There are few things more adorable than a two-week old kitten — and Shambhala Mountain Center’s director Michael Gayner happens to currently have two of them. Michael is foster parent to two tiny kittens, who he’s named Space and Dot, along with their mama Raven. When I met them recently, the kittens were living up to the essence of their names — Space, a nearly all-white cat, was observing quietly and gently, as black-patterned brother Dot pounced around the room bursting with action. Raven surveyed the scene coolly as the two babies did their yin-yang display. Michael describes them as embodying the “mobile spirit of the house” in bringing their energy to his living environment. As anyone that has had kittens knows, they are spirited indeed, and wildly entertaining to be with. The cats are Michael’s to care for for another few weeks until the kittens are big enough to be taken back to the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic (FCCRSNC), where they can be adopted into a permanent home.
Michael got involved with the FCCRSNC’s foster program out of a love of animals, and as a way to support this vibrant local community organization that is the cat rescue center. SMC’s pet policy excludes staff from hosting dogs on the land, due to their impact on the environment, but allows for indoor cats in certain residences. Michael sees his fostering experience as a “satisfying, focused way to be of benefit”, where the “truth of your presence is what makes a difference.” FCCRSNC relies on members of the northern Colorado community to provide temporary care for homeless cats and kittens — in fact, fostering provides transitional homes for over 70% of the kittens and cats that they rescue, and significantly expands their capacity to save lives. Fostering duration can last anywhere from a few weeks for kittens to six months or longer for adult cats with special needs, and foster parents are encouraged to play an active role in helping these cats get adopted.
I visited the rescue center to meet the kitties and to speak with FCCRSNC’s Marketing Manager Ashley Boothe about why they do what they do, and why they exist in the first place. The center was started in 2006 by vet techs Sarah Swanty and Anna Neubauer, who saw a need & an opportunity in the community in the form of 17 cats with nowhere to go — another animal rescue didn’t have the resources to care for them. It’s likely that these cats would’ve been euthanized if the two hadn’t stepped in. Some animal shelters in the nation are faced with euthanizing up to 97% of the cats that come to them, but FCCRSNC is committed to an “Adoption Guarantee”: providing homes for ALL of their cats, with a fundamental focus on preventing pet overpopulation through their Spay/Neuter Clinic (which also serves dogs). Today the FCCRSNC cares for up to 75 cats & kittens at its shelter and over 150 in its foster program — with a list of dozens more awaiting surrender. Ashley told me that the majority of the cats that come to them are surrendered by their owners for multiple reasons — such as allergies, moving situations, or because they can no longer financially support having an animal. To counter some of these issues, FCCRSNC provides financial assistance / pet retention programs for owners that need extra help keeping their pets — this includes the PAL+ program(Prevent a Litter Plus— free & discounted spay/neuter, vaccinations, and microchips), and the Kibble Supply program, which provides cat and dog food to those in need, allowing many owners to keep their pets.
Other cats that come to the center are either found abandoned or as strays, or are transferred from other shelters in the northern Colorado/Wyoming area, and often all the way from California, Texas, and Georgia, to name a few. The result of FCCRSNC’s hard work is over 11,000 cats rescued and over 40,000 dogs and cats spayed or neutered in their clinic since 2007 — and they have no intention of slowing down until there is no longer a need for their services. An important thing to note is that none of this would be possible without the support of the community. Like Shambhala Mountain Center, FCCRSNC is a non-profit, and relies on the generosity of donations, and the help of volunteers. The center currently has around 30 full time staff, and over 400 volunteers that support in all kinds of areas — as med-techs, working at the front desk, in the spay/neuter clinic, etc. The rescue center collaborates with other local businesses in a variety of ways, and ultimately relies on the local and wider community to be their eyes and ears — keeping a look out for cats that might need help, and spreading the word that the rescue center exists, as many people (myself included) may not otherwise know about the important work that they do and the array of services they offer.
I’m grateful to have met the lovely Raven, Space, and Dot, not just for their precious cuteness but especially now knowing that they are going to be cared for and given the opportunity to live healthy lives. The love and kindness that the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic puts into their work is evident in all the layers of what they do, and in the thoughtfulness and attention to the root issues that cause cat homelessness. For me, someone who has minor commitment issues, the foster program seems like a great opportunity to get some quality animal time while simultaneously supporting the mission of a really great local organization. I encourage anyone reading this to consider the possibility of welcoming one of these sweet sentient beings into their home, even if it’s just for a little while. It might be the puuuurrrrrrrfect thing for you, too!
There are lots of ways to get involved & support the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic:
• Volunteer: Many opportunities are available through the shelter, clinic, and various events. If interested, email the Volunteer Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Donate: Monetary donations are welcome as well as donations of supplies such as cat litter, kitten food, dry or canned dog or cat food, printer paper, laundry detergent, etc.
See more about donating here: https://www.fccrsnc.org/
• Foster: email Foster Coordinator at email@example.com
• Visit the shelter to meet the cats
• Spread the word!
About the Author
Rachel Zetah Becker is an artist, designer, occasional poet,
& aspiring astronaut. Her interests include adventure, human spirituality, fried egg sandwiches, and saving Planet Earth.
See more of her work here: www.rachelzbecker.com