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articles

Days in the Life of a Cat Rescuer

Date: Oct 9, 2011

Days in the Life of a Cat Rescuer

CRAFT stepped up to help the cats and kittens of the region when no one else would. These brief stories are representative of what our volunteers did; there is a story behind every one of the almost 10,000 cats and kittens CRAFT helped for nine challenging years. 

The stories show the basic location of the rescue and the amount of donation CRAFT received at the time.

  • CashmereSisters - No $, but a nice letter to the editor in the Sisters Nugget newspaper.
    A cat, thin and matted, was living under the dumpster at a vacant Sisters restaurant. She had probably been fed by staff there; was obviously abandoned and depending on them. Tourists called, concerned about her condition and the cold weather. "Cashmere" was brought back to health and adopted.
  • Bend, SE - No $.
    On the same Saturday night, two calls via law enforcement. One, an old cat that appeared to be dying. He had wandered away from his home. The owner was located and the cat returned.  The other was an injured cat, thin and starving because he could not eat. He was lying in the wet grass in the yard. The callers would not do anything for him, nor would the police officer who finally showed up and officially handed the cat off to the volunteer. The cat had been hit in the face with a bat or other hard object. CRAFT had a vet try to repair his jaw, but she had to euthanize the cat because he was too far gone. CRAFT tried to get compensated for part of the vet bill by the city, but were told there were no funds for this kind of thing, even though the officer would have certainly have had to spend his time taking the cat to the emergency vet to be euthanized.
  • TeddyLa Pine - No $.
    911 called at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. Said a man heard kittens crying underneath his trailer and if someone did not come get them, he would shut them up by shooting them. Two CRAFT volunteers went there, miles southwest of La Pine, and retrieved three week-old kittens that went into foster care. One volunteer went back several times to trap the mom cat and others that were at risk, a total of 12 over two months' time, until the man said he did not want to be bothered anymore and to get off of his property.
  • Bend, rural NE - $15 donation from the caller.
    Call from a woman who had seen a man with hunting dogs and a rifle with a domestic cat treed on BLM land. She called law enforcement but by then all they found was the cat's body, shot and torn up by the dogs. He had been using the cat to train his dogs how to hunt cougars. CRAFT volunteers went with the woman to dig up the body she buried to see if it had an ID chip (and an owner). It was a neutered male that had been in good health, and was probably was someone's pet that fell into the wrong hands. The Deputy said it was illegal and cruel, but without a vehicle license number, he could do nothing.
  • Bend, NE - No $.
    Call regarding a cat trapped in an apartment building storage unit. Volunteers put small amounts food and water through a vent so the cat would not die until management and the police could decide what to do. Management would not open the unit because they could not find the renter. The police said if anyone tried to get the cat out, they would be arrested for breaking and entering. Management never could find the renter. Finally the maintenance man made a small hole in the wall between this unit and another vacant one, allowing the cat to climb out.  He then closed it up and we promised to keep the location vague, since he feared being fired. This was an apparently abandoned tame cat. Two volunteers spent most of the weekend on this one. We found out from the Oregon Humane Society that laws exist whereby the police could have entered the unit, but obviously they did not know this. "Mister" was treated and eventually adopted.
  • Redmond, Canal St. - No $.
    Call from someone who said a cat had been hit by a car and the shelters would not respond, and said the police told her that unless the cat was dead and impeding the flow of traffic, neither would they. The people got CRAFT's number from the police but waited hours to call and did not want to touch the cat, who laid there suffering all that time. The volunteer found the cat in the gutter but he died while being lifted into her car. There was a vet clinic nearby where they probably would have at least put this poor cat out of its misery at no cost had someone cared enough.
  • BearBend, SW - No $.
