Best Friends Forever
2019 Annual Report
Like so many of our kittens, little tabby Millie was rescued from trying to survive outside with her family. She was adopted as a friend for her ‘brother’ Theo by a nice family who promised to care for her forever.
Times are hard and lives change. The family could no longer keep Millie, so of course we took her back…along with her best friend.
As solo hunters in the wild, cats aren’t hardwired to automatically fit into groups the way dogs fall into a pack. They learn specific communication patterns as kittens, but those dialects don’t always translate into being friends with other cats as adults.
This is why we try so hard to keep cat friends together. Cats who become friends as kittens develop that common dialect that helps them stay the best friends they will ever have, barring a major traumatizing event. Even at the Haven with other cats, Millie and Theo could always be found playing, snuggling and grooming together.
When Mike and his family came along to adopt them, we knew it was the perfect match. Months later, they told us Theo and Millie had taken over the house: “We are now guests in their kingdom ?.”
We hope our Happy Cats live long, full lives, but a lot can change in a human life in 15-20 years.
As we celebrate almost 9 years of operation, supporting all of their nine lives by being our Happy Cats’ safety net becomes even more important.
We treasure the stories told by the humans in their lives, as each story helps us be their voice in finding their new families, whether as a kitten or years later like Millie and Theo.
Time to Love Again
Under the care of Adoptions Manager Andrea Jones and her Adoption Counselors, we found loving homes for 661 cats and kittens in 2019. For the past 3 years, half of our adoptions have gone to bonded friends and family, just like Millie and Theo.
Last year, over 55% of our adoptions were for adults like them, many transferred from other parts of Colorado including JJ’s Helping Paws in Fremont County. It takes a committed community of people to make sure every cat has just as good a chance to go home as easily-adopted kittens.
It’s because of our Happy Cats Family that we could give Millie and Leo the time they needed to find their new home together. Because of you, every Happy Cat has as many chances as they need to find their happiest home.
Planet Happy Cat
We made it! Thanks to the passionate support of our Happy Cats Family, we finished Phase 2 and moved into Planet Happy Cat, our new location at 327 Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs, just down the road from our cozy (but totally outgrown) digs on 21st Street.
Not only is this a huge improvement for our cats, but having breathing space–and storage!–has been wonderful for all the humans who care for them.
From months spent building our lovely catification to planning and executing our big move to the first plantings in our Purrflection Garden, our volunteers and staff worked hard to make this dream a reality.
Our big move happened with the help of dozens of volunteers and the generous assistance of Shannan Longley of Catagonia Cat Hotel who provided housing for our kitties while we packed up. We were effectively closed for several weeks so we could make the move with the least stress on our kitties.
Shannan was also instrumental in the design of our catification for our new building. We spent many hours planning the new spaces, anticipating the best possible traffic patterns with beautiful catification from low-cost and recycled materials.
Our new building is also as green as we could make it. We recycled most of the original building materials, used salvaged wood for the interior and catification, recycled concrete for the garden and are using energy-efficient heating, cooling and appliances.
Our GoFundMe Campaign in September got us within $30,000 of finishing the entire building and garden. We have already begun work on Phase 3 so we can move into the second story in 2020.
We still have a few naming opportunities left, including one colony, 2 catios and some garden trees. Our sculptural, curving Purrflection Garden walls will be home to all the memorial plaques to come, helping us complete the project. We are applying for grants for the final push. Please contact us at 719-362-4600 if you can help!
It’s Not a Save until They Stay
From the day we opened, we have been committed to keeping cats in their homes. We continued to offer our Ask Ms Kitty Helpline to our adopters as well as the general public to help people solve their cat issues…and often help cats solve their people issues!
Thanks to Carole Galloway of Colorado Cats Boarding, the behavior consultant behind Ask Ms Kitty, last year we supported 28 adopters and 76 members of the public, including those from other rescues, to keep their cats at home.
Carole also donated her expertise to several cats with behavioral issues, giving them the time and consistency they needed to learn to trust again and become adoptable.
Our monthly classes also helped with advice about positive training and enrichment, as did our monthly Ask Ms Kitty columns for Life After 50 newspaper by Carole and our other behavior consultant, Melissa Shandley.
