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The Cost Of Helping Ferals/How Do You Do It?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
How do the people on this site afford to take care of these animals they are saving? Is there places out there that will pay for vet visits and stuff or do you have to pay out of your pocket for vet exams, shots, medicines and stuff? I have caught the bug when I rescued this feral cat I have right now and her babies. I really want to help more cats that are out there but we have four kids and I can't be paying tons of money on vet bills and stuff. I hate to sound cheap but it is pretty tough trying to live with one income and that many kids! Unfortunatley we do not qualify for the low/cost spay since we are not low income. Can anybody help me? I really want to start doing more for ferals and homeless cats. Thanks!!!!

post #2 of 36
Hey Becki....I volunteer at a feral cat clinic in Virginia run by Alley Cat Allies...they hold a monthly clinic with volunteer vets. Although they ask for a donation of $15 per cat...they don't require it. We have several individuals who use that clinic every month. Many of them also have appointments at other low cost clinics. I really suggest you do a couple of things...first, contact other feral groups in California to see if they are aware of any in your area. You can also contact the Best Friends Network at (435) 644-2001 ext 123, or e-mail them at bfnetwork@bestfriends.org They have individuals from all over the USA and may be able to connect you in with other feral/stray cat caretakers.

Good Luck and THANK YOU tons for helping cats.

post #3 of 36
Becky, rescuing on your own can be very expensive. We do not have low-cost spay-neuter services in our area, though the State has a program (NJ), not all vets are part of the network, it's a lot of paperwork, and we can afford it so don't want to take advantage. What we've done is work out a payment plan with the vets we work with, so we don't have to pay for everything all at once but spread the costs out over time.

You can contact local pet stores to see about food for cats in a TNR program. You can also directly contact cat food companies.

It's really admirable that you want to help! But with financial constraints because of family, maybe there's a shelter near you where you can volunteer or something? You can also joint the Best Friends Network that Katie provided a link to. There you specify where you live, and you can volunteer to do other things, like trap cats or transport cats. Maybe they can help find or fund spaying/neutering - or have someone in your area who can help financially? And have you searched for other potential low-cost spay/neuter services in your area? You can also just call local area vets, tell them what you want to do, and see if any of them are willing to work with you - either at a reduced rate with a payment plan - or perhaps SpayUSA can help you negotiate with them, helping to subsidize the cost of the spays and neuters?

Just trying to brainstorm here....
post #4 of 36
Oh! I just wanted to add - I totally understand what you're feeling right now! And it's a good "bug" to catch!!!!!!!!!!!!

One thing - if you start putting out food to attract the ferals and strays of the area, be prepared! I really would advise against it if you don't have the financial resources lined up to carry through with trapping and sterilization. Once you start feeding them, it's like hanging out a neon sign - they seem to have some kind of network that spreads around. "Hey - there's a crazy-cat-lady near here, go check it out!" LOL! The one stray we originally helped then turned up a mom with kittens - which led to 28 more cats before we were done. But by then we'd networked locally, and had the vet referring people to us. This year we've already helped rescue and rehome five litters of kittens (so far), and we're TNRing at 3 farms around here. It's a bug that spreads, so you may want to start small.

....but don't forget, it isn't always just food and water and sterilization. We've chosen to test them all for FeLV and FIV (most TNR programs dont' do that because of the cost). We also have them vaccinated. But there are the injured cats that turn up, the ones that need medical attention... and once you "turn on" that neon sign ( ), I'd make sure I'd really thought it through.
post #5 of 36
When we moved here, we bought 5 relocated ferals with us. When we moved into our home there was one pregnant feral who was immediately captured and brought inside. FunnyFace delivered 6 healthy kittens all Manx. I have gone up to 23 the most I have ever had and am now down to 8. I will not let the numbers rise that high again. Laurie is right, if you don't have the means, then don't feed. Instead, tuck a $10.00 bill in an envelope and give it to someone you do know that rescues- or send a check to an organization that helps feral animals.

I get shelter rates for the spays and neuters, and my vet waits patiently to get paid for other larger services. The litter and food bill each month for 8 cats plus three new ferals who recently showed up is a bit daunting. But I just do without things if I have to.
post #6 of 36
Good points LDG and Hissy.

Becki...I live in a condo...so I volunteer at the feral cat clinic and I give a donation every month to help one of the organizations. There is definately more than 1 way to help. I'm a member of the Best Friends Network...I highly recommend it.

post #7 of 36
Don't get me wrong! I certainly don't mean to discourage you! I just want you armed with facts and options. It's hard to stop when you start, it can be very expensive, and feeding without sterilization is worse for you and the cats in the long run and only adds to the homeless problem - and if finances are tight and hubby's not into it, what happens when that herpes-ridden cat shows up and needs surgery to have an eye removed, and needs to be boarded while being given meds for two weeks? (Unless you invest in a cage and are willing to medicate yourself).

