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Feral cats are NOT the reason song birds are disappearing. While fewer cats are always better for bird populations, the overwhelming cause of wildlife depletion is destruction of natural habitat by humans.
 
 

march 2017 | remembering and moving on



Remembering and moving on

When FFN began in 2006 / 2007 the focus of our work was spay / neuter and Trap / Neuter / Return (TNR). As the years passed and we spayed and neutered more and more cats, we began seeing fewer and fewer actual “feral” (wild) cats. Cats trapped as ferals were often simply very frightened cats and, with some foster care, many of them were able to be adopted into loving homes, rather than returned outdoors.

In 2015, thanks to co-ordinators Holly Roulston and Marg Usprech, FFN put an actual Adoption Program into place to complement our work in TNR when such cats were trapped.

Where do theses “friendlies” come from? We can’t know for sure, of course, but we assume that most have been abandoned. Taking them off the streets does two things … Most importantly, it likely saves their lives because most abandoned cats will not have the skills to survive “living rough” for the long term. Secondly, it prevents more feral cat colonies from forming. Almost 100% of abandoned cats are unaltered. Left on the street, they will breed – and their offspring will become the next generation of truly feral cats.

This month we would like to share memorials to two FFN colony cats. The first, Smudge (pictured above), was a true feral – born outside and living happily there. The second, Elvis (pictured below), was an abandoned cat that we were sadly unable to save. Both deserve to be remembered and honoured.

... Continued. Click here to see the complete article in our March 2017 newsletter >




Also in this issue : Smudge Says Goodbye; Elvis Takes His Leave; Thank You!; Successful AGM

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february 2017 | good karr-ma



Good Karr-ma

by Holly Roulston and Ron Diehl

If you follow FFN on Facebook, you might remember Karr (pictured above). He originally came to our TNR program looking a little beat up from life outdoors, but co-ordinator Marg Usprech soon realized he had a sweet friendly personality.

Karr was in foster care for some time before being adopted by a loving family. All was well. Unfortunately, before Karr could become familiar with and feel completely safe in his new home, he manage to dart through the open door one day.

Karr was “on the lamb” for THREE months. His family and FFN placed posters and photos around the neighbourhood and on social media to no avail.

In the meantime, another friendly and sweet black cat came through our TNR program but we had no one to foster it.

We asked Karr’s adoptive family if they would consider fostering-to-adopt the new black kitty. We promised that if we were able to locate Karr, we would let the family decide which cat they’d like to keep. As it turned out, the new black kitty immediately fit in with his foster family – both people and resident cats.

When the message came that Karr had finally been found, we were thrilled to have him back and immediately began looking for a new forever home for him. Karr attended CatCon at the SPHS at the end of August 2016 but sadly (we thought) wasn’t adopted.

However, he did meet Global Pet Foods staff member Britany Diehl who in September asked whether Karr was still available for adoption. She felt he would be a perfect fit for her father, Ron. It couldn’t have been more true. Here is Ron’s story of the bond he shares with Karr.

I became a shut-in very quickly. One day I was going to the gym and, two days later, I was in a wheelchair. I’m finding it hard to deal with. I’ve always liked cats better than dogs so when my daughter suggested that she get me a cat for my birthday, I accepted. I had no idea what a difference it would make in my life.

When Holly brought Karr to my home around 1:00 pm, he was shy. But by 7:00 pm, he was sitting on my knee and letting me pet him. It felt right. I enjoyed it as much as he did – even though my shoulder was killing me the next day. Guess I overdid it!

It has been five months now and I can’t believe my cat. When I’ve been sleeping in my chair, he has jumped into my lap and woken me up to take my pills – right on the minute that I should be taking them. He’s done that four times.

He sleeps between my legs while I watch TV, staying with me for hours. Just when I think I’m going to have to disturb him so that I can go to the washroom, he wakes up and jumps off the chair. It’s like Karr can read my mind. I could write a book. I won’t let him go for any amount of money. He really is my companion and I would be lost without him.


Also in this issue : Donations needed for Book & Bake Sale; Help support community care agencies; Feline Film Fest is back June 9; Corporate donation & matching programs; Animal by-law working group update; AGM February 26!

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DECember 2016 | how to have hope



How to Have Hope

by Lynn Pardoe

Last August I got a call to do my first TNR (Trap / Neuter / Return). Amazingly, it was at a neighbour’s home where a black cat with two kittens at weaning age were living under her shed.

Nancy had started feeding the cats regularly. When I came over to review the situation, I discovered that the mama cat was in great shape, although she had obviously suffered from some years outside – she only had half a tail and her ears had been frostbitten. Most surprisingly, she didn’t act like a traditional feral. She didn’t run off. In fact, she let strangers approach to within a few feet. And, she certainly understood – and appreciated! – being fed.

I set up to trap the following Saturday. I was successful in getting the two kittens, then the mom. She was a bit wild, but I managed to transfer her to the carrier where the kittens were waiting. I carried her home to her new temporary quarters: my spare room closet.

When the kittens left her for adoption the next day, it was just Hope – the name she has ended up with – and me. While she was clearly scared, she didn’t act totally feral. This posed a dilemma – should I keep her and try to tame her or release her once she’d been spayed and vaccinated?

This is always a difficult decision for those involved. Creating a colony of one cat requires a potentially decade-long commitment from the home owner, which is asking a lot of anyone. And in Hope’s case, she would once more be out in the elements without a tail and ears to help her stay warm.

The flip slide? I already have five cats and I wasn’t convinced I could successfully introduce another. And most importantly – was she truly feral or not? Ultimately, FFN’s goal is to do what is best for the cat and this was far from clear.

However, I have learned that where we dare, we can succeed.

I had Hope for four weeks with only very marginal improvements in her ability to trust me. I was worried as I was going away for three weeks, but through FFN, Louise Allen stepped up and offered to help out while I was away.

This proved to be the key to unlocking Hope’s trust. She took to Louise and
started to fit with Louise’s three older cats. Louise is keeping her.

This is a great success for all – Hope in particular, but also for Nancy and me. I now recognize that going with your gut on these situations can work out.

A few words from Louise …
It has been amazing to watch as Hope has transformed over the past two months from a cat who hid in her carrier and hissed at me to a cat who follows me up and down the stairs all day, leans against my legs while I wash the dishes, and has even started to head butt me when I watch TV.

We still have a long way to go but I see improvements each day as both Hope and I learn to trust each other a little more. I credit Christopher, one of my older cats, with being a role model for Hope. She watched him interact with me with curiosity and disbelief and eventually began to mirror Chris’ behaviour.

I know there has been pain and hardship in Hope’s past; losing her ears and possibly her tail to frost bite must have been incredibly painful. But, she has settled into life indoors very well and has seemingly endless energy and desire to play. For obvious reasons, I named her Hope.

Also in this issue : Special Thank-You; Expense Reports Due 15 Jan 2017; AGM 26 Feb 2017; Puddy Products at Stratford Market 10 & 17 Dec; Happy Felines Who Found Fur-ever Homes in 2016; Message from the President & Past President; Giving Tuesday a Big Success

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november 2016 | coming indoors



Coming Indoors

by Cheryl Simpson & Marion Day

In the spring of 2014, FFN was called to TNR a small black mother cat who had given birth to 4 little black kittens in a woodpile. We were also told that there was a large male black-and-white cat in the neighbourhood. All the cats were trapped – the adults spayed, neutered, and returned, and the kittens sent to the Humane Society for adoption. Neighbourhood feeders and alternate shelters were 2016set up, and “Missy” and “Mister” became part of the FFN database of Stratford community cats.

But the story doesn’t end there …

This past summer FFN was contacted by the mother of a very wonderful young man named Ben (see our September newsletter) who loves cats and was donating his birthday money to Feline Friends. In speaking with her, we talked about two neighbourhood cats who Ben and his Dad were trying to coax to become inside cats. Realizing their location I asked if the cats were “eartipped” and what they looked like … low and behold, they were indeed “our” cats! So, here is the story from Marion and Ben’s perspective.

Three years ago, my son and his father told me about a black-and-white cat with a nice face, who would sit outside in the winter cold looking into their kitchen. They would invite him in, but he would always refuse, so they began to leave food out for him – especially on very cold days. Finally, it appeared that he had started to live under their porch. Eventually, with much encouragement, he made his way into a sub-basement, where he couldn’t get into the rest of the house but he could keep warm.

During the summers, he would appear from time to time, and he was always cordial and polite to our domestic cat, but no one could get close enough to him to touch him.

Whenever we didn’t see him we worried about him. Sometimes, he disappeared for months at a stretch before coming back. My son’s father made a point of leaving food out regularly.

This summer, he began to get more and more courageous about coming and sitting on the back porch, and he had a friend, a small female black cat (who has still not let us get close to her, but who hovers around, about 50 feet away, carefully watching what he’s doing).

