Purr Partners is a local nonprofit rescue group that finds homes for cats. Co-founder Lawanna Johnson said she and her teams of volunteers work tirelessly to care for their wards, whether they come from shelters, from owner surrenders or from hoarding situations.
“Our mission has always been that we would be advocates for cats,” Johnson said. Right now, there are a little over a hundred cats that are in their care, with about 40 available for adoption at any given time.
Volunteers are caring for several feline mamas and their kittens right now, she told fellow cat lover Bill Harris on Monday’s Town Talk. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, Johnson noted, because the dreaded “kitten season” is fast approaching.
Reducing the pet overpopulation problem is also part of Purr Partner’s over-arching goal. Educating pet owners about having their animals spayed or neutered is a critical piece of the problem, she said. While there aren’t that many no-cost or low-cost programs that serve our area, there are several places that offer discounts for having animals – usually dogs and cats – spayed or neutered.
Traditionally, the county animal shelter is where unwanted animals – again, usually dogs and cats – are held until they can be adopted. But Johnson said cats are surrendered much more often and are euthanized at much greater rates than dogs.
Purr Partners uses annual data from the state Department of Agriculture to identify high-kill shelters and then work with those shelters to get cats into the rescue and try to get them adopted.
There simply are not enough homes and not enough places to house all the cats that need to find a safe place to live, she said. They don’t just get cats from shelters, Johnson said. Just one day ago, they took in six cats from the western part of the state that were removed from a hoarding situation. Since July, she said, they have gotten as many as 20 cats at once that were removed from a hoarding situation.
As a rescue organization, Purr Partners also finds itself having to say “no” to additional cats when they are tight on space. “We can’t always help,” she said. “We just don’t have enough space.”
Unaltered female felines can get pregnant every 8-10 weeks, Johnson said. With the average litter producing 4-5 kittens, it’s easy to see how important spaying and neutering becomes in the quest to reduce the unwanted pet population.
“We try to educate people on how to handle the problem,” she explained. All the cats that are adopted through Purr Partners are spayed or neutered.
Cats can make wonderful pets, Johnson said, and they surely have different personalities. Some cats are lovable, stay-in-your-lap kind of pets, while others are aloof and shun interaction with their humans. “I find them endlessly fascinating,” she said.
But Purr Partners works hard to match cat personalities with what prospective adopters are looking for to ensure that the cats find forever homes.
“We don’t adopt kittens under six months into single-cat households,” she said. “If you want a kitten, you need to get two.” Kittens need another cat to teach them manners and for socialization, she said. “There’s a reason kittens are born into litters.”