I'd encourage anyone to rescue - just to consider doing it within your means, even if it means helping in smaller ways than you want to at first. The hardest part of rescue is knowing your limits.
post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help! I will figure something out. I think I'm going to start with contacting my local humane society to see if I could help out there. That might be a start. I have no problems with the cost of feedings and things they may need but the spaying and neutering will really start adding up! One cat isn't too bad but when you add one plus four of her babies that is getting a bit pricey! Plus all the other feral cats that are out there! But they will be worth it. That is why I thought I would check out a local shelter or something....maybe I can still do the foster care thing but they would pay for the spaying and shots? Not really sure how that goes. I will have to go down there or call them. Thanks for the help!

post #9 of 36
Unless you invest in a cage and are willing to medicate yourself
I read that Laurie and it made me laugh!

Trust me after dealing with intact males fighting at 2:00 a.m. and garbage cans being knocked over- I am ready to "medicate myself!"
post #10 of 36
I simply speutered, vetted and fed them from my own pocket for many years. My vet works with me and gives me greatly reduced rates because of what I do, and sometimes just gives me services for free!

Last summer I linked up with a no-kill shelter group who's president has a strong love for feral cats. Through that group, I am privy to special low cost speutering clinics, and because I have a small feral colony, they often give me food that has been donated to them. I can use one of their 3 vets that charge less than my vet. I have also been privy to grant money allocated to feral speuters, but haven't had the need to use it (yet - no new arrivals since that funding became available). I do a lot of volunteer work for this group in return - mostly fundraising. They are in need for a drop trap right now so I'm going to build them one this weekend. You help them, they help you in return.

My suggestion to you would be to find a group in your area that does similar services. Even if they cannot get you money to help with the cost, they can often refer you to special programs that will help. Groups that TNR are always sooooo happy to find folks that understand TNR and are willing to actively help out with it. Most people we work with are pretty clueless and we have to spend a lot of time and fundraising money to help them. When we do come across the people that either know what they are doing, are willing to learn, and are willing to pay for some of the cost, we bend over backwards to help them. Hit petfinder.com to find local groups by you. Contact them to see if they work with ferals. When you find them, ask how you can help them and ask them to help you.
post #11 of 36
The more connected you are with the "cat welfare" groups in your community, the more resources you will find. There may be a S/N voucher or discount program at a shelter or humane association that you can tap, or they can put you in touch with sympathetic vets that will give you discount service.

I know many friends who just want someone who will accompany them on trapping expeditions. It's not a matter of finance, it's a matter of expertise and moral support. You can contribute those! Shelters may have kittens that need socializing. You might start volunteering somewhere and see what possibilities that opens for you.

How I do it personally is I've been lucky. While in CA I used the Maddy Program for a few years for s/n. When that was over I tapped the shelter where I was volunteering and they paid for the s/n. My being there 3 days a week made them willing to "pay me back" with some s/n. Through my volunteerism I became acquainted with local vets who knew me as a "shelter person" and were willing to cut me breaks on medications and other extras which I paid for out of my own pocket.

As for the food, some stores will donate broken bags of food or near expired food.

Working with a shelter has changed my life. I can't imagine not helping cats, and all my best friends come from the shelter. You'll meet some wonderful people and help a lot of needy animals!
post #12 of 36
Hey Wildgrace...I feel the same way...I love volunteering. The other unique thing is that even if you don't do TNR yourself..when you volunteer at a shelter or rescue, you can educate people about the need for TNR. I've become the "TNR" person for my rescue..any time they get a call or an email from someone with ferals or strays...they refer them to me and I then refer that person to the various organizations in Virginia. Ir's a very win-win situation.

post #13 of 36
Becki, I just found this wonderful resource at Alley Cat Allies last night. It's a listing, state by state, of feral organizations or at least feral friendly orgs. This would be a great start to make contact with any of these in your area.

