Seattle Area Feline Rescue
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Cat Pawsitive: Positive Training for Shelter Cats

Jackson Galaxy's Cat Pawsitive ProgramWe are excited to announce that Seattle Area Feline Rescue was selected by The Jackson Galaxy Foundation (JGF) to participate in Cat Pawsitive, an initiative that introduces positive-reinforcement training to shelter cats.

Jackson Galaxy (star of the television show My Cat from Hell on Animal Planet, and Founder of his namesake organization) developed Cat Pawsitive with a team of animal behavior experts. Highlights of the program include:

  • improving cat “adoptability”
  • enriching day-to-day life for cats in shelters
  • building feline social skills, especially for shy or fearful cats
  • promoting the human-cat bond
  • teaching and empowering animal shelter staff and volunteers

Samantha Bell DiGenova, a feline behavior expert hand-picked by the Foundation, will lead the program for Seattle Area Feline Rescue beginning February 2. Throughout the four-month program, shelter staff and volunteers will participate in weekly trainings with DiGenova and will have direct access to the entire training team for consultations about the cats in their care.

“We are thrilled to have the expertise and guidance of the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, as well as the many resources the Cat Pawsitive program provides,” said SAFe Rescue’s Claire Robinson, Cat Pawsitive team leader. “Many of our volunteers are already big fans of the great work done by Jackson Galaxy as well as JGF, and we can’t wait to make a difference in the lives of our kitties with the help of the Cat Pawsitive program!”

“We are excited to be working with Seattle Area Feline Rescue to show the world what can be done to step up the game and improve outcomes for cats in shelters,” says Jackson Galaxy. “Cat Pawsitive is about awareness, enrichment, innovation, and increased adoption placement on a grassroots level. I know that the work done during this program will have a ripple effect, helping so many cats in need and the humans who care for them.”

Cats who are exposed to reward-based training methods gain confidence and experience reduced stress through training sessions; soon they are building connections with staff, volunteers and potential adopters. Cat Pawsitive can help a shy cat learn to feel comfortable coming up to the front of the cage to meet an adopter, a feisty cat learn to play nice, and an outgoing kitty learn to give an endearing “high five” to visitors to seal an adoption deal.

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Litter Box Tips: Help Your Kitty Learn Good Habits

Kitten in the litter boxA cat who doesn’t use the litter box usually gets a big reaction from the humans. But did you know there are proactive steps you can take BEFORE your kitty ever has litter box problems? With a few simple actions, you can help guide your feline friend to use the box faithfully. It’s never too early—or too late—to build gold star litter box habits!

1)      New Adult Cat? Confinement is Key!

When you’re bringing a new cat or kitten into your home, it’s very important to start things off on the right paw. Adult cats are creatures of habit, so change can be hard for them. When your new friend first comes home, you can ease her transition by confining her to a small space (without hiding places you can’t access), such as a bathroom. Fluffykins should stay there until she has established the habit of using the new litter box.

It might seem tempting to let your new friend roam right away, but don’t give in! Large, open spaces are usually frightening for cats at first. An anxious kitty is more likely to avoid the litter boxor hide and get too afraid to come out and find it. In particular, older cats, recently neutered cats, and very shy kitties may need more time than you think. Better to err on the side of caution: some cats do best in a new environment with a month or more of confinement. Slow and steady wins the race to impeccable litter box use!

2)      New Kittens? Confinement is Still Key!

Kittens simply haven’t been around long enough to build long-term box habits yet. Not to mention that finding the box in a big space is hard when you’re little and you really gotta go! Temporary confinement to a bathroom or other small room gives new kittens the best start. Confinement for young kittens, especially when they’re unsupervised, is important for establishing life-long gold star litter box habits and may be necessary for weeks or even months, depending on the kittens and the home situation.  It’s a process not to be rushed: think short term pain (not having your kittens next to you all day long) for long term gain (A+ litter box users).  Once the kittens are out for short supervised visits, keep showing them where their box is and reminding them to try to use it.

3)      Think Location, Location, Location

Spaces that seem perfectly normal to people can be extra scary for kitties. To you, for example, the dryer is a handy time-saving appliance. To Fluffykins, it might seem like a big cube monster, ready to emit scary clunks and beeps at any second. Nobody wants to go potty next to a monster! When deciding where to place litterboxes, try to take a kitty’s-eye-view. Is the box easy to access? Is the location quiet and private? Is it easy to get in and out of? Kitties usually prefer boxes that offer quick escape routes—you never know when that dryer monster might try to ambush you! For this reason, hooded litter boxes and boxes hidden in furniture can be unappealing to certain kitties.

