Spays & Neuters to Date :   2,598



Did you know?
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.


A Remembrance of MumCat
by Barbara Beckett

Almost twelve years ago, Pretty, the lone feral being fed by FFN in an industrial area in the south end of Stratford, brought a guest to dinner. How nice … a friend! In short order, the two girls – beautiful black cats, each with a wee white bib at the throat, one bronze-eyed beauty, one green-eyed – settled in together.

Months later, FFN discovered that six unborn babies had arrived with Pretty’s friend … kittens now old enough to be spay/neutered but too old to be successfully socialized for homes. Thus, the newcomer became known as MumCat and we were now officially a colony.

Over the years, MumCat never lost her mothering instinct. Two of her sons, still living in the colony to this day, were often kept in order with a swift smack from one little black paw. She had high standards. Nothing too rambunctious or deemed inappropriate was allowed. And absolutely no pushing at the food dish – if she chose to eat with the family.

MumCat was a hunter. Evidence of her hunting prowess (and that of her sons) was often found on the site. Last summer, the body of a large rat was laid out for the admiration of all. A nearby catering service has often expressed appreciation for the free pest control.

At many feedings, MumCat would sample the menu items, sit and daintily groom her sleek, glossy coat, and then head off to her hunting grounds where she could stalk prey and keep an eye on us at the same time. Other times, she would perch atop one of the discarded tires on the site and supervise mealtime from there.

MumCat drank from puddles all of her life, spurning the dishes of fresh, clean water set out for her. She was, indeed, an independent soul. In her younger days she would periodically go off for time on her own for as long as a week. Every mother deserves a break!

MumCat was always very cautious – a survivor. During my first two years feeding at the colony, I often only saw her sweet, black face peeking around the corner of the feeding station or her two black ears in the long grass. I seldom saw her eat. She did become a bit more trusting over time, as additional feeders joined the colony volunteers.

Cheryl Simpson fed breakfast and dinner on her own at the colony every day for more than a year after MumCat’s arrival and was the first entrusted with Mum’s fur babies. Cheryl could pet or brush MumCat. Those two were bonded.

The rest of us showered MumCat with love and admiration but she rebuffed our attempts to touch her. She was feral at heart and yet was so precious to each of us. My, we miss her!

Also in this issue : Enforcing Animal Cruelty Laws in Ontario; In Memory of Rick Huband; Reminders about Strays and Memberships; Big Thanks; Clothes to Cash; Swe Generous; Crunch Fitness Fundraisers for FFN; Wish List; We Want Your Empties; Get the Goodies (Bake Sale)

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Two Sisters and One Very Lucky Cat
by Nancy Dauberger and Ginny Dauberger

N ANCY: I was never really a cat person – I love all animals but I never had a cat. Then I moved to a small town about 22 years ago. A few years later I noticed a cat outside looking desperately for food. I got a lump in my throat thinking, “that poor thing is starving.” So I started putting dry cat food under my back deck. The cat found it, eventually returning with 3 kittens. One thing led to another and I ended up feeding 9 ferals. Most of them I had TNRtnr’d so no more kittens, BUT every now and then a new face appears and most of them end up being friendly.

This big Tuxedo with a cut-up face appeared looking through my patio door. He wouldn’t let me touch him at first but one day I snuck my hand onto his head and, boy, was he my buddy after that! He’d follow me everywhere, almost tripping me because he wanted to be so close. I had noticed that he was an intact male and called him “Hobo” since he disappeared for days at a time, often returning with more wounds. This continued until he showed up with a bloody face and blood on his neck. I asked Marg, one of FFN’s TNR coordinators, if we could help him.

After Hobo had been fixed, he went into the foster/adopt program because he had obviously been someone’s pet at one time and was not going to survive outside. He also had an ear infection because his ears were full of mites. Everyone just loved the handsome boy. I took my sister with me to see him and she decided to foster to adopt him.

Ginny: My sister Nancy volunteers for FFN, helping with neo-natal kittens and other foster cats. I had decided it was time to get another cat after losing my previous one. When I went with Nancy to visit a cat she rescued and called Hobo – he was it! I decided to foster to adopt him and have renamed him Link.

For the first week I had to give Link ear drops which he didn’t seem to mind too much. Then I noticed blood on the couch where he had been sitting. FFN took him back to the vet who found an abscess from a previous cat fight wound on his groin area. When the vet said I’d have to give him pills twice a day for two weeks, I kind of panicked! But Holly showed me a really cool way of giving him pills. I’ve been giving him antibiotics twice a day and the wound is healing nicely. And Kim is coming every couple of days to check the wound and give me tips.

Link is such a sweetheart. He loves his cuddles and never a peep out of him. He is slowly coming around and starting to investigate rooms. He isn’t playing much yet, but I’m sure that will come in time. We have bonded very well and he likes to lie with me on the couch where he usually falls asleep. I’m anxious to see how active he gets once his meds are done!

Also in this issue : FFN Felines on Film; A Bidder-Sweet Option; Tips for Determining if a Cat Needs Your Help; New Brunswick Latest Province to Ban Declawing

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APRIL 2019 | 2 HUMANS & 19 CATS

A family of 2 humans and 19 cats
by Michelle Kyle

When Bill and I sought a rural home in 2011, a small one-eyed cat who the realtor had not seen before led our tour of the acreage that we bought. Rusty and her kittens had arrived a year earlier, and a neighbour told us not to feed them or let them in our house because he wanted them to kill mice on his property. We obeyed, which was hard as the cats became our good friends, and when it rained, they stood on our back porch getting soaked, watching our cats who were safe and dry indoors. Since I was very allergic to cats, we had hypoallergenic Siberians. We had shared a small Toronto condo with three, and soon after moving into a house, we took in three more retiring mothers who needed homes and one Siberian kitten, as I wanted to experience a kitten. Little did I know that in 2012 we would have 12 cats and 12 kittens!

Rusty and I were outside when a very thin, injured black tomcat approached Rusty, who welcomed him as a friend, and he let me pet him. Then I found his body in our greenhouse. His death was my turning point. These outdoor cats were not getting the care they needed, so the next day I took Rusty to a vet for her chronic illness. In St. Agatha, I saw a hit-and-run driver hit a cat and took her to a vet. I named her Hope, hoping she would survive. For four days I gave her meds and eye drops every few hours and syringed water into her mouth as she lay motionless, depressed, and not eating. I returned to the scene, asked around, and learned she had lived under a restaurant with four kittens, and drank milk. I brought her kitten Sophie home. Seeing Sophie and milk, she wanted to live, stood up, drank milk, and gradually recovered. After the ordeal we shared, I had to give her a forever home. Hope and Sophie were the first non-Siberians to live in our house. Love was greater than allergies.

