A group of Tri-State people are rescuers — not of humans, but of cats.
Purr-Fection Animal Rescue and Shelter of Galena is a no-kill shelter with foster parents in Platteville, East Dubuque, and Galena willing to take in what are described as cats that no one wants.
This spring Purr-Fection was alerted to an overpopulated colony of cats. Even though it wasn’t their neighborhood, they intervened. Several cats were living in sheds and vacant buildings, eating what they could rummage. A local bar owner offered to support the initial care of the cats if Purr-Fection could catch them. After the shelter rounded up most of the colony, the bar owner rescinded the financial assistance.
Despite that, Purr-Fection put compassion above all and took in eight female adults, all pregnant, and four male cats. The females gave birth to 42 kittens. The budget for the current 24 residents was all spoken for; this drastic addition tapped into those funds. Several of their current cats up for adoption are tough to place because they need quiet, patient owners who understand how animals from extreme abuse and neglect feel. Doubling the shelter in a matter of weeks has been stressful.
Despite that financial setback, with the help of several foster homes, the mothers and their babies all have safe, warm homes.
Nancy Collins of Platteville is an experienced foster parent for cats.
“I can’t just look the other way and think ‘somebody should help that poor starving cat,’” she said. “I am somebody and I can make a difference. Thankfully as a foster I have the financial and moral support of an experienced licensed shelter.”
Jessica Brogley, also of Platteville, alleviated some of the hardship by becoming a foster parent in May.
“Five years from now I won’t remember the few dollars I’ve spent, but my children will know we did what was right,” she said.
“The plan with these cats and kittens, as with all the felines we care for, is to find them loving permanent homes,” said Judith Darnell, one of the shelter’s founders. “We keep them until that happens. No one runs out of time.”
Purr-Fection was started about seven years ago with a single litter of six kittens. Founder Wendy Holman had a coworker relay a story of how he witnessed a coyote attack a mother cat and her kittens. Wendy saved six of the nine kittens and Purr-Fection Animal Rescue was born.
Since then Purr-Fection has been busy saving the cats no one wants and offering feline companionship for people in need.
Cats are not in individual cages. Cats are free to roam in an air conditioned shelter complete with a screened-in patio, or “catio,” as Purr-fection calls it.
All cats receive the necessary testing, shots, and medical care. There is no set adoption fee for the adults, and kittens only require a downpayment that’s returned when the animals are neutered.
Even though everyone involved has jobs and other obligations, they still make the cats a priority. A garage sale was held in Galena this summer that raised more than $1,600.
A few weeks ago, Darnell, Collins and her daughter, Tess, ran 18 kittens to a Petco adoption event in Rockford. Both Collins and Brogley have converted part of their garages into foster spaces and have given hours of time to make sure the kittens would survive.
Neither gas nor time is reimbursed, but it is not about the money.
“A lot of these cats and kittens would not have survived had we not stepped in,” said Darnell. “Most of the trapping was done when the weather was awful — very cold, rainy, and even some snow. One cat, Regina, was living in a storm sewer. Her six kittens would likely have washed away in one of those torrential downpours.”
“As a kid, my family housed the animal shelter for the county I grew up in,” said Brogley. “In college I worked for a big one in Northeast Wisconsin. When I moved down here, it just seemed like what I should do.”
Purr-Fection Animal Rescue and Shelter is on Facebook, and is at www.petfinder.com/shelters/IL764.html. Purr-Fection has many cats and kittens looking for forever homes.
Purr-Fection is looking for qualified foster families and people looking to donate time, supplies or money.
“If we could have one dream come true,” said Darnell, “It would be that we are put out of business because what we do is no longer necessary.”