by Charlotte Jay and Elaine Richert
A single decision to help a single cat for a single week – that was the humble beginning of Cat Angel Network twenty years ago in August, 1996.
It started with a phone call from a cat rescuer about a pregnant cat on a Lancaster farm. The kitty was in danger of being sold to a company that used cats for experimentation. The rescuer was going on vacation and begged for someone to care for this cat for a week. We were horrified by the danger facing this mother-to-be, and since she was not expected to give birth for several weeks, we agreed to house the kitty in the storage room of a detached garage. But the kitty, named Mrs. Gray after a cat Charlotte had as a child, decided she couldn’t wait, and on the first day of her “visit,” five baby boys were born in Charlotte’s lap.
The rescuer never returned to pick up the kitties, and the mama cat and her kittens stayed. We found forever homes for Mrs. Gray and two of her boys, and these became our very first adoptions. (Want to make a guess who became CAN’s first “foster failure” and adopted the other three boys?)
News has a way of traveling fast, and it wasn’t long before people started contacting us to help with a cat shot with BBs, a thin stray, and unwanted cats at a housing development. With each additional cat we said, “Well, it’s just one more – no big deal.” Soon we began to realize that we would need to have a plan if we were going to continue to take “just one more.” So we worked out a system for the intake, care, and adoption of kitties. We cared for as many as our pocketbooks could afford, solicited adopters from a tiny ad in the Pottstown Mercury newspaper, and had a $35 adoption fee, with adopters signing a Spay/Neuter Agreement. As expenses (and the number of cats) grew, we began to seriously consider taking a GIANT next step, that of changing our informal project into a bona fide, non-profit corporation.
We discovered the process is neither easy nor inexpensive. There are pages of complicated forms to fill out, and thousands of dollars of fees to be paid. Our first challenge was registering a name for our non-profit that was not already being used in the state of Pennsylvania. In the ‘90’s The Oprah Show often featured her charitable “Angel Network,” providing assistance to people in need. From this we coined the name “Cat Angel Network,” with the inspiring acronym we love – CAN. Then in March, 1998, we were granted our 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status which allowed us to solicit tax deductible donations so we wouldn’t have to continue personal funding. We were on our way!
We realized that we needed capable people to handle the many functions of operating an organization and so a Board of Directors was formed. They created the mission statement that has guided us to this day with its philosophy of operating as a no-kill, all volunteer organization dedicated to the rescue, spay/neuter, and adoption of abandoned cats. Our motto “Together, we CAN make a difference!” reflected the acknowledgement that it would take the efforts of many caring volunteers to do this work.
We have indeed been blessed over the years with attracting capable, qualified, and cat loving volunteers. Some of our volunteers agreed to become foster parents, and these foster homes enabled us to increase the numbers we could help. Of course, we had no trouble acquiring the cats, but obviously this ability to foster additional kitties affected our need for an outlet for adoptions.
Our prayers were answered when we were contacted by the manager of PetSmart in Downingtown in early 1999 with the very welcome offer to become their store’s adoption partner. We have continued that wonderful relationship for the past 17 years. In October, 2005, Petsmart opened its Pottstown store, and we became the adoption partner in that store in addition to Downingtown. We’ve had a very successful and rewarding relationship with them for the past 11 years. Our association with this second store pushed our adoption numbers for the year 2006 over the 600 mark for the first time! We look forward to the opportunity to find many more loving forever homes through both our adoption centers.
Raising funds to cover the extraordinary expenses involved has always been a challenge. Two ongoing events have greatly helped to keep us going. In the spring of 2002, we held our first Annual Benefit Concert at the West Chester University, and we haven’t missed a year since. Our first auction was held on November 8, 2003. It was an art auction and was so successful that we decided to expand it and hold an Annual Auction that included both silent and live auctions of all-donated items. It has continued to be our major fundraiser ever since.
The funds raised through these efforts were instrumental in turning that detached garage on private property into a heated eight room shelter, plus a small storage area and a bathroom dubbed the “CAN CAN.” Volunteers installed flooring and painted walls, including the addition of beautiful stenciling in each room. Slowly but surely the shelter was outfitted with cages, cat trees, and all the equipment necessary to comfortably care for cats and kittens and prepare them for adoption. Today hundreds of kitties every year pass through the meticulously maintained rooms of the shelter on their way to foster homes or to Petsmart. Other cats, especially the shy and senior ones, have become life-long residents who are lovingly pampered by our shelter volunteers.
It is so satisfying to look back over the years and think about the thousands of kitties who have been touched by the work of CAN. Where would they be if we had not decided to open that storage room to Mrs. Gray in August of 1996? The many volunteers, fosters, trappers, veterinarians, donors, adopters, etc. who have been a part of this twenty year journey have to know that they have indeed “made a difference.” Looking forward, we are committed to standing together to improve and expand our efforts, for we know that the work continues!
