This week I’m grateful for animal rescuers, their network of foster people, and veterinarians, especially those involved with Forever Friends Foundation, the Euclid Beach Cat Project, and the many other local rescue groups with which they work. It’s never an easy job to take in sick, injured, neglected, and terrified cats and dogs.

It’s never easy to have to choose animals to save from the shelters; or to go pick up animals when called by the general public. It’s never easy to set the humane traps for endangered strays or feral colony members in need of being tagged, neutered and released (TNR). It’s a year round, running battle that literally never ends.

Tis the season for Moms and kits; if it were not for the efforts of the fosters, most of them would have no place to go but back on the streets in colonies, exposed to the elements, disease, vehicles, and predators.

These are the people who go out night and day, transport animals to and from veterinarian appointments, between foster homes, to and from adoption centers. These are the folks who see animals at their worst, nurse them back to health, and bury or cremate the ones that don’t survive. They do all of this without pay; day in, day out.

They watch over the feral colony cats and scramble to rescue the abandoned strays they get dumped. Some people think their pet will be fine with a colony, but colony cats will not accept outsiders; they hang around the outskirts and get attacked unless a caretaker realizes they are new and not a feral at all; and scoops them up and into foster care.

They spare us the horrific details; they put smiles on their faces and tell us the stories of the beautiful, healthy, funny, friendly, ready-to-go-home-with-you kitties. They tell us what they know, fairly abbreviated; “found in a garage with the rest of his litter, abandoned, no mom, we couldn’t find her, he was bottle-fed. 

We all love cat memes. Ever stop to wonder how many of these kitty models were rescues that found their fur-ever homes and eventually became internet meme stars?

We don’t hear about the watery stools, the swollen bellies, the tests for various diseases then the process of determining which worm or parasite might be a contributor. We don’t hear about the siblings that didn’t make it; or the ones that did, but because of permanent disabilities as a result of illnesses or injuries, become special needs animals.

We don’t hear about the long nights caring for those who are seriously ill; the horror stories about Panleukopenia, feline distemper, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, and kills ninety percent of its victims. That is just one horrific disease among many. The cats missing one or both eyes; it is caused by awful, severe eye infections.

Many of the special needs become “foster fails”; others that are so traumatized by abuse that even the people who foster and care for them can’t touch them for years, if ever, also become “foster fails”. We sometimes hear about animal hoarding situations; rescuers often go in with local animal control to save the animals they can save.

If only all of the cats and kittens that were pulled into rescue groups were as healthy as this fellow. I thought about getting some photos from the folks at FFF and EBCP but many of them would make you bawl your eyes out. A lot of hard work, sleepless nights, medicines and surgeries, petting and tears goes into each cat and kitten before they make it to an adoption center.

They get to see first-hand what we don’t see; the deplorable conditions, the desperate circumstances that often lead to hoarding. Many times such situations are the result of well-meaning people who simply lack the resources to really help the animals in their care, and things get to a point where they are beyond their ability to manage.

They get to see first-hand the hoarding situations where the hoarder is a repeat offender, and they still remember the first visit, the second visit, the third visit, and the fourth. They testify in court cases, they show the documentation, the photographs, they still remember the dead bodies, and the survivors’ years later.

These are the people who, as if they did not have enough to do already, after all of the cleaning, feeding, medicating, socializing, they take the photographs and videos, they write the stories we do see shared on social media. And they are active in pet communities providing free advice to those who need it.

Ceiling Cat sez hug ur kitteh or puppeh today.

Everything they do they are able to do because of donations and adoption fees. The adoption fees are a tiny fraction of the cost of what it takes to save the lives of some of these cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. In the most severe cases, the rescues rely on their social networks for emergency donations; especially in disasters or hoarding situations.

The men and women of animal rescue are heroes. Without them, my own cats, Tanya, Sophie, Emma and Edgar likely never would have survived their first years. Tanya was rescued and adopted out originally in New York, rescued again and transported to a second fur-ever home after surviving two previous owners  one of which was my mom.

Sophie was rescued by a relative and local rescuer and also found her first fur-ever home with my mom. Emma was rescued by Cat Crossing and fostered with my relative; and Edgar was rescued, bottle-fed and fostered by a rescuer with Forever Friends Foundation. I am grateful for my cats; I am extremely grateful for those who rescue.

Currently, in addition to the typical high volume due to kitten season, Forever Friends Foundation and Euclid Beach Cat Project are working diligently with Able Animal Hospital to save cats and kittens rescued from a repeat animal hoarder in Garfield Heights Ohio.

If you are interested in donating; both organizations have Facebook pages and donations are always needed and always, always appreciated:

Euclid Beach Cat Project also has three volunteers collecting donations on their behalf; links are on the EBCP page.

And please don’t forget there are local rescues everywhere that are always in need of volunteers, supplies and emergency funds. Don’t forget them. If you can, consider volunteering, they are always looking for foster people.