The SPCA’s New SHADOW CAT Initiative

February 10, 2022
By: Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth

UPDATE 4/21/22: The adoption fee for all Shadow Cats, regardless of age, has been waived! This includes the adoption of Shadow Cats from either the SPCA shelter or a foster home! Wondering if an adoptable kitty has been designated as a Shadow Cat? Check out adoptable animal photos here >>  and click on individual listings of our cute cats to read their descriptions and find out if they are Shadow Cats!

******************

The SPCA Serving Erie County is proud to roll out a new initiative that shines the spotlight on a unique population of animals in our care.   Effective immediately, the SPCA’s Shadow Cat effort will work to meet shy or fearful cats where they are behaviorally to assist them in navigating the journey to becoming adoptable pets living out the rest of their lives in long-term homes. 

Fear is common and a perfectly normal, innate, and adaptive behavior in all animals. However, if fear isn’t addressed appropriately, it can develop into serious behavioral and health problems and result in deterioration. Our goal with Shadow Cats is to be proactive in managing a cat’s fearfulness or shyness should a cat surrendered to the SPCA present those behaviors while in the shelter.

Transitions and big changes are hard for many cats, even ones who are not identified as fearful. In preparing to introduce a cat into the home regardless of their confidence level, it is very important to set the cat up for a successful experience by making some small, but important adjustments.  The intent of Shadow Cats is to offer a home environment, in the form of a foster home setting, to allow the cat to gain confidence, relax, and build trust.  These cats may wind up being the best friend that was missing in that particular home, and we always consider that a foster “win” rather than the traditional term “foster fail.” Even if the stay is temporary, the effects of a loving and welcoming home environment will be permanent. 

Introduction to a new home can be very challenging for a fearful cat. Fearful cats usually do best in relatively quiet homes or quiet areas of the home. Many fearful cats slowly become more confident as they get used to their living space and daily routine. The Foster Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County will assist new and experienced foster parents with whatever they may need to help  Shadow Cats acclimate to their homes.  Time, patience, love, and food are some of the ingredients that will help a Shadow Cat step into the light a little bit at a time. 

It is a special experience to build a relationship and bond with a fearful cat, and it is deeply rewarding. The journey may be long, but patience is a true gift to a nervous cat in need.  Just like people, cats can have vastly different personalities.  Some of these Shadow Cats may blossom into lap cats, while others may remain the quiet roommate that is grateful for love, attention (from a distance) and a safe place to call home.  Whatever the end result, we are grateful to have the opportunity to showcase these special cats in an effort to save more lives. 

Do you have room in your life for a Shadow Cat? Find out how you can get involved right here >>

 

Fun photos from this fabulous event >>

We have one word to describe March 25, 2022’s adoption event at Northtown Subaru in Amherst: SUBARUNBELIEVABLE!

The team at Northtown Automotive Companies & Northtown Subaru went full speed ahead, and brought along the Buffalo Sabres, to hold an exciting adoption event for our SPCA!

Plenty of our animals found new love, and $28,680 was donated through Subaru’s recent “Share the Love” campaign! Sabres fans were able to have their photos taken with former players Rob Ray and Pat Kaleta along with sassy Sabretooth, and adopters received a pair of tickets to an upcoming game!

On behalf of the SPCA’s staff, volunteers, and animals, thousands of tail wags go out to our friends at Northtown!

See the photo album filled with pics of the fun at bit.ly/NorthtownAdoptionEvent, or just click one of the images below!

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer

Email MelanieR@yourspca.org for information or to register for the virtual session, or click on the image below for details on the SPCA’s Foster Care Department:

SHADOW CATS

Help a cat see the light! Become a member of the SPCA’s Foster Care team and bring home a “Shadow Cat!” And now, you can ADOPT a Shadow Cat for a waived adoption fee! Shadow Cats:
-Are quiet, polite roommates
-Are low-key
-Are not attention-seekers
-Keep to themselves
-Are perfect for those with busy lifestyles
-Only require food, a litter box, and plenty of hiding spots! 
NEW! Are available for adoption from either a foster home or the SPCA’s West Seneca shelter for a waived adoption fee! Read about this exciting update here! >>

Shadow Cat foster parents will foster cats in the home a minimum of two weeks; length of stay depends on each cat’s individual needs. As with all foster companions, the SPCA provides food, supplies, veterinary care, and guidance.