4)      Do Some Litter Box Algebra

Having the right number of litter boxes is as easy as can be! If “C” is the number of cats in your household, then C + 1 = Number of Boxes. In other words, make sure to have a litter box for each kitty, plus one extra box. (Sorry, two boxes right next to each other still count as one!) Cats can be territorial about their litter, so having plenty to go around—in different locations—helps prevent problems.

5)      Become a Regular at Your Vet

While some litter box issues are behavioral, many result from medical problems. Urinary tract infections, crystals, pain from declawing, constipation, arthritis… all of these health problems, and many others, can lead to box avoidance. Make sure to take your kitty in for regular check-ups. Not only will your kitty earn that gold star for good behavior—she’ll be happier and healthier, too!

6)      Clean It Like You Mean It!

Cats are tidy creatures at heart, even if they do have their epic mess-making moments. The feline sense of smell is exceptional, too. A box that looks fine to you might smell terrible to them. If that box isn’t clean and appealing, your kitty might give in to the temptation of a fresh pile of laundry or a nice soft carpet… So scoop the litter each day, and make sure to regularly empty and wash the whole box with a non-ammonia cleaner. If your kitty is particularly picky, Fluffykins might be wishing that you would scoop every time she uses the box. You probably don’t have time to follow Flufflykins around all day with a scooper in handso if you have a nitpicky kitty, consider getting an extra large litter box. (Plastic under-bed storage containers work great for this!) Also, make sure you have enough boxes in different locations. (See “Litter Box Algebra” above.)

If your kitty does have an accident—or if you spill while cleaning—be sure to get rid of the mess right away with an odor-neutralizing cleaner, available at most pet stores. If you can, it’s also a good idea to block off kitty’s access to that spot for a while (especially if that spot is a bed).

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Now Hiring!

oliveWe’re happy to announce that the SAFe Rescue is now accepting applications for a brand new position: Customer Care/Office Associate! This full time team member will play a key role in helping both animals and people:

Assist public and staff with a wide range of needs: adoptions, retail, office, and development tasks. Includes training volunteers when needed. This position works closely with the Development Director, 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, and the ability to be flexible and focused in a distracting environment.

The Rescue is also accepting applications for the part time position of Cat Care Lead. You can learn more about both positions on our JOBS page.

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Mary Winchester Goes Home for the Pawlidayz

Mary WinchesterMary used to fend for herself outdoors: it was a hard, dangerous life for this petite young cat! A Good Samaritan trapped her and took her to be spayed. At the clinic, they discovered that she had recently given birth. This was worrisome news – without their mom, her kittens wouldn’t survive long. Fortunately, after some searching, the kittens were found and reunited with their relieved momma!

Mary came to Seattle Area Feline Rescue with all her kittens. She was a devoted, patient mother, and spent time in foster care nurturing them until they grew strong and healthy. Her foster family, fans of the TV show Supernatural, added “Winchester” to her name in honor of one of the characters.

After some TLC in foster care, Mary Winchester and her “Supernatural Litter” (Castiel, Sam, Lilith, and Dean) were ready for adoption. . . just in time to go home for the Pawlidayz! On Black Friday, they all found loving homes in just one day as part of Zappos and Best Friends Animal Society’s “Home for the Pawlidayz” promotion!

Mary Winchester in her new mom's armsThe lady who adopted Mary came to the rescue on Black Friday because one of her two senior kitties had recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The surviving kitty had retreated to a single room in the house, too sad to move much, and needed a new friend. Mary clearly thought that should be her! She snuggled in and quickly convinced her new mom to take her home.

Mary’s mom reports that she fits right into her new family. The other kitty in the home seems to be cheered by Mary’s presence, and has even ventured out to bump noses with her. As for Mary, she’s learning the joys of burrowing under covers, sitting on laps, and listening to Seahawks’ games with her people!

Mary Winchester’s days struggling to survive on her own are officially over. She’ll spend the holidays—and the rest of her long, happy life—with a family who loves her!

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BB’s Big Wish

BB, a special needs kittenMeet BB, a determined little kitten with a big holiday wish!