Our website is a treasure trove of advice on everything from puzzle feeders to cats who bite, showing that cat problems can be solved in other ways besides being dumped. For every cat able to stay in his or her home, our door opened to rescue another homeless one.
Friends & Family
Millie and Theo were among our 321 bonded cats and kittens who went home together. In 2019, we had 148 pairs, 7 triplets and even one adoption of 4 kittens getting to stay together!
Imagine going to a completely new environment totally alone…versus going with your best friend to cuddle and feel safe. Not just heartwarming, bonded pair adoptions give these cats the best start with their new families.
Happy & Healthy
Lowering stress from the moment a cat comes in our doors until the moment they leave helps them stay healthy and happy. Our certification in Fear Free Handling helps us spread the word that cats need this care to help them be the best companion animals possible.
We bid farewell to the Dumb Friends League Solutions Clinic in Denver who helped us with our spays and neuters these past two years. This was a grant funded clinic to offer free surgeries to Colorado cats.
Last year alone, over 11,000 Colorado cats were brought there to get fixed, highlighting the serious need for low cost spays and neuters in our state. We are so grateful for their help in tackling the dire issue of unwanted cats in the Pikes Peak Region.
This meant a return to local sources for our surgeries, which tripled our spay/neuter costs to over $34,000. At 872 surgeries in 2019—counting TNR—we are working hard to keep up with this need!
Our excellent clinic at the Humane Society helps us keep up with this need by providing most of the surgeries for our adoptable cats. Dr Rose of Claremont Ranch and Dr Staus of Furry Friends Mobile Vet Clinic also provided dozens of surgeries in 2019, along with several other clinics.
With assistance from our Medical Team under Manager Kate Scheer and Assistant Ben Van Til, as well as help from Foster Manager Genesis Reyes-Martin, Dr. Staus performed her surgeries in-house, for far less stress on the kittens. We are so grateful for their help to ensure our homeless kitties don’t produce more kittens with the same fate.
As always, we also take care of more serious problems as they arise, from ER visits to seniors with dentals, hyperthyroidism and blood panels to the usual common kitten ailments. These totaled over $21,000 with an average of $700 per special needs cat.
Our Heart & Soul
Even though we were closed for several weeks, our Volunteer Manager Katherine Luce was able to keep up with the call for 28 volunteer orientations with 152 attendees.
From blanket-crafters to committed Foster Families, from Socializers who keep them tidy and happy to Adoption Counselors crafting each perfect match, there are unlimited ways to help the cats.
We especially appreciate the hard work of all our volunteer cleaners under the guidance of Cleaning Coordinator Kaitlyn Nye, who are at Happy Cats every single day, come blizzard or heat wave, making sure our kitties are clean and healthy.
These hours are equivalent to over $126,000 in volunteer contributions! Our volunteers directly contribute to more funding going to to feeding, housing and caring for our kitties.
We know not everyone can commit to steady volunteering, and we are grateful for you who regularly give your time to the kitties, along with those who help out when they can with projects, events and other ways.
Raising Happy Cats
Over two thirds of our cats and kittens—429—were carefully nurtured through our Foster Program by Genesis. Some were there a few days and others for months, especially kittens and their Teen Moms.
Like Paris, found on the street and and then transferred to us when the municipal shelter in Pueblo closed, they are often fragile and need extra care.
Our fostering was more spread out and went well into fall last year, with a high of 143 kittens and cats in foster care in November in 43 loving foster homes!
Providing everything needed for every foster cat ensures our Foster Families give them the best possible care. We were thrilled when Dr. Elsey’s donated their Cleanprotein kibble to us for the kittens in our Foster Program.
This high quality kibble has no grains, peas, vegetables or fillers, with the same protein proportion that wild prey would have.
In fact, even our compromised kittens did so well on it they were a pound bigger than average at 4 months! We are delighted to say we are getting another ton of Cleanprotein for our babies and moms again in 2020.
We are so grateful to our partnership with Catagonia Cat Hotel which hosts two colonies for our solo kitties as well as occasional pairs. Shannan Longley and her staff helped us complete 17 adoptions there last year. During our move, she also hosted adoption fairs to get kitties home so they didn’t have to move twice.