The day I met Hope, Rusty’s daughter Brownie gave birth to three kittens outside on our camping chair. More tragedies led us to bring Rusty and her 14 surviving offspring into our home: kittens Skaara, Ginger, Brownie, and Patches; and grandkittens Charlie, Francine, Blackie, Merlin, Clementine, Bronwyn, Brianne, Heather, Willem, and Jonas. A few tomcats arrived individually: thin, afraid Skaara (Rusty’s son, who disappeared for a year); FIV-positive, toothless Max; individualist Benjamin; and sick, injured Jeremy.

I first saw Jeremy eating our chicken feed. He was skeletal, sick, and dirty, and his throat was an open wound. Later a neighbour said he had seen him losing tomcat fights at his farm. We put food out, used an FFN trap to catch him, and promised him a forever home. FFN paid for his neuter and removing his rotting teeth. The vet said he would have died soon without help, and called him domestic long hair, although his fur was short. As he recovered, it grew long! He developed close friendships with Max, Skaara, Sophie, and Hope who, like him, has only one functioning eye. Despite being about 16 years old, he is full of energy, play-fights with the young bullies, and quickly jumps up on the counter to taste-test canned food before it is served.

We now share our house with 19 spayed/ neutered cats, all age seven or older, with cat doors and tunnels to outdoor enclosures to keep them safe from human drivers. Brownie’s second litter of five kittens were born in our basement, always had a home, and knew their grandma and dad, which is rare among cats. They have a sense of entitlement and bully others, so our cats live in two groups – upstairs and downstairs cats. Brownie and her offspring are downstairs cats; Hope, Patches and her son Charlie, and the Siberians are upstairs cats; and some, including Skaara, Jeremy, and Sophie, are members of both groups.

At breakfast time, I call “Brownie and kittens!” The downstairs cats run downstairs to eat, and stay in the basement and far enclosure during the day. After supper, they come up into the living room, and some upstairs cats go up to the second floor for the night. Everyone gets a comfortable night’s sleep and human affection. We have adapted our house, adding doors for cat management, inexpensive furniture with washable covers, and uncarpeted wood cat trees and wall shelves for cats.

FFN helped me connect with EVAH low-cost veterinary service, which has really helped our large family, as several have required dental surgery, and more will as they age. Our cats help me teach animal reiki in my home. I’ve been teaching for five years, and all my classes donate to animal rescues including FFN every year. Animal reiki involves peaceful meditation with animals to relieve stress and enable healing for animals and people. Level 1 is offered 13–14 April and 13–14 July (

Rusty was a master teacher who purred whenever a student was in the peaceful space, and stopped whenever the student’s mind wandered. She has
passed on, but thanks to her guiding us when we first met, her family is safe with us.

Also in this issue : Seeking Sweet Volunteer for Chocolaty Fundraiser; Thank You Sip & Shop; Myth-busing! The True Story of Fostering; Starring Feline Friends; It Takes a Community

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No "Quck Fix"... But a Happy Outcome

In 2017, FFN was informed of a cat with a litter of kittens under a porch by a caller (Deb) who hoped that we could take them into our foster/adoption program. Since mom cat didn’t appear to be friendly, we were concerned that the kittens might not be young enough to be socialized/adoptable.

While FFN was making arrangements to trap the family, a raccoon tried to attack them in the night and was driven away by Deb who had heard the ruckus. Mom cat must have decided that the location was no longer safe for the kittens and moved them in the night.

Approximately three months later, mom cat returned with the kittens, now even older, bigger, and – we feared – much harder to socialize. We felt the family could do well as an outdoor colony, with Deb as a caretaker. Deb, however, was not deterred. Determined to socialize the 4–5-month-old kittens, she trapped them all, along with a young adult male. Dubbed “Syd,” the young male was returned to the outdoors after he recovered from his neuter surgery, with daily meals and a shelter provided. The kittens were slowly socialized and, ultimately, adopted.

But where was mom cat? She’d made herself scarce after the kittens were trapped, showing up occasionally to eat but on an inconsistent basis that made it hard to trap her. It seemed that she had slipped through the cracks …

But in the spring of 2018, mom cat reappeared – with another litter of kittens that she started separating and abandoning in the yards of Deb and her next-door neighbour. After bringing the three kittens abandoned in her yard into her house, Deb discovered that an elderly neighbour was feeding mom and two much bigger, healthier kittens. This time, mom and all the kittens were trapped!

Mom cat was spayed and moved to a foster home for recovery and to work on her socialization, while Deb fostered all the kittens. Over a period of a few months, mom and all five kittens were adopted. Only Syd remained.

Syd had been coming consistently to eat on the porch, but once the remaining kittens were gone, he started to show signs of wanting to come into the house. Deb obliged and gradually, the more often he was indoors, the longer he felt comfortable staying in.

It was then that Deb noticed that Syd seemed to have a sore mouth and trouble eating. He went off to the vet where he was diagnosed with stomatitis, a severe, painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums in which ulcers form in the mouth. Syd was booked to have all his teeth removed and Deb nursed him through his recovery.

Syd is now happily an only cat and king of his castle! This boy is so lucky to have found Deb. A cat that FFN listed as a TNR (trap/neuter/return) in mid-November 2017 has come full circle and is no longer homeless. FFN would like to thank Deb for all her hard work – we think it’s fair to say that she has earned the rank of “Cat Lady”!

Also in this issue : A Hearty Thanks; AGM Report; World Spay Day Tally; Time to Renew; Remembering Spotty; Party with a Purpose; EVAH Turns Five.

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Caring for Calico

by Barb Conrad

In early 2018, FFN received a call from Barb and Jon Conrad about a little calico cat that was coming to their home for meals. Calico entered our TNR program on 22 February 2018 and, with the help and patience of Barb and Jon, she has made her way into their hearts and home. This is a beautiful story of two people who never gave up on a little calico cat. Thank you Barb and Jon Conrad.

5 November 2018 | Update on our Calico It’s been a long process but in the last little while, Calico has finally begun to warm up to us! We see her now in the mornings for dry food and then again at dinner time for wet and dry. Instead of running off at the slightest sound, she actually runs to us when we open the door and I can barely get the wet food out of the can before her head is right in the dish! :-)

She has also started weaving in and out of our legs and we communicate with meows and loving greetings. Just lately, I 2019have been able to touch her tail and today I was able to pet her! But only for a quick moment and with gloves on as she tends to want to bite when someone touches her body.

