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 >>
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 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 >>
Lucia, Safe and Sound After Two Years Straying the Streets
December 29, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
UPDATE 1/14/2021: Yesterday was a big day for Lucia! She was adopted and went home to West Seneca with Katherine! Be a good girl, Lucia!
Sure, it takes a village to see some things through. But sometimes it takes an entire city. And this particular cat brought to the SPCA yesterday needed the City of Good Neighbors to help her see things straight!
Here is Lucia’s story, as told to us by our Director of Admissions Amy Jaworski and Admissions Counselor Tammi Cogswell:
Approximately two years ago, a calico kitty was admitted to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter (CBAS). While there, as part of the excellent care provided by CBAS, the kitty had eye removal surgery and was placed in foster care for several weeks before being ready for adoption. She was named Lucia, and, when her rehab was complete, Lucia was placed up for adoption at PetSmart in Buffalo.
Lucia was adopted quickly…but moments after her adoption, while the adopter was walking to her car to bring Lucia home, Lucia fell through the bottom of the cat carrier and was gone. Devoted CBAS volunteers, including SPCA employee Tammi Cogswell, searched for this cat, and in these two years, right up until this week, continued to put food out for her (courtesy of dedicated CBAS volunteer Mary, who made the search for Lucia a regular part of her life for two years!) in the hopes of capturing her, but with no success.
Several months ago, a woman named Susan came to the SPCA to surrender her mother’s cat, and Tammi, working at our Admissions Desk, asked Susan the general questions asked upon intake: how Susan’s mom acquired the cat, how long she owned the cat, etc. The conversation turned to stray cats when Susan responded that her mother’s cat had been a stray; Susan offhandedly mentioned that there was another stray cat who had been in the area a few years, a cat with beautiful colors and ONE EYE!
Tammi, acting as the ever-vigilant animal advocate that she is, asked Susan if this stray cat was in the vicinity of the PetSmart location in the city. The answer was a resounding “Yes,” the cat took up residence on Buffalo’s Rebecca Drive, and Susan promised to send Tammi photos of the cat next time the kitty came around.
Over the last few months, Tammi sent messages to Susan asking about the cat, but Susan was never able to grab another photo. Earlier this month, Susan contacted Tammi asking to borrow a live trap in an effort to safely capture and contain this one-eyed beauty.
We learned this cat had captured many hearts during her 2+-year stay in the neighborhood, and while the entire community came together to help care for her, Lucia had touched the life of one man in particular named Stephen, who was a primary caretaker (he even built a house for her, complete with a heated floor mat). Stephen had become very attached to this little girl and named her “Manechan” (Stephen later said he named this feisty cat Manechan after a feisty, Thai princess…so her full name, Stephen told us, is Lucia Manechan!).
Susan shared with Stephen the possible story behind this stray and put him in touch with Tammi at the SPCA.
Jump ahead to this week…the one-eyed stray Stephen and others in the neighborhood had been caring for was finally safely secured with no trap needed, and arrangements were made for Susan to bring the kitty to the SPCA to be scanned for a microchip.
The big scan happened yesterday, and it was finally confirmed: the beautiful, one-eyed stray is, in fact, Lucia! There were plenty of tears of joy at the SPCA and CBAS over this exciting news! Thanks to Stephen, Susan, and the other amazing, caring community members in the neighborhood unable to keep Lucia, yet dedicated to looking out for her wellbeing, Lucia is alive, safe, and unharmed more than two years after her escape!
Today, Lucia is, understandably, a little stressed, and we’re giving her time to relax and unwind after her adventures. At the time of this writing, SPCA representatives have contacted CBAS representatives to determine what happens next in little Lucia’s story!
The compassionate teams at the CBAS and SPCA, combined with a Buffalo neighborhood full of caring individuals including Stephen and Susan, exemplify an entire community coming together to care for the lives of its animals.
Keep watching this page and YourSPCA.org for updates on Lucia!
January 7, 2020:
And not only this…he loves SPCA dogs too! Thanks, Stephen and Lindsey, for this year’s YourSPCA.org/Hauschpups program! From BuffaloNews.com:
“Hausch Money Returns: Clutch Field Goal Capped Big Finish for Bills Kicker”
For Bills veteran kicker Stephen Hauschka and his wife Lindsey, staying in Buffalo means that they have more time to make an impact. Not only has Hauschka worked tirelessly on perfecting his craft this offseason, he and Lindsey have also worked to find a way to give back to those in the area. Throughout the 2019-20 football season, the Hauschkas are teaming up with the SPCA Serving Erie County to help the good boys and girls at the Western New York center find their forever home through the new “Hauschpups” program. For each field goal that the special teamer makes during games at New Era Field, he and Lindsey will pay the adoption fee for a dog at the center.
A cause that’s near and dear to them, the Hauschkas, who have two dogs of their own, couldn’t think of a better way to make a difference.
“With Lindsey’s involvement in the SPCA, she’s been volunteering there for a little while, and we’ve been involved with [the] Seattle Humane Society too, so it’s kind of a continuation of something that’s true to our hearts,” explained Stephen. “[It’s] a cause that we care a lot about [and] that’s animals. We have two dogs ourselves and love them so much. You know, I think every time Lindsey comes home from the SPCA, walking the dogs there, she just feels bad for some of these dogs that don’t get a home. They have good living conditions there, but it’s not the same as having a loving family to go back to. These are great dogs too and she shows me pictures of them and asks me if we can adopt them.
“With our lifestyle and a bunch of travel, we can’t have more than two, but that’s really where the involvement came from…”
Lindsey, who spends time walking dogs from the SPCA Serving Erie County when she’s in town, has developed a true connection with the caring staff and lovable animals she interacts with. Wanting to expand on her efforts, she drew upon her experiences volunteering to form the idea for “Hauschpups.”
“It kind of dawned on me,” said Lindsey about the program. “It was right around when Steve signed his new contract. I’m like, alright, this is awesome. This seems like a really good opportunity to get involved in the community and also do something that we’re super passionate about, which is helping animals and [to] support the people who work so hard to help the animals at the SPCA.
“Something that kind of stuck with my through volunteering, is that sometimes volunteers will pay the adoption fees themselves just if there’s a dog they really love – if they can’t take them home and that’s awesome,” she said. “Of course, there are other financial responsibilities that come from getting a dog…but if we can help in some way [to] have a family get a dog that maybe they wouldn’t be able to afford that day…[is special because] the dogs come and go really quickly…”