As he became more and more affectionate, we discovered that his fur was quite matted. Over two weeks, he very gradually let us touch him to the point that we could gently remove the tatts in his fur. He discovered that he loved being brushed and began to approach us every time he saw us, asking to be brushed or patted or have his face rubbed.

My son and his father wanted to allow him to come inside the house, but they didn’t know if he had ever been to a vet. In the late part of the summer we talked to Feline Friends and discovered that the notch on his left ear indicated that he is an FFN cat. So, we discovered, is his female friend.

We are very grateful to Feline Friends both for being able to tell us his history and his information, and for offering to help pay for his first vet visit before coming into the house.

Thanks to FFN, “Wha-Whose” now has all his shots up to date; he’s had his teeth examined, received some flea medicine, and the vet pronounced him very healthy and strong. He is allowed to come into the house and sleep on the beds of my son and his dad, although he is still at the point where he will only come in for a few minutes before going back out. Our domestic cat is having a bit of trouble adjusting to another cat getting the attention, so we are trying to be extra good to her.

When Wha-Whose is being fed he always leaves a portion of his food for the black female.

Also in this issue : Meet Smudge; Puddy Products on the Road; Adoptable Kitty : Harriet; Wine Raffle Winners; Notes of Thanks

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october 2016 | our fabulous four



Our Fabulous Four

by Warren and Barbara Beckett

The L&M cats live in an industrial area in the south end of Stratford. They’ve been supported by FFN since 2008.

Dedicated volunteers see to the needs of the four cats remaining of the original clowder … two meals a day, housing, cleaning services, repairs, and, of course, snow removal. Lots of love (always) and pets (as invited) are provided at no extra charge.

All nattily attired in black and white, the L&M cats are a wonderful, entertaining little fur family.

Gentle Pretty is the resident hostess at L&M, ready to extend a welcoming paw to any “friendlies” who happen by. Kind and inclusive, she’ll gladly share her world. “Live and let live” is her motto.

Shy MumCat raised five kittens in the challenging outdoors. She’s learned to be cautious, even, at times, elusive. On rare occasions, this quiet, sweet kitty surprises with a swift little paw to smack down misbehaviour. She’s a survivor. The L&M boys are her sons.

Fleck is a cat of great reserve … no begging for pets or dining with others for him. At mealtimes, he’ll fix you with his solemn gaze, listen intently to your sweet talk and flattery, and then scamper off to show just where he’d like his solitary picnic placed. He values his personal space: “See me; include me; please don’t touch me.”

Outgoing Trouble always has places to go and things to do. In preparation for his next adventure, he uses mealtimes to recharge with food and loving attention. Never bashful, he used to make regular visits to the nearby bikers’ clubhouse for extra pets. Fortunately, the motorcycle gang rolled out of town before Trouble became a permanent recruit. A rascal!

The isolation of the L&M site is of some concern but these cats have keen survival skills. Highly attuned to familiar engine sounds, they know just when to emerge from hiding … a welcoming committee full of energy and joy. They’ve learned to accommodate groundhogs, skunks, and raccoons. Weather extremes are handled without complaint. -16°C and you’ll find
them outdoors together enjoying an afternoon of sunbathing. Amazing!

Over the years, the L&M colony has temporarily sheltered twenty-three
needy feline visitors. FFN trapped each newcomer, provided medical attention, and moved each cat through loving foster care and into a forever home.

Uniquely individual, but bonded as a group, our four L&M cats are dearly loved. What a pleasure to share in their care!

Also in this issue : Catio Party; 6th Annual Wine Raffle; National Feral Cat Day; Thanks to our Donors

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september 2016 | heaven on earth



A Little Angel Finds Heaven on Earth

by Holly Roulston

Our littlest "Angel" came to us after FFN received a call asking for help with a young female cat and three kittens dumped at a country property on the outskirts of Sebringville.

When Angel was trapped with her kittens, they were all in rough shape: the kittens had eye infections and were dehydrated and Angel had an eye injury, a puncture wound in her neck, and difficulty with her back left leg / hip. She also had no milk to nurse her babies. We wondered if she had been shot and her hip appeared to have been fractured or broken.

At an initial visit, the vet recommended that we start Angel on some pain medication and give her a few days of rest before reassessing. The kittens were old enough to be introduced to wet food and, within a few days, foster mom Lesley P. reported that they were looking much healthier and that Angel was already walking better. According to Lesley, Angel was just the sweetest little cat. Even with her injuries, she was gentle and loving with her kittens and wanted nothing more than to be in the presence of people.

After a week of antibiotics Angel was ready for her spay surgery and to have her eye – which unfortunately could not be saved – cleaned out and stitched up. She has since made a full recovery. When Angel looks at me with her one bright eye (portal to her kind little soul), I can feel how much she trusts and appreciates everything we have done for her. This little girl has touched all of us!

FFN could not have helped Angel if it had not been for foster moms Lesley P. and then Cheryl J. The rewards of fostering are so great when you get to see a cat that had very little chance of survival – at best living in pain and struggling daily – transform from a bedraggled, sad little creature to a healthy, happy, playful cat.

Angel’s kittens were fixed and vaccinated and were quickly adopted into loving indoor homes. Angel’s happy ending 2016 was a little longer in materializing. Although her days of struggle were over, it took time to find the special people who would cherish this pretty, petite little angel as she deserved. We are thrilled to announce that Angel has captured the hearts of FFN members and volunteers extraordinaire Pat and Larry and found a little heaven on earth where she will be cuddled, spoiled, and beloved for the rest of her life.

Also in this issue : Catio Party; Kashi Out and About; Animal Control Working Group; Spotlight on Cat Con; 6th Annual Wine Raffle

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summer 2016 | what the heck is a catio?



What the Heck is a Catio?

by Cheryl Simpson

Let’s face it – cats love to be outside. BUT, these days, letting your cat roam can lead to problems – sometimes big ones – for you, your cat, your neighbours, and neighbourhood wildlife.

The solution? Build a “catio” – a patio for cats! A “catio” is a place where your feline friend(s) can enjoy the out of doors safely any time of day or night. Catio enclosures can be anything from just a simple window-box-like space to an incredibly elaborate structure featuring several stories or tunnels to maximize feline freedom. They can be DI Y projects for those who are handy, or custom built for those who are not – or even something in between.

Paul and I decided to add such a “cat gazebo” to our cats’ home environment ten years ago. We contacted Kris Kischer of Toronto’s Home of Habitat Haven (habitathaven.com) and soon our beautiful catio was born! We can honestly say this investment was one of the best we’ve ever made, both for our cats’ enjoyment, and our own peace of mind.

And now we’d like to share our experience with all of you. On Sunday, 11 September (rain date, 18 September) FFN members and friends are invited to join us in the Simpson backyard at 47 Britannia Street, Stratford, for an FFN
Catio Party. Not only will you be able to see our own catio in action, but our special guest, Kris Kischer, will be bringing a demo enclosure that contains many of the components offered by Home of Habitat Haven, as well as a video of some very happy feline clients enjoying their very own spaces.

The Catio Party will be an open house, so please put it on your calendar, and make a point of dropping in any time between noon and 3:00 pm. Bring a friend and enjoy refreshments or shop for FFN “merch” while you “cat chat” with Kris and other cat lovers about the joys of catios!

Also in this issue : Frederick Street Gang; Thanks to local pet stores; Upcoming events; Canada Day

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JUNE 2016 | CREATING A COLONY



Creating a Colony

by Karen Van Scheyndel

For us, it all started one winter a few years ago when we noticed mice in the house. Soon after, we discovered pawprints in the snow – catprints! Forgetting about the mouse problem, I started putting food and water down for the cats every day, monitored their visits, provided makeshift shelters … and so the story began.

In the spring of 2014, four kittens appeared and we contacted FFN for guidance. Through FFN, we TNR’d eight cats the following September, including Garfield, who was quite sick and needed extra TLC. After a long recovery period, Garfield found a wonderful loving home and is now healthy and happy.

Our original “crew” included: King Kitt, Lollypop, Petunia, Aloysius, Lady, Spook, Babyface and, of course, Garfield. We believe that Kitt and Lady are the parents of Lollypop, Petunia, and Aloysius. The fourth kitten, Knight, disappeared for over a year, but seems to be back. Although he’s very elusive, we hope to trap him this year along with other newbies Charlie and Maestro.

Most of the cats don’t want to be touched. Lollypop was the first to trust us enough, climbing onto my lap in the winter to warm her feet. She broke her tail spring of 2015 and had to have it partially amputated. She’s mischief at its best, but also my husband’s suck.

Once a scrapper, Kitt is now a calm boy who regularly hangs around, and has been known to come inside to visit us – and our dogs – and then leave. He’s my shadow. Petunia is never far and Aloysius is usually around my feet. The rest sit and watch, always partaking in the feline security team.