On one of the recent cold nights, I attempted to lure her into the house – enticing her in the door with her food. She curiously made her way into the living room but then freaked out, crying that painful sound and hiding under the couch until escaping through a wide open door. Clearly she is not ready to come inside our house – preferring the old barn next door. We still try to tempt her indoors but she only peeks in at the door before backing away.

Should the colder weather eventually make her more eager to come inside, we stocked up with a litter pan, etc., and are fully prepared!

Both Jon and I have become quite fond of her and look forward to seeing her every day!

26 December 2018
Calico has started to let me touch her!! Although I’ve kept the gloves on because I wasn’t sure about biting.

I’ve been spending almost an hour outside with her after each meal, talking soothingly to her. She has slowly become accustomed to me hanging around and even began to use the tote and straw shelter on the porch at night instead of going to the barn next door.

I didn’t want her to spend a winter staying outside, cold, while she ate, so when the really cold nights started in November, we began to coax her just inside the back door for her meals.

At first she was still very skittish of us, coming just inside the door to gobble the food down and wanting out right away! But one night, I started to play with her (gloves on) and she played for a good hour on the kitchen rug before wanting out again. Then, after about a week, she didn’t want out! I brought up a cat bed that Cedes (our last stray) never liked from the basement and Calico took to it!

So we let her spend the night in the kitchen – wondering, gee is she going to trash the place when we’re sleeping? Jon got up next morning and she wanted out! But after spending the entire day at the barn, she returned here for dinner and began spending her nights in the kitchen. Gradually she spent more and more time hanging out closer to our property until now she is indoors most of the time!!!! And, when she is at the door, she doesn’t want out!!!!!!! Haaaaa.

Aaaaand, she follows me everywhere!!!! Between my feet all the time!!!! Right now she is behind my knees while I type this. She even let me cut her nails! She doesn’t sleep with us (yet!) but with time she may.

11 January 2019 Gosh kitty sure is lucky she is inside – the temperatures last night and today are brrrrr COLD!!!

She still goes to the door, wanting out. But when we open the door – nope! She backs away, wanting nothing to do with the outdoors and the cold.

There’s a short stool next to the dining room window where we have a finch feeder hanging outside. This entertains her for quite a while.

It’s funny now, when we leave the house and Calico is inside! We tell her to watch the house! ;-)

Also in this issue : Sip and Shop Night Market; Keystone Alley Community Hours; World Spay Day; Show Us Your Heart; Parkview West Cat Colony; 2018 Spay/Neuter Details; In Memory of Warren Beckett; FFN AGM

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december 2018 - JANUARY 2019 | Life of Dupont

Life of Dupont

by Tyler Jouwsma

Just over a year ago, my mother [Kimberley Jouwsma] asked me to be a foster caregiver for a male tabby cat that she and Feline Friends Network had recently captured. While trying to convince me, she told me that she had a feeling that this cat was special – that although he might be shy now, he would – if given time – turn around. She also mentioned that this poor thing had recently undergone surgery for his broken leg/paw. Needless to say, I was feeling more and more compelled to foster this cat. My mother was selling it well!

Before I go any further, I should probably introduce my mother, Kim, a little more fully. She has been working/volunteering with FFN for the past couple of years and is truly an animal whisperer. If you’ve ever met her, you will know that her support for animals goes the extra mile. The love she has for animals is unconditional – just like their love for us.

Secretly, I knew from the beginning that my mother was hoping I would adopt this cat, even though I’d told her that I wouldn’t be ready to have a pet for at least a few years. Still after a couple of days discussing the situation with her, I said “yes, I’ll foster him until he finds a home” – much to my mother’s delight.

But she also made sure that I knew that fostering a cat who has been abused and is homeless and fearful would be a more difficult challenge than just introducing an animal to a new home. I accepted this challenge – and Dupont came into my life.

WIth the acceptance of this new responsibility, I didn’t realize how many more visits I would receive from my mother – I mean that in a good way!! Dupont needed to be treated kindly, fed well, kept hydrated – the whole works. Aside from the medical and physical treatments, he also needed to know that he was loved by people who were actually going to take care of him.

So, every day for 3 to 5 days, my mother and I took turns sitting beside his cage with the door open, just letting him know that we were there. Day after day, he slept and ate – nothing more, nothing less. Then, in the middle of the night, as I was reading my book beside him, he ventured out of the cage and started to walk around the room! I was awed and excited and immediately called my mother to tell her the great news. By the time she was able to come over the next afternoon, Dupont had explored the whole house! It was safe to say that Dupont finally felt comfortable. This was a new chapter for him and he never stepped foot back into his cage.

Dupont quickly became cuddly, warm, and social, and just loved attention from everyone! So it wasn’t long before I called my mother and said that I wanted to adopt him. Over the past year , Dupont and I have created an unbreakable bond. His favorite hobbies are napping, eating, being visited by literally anyone, playing with strings/mouse toys and lounging by the window. Ever wish you had a fluffy blanket or pillow to cozy up to in the morning when you wake up? Well, I’m lucky – I have Dupont to rely on for snuggles and cuddles.

A few weeks ago, Dupont escaped through my front door and ran off. I know that many of you reading this have had this happen to you and know how terrifying it is! We immediately began to do everything we could think of to get him back home – we left wet and dry food out, along with a bed and a blanket, just in case. We searched a four-block radius, constantly and extensively. Our efforts paid off and after ten hours Dupont was back home where he belongs.

I feel amazed and blessed by the support I received from everyone. Since Dupont is so friendly with everyone he meets, he had a search party of eight people looking for him and the members of Stratford Life on Facebook offered help and tips. Dupont and I feel very very loved.

Adopting Dupont has changed my life. Not just because I always have someone at home, but because he constantly brings a smile to my face. Every time I come home – from work or anywhere else – I can rely on him to be at the door waiting for me. Every time I watch Netflix, I can rely on him to be watching TV beside me. Every time I take a shower, I can rely on him to be eagerly waiting for me to be done. Every time I do something at home, I can rely on him.

Not only is Dupont my cat, he is my son and family.

