Ep 52 - Ask Stacy! Questions and Answers for Inquiring Cats
The. You turned into the community cats podcast ready. Let's cal. Hello. And welcome to the community cats podcast. I'm your guest host Lisa Finkel. And that means that it's time for another episode of asks Stacey, we really wanna thank those of you who posted questions for Stacey. On our community cats podcast Facebook page, and we're actually going to be using those as the basis for today's show along with several other topics. So keep those questions coming folks, we really want to be good resource and giving the information that you were looking for in the meantime, Stacy thanks again for being a guest on your own show. Lisa thanks again for joining me. Happy to do it. I know that on the website. You have a little video that talks about how you got started and rescue. But I wonder if those people who haven't had a chance to watch that yet tell us about how you got started. Sometimes you say it's always starts with one CAD is that I would start it for you. Well, I've always had cats in my life. I grew up with a cat. At a very grumpy always thought to be old cat because she was like seven years old when I was born. So I learned how to deal with. I guess you would say the aggressive grumpy cat from very early age. So I've never been thought of as really a crazy cat loving person. But I've always had a cat in my life. So I guess I have to qualify it. We've always been a single cat household Intel I entered into the realm of rescue, which obviously than the numbers tend to have an exponential changing at that point in time. I got started with the Merrimack river feline rescue society, which has been the first and only group that I've really worked with back in nineteen ninety four it really started with just a knowledge of their first adoption center that they had I had been at the local veterinarians picking up some food for my current cat that I had adopted in college in New York, and I also had found a small kitten in newburyport just walking home from getting ice cream. So I did have a local newburyport cat in my life. Little did. I know that. That she was one of several hundred that we're living in newburyport at that time. And I found a brochure for the group. And I said, well, I could give them a donation. I could give them some food. And so I started out by just giving donation and food then I got on their mailing list. And they sent out a mailing saying we're looking for a secretary. And I said, well, my college graduate, I can type I can take minutes. And so I put my name in the hat. I sent my resume in with a cover letter. I was working in real estate at that time. So the board was interested in talking with me, and they met with me, and I became the secretary at that point in time. I also had gone up into our adoption center and nine hundred ninety four which was brand new, and they were just still trying to finish building it out with cages and stuff. There were two wonderful wonderful people up there with about eighty cats in a very small space. And they looked overworked overwhelmed and exhausted. And I thought well, I got to do something to try and help these poor women and these cats, and I. Knew it wasn't going in there and scooping letterboxes. I knew that I had a lot of administrative skills. I had done fundraising in junior high and high school. I was my class treasurer from seventh grade to my senior year in high school. So I just came back from my high school reunion of thirty years, and everyone I talked to when I came that. They just said, hey treasurer how you doing? So I think I had a bit of a reputation at that point in time of liking to count the money and liking to fundraise also. So I guess it was in my blood that I offer those skills to the Meramec river feline rescue society at that time. So by nine hundred ninety five I had become vice president of the board of directors. And then in ninety six I became the president and primarily being on the board. You are making a significant commitment to being responsible for fundraising for that organization. So, you know, if you wanna be volunteer and help out with the operations that can be a role on a board of directors. But oftentimes the board is much more focused on that fundraising component from ninety six on onto. Two thousand twelve or so I was focusing on always just raising funds and building the Amara frus program by certainly war enough of the director of operations hat than my daughter when she was little she and I used to go to the shelter. Every Sunday, we would clean the cages in the morning. We do adoptions on Sunday afternoons. So you name it pretty much done everything other than the surgeries. I really don't like drawing blood and doing vaccines. I get definitely squeamish around the needles. That's amazing the way one act can just suck you win. And suddenly make you realize you've infound important place for yourself. Yeah. I'm sure it was probably a random thought some at. Hey, let's just put in this letter that we're looking for a secretary for the board. But the fact was they asked, you know, that's the important part is they reached out to everyone that they knew to ask to fill this position. And a lot of people when they think about board recruitment. They think of it is being a very small focused effort and what they did was. They just threw it out there through it against the wall. To see where it hit, and it was really very very successful. So I always feel like when you're looking to recruit you recruit everywhere all the time. It's a great piece of advice. You really never know where your next great director or volunteer is coming from. Yeah. If they hadn't asked what I never have been involved with them. I don't