- Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:11
- Published on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:08
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Wendy Erskine, who has been helping save cats for many years, needs a helping hand. Since her husband died a year ago, she has been coping well, but recently, she broke her wrist.
When Wendy stepped outside recently, a kitten ran under her foot. “It was either step on the kitten or fall, so I chose falling,” Erskine said. She lost her balance and put her right hand out to break her fall, shattering several bones.
Wendy’s shelter is an IRS-certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization that rescues unwanted, homeless and abandoned cats. Wendy’s Feline Friends rehabilitates the felines, eventually adopting them out to good families. Over 4,000 cats have found new, forever homes in the last 14 years. Almost all of cats’ support comes from public donations.
Of course money is always welcome, but in today’s economy, Wendy understands that times are tough. Her veterinary bill is over $47,000, which means that the animal hospital and her vet have donated time and supplies to help these cats.
Wendy accepts cans for recycling. You don’t need to wash, dry or crush them or even bring them to the door. Dropping them off at the end of the driveway is greatly appreciated.
What Wendy and her feline friends need the most right now is volunteers to help them with; work in their yard, housework, cleaning and helping with socializing the cats. This means that petting, cuddling and playing are a big part of the volunteer work needed around the rescue shelter.
If you’d like to donate, items needed include; bleach, antiseptic mouthwash, paper towels, fragrance-free clumping cat litter, and old cat trees and scratching posts. Buckets of cat litter are great for the shelter, since the buckets can be used for cleaning outside in the yard.
Wendy asks that no cat beds be donated. Cat beds require washing and sanitizing, and this is too hard for most volunteers to do properly. The rescue shelter accepts blankets and other bedding on which the cats love to cuddle together. As for food, all the cats at Wendy’s Feline Friends eat only Science Diet* cat food. It keeps them healthy and reduces odors in their waste. (Note: any brand of dry cat food for the local feral colonies is appreciated. There are volunteers in our area who feed these cats daily, but those volunteers could use help with food donations, too.)
Erskine is a staunch advocate of the Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. Feral cats are caught in live traps, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, then released back to where they were picked up originally. By releasing these cats back into their previous environments, they ward off new, fertile (not yet spayed or neutered) cats, which would only add to the populations of the colonies.
When you first enter Wendy’s shelter, you will be amazed at both the number of cats that reside there, and the lack of odor one might usually expect to find at such a place. Outside is a feline paradise for cats of all ages, with trees and cat jungle-gyms on which to climb and explore. Safe, protective wire frames the shelter’s perimeter to keep cats from escaping. Having the ability to roam both inside the house and outside in the yard is very important for a cat’s wellbeing.
A series of pet-doors to enter and leave the main house have been installed. The cats may choose whether to remain indoors or to go outside, at their leisure.
Erskine also has a cat shelter shed in bad condition that was originally donated when it was brand new. However, since it was made of flake board, it has been hard to keep the elements out. Recent rains have been penetrating the shed and have made it unsuitable for kittens to use for shelter.
This shed needs to be dismantled and hauled away. Once that has been done, Erskine can begin looking for a replacement shelter.
Cat adoptions cost $75 each for kittens and $125 for adult cats. All kittens and cats are tested for feline leukemia and FIV, given vaccinations and de-wormed. All cats up for adoption are flea-free, and adults have been either spayed or neutered. Kittens come with a certificate for a free spay or neuter procedure (once old enough) from a local animal hospital.
Wendy’s Feline Friends is located at 1228 Holly Vista Dr., Colonial Beach, Virginia 22443. You may call Wendy at (804) 224-1079 to ask questions, get directions or to arrange to volunteer or make donations.
Cats currently housed at Wendy’s shelter may be viewed at www.wendysfelinefriends.org.