Sis & Silver: Saved from the Brink
Updated: Jan 27
We rarely have extra room in the shelter. In fact, we often have a waiting list. But last summer, in July, we had space for a couple of new cats.
It was time to find those cats! So on Thursday, July 28th, we were off to save a few lives. We only had room for two. The most desperate animals are those in shelters that euthanize, so that's where Lesley, our shelter manager, headed.
RappCats is an absolutely no-kill shelter. We never euthanize unless a cat has an untreatable condition that is causing pain and suffering. It's never happened in the handful of years I've been volunteering.
But too many American shelters still routinely euthanize. The good news: over half of U.S. shelters are now no-kill compared to just 22.5% only 5 years ago. Obviously that means almost half of shelters still euthanize.
Nationally, shelters save 83% of their animals. More good news: that's a huge reduction in the past 5 years. Some states are doing a better job than others: Texas, California, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama account for 50% of dogs and cats killed!
Here in Virginia, we have room to improve. Our save rate is almost 85%. (Private shelters do better than public ones.) But we're not considered a "no-kill" state: we'd need to achieve a save rate of over 90% in every Virginia shelter for that designation. As of 2020, only 60% of Virginia shelters were no-kill.
Cats fare worse than dogs. In 2020, 84% of shelter deaths were cats, most of them outdoor community cats in communities with few or no trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs.
What can we do to change this?
Inform folks. Some people are shocked that euthanasia still happens.
Don't just blame shelters. There's not enough space for all the animals. Until there are fewer shelter animals than adoptions and available space, we'll have euthanasia.
Educate folks. Let them know not spaying or neutering (especially of barn or community cats) has deadly consequences. The result isn't just more kittens, but more cats and kittens killed.
Spread the word: "Adopt, Don't Shop"! Shelter cats are great; usually more resilient health-wise (no inbred health vulnerabilities), and are often the most affectionate, grateful companions you could ask for.
Support spay/neuter programs and shelters. Whether you have time to volunteer, skills to share, or funds to give, it all matters and it all makes a difference!
It didn't take long for Lesley to find two wonderful cats. They were each scheduled for euthanasia in a mere 3 hours!
We brought them back to RappCats instead.
I'd like to introduce you to Sis and Silver...
Lesley knew that a gray cat with the popular looks of a Russian Blue would be a relatively easy cat to find a home for. We adore all our cats and we fall in love with their personalities more than their looks. But we have the advantage of getting to know each cat really well. So we can see that the toothless wonder really is a wonder, or that underneath that frightened, dirty mat of fur is a potential love-bug lap cat!
Silver was calm, friendly, and gorgeous. And indeed, we had inquiries about him within a few weeks.
Even during his time in an intake cage, Silver was relaxed.
As much as we don't want to think it, Silver is a reminder that euthanasia isn't selective. Often the only criteria for euthanasia is how long a cat has been at a shelter. Animals aren't necessarily chosen based on health, age, or "attractiveness". Silver was only 2 years old, was strikingly handsome, and in excellent health.
Even before his intake period was up, Silver had a special visitor!
We list our cats on our website plus national databases (like PetFinders). Many adopters come from our own county, but others travel an hour or more to this "special little shelter without cages" that they've heard about. They know that cage-free shelters are less stressful for cats and provide an environment where volunteers really get to know each personality. RappCats can better predict a cat's behavior once adopted than shelters who've only seen cats in a cage.
Silver's adopter was the perfect match! Alexandra (Alex) happily drove from the DC area to meet the cat she'd fallen in love with. When we have out of town adopters, we do whatever we can to make the adoption happen in just one trip. We have phone and FaceTime conversations to get to know each other, and we send lots of photos and videos. When the shelter internet cooperates, we can live-stream and let them see cats in real time action.
So when Alex and her roommate visited RappCats, we knew they'd be going home with Silver. And sure enough, it took one look and the deal was sealed. Silver was comfortable, and his new mom was swooning over our handsome boy!
RappCats believes that "once you adopt from us, we're here for you forever". We're always available to answer questions and help with any challenges at any point in the cat's life. Many of our adopters keep in touch for years, sending great photos and videos.
Here's Silver at home. Alex says they had company the evening of his adoption, and she worried Silver would be overwhelmed. Instead, as they were sitting at the table, he jumped up onto the remaining chair and joined them!
Alex even went one better than photos! She's a talented artist and cartoonist and she couldn't resist drawing Silver. Within days, she sent delightful artwork (we hope she never stops). We can feel the love she has for her boy in how well she captures his features and personality.
Sis was the other cat Lesley saved last July. Sis was different from Silver in a lot of ways. She'd been housed in a small cage for months. She was traumatized. She hissed and growled. She didn't look healthy; she was skinny and missing fur on her back legs. She wasn't especially easy to handle (ok, we wore gloves and were afraid of her at first). And she was "just" an ordinary tabby (we love tabbies!)
But there was something about Sis.
She has the biggest, brightest eyes.
She holds eye contact longer than any cat we know.
She might be part human.
We adore Sis.
...You can see Sis's amazing progression in these short videos...
At first, Sis was "food insecure". She had to be on constant guard, thinking she could be attacked or her food could be stolen from her. She did a good job of warning us!
Sis was afraid but stood her ground. Some cats are amazingly brave. Sis was one of those. With consistent but paced interaction, she started trusting us.
Sis discovers catnip!
Sis decides to approach us for touch! Way to go Sis!
Sis puts her full body against us for the first time! Big step! In this video, you can see how stress has caused her to lose fur on the inside of her back legs.
These days, Sis is a different cat! She rooms with Dwight, Matilda, and Pixie.
She gets along fine with people and her roomies.
She adores attention, likes to be held, and loves to give us licks on our hand.
She's ready for a home! (Could it be yours?)
I hope you enjoyed this month's blog, even though it highlighted the disturbing topic of euthanasia. I hope Sis and Silver were effective "spokes-cats" and perhaps helped you become more aware of the realities of kill shelters, and the steps we can take to end them.
I also hope they inspired you to never discount an animal's potential for change, including recovery from trauma. We're big believers in the power of a safe environment, time, and consistent love and care.
We're grateful to have the opportunity to provide an absolutely no-kill, cage free shelter just for cats. We're fortunate here in Rappahannock County. We thank you for your support.
Fact: we simply could not do it without you.
Meow for now! Kitty kisses!
RappCats relies entirely on private donations
from animal lovers like you. If you'd like to contribute to Sis's or our other cats' shelter, medical, and care expenses, please consider a donation. We can't do what we do without your support.
Please send this blog to your friends & family, and post it on social media so others will understand our work, and can choose to support RappCats.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Donations in the form of checks and money orders are also accepted and can be sent to:
RappCats P.O. Box 307 Washington, VA 22747
We have a supply "Wish List" on Chewy's website.
Click on their logo below if you'd like to see what we currently need.