Last fall, we trapped another big white boy who we named Bumble. We truly thought we were done trapping until this past winter when Harley, Karr, Quick Silver, and Simba appeared. Simba remains with us, while Harley and Karr went on to be adopted. Sadly, Quick Silver became very ill and passed away. Figaro was next to show up and is now enjoying life indoors.

The lessons these cats teach us every day have changed our lives forever. They’re not just cats or “mouse hunters” – they’re an extension of our family. They love us unconditionally, offer their trust and companionship, and are endlessly entertaining. We couldn’t imagine our world without them.

Also in this issue : Feed-All hosts food drive; Fun & Frolic at the film fest; Mister Moustache; Canada Day; More foster homes & drivers needed

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MAY 2016 | IT'S FELINE FILM FEST TIME!



The top five reasons to attend the Feline Film Festival on June 3, 2016


Friday, 3 June 2016 | 7:00 pm | Knox Church, Stratford banquet hall (downstairs)

Here are the top five reasons you’ll want to attend our 4th
annual Feline Film Festival:

5. You can drink beer and wine. Yup, the Film Fest is licensed. It’s Friday night, time to kick back. Enough said, right? We’ll have a lovely selection of wines donated by Constellation Brands rep and FFN supporter Dawn Bell, and cold beer on tap thanks to Stratford Brewing Company. And there’ll be some delicious nibbles and non-alcholic beverages too. Just remember, cool cats don’t drink and drive so plan accordingly.

4. Competitive shopping. Our silent auction features a wide range of items – from feline-themed goods to offerings that will surprise and delight. Things you didn’t even know you wanted or needed until you saw them and HAD TO HAVE THEM ! The competitive part happens when you up your bid at the last minute and take the prize from strangers and friends alike. But, please, no sharp elbows – let’s keep it civilized! For the less cutthroat, Pat’s Puddy Products – fun, inventive, handmade items knit and sewn with love by our creative and talented volunteer, Pat Burnell – will be available for sale throughout the evening.

3. Tarot readings. Want to gain insight into your past, present or future? Our experienced and skillful tarot reader will interpret what the cards have to say. Readings are private and not at all scary or intimidating, so why not? Something everyone should try at least once. Only a limited number of readings can be done in one evening, so make sure you sign up early.

2. Films starring cats. Sure, you can sit in front of your computer at home, all alone, and watch most of the videos you’ll see here. But that doesn’t compare to sharing the experience with a room full of people, laughing, ooh-ing, and aww-ing at our curated – no mediocre videos here – selection of cat-crazed cuteness. And no annoying commercials! Just 100% kitty cat goodness.

1. It’s win-win-win. You win for all of the reasons stated above. The cats win because all the proceeds of the Feline Film Festival go to FFN programs to reduce cat overpopulation and homelessness in our community. And, new this year, we’re partnering with Port Colborne Feline Initiative, so that cats in that community will benefit too, as they are hosting their own film festival on the same date.

This fun, family-friendly evening comes only once a year, so don’t miss it!

Also in this issue : Visit with the Kemp Crescent colony; National Animal Welfare Conference; Cat toys for Canada Day; Pet sales question returns to City Council; FFN is in need of...; FeedAll fundraiser for FFN

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april 2016 | stratford's community cats



Visits with Stratford’s community cat colonies – a new series in cat tales

by Cheryl Simpson, Louise Allen & Sharon Morrice

When FFN began in 2006–2007, it launched two programs: the first helped people in financial difficulty with the cost of spay or neuter surgery; the second used Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to humanely stop the breeding of feral cats. Since then, 187 cats have been TNR’d in Stratford alone, and FFN currently has approximately 20 colonies throughout the city.

Most of these colonies now consist of only 1–2 cats, proving that TNR works to bring down the population. This article is the first in a series meant to give readers a feeling for what life is like for these cats. We begin with FFN ’s very first attempt at TNR’ing five cats who lived outside the former SunRoom Restaurant on George Street.

It was a freezing cold day in February when we first tried our hand at trapping, and we were all terrified! But all five cats were trapped, neutered, and returned to be looked after by Frances, owner of the SunRoom. The cats had a lovely little shelter, and they became a favourite with customers who could dine while watching them eat. As the years passed, attrition took its toll until only Smudge (pictured on page 1) was left. Nine years later, he is still with us.

When the SunRoom was sold, colony feeders had to find a new location for the shelter and feeding station. Thankfully, a nearby business owner allowed us to use her property! Here are stories from two of our colony feeders.

Louise | When I started feeding in 2011, two of the original cats – Smudge and Big Daddy – were regular visitors. I was afraid the cats wouldn’t adjust to relocation. Fortunately, Smudge and his crew were street-smart and made the transition easily. We do annual “stakeouts” to track the number of cats coming to feed. Smudge is our most consistent visitor; other cats come and go. Several “friendlies” have become regulars and – if unowned – have been
neutered and re-homed. We feed every evening at an elevated station that is easy for the cats to reach but keeps the raccoons out. In the winter, we provide a heated water bowl for fresh water and a sleeping shelter with straw for warmth.

Sharon | Soxy was once a regular at the SunRoom colony downtown. In spring 2014, he mysteriously appeared in my backyard, about four blocks away. I recognized him by his distinctive moustache and left eartip. I put food out for him and he gradually became less fearful until I could get close enough to eventually touch him. Not so feral after all. He spent much of the next winter in my house, but was not at ease and became aggressive. The solution: my husband built an insulated and heated “kitty condo” (pictured at left below) in our backyard. Soxy has the best of both worlds – freedom and a life of luxury. He has also had some misadventures! He was wounded in a fight (he has healed) and once got stranded on a roof for 48 hours (rescued, safe but hungry). Meanwhile, volunteers continue to feed Smudge daily,
year-round, back at the colony.

Also in this issue : Celebrate Pet Appreciation Month; Upscale Yardsale Success; Frozen; Get silly with us; Update on the sale of pets in pet stores; Feline Friends needs you!

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march 2016 | on the road to recovery



Popsicle : On the Road to Recovery

by Brenda Ford

Before a caring person took pity on him and brought him into her home, Popsicle had been surviving for months outdoors in terrible weather. His caregiver noticed that he had a swelling on his neck and, after visits to different vets, he had a number of teeth extracted and was also treated for ear mites.

This brought a brief improvement but Popsicle then started to have difficulty eating and was drooling. At another visit to a vet, Popsicle was diagnosed with Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis, the symptoms of which are severe inflammation of the gums and ulcerations under the tongue, in the throat, and on other parts of the mouth.

On 25 February, Popsicle went to Guelph to have ALL his teeth extracted – the only option left to alleviate the obvious pain he was experiencing – by Dr Fraser Hale, a veterinary dental specialist. Following the surgery, the prognosis is good, but it will be a while before the inflammation is completely resolved. Popsicle is only able to eat soft food for the next couple of weeks, but it is already clear that he is feeling much better – he is becoming more affectionate and more playful.

Popsicle’s surgery cost $2,703.46, and FFN is extremely grateful to those generous people who made donations or raised funds to cover this cost. To date, over $2,000 has been donated to the fund for Popsicle’s treatment.

Popsicle has been at his current foster home for over three months and he is ready to be adopted. If you, or someone you know, would like to open their heart and their home to Popsicle, perhaps on a “foster-to-adopt” basis, please contact Marg Usprech at 519.274.9784 so that we can arrange for you to visit with this affectionate, delightful little boy.

Also in this issue : Upscale Yard Sale; More cat videos wanted; Canada's Animal Protection Act; Looking for a few good cats; Update : selling pets in pet stores; Summary of the AGM; Donate A Car

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february 2016 | a stray story



A Stray Story

by Cecile Munro

It all started when our next-door neighbour, John, asked if I’d like to meet a mother cat and 2 kittens he had seen under a dumpster in the parking lot next to his place. One month earlier, my husband Ross and I had had to put down the cat we had loved for 14 years. Although I told John that we weren’t ready to get another cat, I couldn’t help being concerned when I saw the skinny, scruffy-looking, unkempt mother cat and her 2 kittens peeking out from under the large red dumpster.

I went home and got Ross to help me bring over some water and some wet and dry cat food. I placed the containers about 4 inches from the edge of the dumpster. The mother cat stretched out her front paw, dragged both the food and the water under the dumpster, and wolfed it down, leaving nothing
for her kittens. We went home for more food.

Once the mother was full, she let her kittens eat – keeping one eye on me and the other on her kittens so they didn’t stray. When the kittens finished eating, she hid them out of my sight farther back under the dumpster, and then poked her head out to look at me. I told her that I meant her and her kittens no harm and promised to bring more food the following day.

Ross and I feed a colony of four feral cats at Kemp Crescent so the next day I called FFN’s Cheryl Simpson. She suggested that I try to gain the mother’s trust so that we could trap her and her babies to find homes for the kittens before they became feral and to spay the momma before she became pregnant again.

