Most senior cats who find themselves in a shelter cage share some variation of the same story.
One day, their person dies. They lose the only friend they’ve ever known — and now that they’re older, nobody wants to care for them. The city shelter steps in to keep them from becoming homeless, but with so few resources, the shelter can’t make up for the loss of the cat's family, their home, and even the little comforts in life — a window to look out of, a bed, a favorite toy.
It takes an exceptional cat, like Tony, to rise above these circumstances.
In his shelter cage, Tony would stand up to greet visitors, leaning in to rub faces with a big purr. Tony is 10 years old, and in spite of a painful ear infection and bad cold, he never lost hope that someone would come close enough to cuddle! The Oakland shelter asked three different rescue organizations to help Tony, but they each turned him away.
Cat Town got him into a foster home, where he immediately wanted to play and explore. He’s doing great on his antibiotics, and as soon as we can, we’re getting him ear surgery. This is the part of my job that I love. Tony’s ailments are easy to fix — just costly.
I’m writing because we don’t always have enough donations on hand to help cats with needs like Tony’s. This mega match can help change that— but we only have 48-hours to meet our goal.
Please make a donation today, so Cat Town can help the shelter’s next sick senior cat get the help they need!
Ok Smallz, this is your week! You’re going to get adopted, you just have to show everyone your sweet self. Be brave you wonderful boy!
Photo by Liz Lazich.
I remember when you first came to Cat Town you were so scared. We were hopeful you would come out of you shell quickly, but it was overwhelming for you. All the activity and the big room was too much, but we were so patient with you. Curled up in the Quiet Zone we talked to you and pet you when you felt ready. Soon you started showing how sweet and playful you really are, coming out to the big room to play at night and run around with your kitty friends.
Now, look at you, Smallz! The first cat to greet staff in the morning! The one playing in the middle of the room and rubbing on visitors legs. You play effortlessly with everyone, and share your love openly, purring and cuddling (especially after playtime). When we do special treat nights I love how you are front and center, grabbing my hand and holding it. You’ve become the role model for the other cats showing them how to interact with people and be brave. It’s your time, Smallz, I know it! There’s a home out there just waiting for a loving, playful, silly cat like you.
If you’re ready to make Smallz a part of your family, email email@example.com or come meet him in our Adoption Center to speak with a trained Adoption Counselor.
Eddie came to us as a shabby foster cat. He had a gum infection that made it painful for him to groom, and because of his FIV, and the severity of his condition, it was going to take a while to get him back into good health. Over the next several months Cat Town helped us cycle through medication, vet visits, and teeth removals until Eddie was out of pain. It took removing all but his last two teeth before he showed improvement, but after months of medical care and, I'd like to think, our boundless love for Eddie, he finally stabilized.
That's when Dawn, Cat Town’s Foster Coordinator, started trying to schedule a time for potential adopters to meet Eddie. This did not please me, which became evident after I was routinely "unavailable" to arrange visits.
Kyle and I eventually gathered up the courage to tell Dawn that, well, Eddie had become an important part of our lives, and that we couldn't imagine parting ways with him, but we were worried about the financial impact of taking on a cat with FIV.
I had just quit my job to pursue my graduate degree and we knew that significant vet bills were likely to be part of the deal with Eddie. I didn't want our financial insecurity to affect our decisions when it came to Eddie's health.
When Dawn said that Eddie could benefit from Cat Town's In It for Life program... I honestly couldn't believe it. The generosity and all-around thoughtfulness that Cat Town's wonderful representatives show in how they deal with their cats, fosters, and potential adopters is unlike anything I've ever encountered in any other animal care organization.
One year ago, we adopted Eddie from Cat Town. A year later, his two teeth are still doing great!
Eddie has been healthy since he became an official part of our family, and has somehow become even more loving. Seriously — in all my years of fostering I've never met a better cat-cuddler. He's a greeter, a watcher, a follower, a player, a dedicated purrer, a bathtub meower (that's less fun), a foot warmer... everything I could ask for and more. He traveled with us to Oregon for Christmas, he stayed in a trailer with us in Healdsburg, moved to Sacramento with me for the summer (and caught two mice! With just his two teeth!), has met quite a few dogs he didn't care about, and has never, ever forgotten to remind us about his meal time.