Also in this issue : Save the date : AGM Feb 24; Giving Tuesday Makes Us Proud; Special Somthing; Tax Receipt Reminder; Feline Film Festival is a Wrap; Happy Returns (of insulated shelters); The Cats & Kittens of 2018

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november 2018 | The BEST Show in Town

The BEST Show in Town

Preparations are almost complete for FFN ’s 6th annual “Best of the Best” Feline Film Festival. Join us THIS FRIDAY, 9 November, and see why cats are the darlings of the internet!

Enjoy beer, wine, alcohol-free beverages, nibbles, a silent auction, Pat’s Puddy Products, and of course, an hour of the finest, funniest, most fantastic felines caught on video!

Tickets are $15 for an adult and $7.50 for a child under 13 accompanied by an adult. Your ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, one free beverage, and the chance to win a door prize. Have fun while helping Feline Friends raise money to help more cats through our spay/neuter and foster/adoption programs!

Also in this issue : FFN Update; Win-win at the Wine Raffle; In Memory of; Share Your Story in Cat Tales

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october 2018 | Sweet Alba

Sweet Alba

by Sharon Morrice

It was a raw March day when FFN received a phone call from a woman who was concerned about a cat she’d been feeding on and off for five years. The cat that she called ’Sweetie’ lived outdoors and the woman had never been able to pet her. The kitty appeared to be injured – there were large areas of fur missing on both sides of her body and she wasn’t eating. We believed Sweetie was a feral cat, so we made a plan to trap her so that we could get her checked out at a vet clinic.

Even though there was yummy cat food waiting inside, Sweetie refused to go into the trap. She was not giving in and it looked unlikely that we would get her. Then, a call from the feeder – she had got her! Not in the trap but in a pet carrier she had baited with food and quickly shut when she saw kitty go inside. Success! The plan was to get Sweetie examined the next day, have her injuries treated, spay her, and release her back to her outdoor home as part of FFN’s Trap-Neuter-Return program.

I was very relieved when the Doctor told me that Sweetie was not injured. Fleas – an easily treatable problem – had caused the fur loss. If it’s possible to be happy to have a cat with fleas, I was! However, our original plan for her was not to work out so simply.

While her skin was healing, we kept Sweetie in a large dog crate in our basement. I checked on her frequently, always talking quietly so she could get used to my voice. Little by little, she was becoming more secure. She initially hid in her pet carrier, inside the dog crate, coming out to eat and use the litter box when no one was around. This small, skinny girl was gobbling up all of the food I put in front of her – there was no end to her appetite! She loved cat treats, and found them so irresistible that slowly, cautiously, she inched closer to me to get them. Then finally, she took some gently off of my fingertips. I had the briefest contact from this cat, who I had thought I would never get to touch. Sweetie was not a feral cat. Now she was a foster cat.

My husband agreed that we should move her into a spare bedroom. The new plan was to care for her until she could be spayed and a forever home could be found for her. During this time, we made achingly slow progress to gain her trust. Hiding under the bed in her new room, she was a very fearful girl. Shamelessly bribing her with treats, we were thrilled when she began to come out from under the bed, and allow herself to be touched on her head and face. One step at a time, we were discovering her gentle, affectionate nature. Eventually, she began to lie on my legs as I sat on the floor with her. She let us pet her more and gave us loud purrs. Her playful side emerged – she loves balls and toys, especially Pat’s Puddy Products catnip mice!

The day of her spay appointment was full of surprises. I received a phone call from the veterinarian who had prepped her for surgery and discovered a scar on her belly. Sweetie had already been ‘fixed’, so obviously she had once been someone’s pet. The vet also found that her teeth were in bad shape – some broken so that only the roots remained. The vet extracted six of her teeth that day and she came back to our home to heal.

Not long afterwards, Sweetie developed a bad cough that didn’t respond to steroid or antibiotic treatment. After further testing, the vet found that she was suffering from lungworm, a parasitic infection that had to be treated by syringing medication into her mouth daily for more than two weeks. She has since tested negative for lungworm, but still has occasional coughing episodes that we hope will clear up in time.

My husband and I have both fallen in love with our ‘foster cat’ and we still wonder how this beautiful animal went from having a home to being homeless and neglected. Having become more fond of her at every stage of her journey with us, we decided that she needed a proper name (Alba seemed to suit her) and have adopted her permanently into our little tribe. We are still working on getting our other female cat to accept her – yet another challenge – but we’re so happy to have found our Sweet Alba.

Also in this issue : Sometimes simpler is better (changes to our Low-Income Spay/Neuter Assistance Program; New member discount at Ruffins Pet Centre Stratford; The how, what, and why of fostering for FFN; 6th Annual 'Best of the Best' Feline Film Festival; Results from our Fall online auction; our wish list

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september 2018 | Fostering a humbling experience

Fostering a humbling experience

by Jamie Lamond

My husband and I were driving home from a concert at midnight and right before we turned into our country laneway we saw two glowing eyes on the road ahead of us. Being huge cat people – and knowing there are no outdoor cats living around us – we knew we had to investigate! After pulling up slowly and calling out the infamous “Here kitty kitty!” we found ourselves with a beautiful, friendly, and very pregnant cat.

With five household cats already, we knew we couldn’t keep this mother-to-be and her unknown number of kittens. We also knew that Feline Friends Network was already heavily burdened with cats, many kittens, and more on the way. Having immediately become very much attached to our little rescue cat, who we named Marcy, we decided to become first-time fosters and keep mom and kittens at our home until they were ready to be fully weaned.

A few weeks after Marcy came to stay, it was kitten time! Luckily, we were home at the time, and I went into full “cat doula” mode to ensure their safe arrival. A few hours later, Miss Marcy was five kittens lighter. It was an amazing experience to be a part of, especially knowing that you have given five kittens a good chance at life, saving them from having to be born outside and battle the odds for their survival.

Since then, we have watched the five siblings grow from little mini-wigglers into kittens in full chase mode, running every which way. We have seen their individual personalities emerge and laughed at their kitten antics. We have discovered them sleeping in every possible spot imaginable, endured miniature ankle biters and shin attackers, and have been able to show our one-and-a half-year-old son how to be gentle with them. It warms my heart when I see him sitting quietly with one of them, a ball being batted back and forth between kitten and child.

Fostering has meant so much to us. It’s been amazing to watch the kittens grow and thrive. It’s humbling to know that you were a part of saving a cat’s life – whether that of a kitten or a stray homeless cat like their mother Marcy, who needs time and love to recover from being abandoned. Our foster kittens have enriched our lives. But while we will be very sad to see them go, we will also be happy to know that each of them will add to someone else’s life, making a place in that person’s home and heart.