TNR coordinator Marg Usprech gave me some advice on gaining the mother’s trust. Every day, at 7:00 am and 4:30 pm, I put food down just outside the dumpster, gradually moving the food farther and farther away so the cats would have to come out from under the dumpster to eat.

Ross helped by distracting our ferals, who were also interested in Cleo and her kittens but were fortunately too big to get under the dumpster. When we caught them trying, Ross would lure them back to their shelter with cat treats and keep them occupied with treats and playtime while I tended to Cleo and her babies.

As the mother cat began gaining weight, I started to call her “Cleo,” short for Cleopatra, because of the way she sat upright – very regallooking! After a month of feeding and talking softly to her, she let me give her a pet while she was eating. Her kittens watched us bond from under the dumpster.

Marg had visited to assess Cleo and her kittens and Ross and I had agreed to care for Cleo while she recovered from being spayed. We set up a trap near the dumpster early on so that the cats could start getting used to it.

By September Cleo had started to leave her kittens alone while she followed Ross and me home. And one morning, while Cleo was out exploring, the kittens let me pet their heads while they ate. It was time to trap.

In the third week of September, we trapped the kittens at noon and Cleo later that day at 5:00 pm. Everything went off without a hitch. Cleo’s kittens were taken to the Stratford-Perth Humane Society and were both adopted. And Cleo came to stay at our house. She hid under the couch for the first three hours but then came out to eat and find the litter box. She is now 33 inches long, very healthy, and loves playing with her toys. And she was such a loving cat, we just had to adopt her ourselves!!

Also in this issue : Help get the sale of pets in petstores regulated; FFN Annual General Meeting; FFN's adotion successes; Start thinking cat videos; SPHS adoption campaign; Show us your heart; Seeking donations for 2016 Upscale Yardsale; Membership benefits; Paws adoptathon

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december 2015 | many hands



Cheryl and the gang, clockwise from top left, Sabrina, Banshee, and Foster


Many hands
...
by Cheryl Simpson

In January 2016, the Feline Friends Network will be 10 years old!
FFN was born from my fervent wish to find a way to “help the cats.” As a volunteer at the OSOSPCA, I had realized how many cats were being euthanized simply because of lack of space and felt strongly that there needed to be another way.

From those early beginnings to now, it has been truly heart-warming to watch FFN grow, accomplishing more and more each year, but yet remaining a totally volunteer organization staffed by people passionate about our mission and vision to one day see “each cat respected and protected.”
As we’ve grown, however, requests for our services have grown apace. At times, that has put pressure on our volunteers to run faster, work harder, and people have burned out. Not so long ago, we had to make the tough decision
to limit the scope of our Trap/Neuter/Return program because of it.

Then a wonderful thing happened … We put out a plea for more TNR help and some pretty amazing volunteers stepped forward to join us. Thanks to their commitment, TNR outside of the cities is now “back in business”!

I want to take this opportunity to thank ALL of you special volunteers – from those who have been here from the very beginning right up to those who have just come on board. Truly, without your dedication and passion, FFN would simply not exist.

I also need to make a plea for one more type of volunteer. Because of a lack of foster homes, there are sometimes needy cats we aren’t able to help. Please read foster parent Brenda Ford’s story below to see just how rewarding this job can be. Then consider opening your heart and home as she and others have done.

The old adage “many hands make light work” still holds true. If you haven’t already, I urge you to join hands with our circle of committed volunteers today. It just feels good.

Also in this issue : Giving Tuesday results; FFN Annual General Meeting; The Rewards of Fostering; The Amazing Return of Puffy Kitty; FFN on YouTube; Important Dates for Upcoming Events & more.

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november 2015 | the cinderella fund



The Cinderella Fund


Named after one of FFN ’s first supporters, “Evelyn’s Fund” exists for those cats in our care (or sometimes in the care of another organization) who need extra medical aid – anything from extra medication to surgery. This issue of cat tales features the stories of four cats supported by Evelyn’s Fund in 2015. They – and we – would like to thank our FFN donors so much for helping make them well again.

Popsicle (pictured above)
Popsicle was making use of a feral shelter in 2014 and was eventually trapped by his caregivers and entered FFN ’s TNRTNR program. Like most of the cats FFN has seen lately he proved not to be feral but only extremely frightened. His caregivers were able to gain his trust eventually and brought him into their home for further socialization.
Poor Popsicle always had a sad look on his face and his caregiver was concerned for his health. A vet appointment indicated that he had some dental problems so he was taken to the East Village Animal Hospital (Evah) clinic in London for a pre-dental check up. Dr. Martha sent Popsicle home with pain medication, antibiotics, and an appointment for further dental work. Popsicle will have dental surgery within the next month thanks to the Cinderella Fund and Evah.

Popsicle’s caregiver also reported that she thought he would be an ideal candidate for our adoption program so he was moved to a wonderful foster home. The new foster reported that thanks to the medication Popsicle’s eyes have a sparkle in them and he is playing more. As you can see from the picture above the article, he also loves his belly rubs! FFN featured Popsicle on our Facebook page and we’re happy to announce that his adoption is pending. Yay!

... see newletter for complete article.

Also in this issue : Cats in the Community (update); Wine Raffle Raises $7,600; Upcoming Adoptathons; GivingTuesday; Hoodies; Thank You!

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october 2015 | cats in the country

Cats in the Country

by Cheryl Simpson

Last week, a horrified friend repeated a story she had heard about someone tossing a cat out a car window onto a country road and then driving away. Sadly, it was not the first time I had heard a similar story.

Heartless and cruel, right?

You bet.

Perhaps less heartless, but equally cruel are the people who feel that it’s acceptable to off-load cats they no longer want at the bottom of farm laneways because, after all, “cats are independent and can look after themselves, right?”

Wrong … and here are a few reasons why:

  • farmers are unprepared and usually unwilling to take on more cats and kittens – especially since these cats are almost always unspayed or unneutered
  • Resident barn cats will not welcome the newcomers, very often running them off
  • housecats are completely unprepared and unable to survive in a “fend-for-yourself” barn situation

The result?

The abandoned cat will likely not survive – either starving to death, freezing to death or becoming prey to a wild animal.

This problem of abandonment – combined with that of large numbers of unaltered barn cats continuously reproducing – is a huge one. FFN is attempting to address the barn cat overpopulation by helping barn owners to spay or neuter ALL their resident cats.

For example, TNR co-ordinator Marg Usprech has been working all year to help Ed and Janice, who rent two Stratford-area barns for their rescue family of goats and horses. Rounding up and / or trapping these barn cats is no easy task, but at the end of the day at least 30 cats and kittens have been spayed or neutered. It’s a great feeling to know that, thanks to this collaboration, no more unwanted kittens will be born …

And yet … because Ed and Janice care about cats, they continue to fall victim to cat owners who dump cats and kittens. Recently, in the space of a single month, they received five more drop-offs. All of these cats once had a home and were desperate to get inside a house again – only there isn’t a house at the farm to take them.

The story of one of those cats, Fiona, is featured in the sidebar at left. Just last week, FFN was desperately seeking a foster home for a mother and baby who had been dropped off. Both were ill with upper respiratory infections.
Thanks to Paws of Perth County, they are now in foster care. There is much more to be done to solve this problem and we need your help to do it. How?

  1. Make it know far and wide that abandoning a cat – in the country or elsewhere – is not only incredibly cruel, but a punishable offence. It is also avoidable with the help of FFN behavioural advice and free spay/neuter for
    qualifying owners.
  2. Join our spay/neuter team. Without more volunteers in this area to work with clients and drive cats to spay/neuter appointments, FFN can no longer address situations outside of the cities of Stratford and St. Marys.

We need your help to break this cycle. Call 519-301-5735 and let us know if you’re interested in volunteering … PLE ASE!

Also in this issue : Fiona Finds a Home; International Feral Cat Day; Thank You...

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september 2015 | catapawlooza



Catapawlooza!


WOW! What a day we had for Catapawlooza 2015… The rain kindly kept away until the event was over and Optimist Hall was packed with adopters, shoppers, and people wanting to learn more about cats from the speakers. And Larry and Floyd’s yummy BBQ fare sold out!
Thanks to our “adoption team” who did an incredible amount of hard work in advance, spending weeks fostering and socializing kittens from trap/neuter/return situations, people were lined up at the doors just waiting to adopt the very special kitties they had seen featured on our Facebook page. A total of 29 cats and kittens from FFN , Paws of Perth County, and the Stratford Perth Humane Society were adopted in just five hours!

And it didn’t stop there – 2 more adoptions happened after the doors had closed, and by Monday August 30th, a total of 36 cats and kittens had been adopted because of Catapawlooza!

So, a very big THANK YOU to all who volunteered on the day – without you this event would not have been possible. And, a very special thanks to Marg Usprech, Lynn Pardoe, Holly Roulston, and Brenda Ford who worked tirelessly to have all our fostered animals prepped and ready for the day.

