2017 Annual Report
538 Happy Stories
Last summer, a lady called about a cat she was feeding who had showed up in the yard, thin and hungry.
The lady was about to go away for a month and worried for the kitty. With our help, she tried putting food into a carrier. Surprisingly, the kitty walked right in. Within 3 days after coming into Happy Cats, Lilabelle was already blinking at us and making biscuits!
We quickly found her a loving family and now she’s sleeping the deep sleep of a cat who knows she’s finally safe again.
Support for all nine lives
We found forever homes for 538 cats and kittens in 2017, with another 16 returned to their guardians and another 77 in safe haven at year’s end. We completed over 12% of total shelter cat adoptions in the Pikes Peak Region in 2016 and were on track to do the same last year.
Lilabelle is one of 288 adults adopted last year, including seniors and catolescents 5 months and older (per our licensing agency PACFA). With almost 54% of our adoptions adult cats, we stay as committed to rescuing them as we are the easy-to-adopt kittens.
They come from all walks of life: people moving or unable to find housing that allows cats, people who have lost their homes or with allergies or whose cats don’t mix, veterinarian referrals and perfectly wonderful cats like Lilabelle, abandoned on the street.
We also respond to daily calls for help rescuing kittens from the thousands and thousands who are found homeless. Most of these are born from homeless catolescent moms whose owners abandoned them too.
Our foster families work very hard to rehabilitate these traumatized babies. They are very resource-intensive, and we support them with everything they need until they are adopted. They become loving, happy cats breaking the chain of feline homelessness by not adding to the heartbreaking outside cat population in our region.
Save means stay...still!
Cats’ needs for stability don’t always mesh with the constant changes our mobile families put them through.
We have been around long enough to see the toll that can take on even the most adaptable cat. Our returns in 2017 increased 1%, probably from efforts to make sure all adopters know we are their safety net and will take our cats back at any time.
This is usually nobody’s fault...least of all the cat’s. Families have their own challenges and some cats—like our happy kittens raised in loving, Fear Free foster homes--can roll with the changes better than others.
Marcy (fka Mama Bea) is a good example of a cat who had been put through very tough times and just needed the right environment to blossom. You can read her story here.
We take all the time a cat and potential adopter need to carefully craft each adoption, matching them to every member of the family. Each time a cat is adopted, we learn more about their needs and roles within the family. This helps us fine tune their adoption if they need to find another home. We believe the right home for the right cat is out there and we keep trying until we find it.
We are also here to provide support when the cats need it most. Along with assisting many adopters informally each month, we referred 46 cats to our behavior consultant, Melissa Shandley of Play & Treat Pet Services, who helped with 25 Happy Cats as well as 21 cats from community members who called us.
She and Carole Galloway of Colorado Cats Boarding put their decades of experience to work with advice, home assessments and installations to give each Happy Cat the best chance of living out their lives with their new families. It’s not a save until they stay!
Since 2011, we have modeled and taught better ways to live with these often fragile, complex and close-to-the-wild creatures. We continue to support all cat lovers with classes to help more people learn what makes them tick and how to help them survive—and thrive!—with us, as well as our other pets.
We continued our monthly Kitty Kindergarten, Click with Your Cat, Eat-Play-Love Cat Enrichment and Litterbox 101 classes for the public in 2017. We also continued to teach children at the Humane Society’s Camp Whiskers & Wags by providing clicker training classes for cats.
Education has always been central to our mission. Public owner-requested euthanasias in our region have gone down since we started and we are committed to providing educational support to help with that cause.
Keeping cat families together
We continued to keep friends and families together, with 41% of our adoptions going to pairs, triplets and 1 quadruple in 2017! Because cats take care of themselves in the wild without the help of a pack, they can be slow to make friends. A sibling will almost always be the best friend a cat can have, setting them up for life with confidence and flexibility.
Whenever cat friends come to us as adults, we try very hard to find them homes together too. That may mean a longer stay since most people already have more than one cat, but it usually pays off with an easier transition when they have a built-in buddy to help them settle in.
It’s especially gratifying to watch cats make new friends in our comfy colonies, so we do everything we can to place them together too. Our Petco-sponsored Buddy Discount helps us get them home without giving them away, modeling our conviction that cats are a valuable, long-term companionship commitment, not just the equivalent of a curb alert on Craigslist.
Fear Free Handling
The Fear Free Pets movement is based on the fact that stress plays a huge part in the disease and behavior problems of our pets, especially our feline friends.
We have been committed to those values since we opened in 2011. Stress at shelters is proven to make perfectly wonderful house cats so scared they act like they’re feral, dramatically increasing their chances for euthanasia in conventional shelters.
We are now Fear Free Certified, with 4 staff and volunteers having completed the course. More importantly, we are directly applying this knowledge to improve the techniques we pioneered that help ensure cats who come into the Haven are always treated with care and respect.