FFN is always looking for volunteers to foster cats and/or kittens. If you might be interested, please click here fill out an application.

Of Marcy’s five kittens, Mongo, Earl, Nugget and Flower would all love a forever home and may still be available to adopt! If you could provide a fur-ever home for one of these darlings, please click here to fill out a pre-adoption information form.

Also in this issue : Spays & neuters in detail; 2018 Wine Raffle; Wish List; No Empty Bowls Pet Food Bank Stratford; Fall Online Auction

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summer 2018 | Jack & Samson

Jack and Samson – an unusual bond

by Dawn Benson, with an introduction by Holly Roulston

As FFN’s foster/adoption coordinators, Marg and I would like to thank Dawn Benson for adopting this unusual bonded pair! In the four years that we have been fostering and adopting out cats through FFN, this is one of the best happy-ending stories yet.

Samson, the black-and-white cat pictured above, initally gave Marg and me great cause for concern. After months and months of care in two different foster homes, he hadn’t improved very much – although our TLC volunteer Kim J. was starting to make progress with him. Still, we were wondering where we could “put him” when there was literally a knock on the door of his foster home – someone had discovered an injured kitten by the side of the road.

Samson’s foster mom took the kitten into care and named him Jack. After a week or so of keeping the two cats separate, we decided to introduce them, hoping that this little kitten with a big personality might be able to help Samson with his progress … Well, it was love at first sight!

Because Jack’s companionship was making a world of difference for Samson, we knew that we had to try to keep these two new friends together! And so we are sooooo thankful and thrilled that Dawn offered to adopt these unlikely pals.

As we have said many times over, FFN could not do any of this without everyone who plays a part in trapping, fostering, and adopting. These are the happy ending stories we hope for and they give us a reason to keep going. Here is Dawn’s story:

In November 2017, our beloved 16-year-old cat Rusty became very ill and, after a long fight, we had to let her go. Six months later, our cat Jerry also suddenly took ill. Again, we tried everything to save him but he also crossed the rainbow bridge, in only his 9th year.

During this period, I was in the process of becoming a foster parent for Feline Friends Network. Our remaining cat, Prudence, seemed lonely. Since I was still grieving for Rusty and Jerry and wasn’t ready to adopt another cat, I hoped fostering would give Prue some company.

When I saw the video of Samson and Jack on the FFN Facebook page, I knew instantly that I wanted to foster them. But when I went to meet them for the first time, I knew that I couldn’t JUST foster them – I wanted to adopt them.

Little Jack stole my heart. His injured leg did not slow him down in the least. And while Samson was so timid and wary of humans that I knew it might take time to gain his trust, I was confident that our family could do it and that we could give both of these cats a happy life.

When I introduced them to our house, Jack had no problem making himself right at home. Samson on the other hand was terrified! For the first two weeks, he refused to leave my closet and our entire family took turns lying in the closet to talk to him, pet him, and feed him by hand.

Jack helped Samson feel secure. It was obvious that Samson loved the little kitten and that little Jack gave him joy and comfort. When Samson meowed, Jack would run to him and reassure him. I have never seen this much love between two cats.

Samson gradually felt comfortable enough to explore the house at night, deciding to make his home in the basement (interestingly, before moving in with us, he was living in the basement level of his foster home). Our family began the process over again – going to the basement, lying on the floor, and letting Samson come to us for treats and affection.

Then, suddenly, Samson no longer wanted to be “basement Samson.” He came upstairs to get attention, to wrestle with his little bro Jack, and to be part of the family.

Also in this issue : Functional Feline Forms; Thank You for the Honour; Doing it for Dad; Dramatic beginnings & Happy Endings; FFN's Wish List; 2018 Wine Raffle Fundraiser; 10,000 Thanks

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june 2018 | Love Olive

Love Olive

by Sandra Seine

Picture a kitten, full of energy and spunk, bounding up and down the stairs, chasing feet or a toy or just running for the fun of it. Because she’s just that eager to explore, the bannisters are entwined with ribbons and sheets of newspaper to prevent her from squeezing through. Several plants are bare of low-hanging leaves, from being batted away in play. The flies buzzing at the window screen don’t have a chance; she hunts them relentlessly. When the day is done and she’s finally tired herself out, she snuggles with her humans and goes to sleep curled up under a chin or against an armpit, purring and content. This is a wonderful kitten – playful, snuggly, curious, and friendly. There’s just one small problem. She can’t see.

Olive was special from day one. When she came into the care of Feline Friends Network, it appeared she had no eyes or maybe an infection that damaged them and she could not see. We assumed that an eye infection was the source of her blindness. After consulting with the vets, it was agreed the only solution was to remove the eyes. During surgery, the vets found that Olive’s eyes were never formed properly and her blindness was not related to any type of infection. She had probably never been able to see. The surgery will prevent further injury/infections.

Despite being a poor patient who was frustrated that her cone prevented her from playing and snuggling as much as she wanted to, Olive recovered quickly. Marg and I were both incredibly lucky to be able to foster Olive during this time. Lack of sight never slowed her down. She quickly adapted to any new environment, and had no problems making friends with other dogs, cats, or people. Despite shifting from Marg’s home to mine a couple of times (due to the surgeries), Olive was never confused by her surroundings. She went from sniffing around the edges of a space to racing boldly down the middle. She snuggled with Marg’s dogs, and played with my cats, managing to hold her own. She charmed everyone who came over to visit.

Some concessions had to be made. Olive follows sounds and smells, so she loves feet and gets under foot a lot. She has a hard time jumping – up or down – because she doesn’t know where she’s going, although her new family tells me she’s starting to get more confident with that. She sometimes bumps into things, or misses a step or a toy, and doesn’t like having her face touched. Olive lives in a world of scent and sound and touch; she needed to go to a home where she would be loved and her peculiarities understood.

Luckily Olive has found a fur-ever home with Janine and Matt, and is being spoiled in the best possible way. I miss her still, because Olive was a very special foster. She proves that the worth of a cat is not determined by their ‘problems’ but by their personalities – and we all know how personable cats are! Thank you to FFN for taking a chance on this special girl.

