Gifford Cat Shelter responded to the USDA’s recent abrupt decision to purge from its website inspection reports on thousands of commercial dog breeding operators (puppy mills), Tennessee walking horse show participants, roadside zoos, animal research labs, and other facilities regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).
Gifford joined the MSPCA, the HSUS, and other animal organizations throughout Massachusetts in demanding restoration of the records.
After an outpouring of anger and expressions of mistrust about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s abrupt decision to delete from its website inspection reports on some 9,000 licensed and registered facilities that use animals — including commercial dog breeding operators, roadside zoos, animal research labs, and other operations regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act, such as Tennessee walking horse show participants — the USDA reposted a batch of documents.
At the Gifford Cat Shelter, we believe that the USDA’s reposting some annual reports and inspection data on animal research facilities is a step in the right direction toward transparency and upholding law. However, still missing are years of materials required to be posted as part of the agency’s 2009 settlement with The Humane Society of the United States, as well as additional materials and inspection reports for many research laboratories that use animals, puppy mills, zoos, horse soring scofflaws, and others whose activities are the subject of enforcement records related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The restoration of the rest of the data has been demanded by Gifford Cat Shelter and many other animal welfare organizations, industry groups and regulated businesses, transparency proponents and a bipartisan group of more than 100 Members of Congress.
If the thought of transporting your cat causes you to break out in a cold sweat, you are not alone! But we can retrain your cat to tolerate the stress of travel. Here are some tips:
- Leave the carrier, with the top detached, in a room where you spend most of your time
- Line the inside with a towel and spray it with Feliway
- Use treats: place a treat near, but not too near the carrier, and gradually move it closer until you can successfully get your cat to eat the treat in the carrier
- When the cat is comfortable going in and out of the carrier, put the door back on, but leave it in the open position, and continue leaving treats/small meals in the carrier.
Traveling with your cat? Contact Rachel for help at 617-787-8872 and select menu option 5.
By Rachel Geller, cat behavior counselor
Anyone who has checked out the adoptable cats online prior to coming into Gifford would assuredly have noticed Scarlet. Scarlet has unique markings and is simply a beautiful cat. However, anyone who clicked on her information would have then realized she would require a special-type of adopter. Scarlet was a member of Gifford’s Feline Charm School – a program for exceptionally shy cats. After learning about Scarlet’s special needs, most adopters would be deterred and look for a cat who was already used to human companionship. For Selena, though, Scarlet became the perfect match.
As a longtime cat lover, Selena has not been without at least one cat over the past eight years, and she prefers to have multiple cats to keep each other company. When Selena stumbled upon Gifford through an Internet search, she already had one cat at home, Crema. Crema is now ten years old, blind, and going deaf, but Selena ensurs Crema enjoys himself evertheless. Crema was going blind when Selena adopted him, and Selena knew he would require extra work and medical care over the years. That did not deter her at all. On the contrary, Selena prefers to adopt cats who are senior and/or have behavioral issues. These are the cats she knows need homes the most.
After seeing Scarlet online, Selena came to Gifford as an approved adopter to meet her. Scarlet seemed to know that Selena would give her a wonderful forever home and approached Selena less than thirty minutes after meeting her. It was clear that this was a match meant to be, and Scarlet went home that day with Selena.
Selena had another shy cat with a similar background in the past, and it took that cat eight years to really come out of her shell. Selena was not daunted by the prospect of experiencing that again. Scarlet had other ideas in mind though, and within days of being home started to sleep on Selena’s bed. She loves exploring her new home, making several circuits of the house per day, and looking out the window from a nice perch in Selena’s home.
Scarlet and Crema were slowly introduced, with Scarlet staying in the bedroom for the first few days. Selena would feed them both on opposite sides of the door so they would associate each other with positive things. They get along well already, and have in fact had another cat, Tazzy introduced into their life. Tazzy is a young cat, already in her third home, and has made a lively addition to the relaxed ways of Scarlet and Crema.
Selena spends between one and two hours each day working with Scarlet. This time can include feedings, including spoon feeding, playing, or just sitting on the couch together. Scarlet now spends her days chasing the laser pointer, playing with fishing rod toys, and wrapped in blankets on the couch. This is a long way from her former life. She is still scared sometimes, but Selena continues to use the techniques used at the Gifford Charm School and sees small improvements all the time. Scarlet has already come further than Selena could have hoped for in this short amount of time!
Selena firmly believes that the reward is much greater when you have to work with a cat to build a special relationship. She loves seeing every little step Scarlet takes, and she knows that no matter how small it may seem, each step is huge for Scarlet. Each cat Selena has brought into her life she has done so knowing that the outgoing, cuddly cats will find homes, but the shy, sick, or senior cats will have a hard time finding a forever home. In this regard, Gifford was a perfect match for Selena.