Happy & healthy
It takes a lot of people to keep this many animals healthy, especially when the shelter environment—even our gentle one!—can be so stressful. We have maintained our high standards for hygiene and pathogen control with the help of skilled staff members who have veterinary training and experience. Their expertise allowed us to do most of our own combo virus testing, fecal and parasite testing this year.
Our Partner Veterinarians helped us with spays and neuters for 91 cats and kittens in 2017, at an average of $60 per surgery. Since we had more kittens than they could keep up with, we also sought help from the Denver Dumb Friends League’s Solutions Clinic, a feline-only clinic funded just for Colorado cats and kittens, saving us almost $8,000 in spay/neuter costs.
This savings, and that from our in-house testing, helped offset other serious medical and dental issues for 27 special needs cats and kittens--like Fettuccine with his entropion and serious allergies, car victim Jagger with his tail amputation, two cats with echocardiograms and dentals for most of our seniors.
In total, we fixed 310 animals, continuing our commitment to stop them from adding to the region’s serious cat overpopulation.
We also thank all our Wellness Veterinarians who offered free initial exams to adopters to get our kitties off to a great start. Some of them also helped us save cats in their own practices from owner-requested euthanasias, like sweet senior Dora, abused by her owners and now ready for a new life.
Our priceless volunteers
We continued to add to our volunteer roster last year, up to 150+, including our foster families! Our volunteers devote thousands and thousands of work hours to keeping our shelter as loving, clean and healthy as possible. Including all the time that our very hands-on Board of Directors donates for the kitties, it’s estimated our volunteers donate an additional $200,000+ in care for the cats, but of course, we know they are all priceless!
Our Foster Program saw an extremely busy 2017, managing an average of 70 cats and kittens in care (with 112 in June alone!) and 34 foster families at the peak.
Our volunteers keep our personnel costs lean, so most of our funding can be channeled directly to the costs of feeding, housing and caring for our kitties.
Purrs for the community
We shared the good work we do with lots of fun events in 2017. We had everything from kids reading to kitties for our Purr Me a Story events to our Cat Cocktail Competition for our Acatemy Awards (with shiny catuettes going to winners Barb Jones, Catagonia Cat Hotel and Chuck & Don's in Castle Rock) to our Trivial Purrsuit contest with military and cat trivia on Veteran's Day. Please click here to read about all the fun we had and all the wonderful businesses and organizations who helped us help the kitties!
We are also again very grateful to our media partners. The Pikes Peak Bulletin has been supporting us since we opened with a free weekly ad to get out the word for our kitties, as did Life After 50 in 2017. We supported both papers with ads, as well as the Colorado Springs Independent and the Gazette. We especially appreciate the support of the Independent through Indy Gives! and the great article that the Gazette ran on our new building.
Fox21 News, in partnership with Indy Give!, ran a great story on us in December, including a spot starring kitten Acorn who decided to help out with the morning weather report! KRDO News also helped us out with December coverage of our new building.
Lending a paw
Besides our generous donors, grants were our only other source of funding, totaling over $38,000 last year. These grants help us pay for the care of adopted seniors and special needs cats through our Love Knows No Age grant from the Lauretta Boyd Charitable Trust Foundation, TNR spays and neuters from Best Friends Animal Society and regular spays/neuters from the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund, keeping cat families together with our Buddy Discount through the Petco Foundation, condos for our new space from the Alice Jenkins Fund and our Ask Ms Kitty Helpline from Maddie’s Fund, in the process of being created now.
We once again qualified for Indy Give!, our hometown fundraising campaign supported by the Colorado Springs Independent. We raised almost $28,000 for our operations, including donations from our beer-loving cat fans with their love of Bristol Brewing’s Give Black Lager. We are very grateful to all our generous supporters through Give!, especially to our Matching Donors: Adam’s Mountain Café, Arthur L. Borgersen, Catagonia Cat Hotel, Betsy & Chris Miller, Lana Rollins, the Happy Cats Board, Red Dog Coffee & Café, and Kenton R. Fickes, DVM, in honor.
We are very excited to be one of the few Colorado Springs organizations to join Community Shares of Colorado. This is a workplace giving program that also encompasses state and federal employers.
Caring for our community cats
Based on the volume of calls we got from people asking for help with homeless outside cats and kittens in 2017, the number of unfixed cats increased in the Pikes Peak Region.
So many of these moms were once someone’s cute little kitten who quickly turned into an unfixed catolescent, pregnant and struggling to keep themselves and their babies alive on the street.
Through our TNRCare Program and under the direction of our TNR Coordinator Barb Jones, we always take care of the mother cats first, ensuring they are fixed and their kittens are safe, then evaluating whether they can be brought in. We give them all a second chance, turning terrified cats and kittens into loving companions.
