Rescuing and adopting cats in Hamilton

NEWS ALERT July - December 2013

December 29, 2013

Happy New Year, Dear Cosette!

This blue cream tortie arrived at HAS as "just another stray." It's shocking how many of these stunningly beautiful cats end up there and sad that so many, confined as they are in small cages, succumb over time to sickness or become so despondent that they end up being euthanized just because they've given up hope.

But this little girl had a glow about her and, even after 2 long months of waiting to be rescued, she remained sweet natured and retained an optimistic twinkle. She was a shelter favourite.

As time passed and Christmas approached, the staff, who had come to know and love her, were becoming more and more desperate to get her out.

The "festive season" is a tough time at HAS because, amidst all the holiday cheer it's especially difficult to come face-to-face with the reality that some of the cats there (sometimes even healthy ones) will get euthanized simply due to overcrowding - and, it was awful to think that, as a long-time resident, even she was at risk.

The staff kept hoping a rescue group would take her to safety but, for whatever reason, she just kept getting overlooked. Till, one day just before Christmas, one of the HAS staff told a Forever Home Cat Rescue (FHCR) volunteer, who had come in to rescue some kittens, about her and asked her to please take just a minute to meet her. And this little cat, getting this chance to demonstrate how adoptable she was, "sold herself" to the volunteer and got rescued.

This was a heartwarming moment at HAS and for this little cat, who quickly acquired the name Cosette (after the beloved character in Les Miserables), it was like a Christmas miracle. She got to spend Christmas, not lonely in a cage at an overcrowded shelter, but instead safe and warm in a loving foster home.

And, right after Christmas, having been checked by a vet (who declared her very healthy), vaccinated and spayed, Cosette got back into her carrying case and went with her foster mom to the adoption centre at the PetSmart store in Stoney Creek where a second miracle happened.

Cosette, curious to explore her new surroundings and not even yet settled into a cage in the adoption centre, got instantly adopted!

She'll be celebrating New Year's Eve with her parents in her purrfect forever home. Undoubtedly, all her friends at HAS and at FHCR will want to shout out:

Happy New Year, Cosette!


November 20, 2013

Happy Endings

In late October RHC was contacted about 3 kittens, the offspring of a feral mother living on the McMaster campus in Hamilton. Two undergrads had succeeded in rescuing the lucky trio and were caring for them in their room. The kittens were thriving - feeling warm, safe and loved; they were settling in fine but clearly they couldn't stay. The problem was how to find them permanent homes.

No rescue group had responded to the girls’ emails and, when the girls realized that they weren't hearing back because all the rescues were full to capacity, struggling with bills, and swamped with pleas for help, they thought about what they could do. They understood. And they knew that HAS was also overcrowded and that, if they dropped these adorable kittens there, they might well succumb to illness or be euthanized due only to lack of space. They just couldn't take that chance. They wanted to guarantee the kittens they had rescued would get adopted.

So, they called around and found a vet who offered to give them a reduced fee for the first shots. Yes - there really are some compassionate veterinarians in Hamilton who, when asked, offer to help.

Then the girls took a great picture, showed it around, and talked to friends, relatives and anyone they met; they got the word out about the plight of these kittens.

And doors opened! One of the kittens moved in with a neighbour, another with a relative and the third with a lady who was referred to them.

It's a heartwarming story and one in which we, at RHC, are excited to have played a small part. And it’s not the only "Happy Ending" story we’ve heard about recently. Here are summaries of a couple of the others:

- a kind lady in the east end who, already caring for several cats of her own, took in a desperate mom and her two lovely kittens and ended up keeping the mom, getting her spayed, and searching out homes for her lovely orange babies.

- a couple who found a cat with a punctured eye, took her to a vet to have her checked for a microchip, discovered she was pregnant, took her home so she could have her kittens in their shed, and worked out a reduced fee for necessary shots with the vet who then helped find homes for the kittens.

These stories show us that Rescuing Hamilton Cats isn't just about what HAS and the rescue groups can do, but also about what happens when people in the City take the initiative to do whatever is in their power to create "happy endings" for lost, homeless and abandoned cats who cross their paths.


November 4, 2013

Tickertape of Stats

Something few people know is that HAS tracks, and reports weekly on, the # of cats it takes in and what happens to them. These numbers don’t tell the whole story but the current ones do give some sense of what is actually happening. Reliance on out-of-date ones is sure to distort the picture. So, as a new feature of this web site, we’ve added a tickertape at the bottom of our HOME page and we’re updating that every week so as to provide the most current Year-to-Date figures on Intake, Return to Owner, Transferred out to Rescues, and Euthanized.