Selena appreciated the way that Gifford is set up for the shy cats. Being out of the main area gives them the security they need to feel safe while also giving them opportunities to work with volunteers to acclimate to life with people. From step one of the process, submitting an application, Selena could tell that the people at Gifford genuinely cared about Scarlet, and all the cats, and puts so much effort into the cats before sending them home. She knew Scarlet, and all Gifford cats, have a better chance at success in their forever home as a result of that effort.
Board Vice President Dr. Rachel Geller has been an invaluable resource in helping Selena help Scarlet adjust. She appreciates that Gifford provides resources to their adopters to help the cats succeed. Taking a chance on a shy cat has been rewarding for Selena already, and if she had more space at home, she knows she would come back to Gifford and give another shy cat a chance at a fulfilling forever home.
From shy cats to former feral cats, Gifford’s Feline Charm School is full of loveable cats just like Scarlet looking for a kind and patient forever home. Selena knows firsthand now
how much effort Gifford puts into these cats to give them a chance, and that anyone who will take that leap of faith with a shy cat will not have to do so alone, as Gifford will continue to provide guidance and support along the way.
By Sarah Eckert
My name is Joseph and I am in the 7th grade. I have been coming to Dr. Rachel Geller for tutoring since kindergarten. One day when I came to tutoring, Rachel had the kitty cams on her computer. This is when I first started learning about cats. I learned from the kitty cams that cats like to play, and I saw how they ran around. I started watching the kitty cams every day, and following Gifford on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I started to learn their names. I saw on the kitty cams that cats like to party all night long! That’s really true!
The first cat I got to know was Moo. I used to ask Rachel every time I came to tutoring if Moo got adopted yet. I thought she was such a cute cat and was sad that it took a long time for Moo to find her home. I was sad when Rachel would tell me Moo had not been adopted yet. When I found out she was adopted, I was so happy for her!
The next cats I learned about were the NY hoarding situation cats. I saw them on the kitty cams, too. I remember Terry, Bagherra and Baloo. Terry would always want to play and head butt, and Bagherra was more mellow. Baloo liked to eat treats. I also saw Moonpie on the kitty cams. Moonpie was the biggest cat I ever saw! On the kitty cam, I always saw Moonpie because he towered over the other cats. Moonpie was a big cat and really cute, so I was happy when he got adopted. Adam is another cat I see on the kitty cam. He is black and white and very cute. He has been at Gifford for a long time. I hope he gets adopted soon.
The kitty cam is a really great tool to get connected to cats. I got to know the cats and Gifford because of the kitty cams. I want a cat now, but my dad is allergic, but someday when I am on my own, I want to adopt a cat from Gifford.
By Joseph T.
COME MEET (AND ADOPT) YOUR TRUE LOVE!
VALENTINE’S ADOPTION EVENT
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11
Looking to find true love?
This Valentine’s Day, give your love and your home to a cat.
We have many wonderful cats who are waiting to meet their families and move into their permanent homes. In addition — we are discounting adoption fees for the event.
If you are interested in adoption, please fill out an adoption application as soon as possible. You will be contacted by a Gifford adoption counselor to discuss your specific situation and needs.
We take pride in knowing our cats very well, so we can advise you on which cats would be good in a quiet home, which ones are active & playful, which ones would love to join a family with children….
Fill out an adoption application HERE
Check out our adoptable cats HERE
Only approved applicants will be able to take home a cat that day — so please submit an application at least 5 days prior to the event. Due to an expected high volume of applications, you need to submit your application in time to be approved.
Our adoption counselors will be working diligently to get all applicants screened prior to event date.
It is also advised to come to the event with a sturdy cat carrier.
Please join us on Saturday, February 11 from 1-4pm at the shelter.
And please share this message with anyone who would like to welcome a new feline friend into their home this Valentine’s Day.
The Gifford Shelter Benefit Wines are back! Order some delicious wine and help your favorite cat shelter while they are available.
OFFER DETAILS: Pay a flat rate $10 to ship your wines to the Gifford Cat Shelter for local pickup. Eligible orders received BEFORE February 7 will be available to pick up at the shelter starting February 10th anytime between 11am and 4pm (till 7:30pm on Thursdays) For questions about picking up your order at the shelter, please contact the shelter directly.
Order Your Wine HERE.
The mission of Gifford Cat Shelter is to provide a safe haven for abandoned, stray, abused, neglected, unwanted and injured cats with the goal of re-homing and ending the needless killing of community and and companion cats. Founded in 1884 through a collaboration between philanthropist Ellen M. Gifford and prominent Bostonian Nathan Appleton, the Ellen M. Gifford Sheltering Home originally housed all animals and was the first no-kill cageless animal shelter in the United States. We are proud to be known as a pioneer for the animal welfare movement and trusted voice for cats for over 130 years.
1. Avoid poisonous plants
Cats like to chew on grass and plants, but some of them are irritating, dangerous and even deadly to cats. Even non-poisonous plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Keep dangerous plants out of reach or, better yet, don’t have them in the house. If your cat likes green stuff, purchase or grow your own cat grass.