BB was born to a feral momma cat in Eastern Washington. As she grew, it became clear that she was different from her brothers and sisters. Her back legs splayed out at an angle from her body, and she couldn’t use them to walk. BB would not have survived for long in the dangerous outside world as a wild kitty.

Thankfully, BB came to us for a second chance!

BB gets a hugSince she arrived at Seattle Area Feline Rescue, BB has shown what a strong, determined girl she is. She has learned to scoot across the floor of her foster home. She even uses her front paws to do handstands like a tiny gymnast! You can see that BB wants very much to walk and move like the other kitties.

The veterinarian says BB might someday be able to walk on all four paws, but only if she gets a series of physical therapy sessions.

img_23171Thanks to generous support from the community, BB is getting the special care she needs. She still has a long journey ahead of her, though. . .

Will you make a gift to help special kitties like BB? Every donation, big or small, makes such a difference for them! http://www.seattleareafelinerescue.org/give-to-save-lives/

THANK YOU to all of you who are making it possible to give BB the care she needs. Together we can make sure that her dreams can come true—and that she finds a loving home!

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Home for the Pawlidayz!

Home for the PawlidayzA new furry friend to take Home for the Pawlidayz? That’s purr-fect!

This weekend, Zappos will sponsor all adoption fees for Seattle Area Feline Rescue kitties as part of Best Friend Animal Society’s Home for the Pawlidayz event. That means adoption fees are waived for every cat and kitten from Friday, November 25th until Monday, November 28th!

During our Rescue Open House on Black Friday, we’ll also have refreshments and other festivities from 12:00-7:00. Enjoy coffee and cookies, admire the adorable kitties, visit the “Meowliday” giving tree, help fill the kitties’ stockings, and more! (Seattle Area Feline Rescue Adoption Center, 14717 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline WA, 98133)

We’re happy to be one of the 115 animal organizations participating in Home for the Pawlidayz, and we’re excited to help Zappos and Best Friends reach their goal to see 9,000 dogs and cats adopted as part of the nationwide event this weekend.

Black Friday Open HouseSadly, every day across the United States, 9,000 animals are euthanized simply because they don’t have a place to call home. This weekend we’re looking forward to helping change that heartbreaking number by finding loving homes for many wonderful cats and kittens!

Come stop by the Adoption Center this weekend–you might just find your new best friend! You can preview our adoptable kitties here.

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Single Kitten Syndrome

One is the Loneliest Number…

Single Kitten Syndrome isn't a problem when you adopt a pair!Taking home just one kitten may seem like a good idea—but a lonely kitten can be a real “cat-tastrophe” for felines and humans alike. Single Kitten Syndrome is the reason that, like many other organizations, we ask for kittens under 6 months to go home in pairs.

Did you know…

Lone Kittens Can Show Aggression as Adults

When two kittens play together, they give each other strong cues not to bite or scratch too hard. As humans, we’re less fluent in feline behavioral signals. In other words, we’re not as good as other kittens at saying “Ouch, that was too hard!” With Single Kitten Syndrome, kittens grow up to be cats with “cattitude.” They tend to play too roughly and often get returned when they reach adulthood and their behavior isn’t so cute anymore.

Two is Less Work than One

A pair of kittens will keep each other socialized, entertained, and exercised, even while you’re away. Adopt one, and you’ll likely come home to a crying kitten desperate for attention. Adopt two, and you’ll come home to happy kittens ready for extra play and snuggles. They’ll still bond to you as their favorite person, but they won’t require the many hours of attention that a single kitten craves each day.

Kittens Learn from Each Other

Baby kitties are still figuring out how to grow up to be cats. Having another feline around helps reinforce good habits like using the litter box and scratching post. With a buddy in the home, they learn to be model “kit-izens” and use their very best behavior.

Growing up with a Different Species isn’t the Same

Dogs and cats can be best buddies. Some dogs and cats even love to play together! But a dog (or any other kind of pet) can’t show a kitten how to use the litterbox or pounce like a tiger.

An Older Cat Might Not Want a Kitten Friend

Single kittens are a lot of work for humans—and they can also be a lot of work for other cats! Getting pounced on or hearing a youngster cry “Will you play with me?” over and over isn’t usually a grown cat’s idea of fun. That’s why having an adult around doesn’t necessarily prevent Single Kitten Syndrome. There are some exceptions: young, playful cats are sometimes thrilled to get a buddy. Usually, though, adopting two kittens is the best choice if you already have a cat at home. That way, the kittens keep each other entertained without stressing your adult kitty.