Also in this issue : Leaving a Legacy; FFN Wish List; Feed-All Pet Centre Catio Adoptions; Friends Who Fundraise (Thanks Pet Valu); 10,000 Reasons to Give in June

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may 2018 | Samson a.k.a. The No Frills Kitty

Samson a.k.a. The No Frills Kitty

by Marg Usprech and Shelly Doucette

This poor lost soul was hiding in the cart section of the No Frills Store when he was brought to our attention. Samson was in pretty rough shape and very hungry. We placed him in a recovery foster home, where he was nursed back to health. Once he was feeling better, we transferred him to his second foster home for further one-on-one care.

Samson has had a long road to physical and mental recovery. We don’t know where he came from or what his previous life was like but we know he has seen extreme hardship. However, through the love of his fosters Lynn and Shelly and volunteer Kim, Samson has learned to love and trust again. We have all grown fond of Samson but it is time for him to find his forever home. He will need a quiet home where he gets lots of one-on-one time.

When Samson arrived at my house he was very scared. His fur was in rough shape and he hid from me.

With patience and love he learned to trust me. I tell him I love him every day. I can pet him and even pick him up. He will sit on my knee and eat treats. He has turned into the biggest love bug I have ever met. Samson loves to play and has lots of energy. He is a good eater and a gentleman in the litter box.

His little pink tongue hangs out and he looks so cute. The hardest part of being a foster mom … I love them all!

As you can see, Samson is truly special! If you are interested in adopting him, please contact or to arrange a meet & greet.

Also in this issue : Stratford City Council Votes YES to Pet Sale Ban; A Warm Welcome; Member Discount Changes; Just Because I'm Roaming Doesn't Mean I'm Lost; With Sympthy; Successful Spring Auction; If We Had $10,000

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april 2018 | a frightened ghost

A frightened Ghost

by Shauna King

In the summer of 2016, a white kitten was spotted in the Devon Street/golf course area. FFN was notified and several people tried to catch or befriend him without any luck. Because he was coming to our house on Romeo Street fairly regularly to eat the cat food Tylor and I put out for our indoor/outdoor cat, FFN recruited us to set a live trap. In September 2016, he was successfully trapped and neutered.

FFN planned to keep “Ghost” indoors, hoping that he was young/tame enough to be adopted, but he refused to eat and had to be released back on Romeo Street after a few days, where we took on the task of feeding him daily. For the first six months, although food disappeared, we never caught sight of him. But when FFN set up a motion camera to discover who was eating the cat food … sure enough it was Ghost!

Ghost slowly started letting us see him – from a distance. Then he began to wait at his feeding station for dinner, although when he saw us coming he would hide in the neighbour’s yard until we were gone. And finally, he started to come when called and even began to venture onto the deck. But we still couldn’t get near him.

Then, one day, I was tossing treats to Ghost, hoping to entice him into eating one out of my hand. When he got close enough to take the treat, he astonished me by by shoving his face right into my hand!

That must have been Ghost’s “Ah ha!” moment, because from then on he LOVED to receive pets and attention from us. It was like the flick of a switch. He spent all his time in our back yard and on the back deck sleeping. He cried for us at the door. He just couldn’t get enough attention!

Fast-forward to last October and the first snow storm of the year. I was outside looking for Ghost, hoping to convince him to use the heated shelter we had borrowed from FFN. He was nowhere to be seen and, feeling distraught, I went inside to watch for him. Within minutes, he came running up to the door and when I opened it, he ran right inside!

From that moment on, Ghost has been an inside cat and shows no desire to go back outside. It took two months, but he is all settled in and getting along great with our four other cats! Tylor and I weren’t planning to adopt another cat, but Ghost has come so far and he trusts us. We’ve decided to be his forever, loving home!

Also in this issue : Animal welfare bylaws in Stratford: Don't shop, adopt!; A whole lot of bunny money!; Member discount notice; A setback and a solution; From unloved to loved; Remembering Laverne Weitzel; A day to spay.

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march 2018 | update on olive

Update on Olive

by Holly Roulston

Our blind little girl had her eye surgery done on 20 February 2018. The vet found that one eye was ¹/8 the size it should be and the other ¼ of the regular size, indicating that Olive was born with her eyes not properly developed. This discovery may explain her happy-go-lucky attitude – Olive doesn’t know life to be any different!

Little Olive is, however, not at all happy about her spay stitches and immediately tries to chew them out whenever her cone is removed, which means that – except when eating – Olive must continue to wear the cone. Luckily the countdown is on and Olive’s spay sutures will be removed on Friday, 2 March.

Olive has only gained a single pound since coming into FFN ’s care on 28 December, although there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with her otherwise. She is a hearty eater and the other cats in her foster home know better than to try to muscle in on her food dish!

Olive is looking for a special adoptive home where she can cuddle with the family canine. She loves to attack (feline or canine) back ends – all in fun, of course! Do you have a laidback dog (and cat or cats) that would tolerate her antics? Because of Olive’s petite size we cannot adopt her into a home with small children or older children who are high energy as she doesn’t know and can’t see to get out of harm’s way.

You might find the idea of adopting a blind kitten out of the question – we admit, we thought so too – but once you meet this tiny tough nut, you will have a completely different attitude. Olive has no problem with stairs and learns the “lay of the land” quickly. She will be a treasure to the special person who adopts her!

Also in this issue : AGM Report; Less-Adoptable Cat Videos; Caring for our Community Cats; More Thanks; In Remembrance

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february 2018 | cold enough for ya?

Cold enough for ya?

by Pat Burnell

Digging out the feral colonies gives one an appreciation of the need to offer these cats shelter from the cold and snow.

But because so many of you have stepped up to help a feral cat or two weather winter’s storms, the number of shelters built and sold by FFN was dwindling faster than the snow was falling. Calls were coming from all over with requests for the containers that Larry Baswick and Charles Riley construct in our garage and we had none to give.

So … even though the Christmas holidays were upon us, the shelter crew of two shopped for materials, made preparations, and got busy over a number of VERERY cold days to ‘build’ 13 new homes for wayward wanderers. The calls continued to come in, the shelters to fly out the doors, and the snow to keep falling. Kudos to Charles and Larry and all the cat caretakers.

If you have a shelter that is not being occupied, please return it to FFN so it can be re-used.

Also in this issue : Olive, our little teacher; AGM Feb 25, 2018; Bad news, Good news; Thanks to the Animal Aid Foundation & Global Pet Food Stratford; World Spay Day 2018

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dec 2017 / jan 2018 | the season to refelect

'Tis the Season to Reflect

A message from FFN President Paul Simpson

As 2017 draws to a close, I am proud to report that it was a very productive year for FFN . Our primary programs – TNR , foster / adoption, and low-income spay/neuter assistance – were busy throughout the entire year. FFN sponsored 379 spay / neuter surgeries in 2017 – putting us well over the 2,000 mark. For all intents and purposes, we are the only organization in Perth County doing the work that we do.