Also in this issue : Do You Know Your Rights?; All the Time in the World; Wine Raffle; Adoptathons

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summer 2015 | patience & love

It Took Patience & Love

Millieby Joanne Moesar

When Vikor and another stray / feral cat arrived at my home during the winter of 2013 – one of the coldest on record – I was concerned for their safety. Could they survive in a feral shelter? Each night, I placed a hot water bottle and a kitten disc inside the shelter, hoping that the warmth would be enough.

In May 2014, Vikor’s sidekick was hit by a car. I didn’t see Vickor for weeks and worried that perhaps he had met the same fate. Fortunately, by the fall of 2014, Victor was once again a regular. But I was still unable to get close to him.

In January 2015, Vikor appeared with a wound on his lower back close to his tail. The snow was deep, and he was having difficulty reaching the garage for shelter and food. I began to feed him on the stairs leading to my side door. Every day, I moved the dish closer to the door that opens into a warm mud room. Eventually Vikor took his meals inside in the warmth but the door remained open. Our schedule continued for a couple of weeks and with each feeding he stayed a bit longer. Sometimes Vikor climbed onto my wicker chair for a snooze. But he was adamant that he was not staying and wandered back out each night.

With the passing of days / nights, Vikor’s wound worsened, requiring urgent care. I contacted Marg Usprech and together we made plans to trap Vikor to have his wound cared for and at the same time to have him neutered.

On January 26, Vikor was trapped in my porch and showed signs of being a true feral. I reluctantly accepted the fact that this trapping will be a TNR. I called Marg, who arrived within minutes to pick Vikor up for the trip to EVAH in London where they attended to his wound and neutered him. When Vikor returned to spend his recovery with me, I spoke to him, hoping to comfort him. To my delight, he responded with a little meow and I realized that he recognized my voice. As his recovery progressed, he began to trust more and more, and I decided to move him into the spare bedroom, hoping that I could keep him as part of the
family.

It’s now been five months with Vikor living indoors and he shows no interest in going back outside. We have had a few hurdles to overcome and we still have our moments. But nothing that can’t be worked out. Vikor is probably my most affectionate cat – he loves to snuggle and is a very chatty boy.

I can’t thank Marg and Cheryl enough for helping to make this possible.

Also in this issue : Catapawlooza! 2015; Thanks & Drumrolls; FFN at Canada Day; Love at First Sight; 6th Annual Wine Raffle; Film Fest Wrapup; FFN Hoodies

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JUNE 2015 | A GRATeful SOUL : NUMMY

A Grateful Soul

Millieby Jodie Mitchell

It was a cold spring morning in St. Pauls, when my sister Julie spotted a small ginger-coloured face peering out from underneath her back porch. A frightened, curious, little face.

It isn’t unusual for cats to come and go at Julie’s house in the country, but there was just something different about this one. Julie began talking to him daily and trying to earn his trust.

After a week, he was finally comfortable enough to emerge from his safe place and, for the first time, Julie saw how horrifyingly skinny he was. He was filthy and beat up from “life on the streets.” He gobbled up his food as if it was a meal delicious enough for a king. Since he enjoyed his meals so thoroughly, Julie nicknamed him “Nummy.”

When winter arrived, with its cold and snow, Julie set up a shelter for Nummy in her garage so he could come and go as he wished. He was just as curious about her as she was about him.

If she was out working in the garage, he would watch her from afar, fascinated by whatever she happened to be doing.

Then Nummy went missing during a bitter cold snap. He was gone for days. A week later, Julie was outside when she saw a familiar sight coming towards her. It was Nummy, trudging through the snow. He
came right over to her and she saw that he’d been in a fight and was very badly beaten up. Upset and unsure what to do, she called me.

With the help of FFN and Marg Usprech, Nummy was trapped and went off to the vets to be neutered and examined. When I picked him up from Marg’s after his vet visit, something rather amazing happened. Alone in his trap in the back seat of my car, Nummy suddenly began to purr like an engine. I was amazed by how loudly he was purring. Nummy was one very grateful, contented boy. I will never forget it.

A few weeks later, I was so very lucky to find the most perfect home for Nummy with a true cat lover. He constantly updates me on what a special boy Nummy is. But, of course, I already knew that. No one can ever tell me that animals aren’t grateful. I can’t possibly thank Feline Friends enough for all they do.

Also in this issue : Finding homes for friendly ferals; Colony cat feeders needed; Events... Film Festival, Canada Day, Catapawlooza!

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may 2015 | remembered with love : bambi

Remembered with Love

Millieby Barbara Beckett

For several years, Bambi was an occasional visitor to our cat colony, always on his own, always hungry. In 2014, his visits became more frequent. At mealtimes, he was always ready to eat, his little tabby-and-white face peeking out from a hidey-hole on the edge of our colony site.

Last fall, FFN trapped and neutered Bambi, treating him for an injured paw and shoulder. Sadly, the vet discovered that he was FeLV positive. The best thing for him was an indoor home with no other cats.

With the hope of preparing him for adoption and a move to a forever home, Bambi came to live in our basement bedroom where he could be kept separate from our FeLV negative cats. From the time of his arrival, he was a wonderful house guest, calm and quiet with excellent litterbox habits and never disruptive or destructive.

Which is not to say that there weren’t challenges. It took time for Bambi and I to learn to trust one another. And Bambi had a week of upset (and deteriorating behaviour) until I discovered that he was being visited at night by a raccoon in his window-well. A window blind pulled down each night solved that problem.

Bambi quickly learned the timing of my visits throughout a day. He met me at his door for breakfast and dinner but, at other times, he would be resting on the carpet, paws tucked, ready for our play. He enjoyed wands, balls, songs, stories, bubbles, and searching out hidden treats. Most of all, Bambi liked music. We started with harp and moved on to piano. He would lie facing the CD player and close his eyes with pleasure as he listened. Delightful to watch! He was also very fond of velour and feathers … and, yes, food. So easy to please!

Bambi was still working on his meow and the rare occasions when he spoke to me were thrilling. He had other ways to communicate, too. As he lay facing me on the carpet, if he wasn’t interested in the activity that I was setting up, he would stand, do a 180-degree turn, and sit down with his back to me. Message received!

Although Bambi let me touch and tease him with his wands, crawl around the floor with him, and moved right in beside me whenever we listened to our music, he never wanted me to touch him with my hands. He wasn’t ready for hugs and pets. Sadly, he never would be. This past January, Bambi suddenly became unwell and declined rapidly over several days. Exactly ten
weeks after he came to stay, the vet had to end his suffering.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with “the little guy downstairs.” Bambi was totally loveable and he is missed.

Also in this issue : Becoming Part of the Solution; Final Push for Donations to the 2015 Wine Raffle; Five great things about the Feline Film Festival; May Adoptathons; Flip for the Catnip Carnival; Cat toys for Canada Day

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apr 2015 | friendly not feral : cleo & isos

Cleopatra & Isosceles
by Tracey Bell



In July 2009, six kittens showed up in my front flowerbed. I made a frantic call to the SPHSHS, who assured me that the mom cat would come back to them, gave me some advice about food, and told me about an organization called the Feline Friends Network that might be able to offer some help.

Sure enough, the mother cat did come back – very skinny, and very hungry. The kittens were socialized and eventually adopted through SPHSHS, but the mother cat was afraid of people and FFN told me that her chances of being adopted were not good. She needed someone to feed her and provide shelter. Most importantly she needed to be spayed so she wouldn’t have another litter of kittens.

I was reluctant to take on another cat, but there didn’t seem to be any other options for the mother cat, who I named Cleopatra. With the help of FFN I trapped her to be spayed – and officially became owned by her.
Shortly after Cleopatra was spayed, she disappeared for four days. When she returned she brought another cat with her. They clearly belonged together so we also trapped and spayed this girl and I called her Isosceles for the triangle shape on her face. Due to their estimated ages of three and one year, I believed that Isos was Cleopatra’s daughter.

I developed a routine where I met Cleo and Isos in the garage twice a day, sitting with them while they ate, and then tossing them some treats and putting fresh catnip on their toys. Soon, I could pet them while they ate. They learned to make eye contact with humans and to “speak” when they wanted something.

After a year, I coaxed them into the basement, separate from my other cats, where we repeated the same routine. They usually ran back outside after eating but, if it was raining or cold, Cleopatra would sometimes stay in a little longer.

Over time, Cleopatra began to stay in the house more often and for longer periods of time. For the past two winters, Cleopatra has been a house cat. The transition has been harder for Isos, but she too spent most of this past winter in the house.

While I would like to keep them safe in the house full time, the warmer weather means they can’t wait to be outside again. I am reassured by the fact that they are both “street smart” and I know that my neighbours are also watching out for their safety.