know. Stacey someone asked on Facebook too, heavy tell us about your most difficult trapping challenge. And how you handled it. Yeah. So this is a good story at happened in the late nineties. It was a feral cat colony that was in Salisbury. It was one that we hadn't done anything with. But yet the state had determined that. There was an injured raccoon that had died in tested positive for rabies. So there was a colony of about thirty cats that had all been living in the same shed with this raccoon in Massachusetts. We have very strict rabies quarantine law, which is that if there are cats without a current rabies vaccine or proof of current rabies vaccine, they must be quarantined for six months if they. Have a wound or known exposure, this was known exposure. So that meant that these thirty cats needed to be quarantined for six months now, the state could have required that we trap those cats in euthanize them, but through some negotiations, and I will thank the state for allowing us to do six-month quarantine with these cats. That's what they allowed us to do. So when we trapped these cats there are obviously a lot of kittens as well as adults about half of them tested positive for feline leukemia, and then the other Taff tested negative. So not only did we have to find a location to Corentin these cats for six months, but we had to find two locations because half of them were positive for feline, leukemia and the other half were negative. So we took our sick room in our shelter. And we quarantined the negative cats there, and then actually one of our founders had a renovated basement with multiple cages in the basement, and she took the other. Fifteen and Corentin them there. So she obviously used to be a great foster home for us in that tied her up as a foster home for six months, and then our shelter was very limited because what was a rabies quarantine room, which was a much smaller room became our sick room. And then the larger sick room became a rabies quarantine room. And we had those cats for six months, the upshot of the story is that we had those cats for six months, and they all socialized greatly. And they were all available for adoption, and we had six months to find homes for these cats. And so we were able to place all of those cats relatively quickly from their release date. But it was a huge challenge and stress on the organization, and obviously the trapping didn't happen in twenty four hours. We had to have a lot of trappers. They're very active. Luckily, the caretaker there was very supportive, and she was a participant in all the trapping to we got that colony fully removed. She did over the years have more cats move in. We either brought them in and had them put up for adoption. Or we TR them later on. But this was obviously post spoke to anything, but it was hugely challenging to an organization that was already busting at the seams, always overwhelmed with cats at that point in time. We were adopting out well over a thousand cats and kittens year, but yet we had the stagnant population that wasn't turning over so as a huge strain. But then seeing those cats get adopted at the end of their six month period was incredibly incredibly successful. And the fact that we were able to work on a project with the department of agriculture and such a successful way. I think was also a really nice effort to be able to convince multiple groups ah folks that TR and spay neuter getting those rabies vaccines into cats as the way to go great shore with unexpected ending would've thought that those cats would not have socialized. Well, but it's really wonderful that you were able to have them six months and have them turned into adoptable cats having so many of them were kittens. And I think than the adults were sort of first generation, Adele. Notes there might have been six or eight dull. And then a lot of the rest of them were kittens. So I think that obviously helped end the caretaker of this colony gosh, she loved those cats. So she did a lot of pre socializing with them. She was very bonded with them. But these cats were able to bond with others. What's turned from cat to people? Perhaps you can tell us a story about your most difficult people. Joe enjoy there in terms of working with a municipality or group and having to build some kind of consensus for a program or initiative. Sure. Yeah. So I would say was the first real effort that I did outside of my own backyard. So you know, I felt pretty confident in Salisbury in newburyport and amesbury networking and really wearing the tan our hat in that community because I had to say was we'll look at the waterfront the waterfront is done. So we can do TR in these surrounding towns, but I got involved in a situation in Franklin Massachusetts, which is called the Highwood condos, and it was really my first outreach attempts. This condo complex had about eighty feral kittens and cats there had been sort of ramshackle feeding stations setup there. But there were a lot of complaints from the condo station about the cats. And then there was a lot of anxiety with the group taking care of the cats. They were small they couldn't afford to get all the cat spayed or neutered. So they were still reproducing and that was causing even more stress because they were kittens up on people's decks. And so it wasn't really a fully managed colony. But the association didn't understand what life was like for a feral cat colony when it is properly managed versus one that wasn't fully sterilized. So I went in along with Laura Heffernan who now heads up the loyalty in our group, and we went and did a presentation with the property manager as well as to the trustees board about doing a really specific project. They're in ensuring that the kittens