In a West Virginia community hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, Alley Cat Allies’ emergency funding is helping local Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program, Inc., live up to its name while navigating a desert in veterinary care and other critical resources for community cats.
“I was so grateful to [Becky Robinson] and Alley Cat Allies because that funding made all the difference for the cats,” says Kandi Habeb, president and founder of Save a Kitty, a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) organization based in the city of Parkersburg.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our movement to protect all cats has taken on heavy lifting to meet an outpouring of new need. In communities including Parkersburg—and a wide radius around it—job loss and setbacks caused by COVID-19 cut off much access to basic services for cats, including spay and neuter and even cat food.
Through our emergency funding, Alley Cat Allies is giving Save a Kitty—and many more organizations dedicated to saving cats’ lives—the means to reach out a helping hand when it is needed most.
For cats like Oreo, a Parkersburg community cat, that meant receiving surgery and treatment she may never have gotten otherwise.
Save a Kitty has worked nonstop before and during the pandemic to provide for community cats, who were killed by the hundreds in the local animal shelter until the organization stepped up with TNR in 2004. For many caregivers in Parkersburg and beyond, Save a Kitty is the only option they have to get their cats the care they need.
But an organization, however tenacious, can only do so much to help its community clear the hurdles of the COVID-19 crisis when it also needs support of its own. And as hardship grew, Save a Kitty’s donations dried up—and so did many of its usual avenues for spay and neuter surgery.
“The local low-cost clinic has a waiting list after shutting down for months, and shelter animals are first. A veterinarian who usually works with us at a reduced price had to reprioritize,” explains Habeb. “And, two of our scheduled mobile spay and neuter clinics were canceled. It was a big setback.”
During the pandemic, Alley Cat Allies isn’t letting cats or the resources they need to thrive fall through the cracks. When Save a Kitty reached out to us for help, we immediately responded with the funding for a spay and neuter clinic in a mobile unit this fall. Our grant also helped to purchase cat food, which is increasingly hard to come by for many local caregivers.
“I would have had to cancel that spay and neuter clinic without [Alley Cat Allies’] funding because we just didn’t have the money for it,” Habeb says. “I’m more grateful than I can say, and so are the folks who had this opportunity. They just can’t afford to do this on their own for their cats right now.”
Oreo and dozens of other community cats—Stormy, Remmington, Kit Kat, Jazzy, Ember, and many more—finally received the care they needed at the clinic. Each cat was spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped—and their homecoming was being reunited with their colony and habitat.
“We have a little 28-cat community in our neighborhood,” says Paula H., a local caregiver who brought cats Finn and Tiger to the clinic. “Without clinics like this, we would still be having kittens.”
Habeb says Paula’s colony has grown by half this year. She suspects it’s due to growing abandonment caused by the challenges of the pandemic.
As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, Alley Cat Allies is committed to providing for the needs of cats in communities like Parkersburg. Through crisis-time guidance and emergency funding for cat food, veterinary care, and other vital resources for cats and kittens, we will continue to save lives. Please keep watching our page at alleycat.org/Coronavirus for updates and information.