None of this would be possible without the continuing effort of so many people – our general membership, our incredible volunteers, our generous fundraisers and supportive pet stores, and the compassionate vets and clinics that partner with us. FFN ’s solid reputation and its success is the result of your commitment to the cause. Thanks, thanks, and a thousand times thanks to each and every one. And our very best wishes for a festive holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.

Also in this issue : AGM Feb 25, 2018; Puddy perfect presents; Online auctions; Microchipping; The cats & kittens of 2017; Still seeking loving homes; Gratefule for GivingTuesday

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november 2017 | saving a pirate

Saving a Pirate

The spring and summer of 2017 provided FFN with a bumper crop of kittens and a reminder of the importance of spay / neuter. So many of the kittens born outdoors do not survive and far too many suffer terribly. Pirate was one of them.

When FFN stepped in, PIrate’s mother, a kitten herself, was struggling to care for five babies, all of whom had very painful eye infections and upper respiratory infections.

Mom was trapped, spayed, vaccinated, and returned to her caregiver. All five kittens were placed in the same foster home. Pirate’s siblings quickly began to recover, but despite numerous vet visits and special care from foster parents Andrea and Tom, Pirate’s right eye could not be saved and surgery was required.

Perhaps it was his rakish appearance but Pirate has been the first of his siblings to be adopted and he is now enjoying life in his new home with a very special dog buddy. Thanks to Andrea and Tom and the donors who made it possible.

Also in this issue : Illuminating My Life Path; Global Cat Day Draws; GivingTuesday; Wine Raffle Raises $8,656; Swee Stocking Stuffers; Thanks!

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october 2017 | young philanthropists

Young Philanthropists
by Paul Simpson

Recently, FFN became the beneficiary of a fundraising project that took shape in a rural setting outside of Stratford. Jane and Tim Barton live on a big spread with their brood, and it’s a large one: 3 energetic kids, 2 dogs, 6 cats, 2 pigs, 1 horse, 2 miniature horses, a donkey, a rabbit, and a hen. A wonderful riot of constant activity! The animals come from adoptions, shelters, and “drop-offs” – the Bartons obviously have big hearts.

On two Saturdays in early September, the Barton kids and two of their pals staffed a lemonade stand at a well-travelled corner near their home. The budding entrepreneurs pulled in an amazing $230 which they donated to FFN.

This wasn’t the first time the young Bartons have turned their energies towards fundraising to help animals. There’s something particularly engaging about kids becoming involved with projects like this, knowing that their young lives are being influenced by supportive parents.

The Barton threesome are Lily (far left), Mark (top), and Elliott (far right), and their pals Olivia (centre rung) and Levi (bottom rung), who held the sign for the lemonade stand.

An extra large thank you to the Barton crew. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Also in this issue : Giving Tuesday; Purrennial Paw Show; EVAH in Kitchener; Feral Feeders; Puddy Products at Global Pet Foods

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Very important facts & figures

Look at the top of this page… in the eleven years since it was founded, the Feline Friends Network has spayed or neutered well over 2,000 cats!!

FFN currently has 146 members. If your membership has lapsed and you would like to renew, call FFN at 519-301-5735 or visit

FFN will be very visible in the Stratford community this month:

  • On Friday, 15 September from noon until 4:00 pm and Saturday, 16 September from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Pat’s fabulous “Puddy Products” will be on display and available for sale during the Global Pet Foods “Customer Appreciation” weekend.

  • On Saturday, 16 September and Sunday, 17 September, the Pet Valu location on Huron Street in Stratford will play host to any available adoptable FFN kittens.

  • On Friday, 22 September from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm, FFN will have a booth at the Festival Marketplace. Come by and buy your Wine Raffle tickets – before it’s too late!
Lastly – and most importantly – FFN’s ability to help cats in need is in serious jeopardy. Our Trap/Neuter/Return program is receiving more and more requests from all over Perth County and there are ONLY TWO VOLUNTEERS to deal with them. They desperately need help. We know you believe in the work FFN does and we are asking for more “boots on the ground” in order to continue.

To volunteer for TNR, all you need is a car, the ability to lift 10–15 lbs (the weight of a cat in a trap) and the desire to help the most neglected and needy homeless cats. FFN provides training and we can tailor your volunteer time to fit your schedule. The need is urgent. Please help. Email us today at to find out more.

Also in this issue : Co-operation, Community & Cats; Patience, Perseverance & Penelope

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summer 2017 | a tale of two rescue cats

A Tale of Two Rescue Cats
by Cheryl Simpson

Wayne and Dianne Yundt are long-time members of Feline Friends. It all started with a little feral cat nine years ago …

In 2009, a young and very frightened stray tabby was being fed by Evelyn Saley. After Mrs. Saley’s death that same year, her neighbours, the Yundts, took on the caretaker role, making arrangements with FFN for his trap/neuter/return.

When the surgery was over, the little guy – now named Horatio – was returned and Wayne and Dianne began the hard work of earning his trust. It took many months of gradual 2017cajoling, but finally Horatio agreed to come and live with them – as long as he was allowed access to the great outdoors that had been his home for so long. Under the Yundts’ care, the scruffy little fellow blossomed into a truly magnificent cat, with an incredible personality to boot.

Sadly, earlier this year, Horatio had to be put down as he had developed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease not uncommon to Main Coon–type cats). Dianne and Wayne were devastated.

It did not take long, however, for the Yundts to realize how empty their home was without a feline presence and they started looking for another cat who needed them. Thanks to a tip from Nancy Hotson, they soon found one.

At the local Pet Valu, FFN had a very young mother cat up for adoption. She had been living for months with her older kittens on a farmhouse porch. And she looked just a little bit like Horatio …

Wayne and Dianne took her home, and tiny Anyka quickly made her way into their hearts. Really still a kitten herself, she delights them daily with her antics, as well as learning too just how wonderful snuggling can be!

Of course, the Yundts still miss Horatio every day. But they also recognize that adopting another homeless cat is a wonderful way to honour and celebrate his memory.

Also in this issue : Thanks Again; Film Fest Results; 2017 Wine Raffle; Canada Day.