2. Lock up cleaning supplies
Put child-proof latches on your cabinets to keep your cat from licking, chewing, or eating cleaning products. They contain dangerous chemicals. (And if you’d rather not have your cat investigate your pots and pans, you may want to put latches on other cabinets, too.)
3. Be mindful of medicines
Keep all medications, both over-the-counter and prescription (human and animal), in a secure cabinet. Child-proof containers aren’t necessarily chew-proof. Be sure to pick up any dropped pills.
4. Safely stow fragile treasures
Pack away (or find a secure way of displaying) breakable objects. Cats love exploring, and they will jump on tables, cabinets, sideboards, and bookshelves. They may accidentally knock over and break fragile items, then walk or chew on the broken pieces.
5. Unplug your home
Unplug electrical cords when they aren’t in use. If your cat’s a chewer, they could be in for a nasty shock. You can also put cords in a cord protector or coat them with a bad-tasting substance such as hot sauce or a non-toxic spray available at pet supply stores.
6. Tie a knot in cords
Keep drapery and blind cords coiled out of reach. Your cat could strangle themself by getting the cord wound around their neck or choke on a plastic pull that they’ve chewed into pieces.
7. Check the dryer (and other places)
Look inside the dryer before closing the door, and keep it closed when not in use. Cats love to hole up in dark, quiet places, which can be a recipe for a tragedy. Kittens often climb into refrigerators, freezers and dresser drawers, so check these, too, before closing them.
8. Unset the table
Remove tablecloths from tables unless you are about to use them. New kittens who are curious about what’s up there on the table will try to climb the tablecloth. The result could be broken china and crystal—and an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
9. Put a lid on the toilet
Keep the toilet seats down. A kitten could fall in and be unable to get out.
10. Keep disposal switches under cover
Cover garbage disposal switches. Natural climbers, cats usually find their way to the kitchen sink sooner or later. Many have been known to play with electric switches such as the one for a garbage disposal. Special covers are available at hardware stores to help avoid disaster.
11. Secure your screens
Make sure your screen door and window screens have secure, sturdy latches. Don’t run the risk that your cat could slip out unnoticed.
12. Clip those claws
Indoor cats don’t wear down their claws as quickly as outdoors ones do, so they can overgrow. Untrimmed claws can grow into a cat’s paw pads, leading to infection, pain, and difficulty walking and using the litter box. Declawing is in violation of the Gifford Cat Shelter contract. Check your cat’s claws every couple of weeks to see if they need to be clipped.
Reprinted by permission of The Humane Society of the United States.
Cats are like people; each one has his or her own individual personality, mannerisms, likes and dislikes and lovable quirks. Some cats love to be cuddled, snuggled and petted all day long; some prefer shorter petting sessions and others want to be petted only when they say so! Many cats like to be picked up and held, but others do not like or enjoy it. Usually, the reason a cat does not like to be held is because of his/her unique personality and preferences, which does not mean that the cat is not affectionate or loving. In fact, cats can be extremely loving, yet not love to be held. One of the joys of adopting a cat is learning to appreciate and love the cat as he or she is!
Sometimes, your cat’s life before s/he came to you may also determine whether or not s/he likes to be held. For example, a cat who was abandoned as a kitten, or one that did not socialize much with humans as a kitten, will be less likely to allow him/herself to be held than a cat who has been snuggled and held in a person’s arms since birth. Likewise, a cat who was abused or neglected may be less inclined to allow him/herself to be held because it is seen as giving up control and a possible escape route, because s/he still has a fear of people. If this is the case, don’t be discouraged! There are ways to teach your cat trust and to bond with you. Gifford has a free cat behavior hotline with Dr. Rachel Geller who is a certified cat behavior counselor, which you can call for assistance, free of charge.
There are some basic steps you can take to reassure your cat when picking him/her up and holding him/her. Always speak to the cat in a soothing, quiet voice. Keep it light, like it’s no big deal. Your cat will pick up on your stress. Let the cat sniff your hand before attempting any closer contact, and start off by petting the cat as the only physical contact. When your cat has become comfortable enough to accept this level of attention on a regular basis, try sitting next to the cat on a chair or couch when s/he is already sleeping or otherwise relaxed, and again speak to your cat in a low, soothing tone, let her sniff your hand, and then pet her. Gradually, work your way up to being able to pick up the cat from his/her sleeping position onto your lap or into your arms, always allowing the cat to escape immediately if s/he starts to meow or squirm. By repeating this ritual slowly and regularly, you will be able to relax the cat enough to pick him/her up. In addition, try to hold the cat for a pleasant purpose-bring him/her to her food bowl, give her a really yummy,special treat while holding her. The more the cat associates being picked up and held with something good, the more s/he may allow you to hold him from time to time. With cats, it’s all about forming positive associations.
But remember, it is the cat who will decide whether or not s/he will tolerate being picked up and held. Do not worry too much if your cat never gets comfortable with being picked up. Do not let it get it affect your relationship with your cat. Your cat will show you love and affection in his/her own special way.
By Dr. Rachel S. Geller, Ed.D.