We will be putting our best paws forward for this year’s gala auction, and we really want YOU to come join in the fun. It’s all happening on Sunday, October 23rd in Griffith Hall at the Ludwig’s Corner Fire Company. With both silent and live auctions, excellent food, and a room filled with cat lovers, the event is always too fun to miss! There is no pressure to buy, but few can resist the wonderful bargains, creating a “purrfect” opportunity to do a little holiday shopping. We will have a great variety of terrific items up for auction.
We are most fortunate to have Bud and Annette Smith from Smith Auction Company running the live auction. They make bidding fun and easy for the novice auction attendee!
When and where is the event? The date is Sunday, October 23rd from 2-5 p.m. Registration begins at 1:45. Silent auction tables begin closing at 3:15 and the live auction starts at 3:45, so we suggest that you arrive no later than 2:15.
The event will be held in Griffith Hall, a part of Ludwig’s Corner Fire Company. The address is 1325 North Pottstown Pike, Glenmoore, PA – conveniently located on Route 100.
Where do I get tickets? The price of admission is $20 per person in advance (by October 15th), and $25 at the door, or October 15th-23rd. Admission includes delicious hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. There are no physical tickets, and you can purchase admission right here on our website using a major credit card or PayPal. Your name will be on a list of attendees, so you will only need to check in at the door. We strongly encourage ticket purchase in advance and appreciate receiving your credit card or PayPal payment by October 15th. (Tickets at the door will be $25 and will available on a first come, first serve basis.)
Dress? We suggest “business casual.”
How can I help make this event a success? If you would like to contribute a new item for the auction, please contact Henry. Also, we could use help advertising the event – you can help us by downloading, printing, and distributing or posting the promotional flyers (which may be found at the end of this article). In addition, we would love to have the assistance of one or more businesses or individuals to cover all or part of the cost of the fire hall. This expense is $650.00. If you would like to cover this cost in full or in part, please contact Henry.
What type of items are acceptable for the auction? Unique items, restaurant gift certificates, practical items, jewelry, items of value, and bottles of wine tend to go well at the auction. Since we have limited table space, we may not be able to accommodate many very large items with a value of less than $60.
What is the deadline to donate items? The deadline is October 7th. After that date, we may still be able to take high quality items that will bring a good price at the auction.
What payment is accepted at the event? Cash and checks for purchases under $100. Credit cards can be used for purchases over that amount.
Other questions? Please contact: Henry Grabb at firstname.lastname@example.org (or call 484-947-3684).
Effective August 2016, Redner’s Warehouse Market is replacing the former Redner’s Pump Perks Card/Save-A-Tape Card. In order for you to get your new Redner’s Rewards Card. just go to the courtesy desk to obtain your new Rewards Card.
Thanks to you for turning in your Redner’s Market register tapes. We received approximately $1236 in 2015 from Redner’s Markets. We receive 1% of the total receipts on the tapes.
Please keep saving your register receipts and bring them in to the adoption centers at Petsmart in Downingtown and Pottstown. You can also mail them to us at Cat Angel Network, P.O. Box 3071, Stowe, PA 19464 PLEASE remember to save the ENTIRE register tape. Do not alter or cut the tapes in any way as they will not be accepted if the entire tape is not submitted. It’s an easy way to help Cat Angel Network and it doesn’t cost you anything!
Be sure to show the cashier your Redner’s Rewards Card when you shop at Redners to make the register tapes count for CAN. If you don’t have a Redner’s Rewards Card, ask for one at the customer service counter.
Some recent happy endings ~ because together we CAN make a difference!
One very cold night in January, 2015, a Cat Angel volunteer was driving home and noticed a very small kitten, lying on the side of the road. The volunteer immediately pulled over, picked up the kitten, and got her to safety. She had suffered an injury to her leg (most likely from being swiped by a car); and she needed medical attention quickly.
Sylvia was just four months old at the time; and was facing the possibility of living life with only three legs, which is something that is possible but somehow seemed unfair for such a young kitten. She was taken to one of the best surgeons in the area; and much to our delight, her leg was able to be saved. A foster mom stepped in quickly to help her with her intense recovery and post-surgical therapy; and today, Sylvia is living the life she deserves in her new forever home.
Angels seem to come at times when we need them the most; and for Sylvia the cat, the Angels were there just in time!
Mandi is a beautiful young cat who was living outside in Lancaster County. She found a family who would feed her each day and allow her to live on their property and take shelter in their outside shed.
What came next is the single reason that cat rescues are so busy – Mandi was never spayed, and so she became pregnant and delivered five beautiful kittens. Shortly after the kittens were born, the family heard the kittens crying and noticed that Mandi was very sick. She was unable to feed her little kittens, and she needed medical care quickly. Mandi did not “belong” to this family. They considered her a friendly stray and were kind enough to feed her; but they had no money to get the help she needed.
