As we welcome in the new year, we look back on 2015 with gratitude for everyone who helped Happy Cats Haven thrive!
In 2014 we saved a cat a day in the Pikes Peak Region. In 2015, we found forever families for even more: 457! With another 35 cats and kittens in foster care, we gave safe haven to nearly 500 cats and kittens in 2015…and passed the 1,300 mark for adopted cats since we opened in 2011.
While we rescued over 270 kittens in 2015, most from trying to survive with their courageous moms on the street, we also continued to take in adults from all walks of life, including seniors, special needs and cats with known behavior problems. Most kittens find homes quickly, but our non-kitten adoptions increased 40% from last year to over 180 cats and catolescents. One of our special needs cats, Dizzy, is now something of an web celebrity! We also adopted out 11 black cats and kittens during a Best Friends Black in Black promotion in April and 17 black cats and kittens in celebration of Black Cat Appreciation Day in August. These cats are the most at risk in conventional shelters, so we are very proud we can find them forever families.
Happy Cats continues to be the feline-friendly alternative to rushed, noisy cat adoptions. Our kind volunteers are the heart of the compassionate care our cats receive, based on the Five Freedoms and our own Guiding Principles. In 2015, our volunteers increased by 46%, including all our dedicated foster families who help us rescue more cats and kittens every year. Because of their gentle care and commitment, over 87% of our donations goes directly to the costs of feeding, housing and caring for our kitties. There are no Happy Cats without happy volunteers!
As always, our medical costs increased along with our kitties, but only by 9% compared to our 18% increase in cats. We had many major dentals, Daisy’s broken leg, Boggle’s hooked jaw, Jerry’s echocardiogram, and sweet Noel’s broken jaw and harness that had grown into her sides, probably since late kittenhood. We’re very thankful for our supporters on Facebook as well as at events like the musical tribute to our late friend Marsha Miller, our party at Burrowing Owl and Sky Heartsong’s event, Every Cat Tells a Story, which helped us raise most of the money for these outstanding medical costs.
Three of our most outgoing cats, a young adult named Tyger and two catolescents named Marsh and Mallow, were filmed in a commercial for the Colorado Lottery. Their acting fee raised enough to pay for one of our dentals, cats helping cats at Happy Cats!
We also added several veterinary practices to partner with us for our Vet Voucher Program. Their well-kitty exams start our cats and kittens off on the right paw, giving them the best chance of staying healthy their whole lives. We thank them all for their support!
We work hard to tell the region about our wonderful kitties. Our website traffic increased 25%, averaging over 560 hits per day. We grew our Facebook friends by 30%, with over 2,300 followers. Our Twitter tweets increased over 20% and our Pinterest pins were up 16%. We continued to use our media contacts to get out the word about our kitties, including the Independent, the Gazette, the Pikes Peak Bulletin and the Cheyenne-Woodmen Edition.
We are most grateful to our friend Rory Wagner of the Monument Petsmart, who donates the Authority and Good Natured brands of cat and kitten food that we use and recommend, as well as to St Paws Thrift Store for their donations through Rescue Bank. We also received food donations through Walmart, Chuck & Dons, Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique, All Breed Rescue, Whole Foods and National Mill Dog Rescue. Liberty High School and Girl Scout Natalia donated beds to keep the kitties warm and happy.
We partnered with Healthy Companions Preventive Pet Care and Gigi’s Animal Gift Shop for an online Kitten Shower which jumpstarted our foster program in the Spring. They provided milk replacer, bottles, heating discs and scales to support our foster families as they helped our kittens grow into happy, social cats.
We promoted Happy Cats at the Manitou Springs Wine Festival, the Colorado Springs Pet Expo and HSPPR’s Pawtoberfest and once again qualified for Indy Give!, a partnership with the Colorado Springs Independent and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. Our signature Indy Give! event, the ACATemy Awards in November, drew over 100 people, entertaining them with award winners from our cat video contest, as well as with a fabulous silent auction and desserts and drinks sponsored by Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique and Pikes Peak Chocolate. We also partnered with Safe Place for Pets for a Trivia Night at the Manitou Brewing Company, with 9 teams competing (and laughing!) for kitty swag.
We raised over $33,000 during the Indy Give campaign and are very grateful to all our generous supporters, especially to our Matching Donors: Arthur L. Borgersen, Betsy & Chris Miller, Cyndi Brown, Gigi’s – The Animal Lovers’ Giftshop, the Happy Cats Board, Effie & Rhue & Picabo’s guardian, Kimberly & Jim Sisneros, Pamela Fickes-Miller and Sarah F. Roach.