    CRAFT helped a cat that needed entropian (eye) surgery after living with the painful condition for months. The owners said they could not afford this care, and decided to surrender him. Per the animal eye specialist, the shelter that had adopted the cat to the people did this surgery at some point, but improperly. The people were told by shelter staff that if the cat came back, they would euthanize him. "Bear" was adopted out after his eyes healed.
  • ChloeLa Pine - No $, but got a diet soda to go.
    An elderly man got CRAFT's number from law enforcement. It was a holiday (Labor Day). He could hear kittens crying in the attic of his shop building, and was worried because it was so hot up there. He said he was physically unable to go up the stairs, so the volunteer did and dug five small kittens out of the insulation, and cornered and netted the mom cat. When the volunteer eventually came down the steps, covered in sweat and insulation, the man's adult children were setting up for their planned bar-b-q and having a beer.
  • Bend, Awbrey - No $.
    Call regarding a cat stuck or refusing to come out from underneath a porch. Referred to CRAFT by shelter staff.  A volunteer crawled in to get him. He was a lost cat and we were able to reunite him with his family.
  • PennySisters - No $.
    Late on a Sunday night, 911 called about a visitor who had found a cat and kittens and did not know what to do with them. Answering the call of nature, he had stopped behind some bushes on his way over the pass. He noticed a couple of taped-up boxes and one of them moved. Inside one was a mom cat, and four kittens were in the other. It was well below freezing and they would not have survived the night. A CRAFT volunteer went out to meet him.
  • Bend, Deschutes River Woods - $700 thanks to the Sheriff's Office. The State would pay nothing.
    Referral from State Dept. of Human Services and the Sheriff's Office. The DHS called because they were considering taking children away from their client because she had so many cats and conditions were bad. The shelters would not respond, but the woman would not cooperate with them anyway because they are not no-kill and don't do 'house calls'. CRAFT worked with the woman to begin placing some of her cats. A Deputy called when the woman moved out, worried about the neighbors shooting the cats. Over a month's time, volunteers rescued all 36 cats and kittens, except a few kittens that were found dead from exposure. The cats were treated and eventually placed in new homes.
  • Bend, Deschutes River Woods - No $.
    Caller referred to CRAFT by law enforcement. Someone left cats in a small travel trailer. Volunteers responded at night, in a snow storm, using flashlights, and rounded up 23 cats, three of which were crippled. One cat died; all others were adopted.
  • Bend, Empire Ave - No $.
    Shelter told the people to call CRAFT about an injured cat that no one would help. "Dude" had been out in the world too long with injuries and no food or water, and could not be saved.
  • LoganBend, NE - $50 from the woman who found him.
    Woman called regarding a cat found along 27th St. near Mt. View High. He had been hit and dragged by a car, and most of the flesh from the back of his body was peeled off and his leg was damaged. She took him to the emergency clinic, but they had just closed. Bend Veterinary Specialists was then open (same office) but said they did not do 'Good Samaritan work' and for her to wait until HSCO opened later in the day. They did not even look at him. A client there told her to call CRAFT. "Logan" was treated, although our vet was sure he would die, and said to make him comfortable overnight. It took weeks of treatment from volunteers, but three months later Logan is healthy, happy and loved in his new home, although he has a permanent limp.
  • MaxCrooked River Ranch, remote - No $.
    Man found a cat and kittens in his boat. Said he would usually just dump them in the woods or shoot them, but his son convinced him to call CRAFT. Turned out to be more than just this group on the property, and the volunteer had to make four trips (at least 40 miles each way) to get them all (22). All of them found homes.
  • Bend, Woodside Ranch - $20 from caller.
    The people had called the shelter but they said they had no room and any new cats would be euthanized. "Gingerman" was a nice cat that the people said the neighbors left behind. He became a 'community cat' (stray), but one day they noticed him having problems walking. CRAFT had him examined by a vet who said he had a heart problem that could have been treated if he had not been a stray for so long. He did not survive.
  • PeanutRedmond, SW - No $.
    Caller said the cat waited on the front porch for his family to come back for him after the moving truck left. They fed him but after a few days realized the family was not coming back. The shelter said they were too full to take cats. He was older and declawed on all four feet. He has been adopted out to someone who cares.
     