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks Heidi! There is a place on that list that is about an hour from here that deals with spaying feral cats. I have actually talked to them about my feral mom cat before I actually caught her. They are really nice. I will call them again and see if maybe they can do something. I would like to find someone in my town if possible....I would really hate to stress mom cat out with such a long drive. She is not a happy camper when people are near her so I can only imagine how she is going to be riding in a car!!! Poor baby! We aren't in to much of a hurry since she is still feeding her babies and they are only one week old. I'm going to try calling vets this weekend to see if they have a special rate for spaying a feral cat. Unfortunately we have two vet hospitals in town! So it won't take me long!

post #15 of 36
I have the "bug" too. I help them out of my own pocket since feral friendly orgs are rare here, and they are often strapped for cash. I don't mind, because when you really love the cats, you can't help but give. God pays me back, though. I notice that the more I spend on cats the more money I have for myself. It started with feeding, then neutering, then litter and vitamins and meds and then more cats, but that was when I was able to enjoy things like taxi rides and eating out and buying expensive sports equipment, though my income didn't increase. It stumps me, but the One who made the animals really has an out-of-this-world accounting system!

I just remembered this song right now:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

When people ask me why do I spend for these animals, I tell them that God made them and He loves them and I think I should love them too. God will pay you back, Becki. It might be not on earth, but when you reach heaven these ferals will be waiting for you and they will tell God how you helped them.
post #16 of 36
Mamam...that is wonderful!!! I totally agree with you..giving compassionately to these cats comes back in other ways. So many people go..it's just a cat...and it's a cat that lives outdoors and they are concerned about a return on the investment....but I think anytime you can stop a cat from having to suffer litter after litter, anytime you can stop a cat from spraying and fighting, anytime you can lengthen a cat's life by spaying/neutering, providing it shots and feeding it...you will be blessed.

post #17 of 36
hello i too have taken in mum and 3 babies its not an easy task an expensive task ive just had mum spayed i phoned the cats protection an they sent me two vouchers as i told them she was ferell (wich was very kind of her) as im not on a low income.The babies are off to the shelter this week wich im very sad about but i cant keep 5 cats in my home as i have a cat of my own too also my cat dosent like the babies but at least they will go to loving homes insted of spending thier life in my garden in the rain an cold i find two hiss at me but one is nice to me they have had all sorts of noises presented to them like the hoover, washing machine ,cold air blower etc so i think they will be ok but i love them alot to yes im worried for them too. nicky.
post #18 of 36
Becki, I am lucky because I save up in the 5-6 months I don't have kittens to pay for the months I do. Although I'm on a disability payment, I save hard and usually end up with around $1000, but that usually doesn't cover the whole kitten season. When that happens, there's nothing like a credit card.

I work closely with a vet who will 'accidently' give me double the dose of things I need so that I can medicate either the rest of the litter if they develop the same illness or other kittens, at home. He doesn't charge me for visits and charges me the meds at cost price. I'm now looking at ways of cutting costs for next season without affecting the high standard of care my kittens get. For example, I won't be buying commercial formula, instead using the kitten glop (which many carers and breeders prefer over the commercial ones anyway). I am looking around and will buy the canned kitten food in bulk (around 100 cans at once) as it is often cheaper that way. The kittens go through around 300 cans a season. Same with the dry kitten food.

As the beginning of the season gets closer, I will be writing to the major cat food companies, asking for donations of anything for the kittens, be it canned or dry food, bedding, bowls etc. I find this bit very hard, asking for free or highly reduced cost things, but I keep telling myself it's for the kittens. I always ask for their pamphlets and go on about how I will be sure to give the new owners of the kitten a pamphlet and tell them what wonderful food Company X makes and that they should continue feeding the kitten this food. Sometimes, this is what makes the difference in whether a company will help you out or not.

I visit second-hand shops often and you can get really cheap prices on toys, cloth diapers, boxes and blankets, which I wash thoroughly and cut into several squares, so for around two to four dollars, you get four or six comfy blankets. Sometimes some things take a bit more work but are less expensive than 'ready-made' things.

So it's really about finding as many ways to cut your costs as possible without lowering your standards of care.
post #19 of 36
I started rescuing cats about 17 years ago.
7 years ago I moved with my daughter to a trailer park.
WOW!!! Now there is a problem with feral kitties if I ever saw one!!
The man living next door had many many cats that he just let run.
He did not spay and neuter and every couple of months he would put out a new litter of 4-6 week old kittens. But the last couple of years he lived there I did not see him put out any new kittens but I knew his cats were still producing them. I don't even like to think what he was doing to them
Anyway to make a long story short. Me and my daughter took up the slack. We fed them and tried to help them. We even "kitnapped" a few of them.
After 2 years we have gone from 28 cats and kittens to 8 and it has not been easy. I have a great vet who helps us a lot and I found a feral agency who does all the spay/neuters for FREE. I am truely blessed there. And I thank God every day for all the help we get. Feeding is also rough. We have had to go from feeding Iams to a cheaper food.
I have 2 more females to catch in order to stop the kittens.
I just take it one cat at a time. I figure if I can get one cat spayed or neutered I have accomplished a lot. But my goals go beyond that. I want them ALL spayed and neutered.
My thoughts and prayers are with you as the more cat rescuers out there the better. God Bless You.
post #20 of 36
Most of our funding comes out of the pockets of 2-4 people that we have locally (myself, my girlfriend, one feeder and our foster contact. I participate in some online discussion groups and I've asked for donations before....which is one of the reasons that I take pictures. When people actually see the animals they identify with them much more.