Our new Guardian Angel program premiered during Colorado Gives Day in December. These are supporters who care about taking Happy Cats into the future, sustaining us with recurring donations for basic operating costs. With that and our new direct mail newsletter, we now have a host of 24 Angels who have pledged to keep us going.
We also got grants St Paws Thrift Store as one of their Paw Pack partners, as well as from the Lucille Drinkwater Allen Foundation. We used that donation and money raised from a Fall yard sale to purchase a new fourplex kitten condo to replace our old cages. Right now, we’re using it for adults and catolescents but in a couple of months, this will help us keep our babies as healthy as possible during their stay with us while giving them room to be kittens.
Our small but mighty retail area was honed and polished to focus on providing what our cats most need: cat-tested products that help them and their guardians live happily together. Over 100 scratching posts and trees were made by friend Michael of Feline Furnishings, tailored to the needs of our cats and kittens. We are especially proud of giving our kittens a solid start in scratching appropriately to keep them as nature intended, with toes and claws intact. We also unveiled new t-shirt and hoodie designs that give our friends and supporters a fun way to show off their Happy Cats pride!
In 2015, with the help of our generous donors, we added some new faces with Shelter Manager Arri Tomke, Office Manager Laura Barbee, our Colony Cleaners Chelsea DeCesare and Megan Varney and our Volunteer Coordinator Jordan Kasparek, bringing us up to not quite 3 full-time employees. Both Arri and Megan have Veterinary Assistant certification, so our medical expertise has increased. That’s over 160 adoptions per full-time position, a remarkable achievement in a world of high administrative costs. Our highly trained staff is very committed to not only our mission but to helping our volunteers keep our kitties mentally and physically healthy.
We continued to use our consultation from the wonderful, late Dr. Nicole Putney when she was at HSPPR to refine our hygiene protocols, including carving out a tiny room from our small office for severe quarantine issues like ringworm. We are proud to say we got to use it as another colony, with not a single case of ringworm in the haven in 2015. Of the three kittens we suspected, only one tested positive and all were contained and treated in foster care. Our dedicated volunteers kept improving their sanitizing and cleaning protocols, so our Happy Cats stayed much healthier in 2015.
Happy Cats continues to provide resources for all cats…and their people!…in the community. We held classes on a near-monthly basis for Kitty Kindergarten, Click with Your Cat, Eat-Play-Love Cat Enrichment and for our volunteers, Shy Cat Handling and Adoption Counseling. We continue to help the public by fielding 20-30 calls a week from people with cat behavior problems. Our goal is to help keep cats in their homes with basic advice and assistance from Happy Cats friend and behavior consultant Melissa Shandley for the complicated cases.
While Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) isn’t our mission, helping lower the population of our community cats helps us to meet it by preventing the senseless deaths of thousands of sick, scared and homeless felines. In 2015, we continued to help people outside the narrow focus of the Humane Society’s TNR Program by funding spays and neuters for over 150 cats and kittens. Over $4,500 came in from both a grant from Best Friends Animal Society as one of their Network Partners, as well as from other generous community donations like those from Happy Cats friend Vickie Smith. At Happy Cats, TNR is TNRC for Community, as we don’t only fix these cats to go back outside, but help our community with support for the people who care for them. This includes volunteer time training for trapping, instructions for how to make safe kitty housing and distributing donations of food and litter to those most in need.
2015 at a glance:
- Number of cats & kittens who found their forever homes in 2015: 458, including –
164 adults, catolescents & special needs
- Total number of cats & kittens who found refuge here in 2015: 493
- Number of volunteers who care for our cats & kittens: 109
- Average number of cats adopted for every fulltime staff position: 166
- Portion of funding that goes directly to the cats, thanks to our volunteers: 87%
- Number of followup emails and phone calls we made in 2015: 1,300+
- Number of community cats spayed or neutered by Happy Cats in 2015: 150+
- Number of needless cat deaths prevented: hundreds of thousands
- Approximate number of cats & kittens who were turned away in 2015: 800-1,000
- Number of website visitors in 2015: 205,000+
- Total veterinary costs for our cats & kittens in 2015: $43,600+
- Cost for food & litter for a cat per month: $11
- Cost for a FeLV/FIV virus test per cat: $25
- Average cost for a spay or neuter: $45