will be trapped they'll be placed that the adults are all going to get spayed or neutered. So what started out as a group of about eighty cats and kittens is now down to I believe about three, and they're fed by several of the residents there one of the most aggressive residents that was verbally advocating for the removal of the cats has become our strongest advocate in that whole process. We had a system in place. So if any new cats showed up that would be addressed she just really was great in the later stages. Somebody who you think is your enemy becomes your friend and really helped continue that project to be very very successful. And it was at project that allied allies had reported on and they were ready to storm in and do all this advocacy stuff. But yet we went in. And we said, hey, let's just say this is what we're gonna do. This is the project we're going to change this. If it's presented in a organized and professional way, it's an easy sell. Wtmj. Ling pony hadn't been managed quite right. People were rightly concerned that was going to come in from someplace else and take care of that. But the proof is in the pudding. Yeah. So for me, it was fun. And that's what really convinced me that. It was okay to kind of bounce outside of my local area and do some advisory stuff to be able to help other communities. And now, let's take a moment to listen to a few words from our sponsors ready to make a big difference for cats in your community. We've got an exciting opportunity that can jump start your efforts. The community cats podcast has launched community cats grants when you qualify for this innovative program, you'll gain valuable knowledge about how to raise funds for your Spain neuter efforts plus will match the funds you raise up two thousand dollars. Doubling your -bility to make a difference for cats fundraising doesn't have to be scary. We'll be with you every step of the way check it out. You can find all of the details on the community cats podcast website under our education menu. Let's join forces to make the world a better place for community cats. Let's switch gears a little bit. Stacey one of our friends on Facebook asked. What are your favorite? Sources of information on TNN are in Spain neuter, including two reels in other languages that can be shared with the community. So the standard resources are alley cat. Allies alley cat dot org neighborhood, cats in statehood, cats out org. Those are two that we always refer people to with regards to information for TR, and then the ASPCA HSS US. Also have great information and best friends animal society. Also has excellent information one thing that might not notice is there's a section ASPCA pro dot org. So it's a Certa separate website for people in the sheltering world, but the other interesting website that I found is called the multi lingual pet care library, and that's Scott a whole listing of all the. The Spanish and other language translations from a wide range of different websites that could be from us smaller group that just happens to need translation from a local area. So it includes some of the larger players like h s US and best friends. But yet, then there's also some smaller organizations. They're a couple of things from Texas in there. It's not the prettiest website, but it's a great listing of different information. So I highly recommend that folks checkout the multi-lingual pet care library, you just Google and it'll come right up. We'll make sure we put all of the sites that you mentioned in the show notes for this broadcast. But who would have ever thought that there was such a civic place to find the multilingual stuff? That's fantastic. Moving onto traps was a story. Someone shared 'bout using traps that ultimately thought they were safe enough for the cats. They get their head stuck there. You have a lot of experience with trappers and people who trap. What types of traps? Do you think of the safest and most effective? So I'm gonna just be short and sweet on this one the true catch traps. Those the ones that have the quiet door that comes down that the Brown traps. I recommend that everybody us. I'm not a fan of traps that slammed down that can potentially get somebody's paw or tail or that kind of thing. I like the true catch traps and the transfer cages, and I also would encourage any trapper out there to invest in a drop trap. Because I think that that can make your trapping a lot more time efficient because you're able to be pretty selective about who you're trapping, and you can also trap multiple cats at one time. You recently did a post on the blog that may had podcast blog about the pros and cons of fee. Waived adoption. There's very strong opinion. Pro and con we talk a little bit about that. And thoughts about making the right choice for your own shelter or rescue. Yeah. Sure. I mean, I think it's an interesting conversation that I think every organization has to certainly have conversation before the implemented. They have to communicate a lot of information with their staff as well as their volunteers who are in their lovingly, caring for the cats in the shelter fee. Waived adoptions are a necessary activity that needs to be done to help encourage the community support your local shelter at times when they're going to be over capacity. I definitely think that we are world of supply and demand issues, and we also have the shelters that hold sixty cats. No more no less or they have the structure for that. They can hold last, but that just have empty cages, but having more than sixty begins to compromise the whole population. So we need to do everything in our power to make sure that we can keep that population. As stable as possible in fee, waived adoptions, definitely one way of