I consider myself lucky to have these two in my life. Cleopatra is very gentle, but she can be a fearless protector when required. Isos thinks she is still a kitten and her antics are fun to watch. Cleopatra loves to have her head scratched and Isos likes to be snuggled. They both have a lot of love to give.

Also in this issue : April Adoptathons; The Story of Charlie Bear; In Memorium; Get Silly With Us; Urgent Appeals; Thank Yous; Upscale Yardsale a Success

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mar 2015 | friendly not feral : millie

Millie Moves In

Millieby Kelly McBeath

In mid-May 2014, I noticed that we had guests living under our shed after one of my dogs kept watching the shed through the fence of our dog run. When I went inside and looked out the window, I saw two little kittens looking back at the dog. I began putting food out for the babies and days later spotted the momma cat. Since I knew I would never be able to catch or keep the kittens, I contacted Feline Friends to ask for help. Several days later, Marg Usprech (one of FFN’s TNR co-ordinators) came to my home and we made a plan to trap the kittens and the mom. The kittens would be fostered and the momma cat – who I had already decided to name “Millie” – would be spayed and returned to me so I could care for her as a community cat.

It took several days, lots of patience, and finally some sausage to trap the kittens. FFN found first foster homes and then forever homes for the two kittens, and I was so relieved that they would be loved and cared for. Over the summer Millie became more and more friendly towards me and soon she would let me pet her.

One night I let my dog out and noticed that she was sitting beside something. It turned out that Millie was now spending time inside the
dog pen close to the house. As the weather turned cooler, I began to worry about how we would keep Millie warm. My husband made her a shelter, but there was a lot of discussion about bringing her inside. On Thanksgiving weekend, we decided that Millie could no longer live outside and set up a room for her. Two days later she walked into the house and into her new life.

It took just two weeks for Millie to get used to our three dogs and start exploring the house. She is emerging from her shell a little more every day, and has recently discovered that she loves to play. She learned very quickly when it was feeding time and comes running to the kitchen when she hears the bowls. She has become a member of our family and will never need to worry about being cold or hungry again. We are so happy to have her.

Also in this issue : A Message from the Board; So Many Thank Yous; Stratford Pet Sale Regulation; Celebrate with FFN; Split Rail Offers New Discount to FFN Members; Upscale Yardsale; Calling All Angels; Fantastic Felines on Film

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feline friends in the news!

Feline Friends Network was fortunate enough to gain the attention of CTV News recently! Click here for a short video segment in which FFN is featured as Local Hero of the week :

ctv local hero


feb 2015 | marmsy's tale

Fending for themselves

Marmsy Cat

The mission of the Feline Friend Network has always been to prevent homelessness by ending the cycle of constant unwanted litters through the provision of several spay / neuter initiatives. Our focus has been “turning off the tap,” as it were, rather than trying to “clean up the mess.” Because of this, venturing into cat rescue territory wasn’t on our radar. However, this past year FFN has seen a disturbing trend: we go out to trap ferals only to find more and more friendly cats who have most likely been abandoned or dumped.

In the hopes of alerting our readers to this problem, we’ve decided to highlight the stories of some of these cats over the coming months. Please enjoy “Marmsy’s tale” (see page 2) and the story of Earl Grey (see page 3) and pass the word along to everyone you can that turning a house cat out to “fend for itself” is not only cruel and morally wrong, it can also be prosecuted as “Abandonment” under the OSPCA Act.

Also in this issue : In memorium; FFN AGM; Cat food needed!; Marmsy's Tale; There is always a reason for everything; 2015 Wine Raffle; Upscale Yardsale; Membership; Show us your heart; We want more... cat videos!; James Lumbers print winner

Click here to download the complete newsletter.


dec 2014 - jan 2015 | friendly? feral? or frightened?

Feral? Friendly? or Frightened?

friendly kitten

by Cheryl Simpson

“Cheryl, I don’t think this kitten is feral.” So began the conversation recently with Trap / Neuter / Return Co-ordinator Marg, who, along with FFN members Shirley and Tillie had been working to trap what they thought was a family of ferals – one mother and two three-month-old kittens – reported living under a porch in a Stratford neighbourhood.

The kitten was to be neutered the next day, and his mother and sibling were still to be trapped; a winter shelter had been put in place, and we were all set to return all three to become “community cats” after their surgeries.
But, as Marg discovered, what we had were not ferals, but a terrified cat and her kittens who had clearly been abandoned.

Once trapped, all three proved to be totally lovable cats who needed a home – indoors. Amazingly, within a week a wonderful home was found for each.

In addition, “daddy cat” – ‘Waldo’ – who has been living on that street for years, was trapped and neutered and is being fostered by Jane to see what his living preference is – indoors or out? (Currently, it looks like the former, but if not, “Pirate” Waldo has been eartipped and can live as a community cat if he wishes.)

This story, which thankfully has a happy ending, brings up a perplexing puzzle – how do any of us tell if that cat we are feeding on our porch is friendly and owned, feral or just frightened? And, does or doesn’t he / she need our assistance?

Here are some clues to help make an educated guess:

• If the cat is friendly but wears no collar, and suddenly appeared on your porch desperate for food, then it may well be a lost or abandoned cat. The first thing to do is to check with the Humane Society (in Perth County 519-273-6600) and the local Facebook Page, “Lost and Found Pets of Stratford Ontario” (click here) to see if anyone is missing such a cat. You can also get your vet, the Humane Society, or FFN to scan for a micro-chip. If this doesn’t provide any answers, put a breakaway collar on the cat with a note wrapped around it that says something like “Am worried about this cat. If he has a home can you please call me at (your phone number).”

• If the very hungry cat visiting you looks thin and in bad shape but runs away when you approach, it might be a very frightened lost or abandoned cat who has been on the street for a while and is not capable of fending for itself. Continue to feed and provide water and ask Feline Friends or the Humane Society what your next step should be.

• If the cat is definitely not friendly, but looks in good shape and has been seen around the neighbourhood for a while, then it may be a feral or street cat. Look for an “eartip” (3/8” off the top of left ear) which would identify it as a neutered and vaccinated “community cat”. No eartip? Contact Feline Friends and / or the Humane Society to determine what needs to be done.
Two further tips:

• A true feral cat will never “speak” to you. If a frightened or seemingly unfriendly cat meows at you, you can be pretty sure he or she had a home at one time.

• Never try to catch an unfriendly cat or kitten with your hands. They are much faster than you, and if you do manage to catch one, can do you a good deal of damage, resulting almost certainly in a visit to the emergency department. Trapping is the only safe and sure way to catch such animals. Please contact FFN.

The bottom line? Identifying how and when to help a neighbourhood cat can be challenging. But, with a little detective work and community involvement we can work it out together!

Also in this issue : Heartbreaking & Heartwarming; 2015 Upscale Yardsale; Reimbursement for Feeding FFN's Community Cats; 3rd Annual Feline Film Festival; Mircrochipping; FFN Annual General Meeting 22 February 2015

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NOV 2014 | 1,000th cat celebration

1,000th Cat Celebration!

1,000th Spay / Neuter Celebration

On Sunday, October 26th, the Feline Friends Network celebrated reaching the major milestone of having spayed/neutered our 1,000th cat! The event at Stratford’s Optimist Hall included a presentation, videos, photo displays, shelter and trapping demonstrations, and of course, lots of great goodies (thanks Paul and JoAnn!), as well as a beautiful cake created by Holly! One hundred well-wishers were in attendance. Check out the videos of the event on our Past Events page. AND check out the spay/neuter numbers at the top of this page! We’re well over 1,000 now… and counting!

Also in this issue : Wine Raffle Winners; Giving Tuesday; Lumbers Print Raffle; Upscale Yard Sale; Donate Your Shoppers Points; Meet the Trappers.

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oct 2014 | Celebration oct 26!

Celebrating the Good News!

one thousand spay & neuters

We should be very proud of ourselves!! Feline Friends Network achieved huge milestones in 2014, reflecting years of hard work. FFN has reached and surpassed the 1,000th cat spayed/neutered mark! AND, Trap, Neuter, Return is now endorsed by the City of Stratford!

Join us for goodies and “cat chat” from 2:30 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, October 26, at Lower Optimist Hall, 72 Water Street, Stratford. As well as the opportunity to mingle with other cat lovers while enjoying cake and cookies, the afternoon will include demonstrations of the mechanics of Trap / Neuter / Return and how to build a winter shelter for feral cats. There will be a selection of Pat’s cat-themed “Puddy Products,” an FFN display and photo gallery, and our mascot, Will Feral, will make a special appearance.

At 3:00 pm, there will be a very short presentation and video featuring many of the cats FFN has helped – from Smudge, the last cat remaining from our very first TNR in 2007 to Grey Boy, the 1,000th cat who was just TNR’d this September.

So, please plan on joining us – and bring a friend!

