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Declawing: Bad for Cats and the Humans Who Love Them

Kitten pawThese days, more and more people are becoming aware that declawing is bad for kitties. From Denver to Nova Scotia, some areas have even made the surgery illegal. And it turns out that declawing a cat isn’t just harmful to the kitty—it also causes problems for humans, too!

Declawed cats are more likely to soil the house.

Thinking of declawing to protect your furniture? Think again! Declawing Fluffy might keep her from scratching the couch, but she’ll be more likely to pee on it instead. A recent study found that declawed cats in homes with multiple cats were three times more likely to soil the house instead of using the litterbox. This study is just one of several confirming that declawed cats are more likely to go potty outside the box. The best way to keep furniture safe is simple—provide an appealing kitty scratching post and encourage Fluffy to use it! Be sure to keep your cat’s nails trimmed, too. For more extreme protection, you can even find “nail caps” for cats. These colorful little pieces of plastic clip onto and cover claws.

Declawed cats are more likely to bite.

Some well-meaning parents wonder if they need to declaw the family kitty to keep kids safe from scratches. That’s actually the worst step a cat owner could take: declawing increases the risk of negative human/feline interactions. Without claws to defend themselves, cats are more likely to feel insecure and resort to biting (ouch!) and a range of other behavior problems. Instead, try giving Fluffy a quiet space away from the kiddos where she can retreat if she’s feeling stressed.

Declawing leads to high vet bills.

In addition to the initial cost of the declawing surgery, the pain management that follows, and the risk of complication, this procedure can lead to higher veterinary costs later on, too. If a kitty who doesn’t have claws to defend herself gets outside, she’s more likely to be seriously injured by neighborhood cats or by predators. Health problems such as arthritis, stiffness, and chronic pain can also result from declawing. (Some owners find that declawed kitties are in too much long-term pain to move and play like they used to.)

There are compelling reasons NEVER to declaw a cat. Whether your goal is a safe happy family, or safe unscratched furniture, declawing is counter-productive.

Beyond these practical considerations, there’s also an important moral side to the issue. “Declawing” is a misleading name. The procedure cuts off more than claws: it amputates part of the cat’s toes. This highly painful amputation can cause suffering, health, and behavior problems for the rest of the cat’s life.

If—after knowing the facts—you still have your heart set on a declawed kitty, please choose to adopt a cat who has already been declawed. Kitties declawed by previous owners before they became homeless are waiting for you at your local shelter!

Curious to know more about declawing? Check out these FAQs from The Paw Project.

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Finn’s Story

Finn is a quirky kitty with a lot of love to give, so it was very hard for him to be without a family of his own for almost 2 months. Why did a handsome, friendly young cat wait so long for a home? Finn uses his mouth to communicate what he’s feeling (meaning he will give little nips here and there), which can be difficult for some adopters.

Finn was found as tiny, abandoned kitten huddled in a discarded beer case outside in Florida. The Good Samaritan who discovered him brought him home and fell in love. He raised Finn himself, and they formed a strong bond. But because Finn was an only kitten, he developed some personality traits common to singly-raised kittens, including his mouthy nature. (He gives soft nips to tell you when he’s had enough pets and to tell you when he’s overexcited or happy.) When his rescuer’s living situation changed, and he couldn’t keep Finn any longer, he had to make a very tough decision. Hoping that Finn would find a home where he could be happy again, he asked SAFe Rescue to help.

When Finn arrived, he quickly became a rescue favorite. His never-ending playfulness was endearing to watch, and everyone thought he would find his new home in no time. But Finn was stressed in the shelter environment, and no doubt very confused as to why he all of a sudden no longer had a family. Finn began to show his stress in the only way he knew how—with his mouth!

It was clear that Finn needed a break from the busy sounds and smells of the rescue, so he was placed in foster care. His foster mom said he was a wonderful kitty, a great bedtime cuddler who would gladly play all day and then curl up next to you come night time. She could tell that Finn just wanted a person to call his.

Finn waited in foster care, until one day he was visited in his foster home by someone who wasn’t deterred by his quirky way of communicating. This adopter saw Finn for the sweet, gregarious boy that he is. Finn now has a new doggy friend, and he gets to give and receive all the love he craves in the warmth of his very own home!


Introducing the New Executive Director

Emily and Tiger Lily

Emily and Tiger Lily

This month, we’re thrilled to welcome Emily Sprong, Seattle Area Feline Rescue’s first ever Executive Director!

For most non-profit organizations, the Executive Director is the first staff position to be filled. Our grass-roots organization evolved along a different path, adding staff positions one-by-one and waiting until now to create and fill the role of Executive Director.