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june 2017 | feline film festival

5th Annual Feline Film Festival 2017

It’s finally here! FFN ’s Feline Film Festival is back! We’re putting the finishing touches on our fifth annual, hour-long compilation of the most entertaining, touching, surprising and adorable cat video moments that you won’t want to miss.

Doors open at 7 pm for nibbles with wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. Bid on our many silent auction items (including a special travel offering from ViaRail). Have some fingernail fun with a feline-inspired nail wrap. Visit our tarot card reader for an insightful session. Peruse our always-popular Puddy Product table. And last but not least, enjoy the family-friendly feature Feline Film screening from 8–9 pm.

As always, all proceeds support Feline Friends Network’s spay & neuter programs to humanely reduce cat overpopulation in our community.

Also in this issue : Harriet's Happy Ending; Welcome Donation Cheques; FFN at Canada Day 2017; Not just another survey... add your voice to the call to change Stratford's Animal Control bylaws.

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may 2017 | a cautionary tale

A cautionary tale and five grieving cats in need of fur-ever homes
by Cheryl Simpson

Imagine that you are a much loved cat, living with your human and your furry brothers and sisters. But, one day, your food bowl is empty. And when you go to let your human know, she doesn’t respond, no matter how many face rubs you give her.

Days pass. Finally, there is a banging at the door and policemen arrive. The dog greets them, but you and your four feline companions panic and hide. Your wonderful guardian is taken away and strangers descend on the house. The dog is adopted right away, but no one knows what to do with you and your feline housemates. During the day, as the housecleaning continues, you hide in a crawl space in the basement or inside an old box-spring. Only at night do you feel safe enough to come out to eat the food left for you.

Your lovely life with your pet parent has ended – just like that. And you wonder, “what is going to happen to us?”

This is an actual situation that FFN discovered several weeks ago. FFN was called by a relative of the deceased who remembered that we had helped her some years ago regarding a Trap, Neuter, Return situation. Not being a rescue, FFN does not generally take in surrenders so I phoned every rescue I could think of to help these cats. All were sympathetic, but no one wanted to take on traumatized cats – particularly older ones. The house was being readied to put on the market and we were told that the cats needed to be “gone.”

I knew what would happen if Animal Control or the OSOSPCA were called in – and I couldn’t just stand by. With the help of a nearby TNR group, Paul and I set about preparing to trap.

After some very tense days, the TNR group, Paul, and I managed to catch all five cats. Three of them are now living in my upstairs bathroom; two more have gone to another foster home. All were completely terrified. And so a group of dedicated volunteers has begun the process of “re-socializing” the cats in order to help them find new homes.

These are wonderful cats who deserve wonderful people to love them. Someone has stepped forward to take 14-year-old Moby (photo above) and 8-year-old Finn. But three are still in need of homes.

Pinky is “The Introvert” of the group, an 8-year-old tortie – just look at
that face! – who is a little overweight. Pinky is declawed. Although timid, she enjoys petting, brushing, and belly rubs when she is in her “safe space” and can be bribed with treats or catnip. Pinky gets braver every day.

The two younger cats, a brother and sister who are approximately 5 years old, are not yet comfortable having their photos taken. As a bonded pair, these beauties – dark grey and white, one short-haired. the other mediumlong – would LOVE a new home where they can live out the rest of their lives together.

If you think you or someone you know might be able to give Pinky or the young brother and sister the loving forever home they need, please contact Paul or Cheryl Simpson at 519-273-8067. Between 12 and 22 May, Paul and Cheryl will be on vacation. During that time, please contact Pat Burnell at 519-271-0657.

And one more extremely important thing ...

Stories such as this one happen much more often than we’d like to believe. A 2014 American estimate states that 500,000 orphaned pets wind up in shelters each year. These situations arise because we don’t like to contemplate the possibility that we aren’t always going to be here for our pets. But an accident, a prolonged illness or hospital stay, or yes, even death, could happen to any of us, at any time.

Please listen to this cautionary tale – and then do something to protect the pets you love. Don’t assume your children or friends will automatically take your cats. Be proactive. Make plans. Need help doing this? The website has excellent advice. Also, the 2010 book Fat Cats and Lucky Dogs: How to Leave (some of) Your Estate to your Pet can be purchased from Amazon.

Do this because, to quote the introduction to the 2ndchance website:
“Imagine life without your pet. Now imagine your pet’s life without you.”

Also in this issue : Renew your membership!; Feline Film Fest; A Warm Welcome; Many thanks

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april 2017 | it's a jungle out there

It’s a jungle out there – finding a home for Solomon, the lion king

by Holly Roulston

When the volunteers at FFN starting trapping and feeding feral cats in 2006, we were told that, in general, it is best to have a handful of people feeding colony cats. This way, if someone moves out of the area, rather than trying to relocate the cat – which typically doesn’t work – another feeder can be found by knocking on a few doors in the same area.

Solomon first showed up on the Lost and Found Pets of Stratford Facebook page (created and administered by FFN Foster / Adoption chair Marg Usprech). In the photo (above), he was quietly sitting on a porch and the post revealed that Solomon had been visiting numerous homes in the area for over a year – since April 2016.

FFN realized that he had been outside on his own for some time so it was unlikely that anyone would contact us to report that he had been lost in recent weeks.

FFN member Margery Leggott – whose home was among those Solomon had been visiting – offered to trap and foster him until FFN could find him a new forever home. Then, Jodi Braun – another of Solomon’s feeders – contacted FFN and offered to sponsor him!

FFN would like to say a big thank you to Jodi for being the first person to sponsor a specific cat and to Margery for offering to catch Solomon and teach him to trust humans again.

Thanks also to everyone who put out a bowl of food and/or water for this guy over the last year. It still really does take a village to help feral cats.

After being outside for so long, Solomon’s fur was too matted to brush out so he had to have a “lion cut” to get rid of the tangles. Foster mom Margery discovered that he’s a bossy boy who wants to be in charge and might need to be the “one and only” pet. He seemed to be adjusting well to being inside where it’s safe and warm and getting used to food / water dishes that are always full.

FFN is thrilled to announce that Solomon had a “meet-and-greet” on Friday and is now making a trial visit. Fingers crossed this will be his “fur-ever” home.

Solomon sporting his “lion” do – so embarrassing but SO good to be free of matted, tangled fur.

Also in this issue : Renew your membership!; Feline Film Fest; World Spay Day; Pet Valu's Pet Appreciation Month

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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 ( 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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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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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

Click here to download the complete newsletter.

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


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

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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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

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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: and

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 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

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

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

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

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