You can read more about the SPCA’s Shadow Cat Program here. If you’d like to help a Shadow Cat see the light, please contact the SPCA’s Foster Care Department at (716) 875-7360, ext. 216, or FosterCare@yourspca.org

Learn About the SPCA’s Foster Care Program >>

 

SPCA ISSUES WINTER PET SAFETY TIPS

January 17, 2022
By: Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

As Buffalonians, we knew that snow, wind, and frigid temps would arrive. This year is different from other years, however, in that it’s a little more complicated to receive emergency veterinary care, as veterinary clinics (including the low-cost Lipsey Veterinary Clinic at the SPCA) strive to comply with COVID-related guidelines.  Plan ahead for the upcoming freezing days and nights now to ensure your pets stay safe and healthy today and throughout the winter months. Read on for some of the SPCA Serving Erie County’s winter pet safety tips.

*OUTDOOR ANIMAL SHELTER MUST BE SUITABLE FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER: …and if it’s not, animal welfare officers can rescue the pet even before he or she shows signs of suffering, thanks to New York State’s Shelter Law that went into effect in 2003. Thanks to a legislative push in late 2018 that led to stronger laws concerning the tethering of dogs within Buffalo city limits, the SPCA and other law enforcement organizations can now take even more steps to ensure dogs are protected from the elements.

* Keep a Tight Leash:
Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Pets can lose their scent on snow and ice, especially if snow is falling at a fast rate, and your pet can easily lose his sense of direction. Pets may also panic during a snowstorm and run away; many pets are lost during the winter months. Remember to keep current identification on your pet at all times!

*Keep Pets At Home: Never leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your pet could literally freeze to death.

*Always Dry Pet’s Wet Feet: Thoroughly wipe off your pet’s legs and stomach when she comes in and out of the rain, snow or ice. Check her sensitive foot pads, which may be bleeding from snow or ice encrusted in them. Your pet may also pick up salt and other chemicals on her feet accidentally. These chemicals could hurt her if she swallows them while licking her feet.

*Lay Straw for Dogs’ Visits Outdoors: Can’t get your dog to wear booties? Lay straw on top of snow for trips outdoors by dogs reluctant to step out onto a freezing surface to relieve themselves.

*Check Cars for Cats: During the winter, stray or neglected cats outdoors sometimes sleep under the hood of the car where it’s warm and comfortable. If you start the motor, cats could get caught in or flung about by the fan belt, causing serious injury or death. To prevent this, bang loudly on the hood and sides of your car before turning on the ignition to give the cat a chance to escape.

*Keep Outdoor ‘Sessions’ Short: Take your dog outside only for as long as it takes for him to relieve himself. Dogs, particularly small, short-haired breeds like Chihuahuas and terriers, suffer from the cold despite their seemingly warm fur coats. Live within Buffalo city limits? Don’t forget Buffalo’s new laws pertaining to tethering dogs in inclement weather..

*Bathe Pets Only When Necessary: Your pet runs the chance of catching a cold when wet, especially in cold weather. If you absolutely must bathe your pet, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian.

*Keep Pets Warm: Limit the clipping of your pet’s hair in the cold winter months, keeping your pet as warm as possible. Brush your pet daily in lieu of clipping to keep your pet’s coat healthy, shiny, clean and mat-free. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep far away from outside drafts.

*Hungry Pets: Speak to your veterinarian about increasing your pet’s supply of food, particularly protein, to keep his fur thick and healthy through the winter months. Inquire about vitamin and oil supplements.

*ANTIFREEZE IS POISON TO PETS: ANTIFREEZE, EVEN IN SMALL DOSES, IS A LETHAL POISON FOR DOGS AND CATS! Because of its sweet taste, animals are attracted to it. Be sure to clean up spills thoroughly, and consider switching to an animal-friendly antifreeze. Ensure that, if you store Antifreeze in a garage, shed, or other places accessible to your pets, it is well out of pets’ reach.