I've been trying to figure out ways to drum up some more money to cover our spay-neuter efforts. I entered Tiki in a photo contest, but she's been in third or fourth place.

I've got some pictures I've done of animals, and I was thinking of creating a photo archive for rescue groups and others (use any photo, but donate when possible). Of course, most rescues need money for their own efforts, so that doesn't work.

The cost of each cat ranges from $40-$70 for the basics and we've done about 22 cats, so that's over $1,000, not counting the cost of traps, food, extra medical bills (Tiki was over $1,000 by herself). Ack!

It's a challenge. I haven't gotten to the point that we can't spay or neuter any more animals, but it's definitely a financial challenge to do so.

One important thing to realize: It's easier for 10 people to contribute 20 dollars than it is for one person to try to do the job by contributing $200. Fund-raising is key.
post #21 of 36
here in australia we seem to behind the times with TNR programs. We just kill them - no questions asked.
I have done some research on this and on another forum I found these messages. The Grampians is a national park area...

Here in the "Grampians" the kill count for Dec03 - Jan04 is fantasic.
75 cats shot and hung on paddock fences (27 had collars on) 245 foxes
The locals were furious that their pet cats were killed outright.
Local council has given support by ignoring Cat Owners' complaints.
The fox bounty pays for ammo.
My policy is "NO TOLERANCE" %^^% cats n' foxes

another message is
A friend and I got a trap from the RSPCA (we paid a deposit which we got back on return of the trap) and got a beauty the first night. None the second, one each night for six nights. All up we got 19 feral cats in 28 nights. Not a bad catch we thought. We took each cat (in cage) to the RSPCA and they put them down.

this makes me really sad and angry
I cant even find any shelters here that are no kill - 8 days they stay then PTS

I understand the effect that feral cats & other animals can have on our native wildlife, flora & fauna - but seriously!!!! this is pathetic!!! 27 of them had collars on!!!!!!

edit - sorry this probably wasnt the forum to post this - but I was reading this post and then started doing research etc etc...
post #22 of 36
Scott, you may just find that Tiki will be running 2nd very soon.
post #23 of 36
Dan, I feel for you. As I said in the other thread, we are so behind in Aus, it's unbelievable.
post #24 of 36
I know you said that in another thread - but I actually didnt believe we were THAT behind... *sigh*
post #25 of 36
Well girl, it's up to us.
post #26 of 36
*sigh* we just dont want to advance it seems - we can be a stubborn lot!!

where do you start - hmmm I will ponder over that question
post #27 of 36
There are some excellent ideas that I plan to implement in this article under the heading of Other helpful hints.
post #28 of 36
Go to the kitchen and take out as many pots, pans, bowls, glasses & cups as you can find. Place them strategically around the kitchen. Put the stopper in the sink drain and turn the faucet on full blast. (Once the faucet is on, you can not turn it off or down.) Now start bailing the water out of the sink. Let me know when you are able to catch up. Each drop of water is a litter. The "FREE" ads are the faucet. The pots, pans, bowls, glasses & cups are all rescue groups, and the sink is the "pound." You are the vessel that is bailing them out.
I think I am sighing alot tonight....
post #29 of 36
Dan, don't be discouraged. We can make a difference.
post #30 of 36
no I arent discouraged - just hmmm whats the right word - frustrated - appalled - annoyed - determined????

I was thinking to myself this afternoon - should I volunteer somewhere for a day or something - should I do this should I do that - so thats why I started researching a whole bunch of stuff - and it really started to hit home.

I have never seen a feral cat where I live - I have no idea who would look after orphaned or abandoned kittens/ cats - I think thats why at times I never thought about it - but lately its just been itching at me so to speak. I want to help - I would LOVE to help - its just so daunting in this country I have discovered today.
But people do it - obviously - just need to work out the right approach. I am in an extremley lucky position that I could help - i could do something - but I want to help the right people

am I babbling?
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