By Tamara Sevigny
Starting in just spring of 2002, Friends of Felines came about when the Humane Society closed its doors in Stamford. The dogs went to the Stamford Animal Shelter but the cats were left with nowhere to turn. The shelter staff helped to get the cats into foster homes and that is when it all started. Friends of Felines had begun as a spin off of the shelter.
Janine Paton got involved with the Stamford Animal Shelter when she found a kitten while gardening in her yard. The kitten was sick and ignorantly Janine put it back with its mom and siblings. But the kitten was sick and again abandoned by its mother. That is when Janine started looking for help and learning about feral and stray cats.
Janine stresses the unawareness people have on the problem of feral and stray cats and the overpopulation. She compared the lives of the wild chipmunks she has living in her yard. These wild animals have the ability to create their own shelter. They reproduce only in the spring, having just two babies. Cats on the other hand are unable to create shelter. They can have up to 6 or more kittens at the young age of 6-10 months old and continue to go into heat several times per year, as will their offspring. With these numbers you can imagine how easy it is for cats to become overpopulated.
Friends of Felines prides in focusing on helping feral cats and educating people on them. A feral cat is a wild animal. Some are abandoned pets; others are born in the wild to existing ferals or to strays. Kittens born in the wild, with no exposure to humans during the socialization period (3-8 weeks) become wild animals. Friends will help stray and tame cats if needed, but try to leave those to the many other programs that can help. Rather they try to focus on helping feral cats, which most programs don’t do.
Friends of Felines is always willing to help someone who has found a stray or feral cat and promotes a program called Trap, Neuter and Return. They do not have a shelter, they use foster homes. If they cannot offer a foster home to a stray or feral cat, they will get it spayed or neutered and return it to where it came from. If they are not able to do this they will at least coach the people to do a Trap, Neuter and Return, or offer advice.
For those cats that they do have in foster homes a monthly adoption event is held at Ark Pet Supply (1000 Hope Street, Stamford, 11am-3pm) on the first Saturday of every month. At the pet shop they have a unique cart, nick named “the popcorn cart,” where 8-10 cats can be displayed for prospective adopters. Other organizations also sometimes display their adoptable cats in the popcorn cart. The cart works in such a way that nervous cats can be covered up until comfortable and actually helps the cats to become more comfortable with people.
For those interested in adopting cats there is an application on-line, references are checked and then prospective adopters can meet the cats. For more information visit Friends of Felines on-line at www.adoptapet.org.