Kyle and I are so thankful to Cat Town for bringing us together, and to Eddie for being such a lovely, adoring little big cat.
At the end of October, we’re happy to report that we helped nine black and tuxedo cats find homes during Black Cat Awareness month. That, on top of a number of other adoptions, makes for another successful month at Cat Town — what better way to celebrate our fourth anniversary of our Adoption Center?!
This November is Adopt a Senior Pet month, so we'll be shining a light on our senior cats. Giving an older cat a home is an incredible gift for you and your new companion. Meet all of our adoptable seniors on our website, and email firstname.lastname@example.org for help finding your match.
OCTOBER 2018 ADOPTIONS
WINK & NOD
PATTY & PAIGE
TWIGGY & MERLE
MUSHROOM & LENTIL
NOVA & NEBULA
Meet our adoptable seniors
It’s no secret that Cat Town has the greatest volunteers around. Rachael P. is an integral part of our team, helping with things like our Case Management Program and socializing members of our Forgotten Kitten Project. She even serves as an unofficial Cat Town ambassador, spreading the word about the organization to her Lyft and Uber passengers.
I talked with Rachael about what draws her to volunteering and why she thinks families in particular should consider fostering. Without further ado, let’s get to know Rachael P.!
Rachel uses play to help our Forgotten Kittens build confidence. Photo by Cathy Niland.
Larissa C.: How did you get involved with Cat Town?
Rachael P.: When I first moved to Oakland, my partner and our kitties were still living in Michigan. I visited Cat Town to get my kitty fix and then signed up to volunteer. After the volunteer orientation, I emailed staff begging them to let me foster since I had a completely empty apartment without furniture and wanted the company. Cat Town was happy to oblige!
LC: Have you been a cat person your whole life?
RP: Yes! I love animals in general—the complexity of cats just speaks to me more though. I enjoy a challenge and building a connection with a living creature.
LC: Do you have cats at home?
RP: My partner and I have three cats at home. Sweetie is our senior lady and my partner’s childhood cat. Fenrir and Mush Mush were our first and only #fosterfails.
LC: What role do you play, or have you played, at Cat Town?
RP: I strive to play any role that is most needed at the time. Primarily I volunteer in the Adoption Center Studios socializing cats and support Cat Town’s Case Management Program. Additionally, I try to support staff with research and capacity building efforts to best serve our kitty and human community.
Cat Town offers many diverse opportunities to volunteer. My experiences have ranged from fostering kitties, painting the walls, deep cleaning studios, and asking for in-kind donations.
My favorite informal role is being a Cat Town Uber/Lyft ambassador. About 75% of my rideshare rides become a pitch for visiting Cat Town and sharing information about the mission. Anyone can do it and it is a guaranteed conversation starter!
LC: What do you love most about volunteering?
RP: I really love the human/cat community and the environment at Cat Town. Although each day brings highs and lows, I am always inspired by the dedication and passion of the staff and other volunteers.
Additionally, I enjoy listening to people who have been to Cat Town and its impact on their life. Last week, a woman told me, completely unprompted, that she asked her potential dates if they would like to go to Cat Town for their first outing. She said it was a great test to see if the date had long-term potential. How many places can have that same claim to fame?
LC: You’ve done a lot to help socialize members of our Forgotten Kitten Project. What is something you’ve learned about under-socialized cats and kittens that people might not expect to be true?
RP: Generally, people do not expect under-socialized cats and kittens to become more socialized in our cage-free setting. While the Cat Zone concept may not work for every cat, it does simulate an intense version of a bustling home environment. Socialization is more effective when there are more confident cats for the less confident cats to learn from. There are some amazing examples like Suzy! When she first arrived, I sat with her in the studio space and offered her treats. She was very fearful. When she moved to the Cat Zone, she made significant progress.
LC: What is your favorite thing about working with vulnerable shelter cats?
