number came up in the screen. That would be pretty exciting on your first try scanning a cat! I sent the screen shot to Sherry and she started looking it up and found it was traced to one of our local shelters from February 2015. This was even more exciting!
But in a disappointing twist, the chip was still registered to the shelter, and the adopter when contacted said they had never adopted or even owned a cat. We still had Emery, and the shelter said we had the choice to take him to the shelter or keep him where he was. The shelter practices “return to field” or “return to home” wherein the shelter determines by the surrendered cat’s condition if they will keep the cat, or, if it’s healthy and seems content, they’ll return it to where it came from even if it’s living outdoors because an often overcrowded shelter is often not a good place for a cat. This helps them keep their populations down and allows them to focus on cats who need medical help or don’t have even an outdoor place to live safely with food and shelter.
Denise and I discussed whether or not to surrender him. Even though he was a sweet orange boy, Denise feeds around 12 cats twice a day, and Emery was very much adoptable. After obviously being abandoned at least once before, he deserved a real forever home, not a life on the street. I checked with my contacts in Homeless Cat and Pittsburgh CAT to see if we had any options for him there. Everyone has been overwhelmed with cats this year but HCMT helped arrange a surrender to Beaver County Humane Society, who had space and actually had a lot of success adopting out cats like Emery. I’ve taken a few there and assisted others in taking friendly community cats there too, like Blue and the fluffy orange cat from our neighborhood.
A few weeks after we surrendered him I found his listing on their website, and apparently he’s a real hoot!
“…I am a big flirt and will vie for your affection. I’ll roll all around and meow until I get your attention. I love to be with people. Once you start petting me, I will give you head butts and purr up a storm….”
Below is a screenshot of Emery’s listing on te shelter’s Pet Harbor site.
Emery was adopted some time over the summer too. Sometimes it takes a village to save a cat and teamwork works! Thanks to the Homeless Cat Management Team, Beaver County Humane Society and Merlin’s Safe Haven Cat Rescue, and to Denise and the caretakers like her who look for options for the cats in their care.
If you get a chance, consider a donation to any of these three organizations for the work they do to help all cats.
And you can donate to our neighborhood group, Cubbage Hill Cats
And now our little group has its own PayPal account so that you can donate to help us care for the community cats we serve. We have about 40 among all the known colonies we are caring for, and plenty who wander among them. They never stop showing up, and we do our best to find out if they belong to anyone, and to give them whatever care they need, whether it be TNR and a shelter, veterinary care, food and love, or a ride to a shelter that will help them find a new forever home. Our name is Cubbage Hill Cats, and you can donate to us on PayPal in three ways:
1. Search PayPal for CubbageHillCats@bernadette-k.com and donate. When I set up the account I had to use an email address so I made one up on my own hosting account.
2. Click this link to donate PayPal.me/CubbageHillCats and follow instructions when it opens in a separate window.
3. Use the “donate” button below.
Donations are not tax-deductible because we are not a 501(c)3, but all donations will go to help the cats in our neighborhood, from TNR to rescue and foster to food for ferals. We went through about $300 for our cats this summer, and all donations are very much appreciated.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!