  • CimarronTumalo - No $.
    The man said he saw the cat trying to get past his dogs to the pond for water. The shelter would not come out so CRAFT was called. Cimarron had obviously been a pet but was abandoned. He is older and blind. He now lives with a volunteer.
  • Bend, 3rd Street near Wilson - No $.
    Woman called late at night, said law enforcement gave her the CRAFT number. She found a cat limping across 3rd Street. Nice abandoned cat; and the vet said he had an old, improperly treated injury. "Oreo" has been adopted.
  • Redmond, downtown area - No $.
    Caller got CRAFT's number from the shelter there, since they don't pick up cats. Sweeney, an abandoned pet, had to have part of his injured tail removed. He has since been adopted.
  • Bend, downtown - No $.
    Caller given CRAFT's number by a vet. "Parker" was a tiny kitten with an injured eye who wandered into a yard sale. No one claimed him. He was treated by the animal eye specialist but infection had set in, affecting his brain, and he later died.
  • Terrebonne - No $.
    Employees at a restaurant in Terrebonne got CRAFT's number from law enforcement. A mom cat and five kittens were living underneath the deck and the owner wanted them gone. Employees were also worried about them getting run over on Highway 97. All found homes.
  • Bend - No $.
    Elderly man got CRAFT's number from the police. Said there were cats underneath his home causing damage. Volunteer tried trapping but it turned out to be raccoons. Got them out and relocated, and had him arrange for the vents to be closed up.
  • Madras - No $.
    911 got a call that small kittens were found in a dumpster at a mobile home park. The caller would not even get them out. A volunteer retrieved the kittens, which were very small and went into foster care as 'bottle babies'. This was the year of the dumpster kittens as well, with CRAFT getting some out of a Taco Bell dumpster and an apartment building dumpster.
  • GrantLong Creek/John Day - No $.
    Woman from John Day brought in a Siamese cat who appeared to have been shot. Was matted and covered with filth and flies. She said no one would touch him or treat him. Volunteers bathed him and flushed out his injury, which was full of maggots. "Grant", an older cat with just one remaining tooth, had surgery the next morning. He has since recovered and has a new home. 
  • Bend - No $.
    "Vera" wandered into a home, thin and sick. The people put her in their bathtub until they got CRAFT's number from a vet. Vera had been on the streets, abandoned, far too long, and the vet could not save her.
  • AbigailBend, off Olney - No $.
    "Abigail" and four other kittens were picked up after a woman called, saying the mom cat had been killed by a car. The lady could not drive and had no money, and no means to care for the orphans. They went into a foster home, except Abigail who had a ruptured eye that the vet said had to be removed immediately even though she was only one pound. She did not survive.
  • AbbyMadras - No $.
    The woman called to say kids were playing catch with tiny kittens and she was afraid to say anything to the parents. A volunteer went there and convinced the people to release the kittens, but one had hit the ground too many times and died. The volunteers have since trapped and removed over 25 unwanted or abandoned cats and kittens from this mobile home park.
  • Christmas Valley - $40 donation.
    The people said they had camped out overnight off the highway, and when they got up, there was a tiny kitten huddled in the remains of their campfire, trying to stay warm. There was not a house around for many miles, and the people could find no other kittens or a mom cat. "Ashes" had been out on her own for too long and only lived a few days.
  • Prineville, east, forest service land - $20 donation.
    The people saw a kitten off the side of the road in the middle of the national forest. They stopped and found an entire litter. They could not have been there long or they would not have survived. CRAFT arranged to pick them up.
  • South of Sunriver - No $.
    A woman was leaving her home after it was lost to foreclosure, and wanted help catching and placing her 20 cats. By the time the volunteer finished trapping, she had gotten 62. Many looked alike and the woman had no idea. Most were sick and feral. All were placed in appropriate homes, except two that died.
  • Madras - No $.
    The tiny kitten was found in the middle of a field, eating cow manure to survive. He was about 6 weeks old but weighed only 8 ounces and had severe upper respiratory problems. He survived, but may always have vision problems because of the infection and his hard start in life.
  • Madras - No $.
    A mom cat and her litter were found abandoned outside of town. One of the kittens was missing an eye. Her eye socket was properly closed, and after they were all heathy, they were adopted.
  • Redmond, rural - No $.
    The woman said she tried to get the shelter to help but they would not come out to trap or take any cats. She said she had no choice but to poison them because she could no longer feed them all.  She had already started doing this.  When the volunteer got there, she saw several cats having seizures or falling down that could not be saved. The volunteer trapped and removed the rest of them, over 20. Most were not tame, but were eventually placed at farms and shops where they are appreciated for rodent control.
  • ParchesiCrooked River Ranch - $20 donation.
    Woman called, said she got CRAFT's number from a vet. She had no cats of her own but had nine kittens in her garage in an attempt to save them. Her neighbor had a 'thing' against cats and had been poisoning all the ones he could, and lining their bodies up along his property line. She was afraid to report him because he was 'weird' and she thought he would try to get even.  All were adopted.
  • Culver - No $.
    The residents died and the family swept in to take everything, but left behind the six very scared indoor pet cats. The neighbor peeked in the windows and saw them. They had no food and only a toilet for water, and it had been days since they were left behind. He called law enforcement but they did not respond, so he found a way in and then called CRAFT. All of the cats have been adopted.
  • Redmond, NW - No $.
    Residents of an apartment complex heard a cat crying inside a vacant unit. Management would not respond on the weekend, so one of the residents broke a window. Inside were an almost-dead mom cat and her dead litter of kittens. Mom was brought back to health and adopted.
  • DakotaBend, NW - No $.
    A woman brought in two older kittens that her nephew had before he left town in a hurry. She said he was an animal abuser and a potential Ted Bundy. One of the cats had a spiral fracture of his leg, probably due to being twisted, which had to be amputated. Both cats eventually became less fearful of people and have a great new home together.
  • Redmond, near the high school - No $.
    The woman said a cat was coming around the mobile home park that 'walked funny', always with another cat. The volunteers caught both, which had obviously been pets at some point. We learned that the one cat walked funny and accompanied the other because he was blind. Both got homes.