Also in this issue : Feral Cat Day 2014; Cinderellas of 2014; Volunteer Opportunities; Adoptathon; Food Donations Needed; Thanks.

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sep 2014 | catapawlooza!

19 Adoptions at Catapalooza 2014!
by Val Pinder

maoIt took visionaries and organizers, craftspeople and builders, graphic designers and marketers, bakers and chefs, tattoo artists and a furry mime. Then along came generous sponsors, enthusiastic media supporters, and informative veterinarians.

Finally, a small army of planners, posterers, and staffers stepped up and said “I can help!”

Vendors vended, speakers spoke, and educators educated, all about cats.

And the end result? Nineteen cats and kittens found forever homes. Ten came from Paws of Perth County, five from Angel Arms, and four from the Stratford-Perth Humane Society.

SPHS microchipped, at a special reduced rate, 14 cats (11 owned and 3 newly adopted) who can now be returned to their homes if they stray. And a lot of fun, food, and learning was enjoyed by the wonderful crowd at the Optimist Halls.

The following have asked me to express their joyful appreciation to all of you who contributed so much, to their foster families, and to their new forever parents. They tell me you have changed their lives forever, and they hate to think of what might have happened without you! Lots of love and purrs from: Oreo and Archie Edwards; Cubby O’Connell; Jake (Giacomo) Beirnes; Condore and Camille Vrooman; Callie Carroll; Momma Pettit; Jess Wong; Ashes Danis; Rocky Agar; Sushi and Pickle Ridley-Hayes; Winston Ford; Tuxi Hanna; Tigger; Pearl; Manny; and Boots.

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jul-aug 2014 | mao learns to trust

Mao Learns to Trust
by Tricia Dale

maoI first met Mao in July 2011. I was watering my lawn when I heard a kitten crying. Following the sound, I discovered a small long-haired grey tabby sitting on the wheel of my neighbour’s car. I knew she had two house cats so I thought maybe she could help me lure him out. She brought some food and we were able to coax the kitten out. Once he was being held he nuzzled right in under her chin. She said she would keep him instead of dropping him off at the humane society. I was glad the little fluffball would have a home as I am unfortunately allergicand can’t have a house cat. An hour later, I came back outside to find that the kitten was on my neighbour’s porch. She told me that she had put him back outside because he hadn’t reacted well to her adult cats and had scratched her! What kind of cat owner introduces animals so abruptly and then gives up on a 12-week-old kitten so quickly?

I tried to coax him back, but with a full tummy he had no desire to be picked up by another human so soon. The next day at work, I talked a co-worker into possibly adopting him. That evening we both combed the neighbourhood but found no trace of him. I kept a lookout for the next couple of days but to no avail. I hoped that someone else had taken him in.

About two months later I was outside around dusk when I saw a mangy-looking cat eating out of my neighbour’s garbage bag. I had some smelt that was meant for my dogs but I thought the cat could use it so I left it out at the side of my house. The next day, the fish was gone so I began leaving food out each evening. In the meantime, I contacted the Feline Friends Network and Cheryl suggested a trap, neuter, and return. The process went surprisingly smoothly. Mao didn’t seem too stressed inside the cage and the very evening after he was released he was back for dinner. FFN also helped set me up with a feeding station and shelter which I outfitted with a heated pad for him to sleep on. The first winter he stuck pretty close to home, never missing a meal. In spring 2012 he disappeared for 3 days. Of course, I thought the worst. It turned out that he was just off having an adventure as he returned none the worse for wear.

Last summer, my father helped me build a new shelter with insulated walls – something Mao and I were grateful for during the harsh winter of 2014. During the first year Mao insisted on keeping a good 10 feet between us – except when I put the food in the shelter of course! Over time, that distance has lessened. This year I started sitting on the back steps beside him while he ate. I could tell he was considering rubbing his face against my legs, and finally one evening he made the leap. I still don’t reach my hand out to pet him as that seems to cross his line – which he lets me know with a quick swat! He has even become quite the purr machine and, much to my surprise, cats really do come running when you shake a bag of “Temptations”!

People have asked how I got Mao to trust me. The truth is that I don’t feel I’ve done anything less than he deserves. I am happy to give him a warm, safe place to sleep and healthy meals to eat. Cats are not wild animals; they shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. I wish everyone felt the same way.

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jun 2014 | Feline film fest

FFN’s 2nd Annual Feline Film Festival is ready to entertain cat-lovers of all stripes!

feline film festivalAfter a grueling selection process in which several selection committee members risked grievous repetitive stress injuries to their funnybones, FFN’s second annual Feline Film Festival offers an hour-long slate of the finest short feline films – the cute, the poignant, the amazing, and the hilarious. This year’s line up includes new material and a few old favourites.

Vote on your favourite film felines and prepare to laugh until your ribs ache – and perhaps shed a tear or two. Last year’s inaugural event was so successful that this year we are moving to a larger venue, Knox Presbyterian Church at 142 Ontario Street.

FFN is also delighted to welcome Stratford Festival company member – and certified catlover – Claire Lautier as host to this year’s event. In her fifth season at Stratford, Claire has the roles of Fawn in Alice Through the Looking-Glass and Countess Ebba Sparre in Christina, The Girl King and is also an understudy for Hay Fever.

Also new this year, our ‘Best of Stratford Raffle’, in which one lucky winner will receive gift cards from 61 Stratford businesses. Raffle tickets will be available at the Film Fest and can be purchased in advance
at Boomers Gourmet Fries.

In addition to the film screening, the gala event will feature a silent auction, the sale of pet-related items, and the chance to have your Tarot cards read by our own talented Tarot reader, as well as hors d’oeuvres, wine (donated by Dawn Bell and family), and beer from the Stratford
Brewing Co. Sincere thanks go to the aforementioned as well as L&M Catering and Global Pet Foods Stratford for their generous support.

So come eat, drink, and laugh with us at Stratford’s Feline Film Festival! Tickets are available at the door on a first-come-first-served basis and admission is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children under 13 accompanied by an adult. Admission includes hors d’ouevres and one beverage. Additional beverages for sale.

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MAY 2014 | FElv AND FIV

FeLV and FIV – is being diagnosed positive a death sentence?
Cheryl Simpson

Star and her catsFeLV stands for “Feline Leukemia Virus” and is a viral infection that affects a cat’s immune system and bone marrow. Because the infection is spread through the saliva, FeLV-positive and FeLV-negative cats should not live together as there is a risk of the FeLV-positive cat infecting the others through mutual grooming and shared food bowls.

Pictured above are FFN member Star Bryans and her three FeLV-positive cats: Mister (at left), Flip (in the right background), and Mo-mo (in the right foreground).

Flip, a bit of an anomaly, has repeatedly tested positive for Feline Leukemia – and yet is almost nineteen years old! Mo-Mo (short for “Mowgli”) and Mister (short for “Mister Moustache”) came to live with Star and her family in early fall and early winter, respectively. They were friendly FFN strays who had tested positive for the disease. Knowing that it would be difficult to find foster homes for these boys in households with FeLV-negative cats, Star generously offered Mister and Mo-Mo a permanent foster home. FIV is short for “Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.” This virus can live in many different tissues in cats and typically causes a weakening of the cat’s immune system.

Scruffy BobMany of you will remember “Scruffy Bob” (at left in the photo with his pal Foster on the right) who was released to FFN by the OSPCA two years ago due to his diagnoses of both FIV and entropion. In addition, Scruffy was afraid of just about every human on the planet – but he loved other cats. Unlike FeLV, FIV is only spread through deep bite wounds and is a very slow growing virus. So, FIV-positive cats can live relatively long lives and cohabit with FIV-negative cats as long as there is no significant fighting.

Many vets and shelters continue to recommend euthanasia for all cats who test positive for these diseases, even if they are showing no symptoms. In my opinion this practice is wrong for two reasons:

1 There is a very real chance of a false positive test for both FeLV and FIV. All cats testing positive should be retested at a future date,
preferably using a different type of test.

2 FeLV and FIV cats can and do live perfectly happy lives and they deserve to be allowed to do so, no matter the length of time they are
given on this earth.

So why do these cats continue to be routinely euthanized? I suspect the practice has its roots in the ongoing cat overpopulation problem. There are so many cats out there who need homes that expecting animals shelters to try adopt out cats with possible future illnesses is simply unrealistic. In addition, most cat lovers already share their homes with at least one cat, so the risk of bringing in new cat who might infect the resident animal(s) is real and troubling.

How, then, can we “fix” this, and stop the killing? In the long run, of course, the answer lies in bringing the cat population down through spay / neuter, so that shelters and rescues will eventually not be inundated with homeless cats and kittens. And, of course, we are all working toward that end. But, in the short term, what to do?

