Despite the pandemic, despite the heat, July has been a good month for FAN. We’ve had large food donations which have allowed us to spend precious funds on the many medical needs this month. Our supporters generously supported the ongoing parade of vet visits, surgeries, vaccines and other expenses. Community members, including one special 10 year old girl named Jakaylah, have assisted with our trapping projects. Many have financed the cats’ surgeries as well. Watch for Jakaylah’s story next month!
There have been challenges with some clinics being closed due to Covid-19, but we have juggled appointments and adjusted. Our main sanctuary has been too HOT, with no insulation and one AC window unit inadequately cooling the space. We have been concerned for the health of our volunteer who works in the sanctuary 5-6 hours a day, and we are currently engaged in an insulation project. Many of you have stepped up to donate materials, labor and funds toward this project, and we thank you!
FAN’s mission is TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). We’re grateful to the many community members who reach out for assistance with feral cats in their neighborhoods, but frankly, we receive more requests than we can handle each month, emphasizing the great need for addressing the over-population of community cats.
We currently have 42 trapping locations throughout Hampton Roads. Yes, 42! We have 35 active volunteers, including 5 active trappers and 18 active foster parents. For some it’s a full time (unpaid!) job, while others donate a few hours a week. Each volunteer gives the time they have, and ALL are appreciated.
FAN is truly a network of support for community cats. Our volunteers regularly interact with community members, rescue groups, sanctuaries, shelters and each other. Although we focus on TNR and community cat welfare, many variables come into play.
The list of things our volunteers do is endless. We foster and photograph cats and transport cats to vet appointments. We maintain records, post to social media, perform administrative tasks, develop resources and provide medical care for cats and kittens. A few FANtastic souls even help clean and disinfect supportive organizations' facilities, working together for the common cause of helping cats. Perhaps most importantly, FAN works to educate the public about how each of us is responsible for and capable of caring for community cats.
During TNR, each cat and kitten is assessed for friendliness, placing those who show potential for being tame with fosters. These kitties are socialized, fully vaccinated, and spayed/neutered. Eventually, they move on to their forever homes through our adoption process. Sometimes we trap cats who are living in unsafe areas but are not friendly enough to be socialized. These outdoor cats are referred to as career cats for their greatly appreciated rodent control skills. They are moved to barn homes and set up in acclimation kennels while they adjust to their new environment. FAN volunteers coordinate these efforts, set up kennels, and stay in contact with the barn owners, ensuring long-term health for the cats.
Coordinating our adoption process is a time consuming job. We process adoption paperwork, keep our PetFinder list of adoptable cats current, interview and educate adopters, arrange meet and greets and deliver cats to their new homes. Many of our adoptions take place through the Greenbrier PetSmart and Catnip Cat Cafe in Ghent. We are thankful for these venues and to our Director of Adoptions for maintaining this relationship. The great news is we have adopted out every kitten who was ready in July.
Although our focus is TNR, we don’t like to turn away from cats in need, be it kittens or elderly cats who aren’t faring well outside. Sometimes a terrified but friendly adult cat is trapped. Likely abandoned, these cats fare the worst outdoors. We work to gain their trust, socializing them so they can be adopted. We also take care of any medical needs they have. The results are sweet as these kitties are adopted and find love and comfort in a home once again. The medical needs we encounter are many, including everything from fight wounds to infections to malnourishment and even kittens who can’t swallow. (You can view the amazing story of Easter here. )
We welcome new volunteers. If you love cats, and want to dedicate some time to help reduce feline suffering and deaths, we’d love to talk with you. Our biggest needs are foster parents, transporters and trappers — and yes, we will train! It’s a fascinating process to trap a feral cat, see him fully vetted, neutered, healed and returned to his community where, through a caretaker, he and his colony receive long-term care. Thanks to TNR, this cat will not produce babies who would grow up to become feral cats. We have an amazing team of compassionate folks. Maybe you could join us. Our kitties’ precious faces, purrs and nuzzles are fulfilling rewards.