RP: Seeing the progress! Every cat is so different and needs their own approach. Sometimes the kitties are agitated in the shelter and just need a new environment. Other times kitties may be easily overstimulated and might benefit from food puzzles or clicker training. Each adoption is a celebration.
LC: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat or kitten?
RP: Two of our kitties were under-socialized kittens. You build a stronger and more intimate bond with these kitties. There are so many special landmark moments: the first time they eat in front of you, the first time they lean into your hand for cheek scratches, the first purr, and watching them become more confident every single day.
LC: As someone who has fostered for Cat Town, what would you say to someone who’s interested in fostering a cat, but hasn’t fostered before?
RP: Do it! Frequently people tell me they could never foster because they would love the kitty too much to let them go. Fostering is one of the most powerful experiences you can have because it is entirely about investing your energy into a cat who is eventually going to their forever home. This act teaches another type of love—it is about patience and knowing you are impacting a life without necessarily directly benefiting from your efforts.
I highly recommend fostering to families with kids. It is a great way to teach children responsibility and how to compassionately interact with different cats. I started fostering as a teenager and I still cry every time I say goodbye. It is worth it every single time.
Interested in joining Team Cat Town and helping us save Oakland’s vulnerable and under-socialized cats? There are many volunteer opportunities available, including helping with transportation, outreach and adoption events, fundraising, and more! You can start with completing a volunteer application form or emailing email@example.com to see how you can get involved and start making a difference today.
As Black Cat Awareness month comes to a close, we’re catching up with Cat Town alum Valentino, a special senior black cat brimming with personality. His journey demonstrates the truth of Cat Town’s unofficial motto that love + time = magic.
Valentino arrived at Cat Town in the summer of 2017 with his sister, Nefertiti, after their previous owner passed away. Being senior cats, the upheaval in their routines was a stressful period and Nefertiti sadly passed away a few months after their arrival. In such a short period of time Valentino’s life had been turned upside down.
Meanwhile, Tavi was considering adopting and Valentino’s profile caught her eye. “When we first went to his foster home, his foster mom warned us he would probably hide or keep his distance,” Tavi says. “She gave us some of his favorite treats to offer to him, and he came over to us tentatively, but stayed with us our entire visit. He even played with us! I think the moment he came over for treats we knew we wanted to adopt him.”
For the first few weeks in his new home Valentino hid like many cats do in a new space. “Once he became more adjusted, his loving and charming personality really began to show,” says Tavi. “Valentino is so sweet; I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with him. We still have to be very patient with him. He still gets scared and hides sometimes, but it’s absolutely an incredibly worthwhile process.” Tavi’s grateful to Cat Town for giving Valentino a second chance when other organizations might cast him aside. “Every cat deserves to live in a loving and patient home.”
The effort you put in will be nothing compared to the love your cat will give you! In the end, cats want a loving and safe home just like any of us.
As is the case with so many of our cats, Valentino has continued to make progress in his home. It’s because of open-hearted adopters like Tavi that we’re able to take on vulnerable shelter cats in the first place. Since bringing him home, Tavi has made sure Valentino knows he’s part of the family, creating a welcoming and patient environment. Despite his initial fear, she’s found Valentino to be a very social cat at heart, one who loves to sit in a window nearby while she’s working, or makes sure he finds a place at her feet during meals. He’s especially fond of music — when Tavi turns on the tunes, she can almost guarantee Valentino will start rolling around, happy as can be.
For anyone considering adopting a friend from Cat Town who is a little more shy or under-socialized than an average cat, Tavi recommends patience. “I think you have to do research and make sure you really understand what it means to adopt an under-socialized cat,” she says. “Then it takes patience and love. If the cat is misbehaving or acting up, it’s not to spite you, it’s usually because something made them afraid or reminded them of past trauma … I know it can be daunting, but the effort you put in will be nothing compared to the love your cat will give you! In the end, cats want a loving and safe home just like any of us. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask for.”
You can be part of the Cat Town magic and foster or adopt a black cat or a senior cat in need. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.