First, we can educate ourselves on both these diseases. Here are a couple of links to help you do that: bestfriends.org and crashslanding.org

Secondly, we can all “spread the good word” that these cats ARE adoptable. While the incidence of both these viruses is relatively low in the healthy cat population (single digit percentages), Star can’t do it all! But she would be the first to tell you how worthwhile it is to look into the eyes of her precious “fur boys” and know she has quite literally saved their lives.

If you think you might like to consider fostering or adopting a “positive” cat, please contact Cheryl Simpson at 519.273.8067 or
info@felinefriends.ca. She would be more than happy to answer any
questions you might have.

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apr 2014 | why foster? why not!

Why foster? Why not!
Cheryl Simpson

I suspect that everyone reading this newsletter likes the individual cat stories we tell. Did you know that each of these stories also involves a foster home?

Our friends at Port Colborne Feline Initiative have come up with a YouTube video listing the top 10 reasons people give for not being able to foster a cat or kitten. You can take a look at it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI9c3G9SicA

In my experience, of the ten reasons listed in the video, the ones I hear most often are: “I don’t have the space/I don’t have the time or I’m going on vacation/I have other animals – or a husband who won’t let me foster/I might get emotionally attached and not be able to let my foster kitten go!”

Of those four, the last one makes the most sense to me, because letting your “charges” go to someone else is difficult – just as difficult as letting your kids go off to college. There are many of us who have become “failed fosters” because we adopted one or more of the animals we were caring for. But why should that possibility stop you from fostering?

The simple fact is that the reasons FOR fostering, are so much stronger than those against – the most important reason being that by offering a foster home YOU ARE SAVIING A LIFE (or often several lives).

We all love cats and want the best for them. Adopting or fostering are the ultimate ways you can help them. Paws of Perth County and other rescues in our area don’t have buildings, so they rely completely on foster homes to house the animals in their care. Humane Societies have buildings, but we all know that a 2ft x 2ft cage is stressful for any cat, and when cats are stressed, illness quickly spreads through these facilities.

Fostering situations are a life-line for each and every cat needing to be re-homed. With foster homes we can save more cats. Without them, more cats will die. That is the brutal truth.

We are heading into “Kitten Season” now, and we need many many more people to step forward and offer a space to help a cat. Fostering can be as simple or as complicated as you, the foster family, wants to make it...

  • YOU can choose your time period – from 2 weeks to several months
  • YOU can choose the type of cat or kitten you want to foster – from bottle feeders to a friendly stray who just needs to bunk in at a B&B for a while until a home is found.
  • WE provide training, food, litter, support and medical care.


As for fostering “rules” ...

  • You need a “spare room” – this can be a spare bathroom or even a corner of another room where you can set up a dog crate – for at least the first part of the process. This ensures that your own animals aren’t in contact with your foster cat until you and the foster co-ordinator deem it safe.
  • To protect everyone, your own cats must to be up to date on their vaccines.
  • You need to have one to two hours total per day for you or someone else in your family to go in and spend time with your foster cat(s) while they are in a “room of their own.”
  • And last but definitely not least, you need to have lots of love to give.


Is it work? Yes. Is it emotional? Probably. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely. In fact, fostering just might be one of the most worthwhile things you will ever do. So please, if you are even just a
little bit curious about trying this out, email us at info@felinefriends.ca

Oh, and here is one more cat story – the story of how one foster mom began her journey...

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mar 2014 | tnr : is it working?

Trap / Neuter / Return – Is It Working?
Cheryl Simpson

ferals | trap / neuter / returnAs all of you know, Trap / Neuter / Return – or “TNR” – is a cornerstone initiative of FFN’s mission to humanely bring the Perth County cat population down and eventually end homelessness. Cats living in colonies are identified, humanely trapped, neutered , vaccinated, and eartipped for identification, and then returned to their home territory where they are provided with shelter, food, and water by volunteer caregivers. Wherever possible, friendly cats and kittens are put up for adoption. In this way, nuisance behaviours such as spraying, vocalizing, and fighting stop. And, since TNR minimizes the number of new kittens being born, the feral cat population decreases through attrition over time.

Since we started the program in 2007, FFN has TNR’d 365 cats. Doing so, of course, was illegal in Stratford (as it is in most municipalities) because the accepted treatment for feral cats – seen as “nuisance animals” – was to have Animal Control trap and kill them. However, not only is “Trap and Kill” inhumane,it does nothing to solve the problem of cat overpopulation it supposedly addresses. In 2010, FFN went to the City of Stratford to make the case for the acceptance of TNR as policy. In October 2011, City Council endorsed TNR in principle, stating that the existing bylaws would be changed to protect the colony cats when the Animal Control contract came up for renewal in January 2013. We’re still waiting for those bylaw changes – hopefully to take effect within a few months – but we haven’t been idle in the
meanwhile.

In 2010, FFN started to keep accurate records of Stratford-managed colony numbers. Of the approximately 365 cats we’ve TNR’d in Perth County since 2007, 125 have been in the city of Stratford (numbers for 2007–09 are estimated). Of those, only 50 remain.

So, if anyone asks, you can tell them that TNR does work! And don’t let anyone tell you feral cats are sad and mangy creatures. Show them the photo on page 1 of this newsletter, or direct them to the framed pictures on the walls of Boomers’ Gourmet Fries in downtown Stratford. These are some of the healthiest and most beautiful cats you’ll ever see. So healthy that, at the time of writing, each and every one of them has made it through this incredibly difficult winter. (A word of “thanks” here for the unwavering dedication of their caretakers who have braved the weather daily, with shovels in hand, to clear shelters and feeding stations.)

As we go forward with TNR in 2014, FFN is planning to target specific areas where the problem of cat overpopulation seems most severe, both in the city of Stratford and in the surrounding countryside. We have several areas in mind, but if you know of an area that is in particular need, please call the FFN phone line at 519.301.5735 or email us at info@felinefriends.ca.

And, when you see in the local paper that Trap / Neuter / Return has finally been legalized – CHEER !!!

Also in this issue : Thank You to our Donors; Upscale Yard Sale; Puss-Cat; First World Spay Day; Volunteers Needed; New Website; Send Your Film Fest Submissions

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feb 2014 | helping community cats

Helping Community Cats – A Paradigm Shift
Cheryl Simpson

scruffy bobScenario: There is a friendly intact male cat who’s been coming around your porch for a while now. He looks in pretty good shape, but he always seems very hungry. You’ve called the shelter, checked bulletin boards, and listened to local radio “Lost” announcements, but it seems no one is looking for a cat of his description. What do you do?

a) Call the shelter and say you’re bringing him in
b) Ignore him and hope he’ll go away
c) Feed him and assume all will be well

The Answer? None of the above! And so here comes the paradigm shift … Not so many years ago animal shelters were expected to take in all strays. But that didn’t work out so well for the vast majority of cats who were either deemed “unadoptable” by virtue of temperament (ferals and very frightened cats), or become stressed and then ill in the shelter environment. In both cases the outcome was “euthanasia”.

As feral cat advocates began pushing for Trap/Neuter/Return (TNRTNR ) instead of the inhumane and ineffective Trap and Kill, ideas started to change. Humane societies began working toward a much higher live-release rate, making it a policy to only take in cats they believed would have a “live outcome”. This was and is accomplished by delaying the intake of surrenders when the shelter is full – while helping the client consider alternative options – and making use of TNR for feral cats, all while working hard to get those cats already in the shelter adopted.

Now there is another, even more progressive change happening which I learned about while attending the Alley Cat Allies conference in November. And that is something called “Shelter/Neuter/Return” (SNR ). SNR is targeting the stray cats that aren’t necessarily owned by anyone but also aren’t feral – rather they are cats living in the community which are in good health and good body condition.

If these cats, rather than entering a shelter, could be spayed/neutered, vaccinated and eartipped (indicating sterilization), and then rereleased into their community, they would have a far better chance of survival, either finding their way back home (if lost) OR into a new home. (And stray cats do find new homes – did you know that 34% of cat owners acquired their cats as strays, as opposed to 29% adopted from a shelter?) Statistics also show that with the help of the community, a lost stray cat has a 66% change of finding its way home – versus only a 7% chance of that outcome if brought into a shelter. How does the community help? By
doing some “detective work” regarding possible ownership and by providing shelter, food, and water until a home is found.

It’s “early days” yet for SNR , but American communities that have implemented this program are seeing great success in bringing euthanasia numbers down. Can we replicate their success here? You betcha’!

So … what to do about that friendly healthy male cat on your porch? First, consider the paradigm shift and recognize that taking him to the shelter is not always the best option. Then call FFN to talk over the best way to help him … As a caring community, we can figure it out!

Also in this issue : World Spay Day 2014; Grand opening for EVAH; Show Us Your Heart”; Feline Film Festival; Paws Adoptathon; Upscale Yardsale; The Story of Beauty; Furry Farewells

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photos by John Sieling, Cheryl Simpson, Garet Markvoort, Debbie Helmuth, Dorothy Byrne-Jones | website donated by über design