Planning to Adopt?

  • Here at rescue, we want you and your furry family members to be happy. That’s why we offer a discount to make it more affordable to adopt two kittens at once! You can learn more on our adoptions page.
  • If you’re wondering whether the kitty you have at home would be a good companion for a single kitten, you can email adoptions@seattleareafelinerescue.org to get in touch with an adoption counselor.
  • If you’re not able to take two, but still want a young playful kitty, we can help you find a young adult or teenager over 6 months for your home. A young cat can keep you entertained for hours, and you’ll be more likely to have a well-behaved, well-adjusted adult cat!
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Why SAFe Kitties Give “Meowy Big Thanks” to the ASPCA!

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Rescue kitty “Tommy” in one of the new enclosures

This September, as the air gets crisp and the kids head back to school, we’re looking ahead to another year… and back at how far we’ve come in the past 12 months!

Since last year, we’ve met a lot of new furry faces, and we’ve watched many adopters welcome home new feline family members. We’ve also seen big changes at the rescue, including the addition of a Licensed Veterinary Technician to the rescue staff, and the addition of 12 new stainless steel enclosures in the “Isolation Room” at the Adoption Center.

These exciting improvements have made it possible to help more homeless kitties—and they’re brought to you by none other than the ASPCA itself! Last summer, the rescue was honored to be awarded a “Northern Tier” grant by the ASPCA. This grant made it possible to upgrade our medical program, create the LVT “Cat Care Coordinator” staff position, and increase our capacity to save lives!

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Pisa getting some pre-adoption medical care!

With this highly impactful grant—along with the generosity and kindness of individual donors and the dedication of our amazing crew of volunteers and foster families—we have been rescuing more cats and kittens than ever before.

In the first part of this year, we found homes for 637 kitties. Wow! That’s 141 more kitties than during the comparable period in 2015.  We are definitely on track to save more than 1,000 lives in 2016!

The number of felines benefited will continue to grow for many years to come, and here at the rescue we’re deeply grateful to be part of such a caring community that looks out for animals in need.

From us and the kitties: Thank you “Meowy Much” to the ASPCA for this amazing opportunity, and to all of you who make the rescue’s work possible!

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Now Hiring: Volunteer Coordinator!

volunteerThe rescue is seeking an outgoing people person and animal lover for the position of Volunteer Coordinator!

Duties will include recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers. You can read the full  description on our “Jobs” page.

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Three Angels for Three Kittens

3 sistersSometimes it takes a village to rescue a kitten. . . or three!

When these tiny kitten sisters arrived at the rescue, tired and hungry, they must have felt very frightened and alone in the world. But they had more guardian angels than they could ever know!

Their first helpers were some children playing on a summer’s day. The kids discovered the babies tucked away outside, and took them home for the grown-ups to see. The kittens were barely three weeks old, much too small to survive on their own, so the family found help for them.

The kittens found their second group of guardian angels here in our rescue community. Donations from supporters funded the kitten formula they needed to survive. Like human newborns, baby kitties need to eat every few hours: bottle feeding takes round-the-clock dedication!  Fortunately, foster heroes volunteer to give up time and sleep to save the lives of fragile, vulnerable kittens like these.

IMG_6185And the sisters’ third guardian angels? It turns out they had been looking for them all along! Two Good Samaritans in the neighborhood where they were born had been busy caring for community cats there. They grew fond of a tomcat who lived outdoors and came to consider him their own, even though he was wary of people. They managed to catch him and take him to be neutered. Sadly, he bolted after that and never returned.

Next, they trapped, spayed, and re-released a little black feral cat. The vet told them she must have given birth recently, but they couldn’t find her kittens… Until they heard from their neighbors about the three sisters!

They realized that all along they had been these kittens’ “cat family,” since they had been caring for their parents. They got in touch with us and arranged to adopt, but they faced a dilemma. How could they pick just two and leave one behind?

There was only one solution: adopt all three! Now these lucky sisters have a home of their own, with the family that has been looking out for them all along… it was meant to be!

It really does take a village to help a cat. Or, rather, it takes a community of caring animal lovers. We send our gratitude to each one of you. Volunteers, donors, adopters, fosters, Good Samaritans—THANK YOU for making it possible to save the lives of kittens like these!

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