Now, just two months from the end of the year, these weekly numbers are worth keeping an eye on. What they appear to be revealing are some interesting (and even hopeful) trends. It they continue, a comparison of the 2013 #s with those of 2012, may confirm that Intake is continuing to go down, the # of cats being rescued is actually (for the first time) rising, and the # ending up being euthanized is dramatically down. And that would indeed be a bit of good news.


October 11, 2013

Kitten Season / Mother Season

"Kitten Season" is the term used to refer to the time of year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters with litters of kittens.

Extending from early Spring into late Fall, it’s a difficult time at Hamilton Animal Services (HAS) – too often the shelter becomes overcrowded beyond capacity and, due to sickness, stressful conditions, and sheer lack of space, cats - including orphaned kittens, mothers with their babies and pregnant mothers - get scheduled to be euthanized.

As the minutes tick down, HAS staff send out urgent pleas to the rescue groups. These pleas are heart wrenching. Rescue groups rush in, taking out as many as they can, feeling terrible about the ones they have to leave behind and worrying about how they’ll manage to care for, and find homes for, the ones they rescue.

Over the months, as Vet costs to treat the sick and injured ones pile up on top of the bills for routine shots, spay/neuters and day-to-day food and litter, money drains away. And, when adoptions are slow (as they tend to be in the summer), and the feline families keep arriving, there’s a really sad point when they can take no more.

We're well into October now and, while Kitten Season may be slowing down, it’s clearly not over. At HAS, kittens, mothers and pregnant cats continue to arrive - overcrowding remains an issue and urgent pleas to save lives continue to be sent out.

And, at this time of year, while rescue groups have gotten homes for many of the kittens they’ve saved, they’re racing (against the clock) to get homes for those kittens still in their care before these kittens grow up and lose that kittenhood appeal that serves to draw adopters to them.

But what to do about all the mothers left behind?

This is the time of year that could be referred to as “Mother Season,” the time when so many mother cats, having seen their litters go and having been spayed to avoid further litters, need to get adopted too and when the Rescue Groups are urgently needing help to find them homes.

So we’ve posted, as the Featured Cat on our Adoption Page, one of these lovely mothers. Having raised her 5 kittens and seen them find their forever homes, Willow is left, as so many mother cats are, wondering if her turn will ever come. She’s the face for all the mothers still waiting – our Poster Cat for Mother Season 2013.




July 21, 2013

77 and counting

By Sunday July 14th, 77 cats had been euthanized at HAS for no reason other than  “space” – a recurring problem since April. Too often in the summertime there are just too many cats there and when there's no room left at the shelter for new arrivals, it's the long term residents who may have to go.

Meet Taz, the Tortie. She was destined to be #78. The info card on her cage had been marked X/TS to show that on the next “vet day,” she was to be euthanized due to time and space. There was nothing wrong with her. She'd just been there a long time (waiting to be rescued), the shelter was full and her luck appeared to have run out.

But a volunteer with an out-of-town rescue group who had came in to take some other cats, saw Taz's lovely face and she just couldn't leave her behind. So, she left with one more cat than she'd intended to take.

When the next "Vet Day" (the term used to refer to days when the vet is scheduled to euthanize animals) came around,Taz was already on her way to a better life. And the rescue groups had managed to get enough out that no cat had to be euthanized that Vet Day simply due to lack of space.

It's great to know that Taz is safe, relaxed and waiting now to get adopted. But it's still summertime; more cats and kittens are coming in.

HAS is filling up again and others, as lovely as Taz, will be killed for “time and space.”

There will be, or already has been, a #78.



RE: "Here's your chance to save some fluffy little lives." The Hamilton Spectator Front Page story, July 4, 2013:

This time of year, when adoptions are slow and HAS is flooded not only with strays and unwanted cats but also with huge numbers of kittens and pregnant cats, the organizations that rescue from there are feeling the pressure. All of these groups are working hard - rescuing as many as they possibly can. Many are already filled to capacity.

These groups need adoptions to happen at a much faster pace to free up space and make it possible to respond to the urgent pleas to rescue more.

The July 4, 2013 article focuses on one organization, the HBSPCA. By drawing public attention to their week-long $100 adoption fee reduction, it helped make that initiative successful.

A follow-up article (“More than 50 felines saved by a whisker”) reports that there had been 50 adoptions and that's certainly good news. It means that the HBSPCA has space again and can resume rescuing cats. But it does not mean, as the article may have implied, that "the cat crisis" is over.

During "kitten season," of which there is no end in sight, HAS often becomes packed beyond capacity. This week, next week and well into the fall there will be days when time is running out for cats and kittens awaiting rescue.

The municipal staff at HAS wants these felines to make it out alive. They and the HBSPCA, along with all the cat rescue groups involved, are doing what they can. It's important for the public to remember that it's adoptions that keep that rescue effort moving; the title of that first article, "Here's your chance to save some fluffy little lives," says it well.