If your pet becomes lost, be sure to visit YourSPCA.org’s Lost and Found page for recommendations on where to post lost pet listings, and tips for finding your lost pets.

For more tips regarding keeping pets safe and healthy during the winter, contact your veterinarian or the SPCA at 716-875-7360.

 

 

NO BONES ABOUT IT…KEEP PETS SAFE THIS THANKSGIVING

November 18, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Yes, Thanksgiving 2020 & 2021 have looked  very different than in years past. No matter how small the celebrations, however, many people are still planning on preparing holiday meals, and those delicious smells are enough to drive any four-legged critter into a food frenzy.  The SPCA Serving Erie County has issued these holiday reminders to keep your pets safe, slim, and trim:

HUNGRY PETS: Too many holiday treats won’t only pack the pounds on us…they’ll pack them on our pets. Many pets are on standard, limited diets; feeding them large quantities of food they don’t normally receive could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, none of which are welcome during this festive holiday…or at any other time, for that matter. Use discretion. Turkey bones are also dangerous for pets. A brittle, spiky bone could cause irritation of the stomach or intestines, or could lodge in your pet’s esophagus.
NOTE: Dogs eating foods to which they’re not accustomed may experience BLOAT, a life-threatening condition. Dogs experiencing bloat may have difficulty breathing, may appear weak and/or depressed, may attempt to vomit but cannot, and/or may appear to be extremely uncomfortable for no apparent reason. If your pet exhibits signs of bloat, bring him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Speak with your veterinarian for more information on this condition.

NO BREAD FOR BARNEY:  Think twice before leaving that homemade bread dough atop the oven to rise. According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, when bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during the rising process, the dough expands. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, disorientation and depression.

PEANUT BUTTER WARNING: Using peanut butter as a holiday treat for your pet? Remember to check the label! Xylitol is a sugar substitute now added to some peanut butters, along with other foods and candies. It’s safe for most humans, but deadly to pets, even in small quantities!  Be sure to check labels for Xylitol or other ingredients that could be dangerous for your pet. It’s also a bad idea to give any animal caffeine-laced peanut butter or other foods; serious health problems could ensue.


GARBAGE PICKERS?
  Some animals patiently wait for the chance to pick through the garbage when you’re not around. Aluminum foils with juices, plastic wraps with frostings, even tasty strings from tying turkeys…well, the temptation can just be too much for your deprived pets. Keep your garbage bags away from where pets can chew through them to get to the goods. Ingestion of these items can be life-threatening.

SWEET TEMPTATIONS: CHOCOLATE CAN BE FATAL TO PETS!  Chocolate contains a substance called Theobromine, a compound very similar to caffeine in structure. Theobromine can be toxic to dogs and cats in small quantities, causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, rapid and irregular heartbeats, muscle tremors, coma, even death. Keep chocolate safely away from all animals.

POTPOURRI PROBLEMS:  Of course we want our homes to smell nice when guests arrive…but be mindful that liquid and other types of potpourri, especially sprinkled into rugs, along with many scented essential candles and oils are toxic to dogs, cats, even birds and other animals.

With changes to the veterinary industry, seeking timely medical care for your pet, especially on a holiday, can prove itself to be problematic. Pet owners are advised to take every preventative measure possible to eliminate the chance of animals requiring emergency veterinary care.

SPCA Treats Pet Owners to Tricks for Keeping Pets Safe This Halloween

October 18, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

WITH A FEW EXTRA PRECAUTIONS, PETS CAN HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN TOO!

Halloween is meant to be fun for children of all ages, but according to the SPCA Serving Erie County, pets often experience the dark side of Halloween fun.  With extra precautions, seasonal problems can often be avoided:

-HUNGRY PETS:  CHOCOLATE CAN BE FATAL TO YOUR PET!  Please share this tip with children, who may be tempted to share their Halloween take with their best four-footed friends! The sweet smell of Halloween chocolate and other candy left by a door pleases pets, as do cookies and cakes served at Halloween parties. Sweets can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or worse.  Purchase Halloween treats made specifically for pets and keep the “people” treats away from where pets can reach them.