The addition of this important position was made possible through a generous grant from the ASPCA Northern Tier Shelter Initiative. This grant will make it possible for SAFe Rescue to build on its current work and help more homeless felines for years to come.

As Emily joins the rescue community to create this leadership position, she brings inspiration, experience, and a lifelong love of cats. Here is her message to you:


“As a life-long cat lover who has spent over 20 years working in the nonprofit world, I am honored to take on the role of SAFe Rescue’s first Executive Director! At age fifteen, I spent a summer volunteering with a feral cat rescue. That led to my first job, as a kennel cleaner for a veterinarian, and multiple veterinary assistant positions in the following years. During that first volunteer job, I was adopted by one of the cats (Shelly), who remained my trusted companion through nine homes in four states over 18 years. She hooked me on rescue, and all my pets since have been rescues. Those early experiences gave me a life-long respect and appreciation for rescue and the impact it can have on both animals and people.


For most of my childhood, I planned to become a veterinarian, but after college, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in wildlife biology (based on experience helping with wildlife rehab at my veterinary assistant position). From there I worked and volunteered for environmental nonprofits – serving in a variety of roles, including as a Program Director, Membership Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Fundraising Chair, Board President, and most recently as an Executive Director.


I am thrilled that, through the generosity of a grant from the ASPCA Northern Tier Shelter Initiative, I have the opportunity to return to my roots and bring these experiences to SAFe Rescue. I live nearby in NE Seattle with my husband, Dan, our daughters Triona and Kalina, our rescue dog Zarby and our rescue cat Tiger Lily.

I have enjoyed meeting many of the wonderful cats and people who make SAFe such a special place, and I look forward to getting to know many more of you in the near future.”






Love From Across the World: Gwendolyn’s Story


Gwendolyn is definitely a well-traveled, worldly kitty. She is a new resident to the Seattle area, coming all the way from Kabul, Afghanistan. Her story of arrival is one of love, featuring a teacher who wanted to help as many animals as she could while working in a war-torn area of the world.


Gwendolyn was first spotted by a kindergarten teacher working in Kabul. This little kitty was running across a busy street only bearing weight on three of her legs on a wet, winter day. The Good Samaritan assumed that Gwendolyn’s leg was broken, and slowly approached the car she hid under to coax her out. When she got Gwendolyn to the vet, an x-ray revealed a deformed bone that prevented her front paw from bending properly. Amputation was suggested, but since Gwendolyn didn’t let her paw slow her down, the doctor decided that she would keep it.

Immediately falling in love with Gwendolyn, the Good Samaritan took her home. It wasn’t long before Gwendolyn had charmed the three dogs and a puppy the kind teacher had also rescued, one of whom had just been hit by a car. Gwendolyn took to grooming the dogs as if they were her own kittens.

Hugging her guardian angel goodbye

When Gwendolyn’s mom had a new teaching assignment in Alaska, she was heartbroken to discover that because of a pet limit in her new housing she would not be able to take Gwendolyn along. But re-releasing her to the streets of Kabul to fend for herself was not how she wanted to part with her beloved kitty. She knew Gwendolyn needed a SAFe, warm place where she could find her furr-ever home. She contacted Seattle Area Feline Rescue, and we were happy to help!

And finding a loving family the same day!

We awaited Gwendolyn’s arrival, preparing an enclosure with some yummy food and a warm bed so that she could rest after her international journey. But Gwendolyn had other ideas of what she would do when she arrived at SAFe Rescue! She decided she didn’t want to wait for her furr-ever home any longer than she already had. Gwendolyn charmed her new mom (who had been at the adoption center looking at a kitty who liked dogs) with her talkative nature and adorable personality right as she was being placed in her new enclosure.  Gwendolyn’s new family knew that she was the one, and adopted her after she had only been at SAFe for 10 minutes!

Gwendolyn, who is now known has Director Snack Sweetums (but Snack for short) is settling in to her new home wonderfully and brings her new family so much joy. Not surprisingly, her best friend is the resident dog, but Snack also has grown accustomed to her new cat siblings as well.

Snack’s story is one for the books, and it is just a reminder of how a love and passion for cats and all animals alike can bring everyone together even from across the world.

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Socializing a Shy Cat

Socializing a Shy CatHelping a shy kitty blossom takes time and patience—but it’s also incredibly rewarding! From first purr to first headbutt, there will be many milestones to celebrate. As you teach your new feline friend to relax and trust humans, you will gain her devotion and loyalty for life. Here are some tips for socializing a shy cat:

Confinement is Key

Think about it from the kitty’s perspective: anxious cats worry there’s danger lurking in every unfamiliar space. Giving them room to roam around your home only adds to their stress. You’ll also be able to interact more calmly with your kitty if she’s in a smaller, quiet space. (Chasing kitty through the house or dragging her out from behind furniture sure doesn’t help build trust!) For more information on confinement, see “Why to Confine Your New Kitty.”

