It’s a pretty intricate balance, requiring a lot of dedication from our amazing volunteers. If we look at the shelter as a whole, we’re broken down into a few key areas. They include:
- facilities and property maintenance
- cat care
- volunteer coordination
- fundraising, marketing and publicity
The two people who really dedicate their lives to this organization — who work tirelessly on behalf of the myriad cats and kittens we care for every day — are Sue and Dick Bowman, both volunteers.
Facilities and property maintenance
The current shelter is on 17 1/2 acres, most of which is rented out to a local farmer, with about five actually serving as the shelter property. Originally, there was just the house on the property, but now it includes the original house, the barn, the leukemia cottage and two garages, so facilities and property maintenance is a big part of the operation. This includes everything from making sure the shelter van is in good working order, maintaining the furnaces, air conditioners, laundry machines and two septic systems, to mowing, maintaining the roofs, and maintaining/improving the cat areas, among other things.
Some of this work is done by volunteers, and others are handled by professionals (like the septic!), but it still has to be coordinated (and paid for!).
“We bought this property about 17 1/2 years ago,” said Sue. “We started building the barn several months later in October and I told the builder it had to be done by Christmas. He laughed, but on Christmas Eve we had a motorcade of volunteers who brought 100 cats to the barn. They got it done for us!” Please read our shelter story.
This is obviously the core mission of the organization. FF&F is a no-kill shelter! Actually we were one of the first no-kill shelters in the area. And we are truly no kill. The leukemia cottage is a perfect example of this. We don’t euthanize cats and kittens who have feline leukemia, like many other organizations do.
“We really want to know our animals,” explained Sue. “We believe these wonderful cats can have fulfilling lives and we aim to provide them with the best lives possible while they’re with us. Leukemia or not, we really want to focus on the animals and their needs.”
So, back to cat care. There’s a ton involved here from making sure our licenses are current to dealing with the pharmaceutical accounts to ensure we have the proper medications on hand when illnesses crop up, to handling more urgent and complicated situations. Recently we brought in 11 kittens from from a feral colony, and eight of them had issues with an eye, requiring removal.
We now have two surgery days where we neuter, spay and vaccinate cats and dogs who are brought into the shelter by local pet owners, and we have a TNR (trap, neuter and release) program for feral cats/colonies.
Then there’s the regular feeding, cleaning and loving all of our cats and kittens! All of this means we have to stay on top of supplies and ordering, deliveries, and so on, to ensure we always have enough wet and dry food, litter, toys, treats, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent for the 70+ loads of laundry we do weekly.
We work closely with our vet, Dr. Jeanette Maucher, to ensure our cats are healthy. The vet staff, who are part-time, are actually the only paid staff at FFF. Everyone else is a volunteer.
There are about 30 shelter volunteers who come regularly and clean, care for the cats, run adoption days, help with intake and surgery, coordinate foster care, and coordinate/staff events, write and distribute newsletters, handle the finances for the organization, thank donors, and repair cat towers, among many, many other things. Nothing would work without their dedication and their efforts are truly appreciated.
So what’s a typical day like?
It generally starts with Dick about 6 am with cleaning the barn condos, scooping litter and feeding and giving water to the cats in the condos and cages, and laundry. Sue starts with medication and wet food around 8 am. Other volunteers start showing up around 8:30. They finish the barn and clean other areas like the leukemia cottage, the basement, the house, and the adoption room. With 100+ cats and kittens, there’s a lot to clean! If it’s a surgery day, volunteers manage the drop-off and pick up processes, all paperwork and anything else that comes up surrounding surgeries.
Then there’s generally 3-4 hours of phone calls that Dick handles daily. We get lots of calls about adoptions, surgery, taking in cats (lots about taking in cats!!), and myriad random questions.
“I try to make sure everyone gets a personal phone call returned,” said Dick. “It’s important that everyone who calls Forgotten Felines has confidence in us and that we’re working hard every day to the benefit of our cats and kittens. I think developing that relationship with someone, even over the phone, goes a long way.”
Sue deals with sick-cat emergencies, and cat-specific issues, and ordering food and other vet supplies.
Pretty soon it’s dinner time, and time for nighttime meds, making sure water dishes are filled and getting the cats settled for the night. Lights out and it starts again in the morning!
“It’s truly a labor of love,” added Dena Hankee, president of the FFF board. “With essentially an entire volunteer organization, it takes a village and we accomplish a great deal with our limited resources.
“To everyone who supports us by attending our events, donating, choosing us via Amazon Smile, adopting cats and kittens from us, or volunteering your time, a huge thank you. Without you, we could not fulfill work to provide these amazing little creatures with good lives in the shelter or with wonderful forever homes.”