doing that in terms of the cons. Lisa. What are the cons that you would hear frequently? I hear it devalues the life of a cat free cats, although plenty of people get offered free cats, you know, in their neighborhoods that people will come who don't have the commitment to the animals simply because it's free that because they obviously want a free cat. They won't spend the appropriate money to take care of their cat, especially getting it the veterinary services that it deserves. I think those are the things that keep number of organizations feeling very nervous about what kind of adopters. Will we get are? We sending cats home to families where they'll be less care for. Yeah. And one thing I want to stress is that the fact is it's still an adoption, and the thing that as organizations we need to look at as these adoptions are relationship, creators. So we're not adopting out the cat today in. It's done on the door closes. We're now creating this relationship with this family or with this individual. So I even think about with the Merrimack river feline rescue society, we adopt out our fee, Luke positive cats for free their fee waived. But yet we develop a relationship with these people. And so there's this back and forth that needs to continually happen with our family. I used to call it the Mara family. Once you adopt from us, you're part of that family. And if there's ever any issue any concerns, obviously, we take the cat back organizations need to create that mentality and the fee waived part of it is such a small part of that whole adoption relationship that it really I think discounts lot of those cons that might be out there. I do think it's very helpful. If there is grant money behind a fee waived event, so say your normal adoption fees, one hundred dollars grant covers that adoption fee. I think that does become more motivating because revenues adoption programs is pretty significant to focus that people have. So. I just think people are coming into these events because they're there to help your shelter. They're also there to adopt a companion, but there's multiple levels of attachment there too. You know, the few waived adoptions that we do at the MS PCA Massachusetts society for protection of cruelty to animals, we actually ask for a donation even when people come for a fee wave event it gives them a little skin in the game. And we always get them. Something about fee wave just almost gives people the impetus to come in and make that adoption that day. It's a call to action. And I think it's nice to have those kinds of calls to action gets momentum gets energy. I think they're really a great event. And I think that there's spillover omega afterwards. Even when the adoption fees are put back up as long as the shelter has some cats to supply, which a lot of shelters often are empty. But even after the fact when they do start sort of read filling there's more momentum carried over do recently. Made a announcement about a pretty exciting new program called community cat grants that will be funded with the profits of the podcast. So if you could just tell our listeners a little bit about how these grants are going to work. Yeah. So the community can't grants have been launched. So you can find them on our website at WWW dot community cats podcast dot com slash community. Dash cats dash grants slash or you can just look under the education bar and you'll find the header there. You can just click on it. So the way that this works is. We prioritize grassroots organizations I but then other five three nonprofits can be eligible. But if there's a grassroots tea in our organization out there community cats organization out there with revenues under sixty thousand dollars a year. What we do is. We encourage them to start a new type of fundraising initiative. There would be advice and mentoring given by me to help you raise up two thousand dollars. You can certainly raise over. That. And then there would be grant funding that would match that thousand dollars. So that then you're spe neuter money would be leveraged to over two thousand dollars. So it's a way for a small group to start thinking about fundraising. Learn how to do it and then get matching funds to be able to leverage it even higher. One goal was to make the application as simple as possible. So that it's not gonna take you a week at a half to do the application and also applicants are told. Whether they're application is approved or not within thirty days to we want to be timely with the applicants to it's easy peasy. I recommend that you check it out. And I hope we'll have lots of groups coming in and taking advantage of this opportunity. We do have limited funds. But I think we have enough to cover this year. That's terrific. The power of those matching funds for some of these mall organizations is going to make a huge difference in their communities. I certainly hope so fundraising a very powerful tool. I mean money does make the. Go round. So the more we have the war. We're going to be able to do see. This is great. Thank you so much for being on today. Again, we'd love to have more questions for Stacey. For our next interview with them on our Facebook page and Stacey thanks again. I'm sure you're gonna probably go back to recording even more podcasts. Lisa. Thanks again. It's always a pleasure to chat with you. Thanks for listening to the community cats podcast if you could go to IT fans and review the show. We'd really appreciate it. When you do take a screen shot of your review, go to Midi cats, podcast dot com or slash review and enter your information, and we'll send you a shirt while you're there, don't forget to check out all the ways, you can support the content you're passionate about thanks everyone.