Our partnership with Pet Supplies Plus helped us showcase our Happy Cats to a broader audience. Michelle, Joe and their staff helped find homes for 37 cats and kittens, along with donating food for our TNRCare program and hosting regular adoption fairs.
In 2019, over $11,0000 of our donations went toward our TNRCare Program, where we fixed 419 community cats and kittens. This direct service to our community helps raise the numbers of fixed feral cats in our region by at least 25-30%.
With a nationwide average of 75% of all cats being born outside, we are committed to working on both sides of the overpopulation equation. Along with saving homeless cats and kittens on the ground, TNRCare prevents the untold suffering of thousands of outside cats each year. This helps lower the numbers of cats coming into all shelters.
Our volunteer TNR Coordinator Barb Jones takes dozens of calls weekly, asking for our help or referred to us by other shelters and agencies.
As always, we leave no momcat behind. Most of our Teen Moms were someone’s cute little kitten just months before, now living outside, terrified and trying to feed themselves and their little ones.
Our first goal is to ensure everyone is safe and fed. Then we assess for adoptability, bringing in any refugees who can be recovered. After that, our foster families and volunteers work hard to help them become loving companions and Happy Cats!
We also accept food donations year round so Barb and her crew can help colony managers feed an estimated 800+ fixed and stabilized community cats a day.
We’re grateful to everyone who works so hard for our community cats. We are always looking for feeders and trappers, so if you’re interested in joining Team TNRCare, please call us for more information at 719-362-4600.
Community of Purrs
Our Meowmaste Kitten Yoga became a staple in 2019, offering cat-centric yoga in the midst of playing kittens. We are grateful to the Manitou Art Center for hosting these heartwarming sessions.
Kids, cats and books are a natural fit and we love partnering with the Pikes Peak Library District for Purr Me a Story, our always sold-out reading event for children. The Old Colorado City Library loans us cat books so kids can practice their reading and get social time for everyone.
In 2019, we also debuted our new program, Purr & Play for Seniors, at MacKenzie Place retirement community. Our fluffy little ambassadors brought snuggles and purrs to a huge room of seniors and their caregivers.
Research supports what any cat guardian knows instinctively: there’s nothing like the touch of a warm kitten to bring out those childhood memories and help someone feel loved. We will be offering this program monthly during Kitten Season to MacKenzie Place and any organization that feels they can benefit.
We also hosted classes from the Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology, giving them tours, demos and hands-on experience with our shelter work. They share our commitment to Fear Free handling and we are excited to partner with Amber Gilchrist and her team for hands-on demos on how keeping down stress improves veterinary experiences for the rest of a cat’s life.
As always, our community outreach extended to many other events, including another Pechakucha presentation where Board member Maria told kitty recovery stories at the Manitou Art Center; celebrating Earth Day at a Sustainability Expo; fun and fundraisers making signs at Board and Brush Creative Studio; and the Blessing of the Animals at Broadmoor Community Church.
We also hosted our first annual Pet Memorial Day celebration at a multi-denominational blessing and dedication for our Purrflection Garden. This beautiful outside space is being created with plant donations from our community, including a plot sponsored by local Girl Scouts Ella & Kai.
Lending a Paw
Community support for our new location has been wonderful, with even more in-kind donations dropped off than we had before. Gently used cat trees, beds, other equipment and of course all our lovely Adoption Blankets have been showing up like Christmas year-round!
Along with our Girl Scout-sponsored garden plot, two construction projects helped beautify Planet Happy Cat with Eagle Scout help. Alex and his family built the privacy fence that delineates the back of our property at the top of the garden, and Caleb and his family made a wooden corral for our trash area.
Supporting the kitties with a meal or a beer has never been easier, thanks to our partnerships with Pizzeria Rustica and Coaltrain Wine & Liquor, Bristol Brewing Company, Smiling Toad Brewery and Goat Patch Brewing. We always have fun at the Manitou Springs Heritage Brew Festival and Manitou Springs Wine Festival too!
Raising Funds & Friends
Coordinated by volunteer Maria Williams, both of our signature events—our spring Acatemy Awards and our fall Black Cat Soirée—gave us all a chance to step out of our regular cat-saving duties and have some fun!