Once in our care, Mandi’s kittens were immediately started on bottle feedings; and Mandi was taken into emergency surgery to save her from what could have been a very sad ending. She had developed mastitis, an infection in her mammary glands. The infection was wide-spread, and she needed surgery to repair a ruptured abscess, a delicate procedure that required the specialists at Veterinary Referral Center in Malvern, and continued care in the foster home.
The wonderful news is that in just a couple months, Mandi was on the road to recovery; and six beautiful lives were saved. Mandi and all five of her kittens have now been adopted and are in loving homes of their very own!
QUESTION: My cat passed away recently, and I have just adopted another kitty. I was wondering what food you recommend to get him started right for a long and healthy life. My last cat was overweight and had urinary tract and other health issues. He ate what I considered to be a good quality dry food all his life, but I am hoping to find out if there’s a better alternative for my new kitten friend. Any suggestions?
ANSWER: The choice of what food is best for our feline companions has become a complicated issue in recent years. The pet food industry is a multi-million dollar business that produces an ever-increasing and changing number of products every year. Their marketing departments bombard us with advertising that promotes the benefits of this or that food. Dry foods, we have been told, are good for cats’ teeth. They are now made in formulations for kitten, adult, seniors, sensitive systems, urinary tract, healthy weight, hairball prevention, gluten-free, even for specific breeds like Siamese or Maine Coons. It can seem overwhelmingly complex to feed a cat.
In reality, cats’ dietary needs are simple – they require meat to survive. Unlike humans and canines who can thrive on a vegetarian diet, cats are obligate carnivores which means they must eat a primarily meat diet. In the wild they are eating rodents & birds, which are meat protein with lots of moisture included in each meal and very little carbohydrates. Compare that to the formulation of dry food – lower protein, and some of that from plants which cats’ bodies are not able to utilize well, high carbs, and little or no moisture. The typical highly-processed dry food is not even close to a natural diet for a cat. Why then do cats eat it, if it’s so unnatural? The reason is that the baked and dried product is sprayed with something called “animal digest” to make it smell and taste very enticing to cats.
Vets like Dr. Lisa Pierson are now recommending canned food as the preferred diet for cats. On her website www.catinfo.org, Dr. Pierson reports that she has been seeing increasing instances of cats with obesity, diabetes and urinary obstructions in her practice. She is convinced that the wide-spread use of a dry food diet is a major contributor to this alarming trend.
She cites two immediate benefits to a canned food diet. First, most canned foods contain a higher percentage of the meat-protein that cats need to thrive. Wet food typically contains low percentages of plant-based carbohydrates that cats’ bodies were not designed to run on. Without the excessive and unnatural percentage of carbs like corn, wheat, rice, & soy, canned food is a healthier alternative in the prevention of obesity and the many health problems associated with it.
The second benefit of wet food is increased moisture. A cat’s urinary tract is much better off with an appropriate amount of water flowing through it. Cats are not big water drinkers and are used to getting their water with, and not in addition to, their food. As Dr. Pierson points out, “A cat’s normal prey contains approximately 70 – 75 percent water. Dry food only contains 5-10 percent water whereas canned foods contain approximately 78 percent water. Canned foods therefore more closely approximate the natural diet of the cat and are better suited to meet the cat’s water needs.” This is why she states that urinary issues like cystitis and blockages can be almost entirely avoided with this diet.
Based on this information, we highly recommend a canned diet for your new kitten. Although 100% canned is best, even a part canned/ part dry diet is better than all dry food. Sometimes dry food is seen as being more economical, but Dr. Pierson believes that even the least expensive canned foods are better for our kitties that the best dry foods. Another important factor to keep in mind is that the small difference in cost can be more than offset by the avoidance of future medical bills to alleviate a urinary blockage or other health crisis. For those of us who dearly love our kitty companions, providing the best possible diet for them is a small price to pay for them to avoid pain and live a long and healthy life.
Reference: “Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition,” by Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM on her website www.catinfo.org.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO THOSE WITH A DIABETIC CAT ON INSULIN
ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN BEFORE CHANGING THE DIET OF A DIABETIC CAT ON INSULIN. THE SWITCH TO A CANNED FOOD / LOWER CARBOHYDRATE DIET OFTEN IMMEDIATELY LOWERS THE NEED FOR INSULIN AND CAN RESULT IN A DANGEROUSLY LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL IF INSULIN AMOUNTS ARE NOT ADJUSTED BASED ON BLOOD SUGAR TESTING BEFORE MEALS.
As we approach the busiest time of year, when adult cats and kittens in need just seem to be everywhere, we are eagerly searching for new foster homes. Whether you can foster a litter of kittens, or perhaps 1 or 2 adults, we need your help. There is no commitment to foster year-round; and no matter when you are available, you can be assured that there is a kitty who needs you and who will find his or her forever home because you cared.
To apply, click here to fill out a volunteer application, or stop by either the Pottstown or Downingtown Petsmart to fill out a volunteer application in person. (Be sure to indicate that you are interested in fostering.)
Do it for those who need you the most… and do it for yourself.