Cats displaced by hurricane looking for love

 

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Volunteer with Purrfect Haven, Linda Ahern, holds Panda the cat at the adoption station at PetSmart in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — A handful of cats displaced by Hurricane Irma are looking for purrfect homes around Dover.

Purrfect Haven, a cat rescue organization based in Kent County, is taking in about a dozen felines from Brevard County, Florida, and looking for foster homes and permanent owners. The cats will be arriving Saturday and will be spending at least two weeks in foster homes before they can be adopted.

The animals are being sent to Delaware because of a shortage of shelter space in Florida, which was slammed by Hurricane Irma last month. Some of the cats had already been in shelters for about a year prior to the storm, while others became lost after the hurricane.

Some residents of Brevard County were ordered to evacuate and wait out the tropical cyclone elsewhere, but plenty of animals had no other choice but to stay. Kristen Mondeaux, executive director of Purrfect Haven, said some of the cats were being housed in cages outside because the shelters were so crowded.

During the storm, cages were hung from roofs and covered in blankets to keep the cats high and (hopefully) dry, Ms. Mondeaux said.

The Brevard County animal shelter found Purrfect Haven online in the days after the hurricane, and officials reached out to ask if the group would be interested in taking some cats.

“They said they were seeing … a kindred spirit,” Ms. Mondeaux said, describing the rescue as one that focuses on felines “the other shelters don’t want.”

Gustov (Submitted photo)

After some discussion among Purrfect Haven’s volunteers, the nonprofit agreed to take the cats.

Currently, 12 cats, ranging in age from 4 months to 16 years, are scheduled to make it to Kent County this weekend. Purrfect Haven is hoping it can obtain clearance from the state to add one more to that number, although a health certificate for the would-be 13th may be rejected because the cat is sick.

Mitch

If Purrfect Haven had not accepted the cats and the Florida shelter had been unable to find another organization, they would have been euthanized due to lack of shelter space, Ms. Mondeaux said.

It’s the second time the rescue has taken pets from another state after a storm. In 2005, a convoy went down to offer aid to Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina and brought back to Delaware several cats and dogs.

Ms. Mondeaux and other volunteers are looking for people to temporarily care for the Florida felines. Four people have already signed up to be foster parents, while a few more are looking into it.

Fostering a cat is a relatively straightforward: Purrfect Haven will provide food, litter and medical care and will work to find a permanent owner. All the short-term caregiver needs to do is offer affection.

Every cat brought to Delaware will have a foster parent. As a last resort, Ms. Mondeaux has several cages set up in her house, although she’s hoping to find individual foster volunteers for each cat.

Nine of the 12 cats came from the “special needs” list, meaning they have some sort of health issue, ranging from partial blindness to dental issues.

Vine (Submitted photo)

All of them, however, get along well with other felines and are prime candidates for adoption, Ms. Mondeaux said.

Exactly how long the cats will be with their foster parents before they can be adopted depends on what, if any, medical care they may need, but Purrfect Haven will be holding an adoption event at the Dover PetSmart next month.

“I would love to see none of those cats go back to their foster home,” Ms. Mondeaux said.

The cats will be listed on the website Petfinder before the showcase, meaning people interested in opening their homes to a four-legged (or three-legged, in the case of one cat) friend can start looking to adopt very soon.

Every cat will receive basic vaccinations, be spayed or neutered and spend time living in a house and using a litter box, giving potential long-term owners fewer things to worry about.

While some of the cats may have been separated from their original owners because of Hurricane Irma, efforts to reconnect them have been unsuccessful, and so the animals are in need of new homes.

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“One of the reasons we waited … is we wanted to make sure the owners had a chance to claim them,” Ms. Mondeaux said.

Purrfect Haven is seeking donations to help cover the cost of medical care. Contributions can be made at the adoption center in PetSmart and on Facebook page.

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a cat can email purrfecthavencat@hotmail.com or visit https://awos.petfinder.com/shelters/DE46.html and https://www.facebook.com/purrfectcatrescue/.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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