Arrange the Space

For young kittens, a large dog crate or playpen in a quiet room can give them a safely limited space to explore. For bigger felines, a small room such as a bathroom usually works best. Kitty will appreciate having a secure place such as a crate to retreat to, but make sure the room doesn’t have any hiding spots you can’t access. Think carefully about litter box placement, too—a frightened kitty may not feel brave enough to venture across the room to find the box. When you’re socializing a shy cat, creating a safe, comfortable living space sets you up for success!

Pet the Kitty

A hand coming towards your cat’s face may look threatening, and head-to-tail pets can be over stimulating. Instead, slowly approach from an angle and gently pet the side of her face. If your kitty isn’t ready to be touched yet, or if she swats away your hand, you can try petting from a distance with a backscratcher or a feather.

Make a “Purrito”

This is a great trick for getting young, shy kittens to relax! To make a purrito, swaddle the kitten in a towel with only the head showing. Then you can gently hold the kitty in your arms and pet the side of her face.

Tempt with Treats

Wet food on a spoon works wonders for luring shy cats out of hiding. Once you figure out kitty’s favorite treat, you’re on the road to becoming BFFs. For cats with a strong drive to play, using a wand or other toy to interact can help them feel at ease, too.

Go Slow

Socializing a shy cat works best when you let the cat set the pace. Too much attention, too fast could backfire and make kitty even more nervous. For example, if kitty comes over for pets, stick to gentle reassuring movements. (Don’t skip ahead and scoop her up in your arms just yet!) Each small step is worth celebrating, and with time you’ll establish the loving human-animal bond you’re hoping for.


Now Hiring

SAFe Rescue is currently hiring for two positions:

CUSTOMER CARE / ADOPTION COUNSELOR LEAD: this position assists the public and staff in resolving a wide-range of adoption center needs including adoptions, training, retail sales, and office work. It involves direct contact with cats, humans, computers and paper. The position includes assisting and training volunteers when needed. This position will work closely with the Operations Manager and Veterinary Care Manager. The ideal candidate will be friendly, outgoing with a passion for people and felines, an incredible attention to detail, a positive non-judgmental attitude, the ability to be flexible and work in a distracting and busy environment. The schedule includes weekends and holidays. Working hours will be approximately from 11am until 7pm.

VOLUNTEER MANAGER: this position helps oversee the recruitment, training, retention, recognition and daily operations of our volunteer program. This position involves direct contact with cats, humans, computers and paper. The position includes directly managing and training volunteers when needed. This position will work closely with the Operations Manager and other rescue staff to develop the volunteer program to meet the needs of the rescue. The ideal candidate will be friendly and outgoing, with a passion for people and felines, an incredible attention to detail, a positive non-judgmental attitude, and the ability to be flexible and work in a distracting and busy environment. This position has flexible work hours and is budgeted at 30-40 hrs. a week, with preference for schedule to include shifts on Fridays and Saturdays.

You can read details about these positions, as well as instructions on how to apply, on


New Hope for a New Year: Owen’s Story

Owen’s life almost ended earlier this month when someone called a clinic in Eastern WA about having him euthanized. From his scrapes, scratches and deeply matted fur, you could tell he’d seen hard times. But Owen wouldn’t give up!


​Owen purrs and rumbles when you pet him and gives big head bumps. Although his teeth are mostly gone, he gratefully slurps up any wet food you give him. His friendly, unbreakable spirit won the hearts of the team there, and they sent him to find a 2nd chance with us at SAFe Rescue.

And after…

Right away, we sent Owen to have surgery to soothe his painful, swollen mouth and to remove the shell of matted fur covering his back. Owen’s loving spirit charmed the veterinarian, too, and she even gave him a Santa sweater to keep his bare skin warm. Owen also got a special holiday present from one of the rescue volunteers: his new favorite carrot toy!

Owen is getting lots of TLC!

Soon, Owen will be ready for adoption. We’re all looking forward to seeing this special guy find a forever home at last.

​For cats like Owen, your support makes all the difference. His journey has been long and difficult, but with YOUR ongoing generosity, he’ll be able to continue healing and find a forever home. As our rescue has become busier than ever, thank you for being there for all of the Owens throughout this incredible year. We’re excited that they get to ring in 2018 with amazing friends like you looking out for them.