This was just the 'rescue' side of CRAFT. There was still the foster and adoption parts, handled by volunteers (some of whom who were also 'rescuers') who donated a lot of their time and energy taking care of the cats in the sanctuary and in foster homes; provided medical care to those that needed it; and others who handled adoptions to make sure the cats and kittens get appropriate new homes.


This was done with no government subsidies, no paid staff, relying on donations from the public and whatever grants could be obtained. It was a constant struggle considering most veterinarians won't donate or discount their services towards the medical care most of these animals need; and little advertising, food or litter was donated. Basic vet care at intake, including spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming, ID chip, etc. cost at least $75 per ca. Other vet costs for injuries, illness, dental care, etc. added much more to this expense.

And then there was the cost of food, litter, advertising and daily maintenance, which was considerable since the cats and kittens were safe with CRAFT until the right homes were found. This could have taken a week, a month, a year or longer; or in some cases senior or special needs cats ended up with CRAFT for the rest of their natural lives.

CRAFT's board and volunteers felt every cat's life is important, and that all of these cats, regardless of age, condition, personality, color or behavior, deserved a chance, even though it this is not an opinion shared by most shelters. Killing is cheap. Helping these cats was not, but it was the right thing to do.

Ironically, for the past two years CRAFT was finally operating with a little funding left over each year.  But the idea of having to spend thousands on a land use application, with no guarantee of success, was not something CRAFT could afford, and a different location could not be found. 

The volunteers try not to dwell on the fate of cats and kittens that are no longer being helped. Some of them still try to help those they can, but when the funds on account with cooperating vets is gone, most of this work cannot continue.