Combined with the 310 spays and neuters we did for adoptable cats, that’s a total of 736 surgeries that Happy Cats Haven contributed to homeless cats and kittens in the Pikes Peak Region, with 282 of them through the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, counting toward their statistics.
We received funding for this program through Best Friends Animal Society as well as assistance with their surgeries through Solutions Clinic of Denver Dumb Friends League and the Humane Society.
We once again gathered food for community cats from St. Paws Thrift Store & Rescue Bank, PetSmart Castle Rock, Chuck and Don’s, Ft. Carson Commissary, Wag ‘n Wash and Walmart to distribute to Colony Managers, including our annual food drive for National Feral Cat Month in October. Again, almost by herself, Barb delivers food that feeds 1,200-1,500 needy community cats per day, cats who are either fixed or on the radar to get spayed or neutered.
TNR is not our mission, but remains a part of our commitment to spaying and neutering all cats in order to help lower feline overpopulation. Please call us at 719-362-4600 if you can help Barb with TNRCare by trapping, transporting or delivering food to those in need.
Every little bit helps
We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of our Happy Cats Family! Along with the hundreds of people who contributed to our operations financially, we so appreciate all the kind in-kind donations we received last year. These came from individuals as well as entities like the East Library and the Chuck & Don’s in Centennial.
Another generous Eagle Scout, Robert Timmons, donated his time and expertise for a project for disinfectable cat trees that we are storing to use in our new building, Planet Happy Cat.
We continue to be especially grateful to Rory Wagner of the Citadel Crossing Petsmart, for his unwavering support of Happy Cats. He is always there for us, especially in food and litter emergencies!
Fair weather friends
2017 was a banner year for kittens, probably because of the mild weather, with foster kittens available well into December! We carefully selected only the most confident ones for Kitten Adoption Fairs, as the commotion can be stressful. We held two fairs at Chuck & Don’s, fairs at Wag ‘n’ Wash and Catagonia Cat Hotel on the Westside and with both PetSmart and Petco as we brought the year to a close. We appreciate these partnerships that allowed us to reach even more Happy Cat adopters!
Happy Cats Shop
We have reached the limits of space in our Happy Cats Shop, but continued to add a few cat-tested products to support keeping both cats and their people happy, including a new design of Happy Cats t-shirts.
Our partner Michael Chudzinski of Feline Furnishings produced 61 trees and scratchers for our happy cats and kittens in 2017. He is as committed as we are to keeping our cats with paws and claws intact. His locally produced, sustainable products continue to help us save cats and kittens from the pain and trauma that are proven to result from declawing.
Planet Happy Cat
Our new building became a reality in 2017! We had our Groundscooping in July, after our plans were finally approved by the Regional Building Department of Colorado Springs.
Our construction crew, DLM Enterprises, wasted no time diving in, cat ears and all! Our initial nest egg will allow us to take the building through Phase 1 to finishing the base shell, with roof, doors and windows intact.
Phase 2 will see us completing the first floor so that we can move in with the population we currently house, we hope by May of 2018.
Phase 3 will see us focusing on the second floor, where we will finish 6 colonies and eventually double the number of homeless cats and kittens we can save. Most of these sunny and spacious colony rooms will have their own secure outside catios. We will also have dedicated rooms for kittens and singles, plus a sanctuary for seniors to soak up the sun.
A modern medical wing will provide even better disease control and our garden will offer quiet space for purrflection for our community as well as our staff and volunteers. Two attached apartments will help stabilize our rent to an estimated 25% of current rates.
We have recycled and repurposed much of the old building, as the patchwork of plywood shows on the exterior, used also for the roof. Old concrete sidewalks have been broken up to be used in our garden walls, and old doors and windows will be re-used in the interior. Excess plywood is going to Feline Furnishings to make more cat trees and scratchers for our community, a full circle of sustainability!
Thanks to everyone in our extended Happy Cats Family, we will be doing even more to help homeless cats and kittens in the Pikes Peak Region for 2018 and beyond! Purrs and headbonks to you all from the volunteers & staff of Happy Cats…and all our cats & kittens!
2017 by the numbers:
• 538 cats & kittens were adopted at HCH in 2017, including –
• 288 adults, catolescents & seniors = 54% of adoptions
• 250 kittens = 46% of adoptions
• 615 total cats & kittens found safe haven at HCH in 2017, including fosters (up 10%)
• 12% of all shelter cat adoptions in the Pikes Peak Region were completed by HCH alone
• 224 bonded cat friends & family adopted together = 41% of adoptions
• 150+ volunteers gave their time & love (up 14%)
• 426 community cats spayed or neutered in 2017 (up over 50%)
• 736 total spays & neuters, preventing thousands of needless cat & kitten deaths
• Total veterinary costs for cats & kittens in 2017: $50,000+ (down 26%)
• Total cost for food & litter: $19,800+ (up 18%)
• Average cost for a spay or neuter: $60 (up 17%)
• 91 generous community partners supporting Happy Cats!