Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Monroe’s feral felines get a fundraiser— and a second chance

Friends of Companion Animals (FOCA), a non-profit 501C, has a mission to help rescue stray cats — making sure they get spayed/neutered and find forever homes. FOCA has been working hard with a volunteer staff in the Monroe County, MI area on behalf of feral cats since 2011. Two years ago, they purchased a building at 2532 N. Dixie Highway to expand their ability to help the area’s stray cat population, but it soon became clear that what they really needed was a low-cost feral spay/neuter clinic. 

The Spay/Neuter Project

FOCA’s vision has always been to have a county free of homeless, unwanted companion animals and get cats off the streets and into reliable homes with consistent love and care. This July, FOCA was called to rescue 40 cats from a home that started out with good intentions— feeding and caring for some stray cats, but quickly got out of control. Many people don’t realize that cats can get pregnant up to five times a year, having as many as four to nine babies per litter.

It only takes two months from conception to birth, so when cats who aren’t fixed congregate in a home or a colony, you can quickly wind up overwhelmed with kittens. Director Penny Bly pointed out that there can be problems with litters breeding with each other, leading to poor health outcomes for the kittens. Of the cats rescued in July, one died from a bladder issue and another was born blind. Both were birth defects from genetic mutations.

“That’s the part that’s tough,” Bly said. “People try to do the right thing, but if you’re not providing next step care like spay/neuter, you wind up with unintended consequences because you have to have big wallets to afford to fix them. We don’t have huge wallets, but FOCA has donors. However, even when we rescue, fix, and get a group of cats/kittens adopted, the fundraising process begins all over again for the next group.”

The next logical step for FOCA is to host a spay/neuter clinic at their shelter for the feral population. Bly explained, “Temperance Animal Hospital was rebuilding its clinic and gave us some of their equipment. We got a surgical table and lots of things for our clinic. Local vets are very supportive because our clinic will be only for feral cats.

“Our problem right now are outdoor feral cats that are breeding continuously. If we can get them spayed and neutered, we can do a lot more to control and help the feral population in this area. The closest clinics we have are Paws Clinic in Taylor, Michigan, or the Toledo Humane Society. We need to fill the gap in our area.”

Fundraising for the Clinic

Wednesday through Saturday, August 17 – 20, from noon to 5 pm, FOCA will be having a rummage sale to raise $20,000 for its low-cost feral cat spay/neuter clinic — the first of its kind in Monroe County. 

“The community can get involved by coming out and making a purchase,” Bly said. “There’s something for everyone at these rummage sales — everything from linens to office chairs and furniture.” FOCA will also host an Art Market fundraiser for the clinic September 24 and 25 from noon to 5pm.  

Last year FOCA took in 625 cats, and 555 of those were adopted. It averages 100 cats in the shelter at any given time. That number would come down with spay/neuter and that’s again, where the clinic comes in. 

FOCA tries hard to match a cat’s personality with a prospective owner and lets prospective owners know if a cat has special needs so there are no surprises. “Our mission is about making connections with people who will take these cats for the rest of their lives,” explained Bly. “One thing I love about this job is there’s a lot of joy. There’s also a lot of agony, but when you get to save that cat, get them off the street and to a forever home, it’s a wonderful feeling.”

Find out more about how you can help feral cats in need through donation, adoption, volunteer services and more FOCA fundraising events at https://friendsofcompanionanimals.org/

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