Owen sends his love, along with lots of purrs and biscuit-making!


Blind Kittens Travel the World!

Homeless on Crete

What do you do when you’re on vacation and you spot an animal in distress? If you’re one dedicated SAFe Rescue foster family, you turn your holiday into an international rescue mission!



In Greece this fall, foster volunteers Shanna and Eric noticed a pair of kittens with terribly infected eyes wandering the streets on the island of Crete. The kittens were clearly in pain and didn’t look like they’d survive much longer.

Getting ready to fly

International travellers

Feline passport

Forget touring and sightseeing—Shanna and Eric scooped them up and went to work convincing their B&B hosts to allow two street cats into their room. They spent the following days locating a vet and a shelter on the island that could help. Once the kittens, Leon and Gianni, were safely in the hands of a rescue group, their story seemed to have a happy ending.

Meeting their people

Little did we know, the kittens’ journey had only just begun. In the following weeks, Leon’s infections became so severe that both his eyes had to be removed, and Gianni’s eyes were clouded. Because of their circumstances, blindness was a BIG problem.

There aren’t enough adopters on Crete to give homes to all the cats, so rescue groups often send kitties to England. But in England, most kitties are indoor/outdoor. Cats who can’t go outside (like blind kitties) have difficulty finding homes. Leon and Gianni would have faced high danger of euthanasia if they went off the island.

Happy family!

Fortunately, there ARE places where adopters give homes to lots of kitties with disabilities: places like Seattle! Leon and Gianni were sure to find a family in no time if only they could make it here to SAFe. . . It was time to make a holiday miracle happen!

Last week, Shanna added up frequent flier miles, hopped on a plane back to Crete, collected Leon and Gianni, and started home to Seattle.

The two kitties spent the long flights napping in a carrier under the seat, and they were thrilled to get a hearty meal at SAFe Rescue after their long trip!

Now, just five days later, Leon and Gianni have already found a loving forever family who think they’re PURR-fect just as they are. For these two kittens, the journey “Home for the Holidays” was longer than most—but they couldn’t have a happier ending to their story!

Here at SAFe Rescue, we’re grateful for all the heroes out there who make miracles happen—and for the wonderful kind-hearted community of people like YOU who make it possible to rescue and homeless kitties of all kinds!

Can you help more kitties like Gianni and Leon come home for the holidays? Your tax-deductible donation goes straight to the kitties who need it most. With your support, miracles are possible! 



13 Special Kitties Look Back on 2017

As the year draws to a close, we’re fondly remembering some of the most heartwarming stories of 2017. Here are a few of the kitties whose portraits and stories feature in the rescue’s 2018 calendar:

Dietz: cover model extraordinaire! Dietz is a lucky cat: his human won the “Make Your Kitty a Cover Model” package at Nine Lives Gala.

Minnie: this beautiful kitty starts the year as our January model. Originally found in a dumpster, Minnie has a bright spirit that helped her through all the tough times until she could become part of a loving family. . .

Love: if there were an award for “Unusual Ears,” Love would win. This unique kitty started her life in Hawaii. . .

Want to read more? You can get your copy of the rescue calendar today and let the fuzzy faces of the rescue kitties keep you company throughout the new year!

The calendar features photos by K.A.Moore Photography, a sturdy, spiral-bound design, and lots of cool cat holidays. (Never miss “Take Your Cat to Work Day” again!)

Proceeds from your calendar purchase benefit the kitties at Seattle Area Feline Rescue.


#GivingTuesday to Give Kitties a Helping Paw!

#GivingTuesday Cat

Have you heard the “mews”?

On November 28, Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match up to $2 million raised on Facebook. All fees for donations on Facebook this #GivingTuesday are also waived. What a MEOWY BIG day for the rescue cats and kittens! Will you help make it a life-saver for the kitties? Here are some quick actions you can take:


  • Create your own fundraiser: tell your story, spread awareness, and rally support for the kitties!Starting at 8:00 AM ET (5:00AM Seattle time!),  on 11/28, every dollar your Facebook friends give for the kitties will be DOUBLED until matching funds run out. And no processing fees all day long! Starting your own fundraiser is easy. Here’s how!


  • Share one of the rescue’s posts on #GivingTuesday. With your help spreading the word, we can save lots of homeless felines.


  • Add a donate button to your kitty posts. When you tell the world about your favorite kitties, with a simple click, you can also add a “Donate” button to your post. Here’s how!



Together we can help homeless cats and kittens who otherwise might never have a chance find warmth, comfort, and happy families this winter. Thank you for looking out for the less fortunate kitties of the world!