-PETS AS VICTIMS:
 
 Halloween is traditionally known for trick-or-treaters…and pranksters.  KEEP ALL PETS INSIDE on Halloween night, and the nights immediately preceding and following October 31.  This will prevent them from being stolen, teased, kicked, blinded by flashlights or abused in other ways.

-NERVOUS/TERRITORIAL PETS:  Constant door-knocking or doorbell-ringing may cause an extremely nervous pet to shake or tremble uncontrollably, or have an “accident” in the house.  Territorial pets may become aggressive at the sound of unfamiliar visitors.  Keep nervous or territorial pets distracted in another room with the door closed.

-CURIOUS PETS:  Keep pets away from costume-making areas, where sequins or buttons can be swallowed.  Scissors used for cutting patterns, or knives used for carving jack o’lanterns, can harm your pet.  Also remember to keep pets away from a candle-illuminated jack o’lantern.  Halloween has become a popular season for decorations as well.  Keep decorations out of your pet’s reach, or securely attached in place to prevent your pet from pulling the decorations down.  Swallowing a decorative object may cause intestinal problems and present a potential emergency.

-KEEP CURRENT ID ON PETS: Exuberant or nervous pets may bolt out doors opened for trick-or-treat candy handouts. Ensure they are wearing proper identification (even if they are microchipped) in case they become lost. Collars are available for purchase at the SPCA Petique, located at the 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter, and other pet supply shops. If you lose or find a pet, visit the SPCA’s Lost & Found page for tips on what to do next.

Contact the SPCA Serving Erie County with any questions or concerns: 716-875-7360.

SPCA’s ‘Name Your Own Price’ October Adoption Special >>

October’s Subaru Loves Pets Campaign at Northtown Will Benefit Animals at the SPCA Serving Erie County

September 29, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Northtown Subaru in Amherst is celebrating Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month this October in a different way…in about 3,100 different ways, to be exact! Plus, they’re letting the cats join in the celebration.

For every dog or cat adopted at the SPCA Serving Erie County this October, Northtown Subaru will donate  $100 to the SPCA as part of the Subaru Loves Pets campaign! The donation will be made for up to 31 animals, one for each day of the month!

Subaru is a long-standing partner of a national animal cruelty prevention society, and since 2008 has helped to support more than 1500 adoption events that helped approximately 57,000 animal nationwide.

This year, Northtown Subaru, located at 3930 Sheridan Dr. in Amherst, will keep Subaru’s donation local, and by donating to the SPCA Serving Erie County, Northtown Subaru will be assisting homeless animals right here in our community.

“Northtown Subaru is excited to add the October Adopt-A-Thon program to our annual sponsorship efforts along with the Subaru Share the Love program to support the Erie County SPCA,” said, Thomas Riggs, general sales manager of Northtown Subaru. “We’re fortunate in Western New York to have such a worthy organization.”

“Partnering with the Northtown Subaru team is always an absolute pleasure and we are so grateful for their continued commitment in helping the animals in our community,” says SPCA Annual Giving Manager Phillip Weiss. “This promotion will not only help more animals get adopted but it will also earn more funds to help the animals who are in need of medical attention, food, shelter, and comfort when they have nowhere else to turn. Northtown Subaru is a true friend of animals and the SPCA Serving Erie County!”

To see available dogs and cats at the SPCA Serving Erie County, visit YourSPCA.org/adoptable-animals. Appointments to visit and adopt dogs every day, and cats on Saturdays only, are still required and can be made by calling 716-875-7360, ext. 207.

Check out the SPCA’s Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth’s Subaru, prepped for her move to New York State last year! Melanie says, “My trusty Outback got me, 4 cats, one dog, and houseplants from WA to NY during a pandemic!” Another reason we’re thrilled to be the beneficiaries of this Northtown Subaru campaign!

 

 

Please click on the image below for more information on the SPCA’s Guest Services Coordinator job opening:

Take This Job and Love It:
Great Benefits Program with Perks for
Blue Collar Working Cats

June 21, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca



They’re a little too temperamental to be considered perfect, in-home, companion cats. Some are even feral. What’s to be done about these categories of cats when agencies like the SPCA Serving Erie County receive them as surrendered animals, or as part of an animal hoarding situation or other type of animal rescue or cruelty case?

For more than a decade, East Aurora-based Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. (FCF) has provided an answer for this agency and other cat welfare organizations in the state. Historically called other names such as the Adopt-A-Barn-Cat program and the Adopt-A-Working-Cat program, the Blue Collar Working Cats program now encompasses more of the varied establishments that have taken advantage of the loyal presence of these hard-working cats!

One of the founders of FCF, Edie Offhaus, says, “These are cats of various temperaments. In some cases, they are not exactly feral, but they’re unsocial. This program is a beautiful adoption alternative for these types of cats who have nowhere else to go.”

According to Offhaus, Blue Collar Working Cats have been placed in various New York State establishments including wineries, warehouses, nurseries and greenhouses, barns and stables, and more. “We place cats in all parts of Western New York, and assist agencies all over New York State, even some in the New York City area,” Offhaus states. When an organization representative calls to inquire about receiving Blue Collar Working Cats to live on the property, Offhaus says, “We conduct a thorough interview to ensure proper placement, since not all of these cats will thrive in all of these settings. We also ensure there are enough people who will take full responsibility for the care and feeding of these cats throughout their lifetime.”

Once an establishment is deemed a proper setting for specific Blue Collar Working Cats, a representative of FCF brings a minimum of two cats (some larger establishments have four or more Blue Collar Working Cats), already spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, and vaccinated by veterinarians at Operation PETS: the Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY, Inc. for “grounding” purposes. Cats are placed in extra-large dog crates at their “new home” (when a separate, closed-off room is not available) for a three-week period, which allows them time to adapt to the different people, sights, sounds, smells, and, possibly, other animals that collectively comprise the new setting.  Most importantly, they begin to recognize the voices of those who will be providing the majority of care.

“Feral Cat FOCUS provides the crates and other equipment during the three-week grounding period,” Offhaus says. “After that, as with any adoption, all care is the responsibility of the new owners.” Offhaus also remarks that, in all the years of managing this program, FCF has had very few cats that didn’t respond to the new surroundings. “Now that the quality of life has increased for the animals and they’re more content, some of them become even more social and enjoy being present around people for longer periods of time.”

To date, more than 600 establishments house a minimum of two Blue Collar Working Cats. The purpose? “Rodent control, plain and simple,” Offhaus says. “Sometimes the mere presence of Blue Collar Working Cats is enough to keep rodents away from perceived food sources or food and beverage storage areas.”

FCF is unable to accept surrenders of cats from private owners who believe their cats may not be living a high quality of life indoors, yet feel guilty about keeping them outdoors or giving them up. “What we do,” explains Offhaus, “is walk those pet owners through how to set up a Blue Collar Working Cats program right at home. We remove the misplaced guilt they may feel over not keeping a cat indoors. Not every cat can life a high-quality life indoors. So we help these people establish a Blue Collar Working Cats program right where they are; we walk them through all the steps and assist as much as possible in their imitation of our program.”

The SPCA Serving Erie County is honored to be one of the organizations with which FCF works in its Blue Collar Working Cats program. Several hundred cats who were not viable adoption candidates found new lives through FCF and this program, and the SPCA is indebted and eternally grateful to the team at FCF for dedicating so many of their resources to these special cats with high work ethics.

Organization representatives who believe Blue Collar Working Cats might be a welcome addition to their establishments are encouraged to call FCF at 1-888-902-9717 or visit the FCF website to learn more about adopting a working cat team.

Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. is an all-volunteer organization with 501(c)(3) status. Donations are welcomed and encouraged. Make a gift or learn more >>

Get Email Updates