The awards themselves, our Pearlies, went to our friends at Pet Supplies Plus for the Big Business category, to Colorado CATS Boarding for the Small Business category, to volunteer catification master Alan Obye for the Individual category and to the Manitou Art Center for the best non-profit cat heroes. We are so grateful to them and all of our nominees for everything they do for the cats.
Black Cat brought us the insightful words of Dr Robin Downing, a Fear Free Colorado veterinarian who is also an expert in pain relief. We enjoyed a gourmet dinner at the Warehouse and amazing live and silent auction items donated by our wonderful supporters.
Big purrs to our sponsors for these events: Black Bear Distillery, Pikes Peak Chocolate & Ice Cream, Manitou Brewing Company, Catagonia Cat Hotel, Colorado Cats Boarding, St. Paws Thrift Store and Fear Free Pets. Look for both of these signature events to come in 2020!
Grants & Giving
From food and litter to spays and neuters to finishing our new building, our grantors fill in the awesome support we get from our Happy Cats Family.
Last year was our best year ever with the Indy Give! Campaign, finishing up with over $47,000 in donations! We work hard to make sure word gets out about this hometown effort supported by the Colorado Springs Independent that puts small non-profits like ours in the spotlight.
We’re very grateful to the Pikes Peak Bulletin for helping to promote the campaign, and to our Matching Donors for getting us off to a great start!
Bar-K Cocktails hosted our Cat Trivia events, we got to stay home in our jammies for our Cat’s Pajamas event and we also partnered with the Manitou Art Center for a delicious fund- and friendraiser brunch by Chef Lyn Harwell and crew. Gary Stacy of Imagery Enlightened also did a wonderful job on our video for Give!
Special thanks go to the Lauretta Boyd Foundation for funds to purchase condos for Phase 3 and to the Alice Jenkins and Maddie’s Funds for grants for our Beat the Heat Fund for spays and neuters. We also received grants from our friends at Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique, where all purchases go back to animal rescues like ours.
We also qualified for the Cat Pawsitive program from the Jackson Galaxy Foundation. This was a program to teach clicker training to more of our staff and volunteers to increase adoptability. Dozens of cats were adopted out under this and of course, we will continue to enrich the lives of others to come with more clicker play!
Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw’s new foundation funds the Mightycat Grant Program, which granted us a new program called Catnaps 4 Kittens. We’re developing it to help our bottle baby feeders help the orphans and are excited to share that in 2020.
As always, we are also grateful to PetSmart Charities for supporting each adoption since 2015 with a donation to help us with our Family & Friends Adoptions.
Along with giving to the kitties through their Amazon Prime memberships via our Amazon Smile portal, we had lots of signups last year for the King Soopers Community Rewards membership. Both are very easy ways to donate! Simply designate Happy Cats as your nonprofit of choice and they donate directly to the kitties.
Our Guardian Angel program gets stronger every year, with more added during Colorado Gives Day, for well over 50 Angels! Our supporters can sign up year round at Colorado Gives. We count on these recurring donations to make sure we can meet daily needs.
Our membership in Community Shares of Colorado also helps us showcase our excellent work, with support coming in from all over the state.
We were delighted to welcome back Samantha Martin and her Amazing Acrocats to Stargazer’s Theatre last summer. Her emphasis on reward-based training of her troupe of rescued cats, rats, a groundhog and a chicken shows how fun and enriching it can be to train cats.
While nicely trained, her cats are still, well, cats, and love making her the foil when they decide to take the show into their own paws! We always have a ball helping to bring this fun show to our cat community.
Our friend Sky Heartsong was also back in 2019 with a sold-out benefit for the kitties. We hear story after story of how her animal communication has helped guardians reach their animals in ways they wouldn’t otherwise, and she helps us talk to our animals frequently!
We also appreciate Wendy Pearce Nelson’s nonprofit support through her organization, Global Pet Colorado, which raises funds with their fun t-shirts that say cat or dog in 4 languages…with love!
Shop for Good
Our Operations Manager Charleen Bader keeps our retail shop at Planet Happy Cat running smoothly so it can support our adopters and the public with Happy Cats-tested products. From carriers to toys to beds to calming supplements, everything we sell directly supports the cats.
Once again, friend Michael Chudzinski of Feline Furnishings was a great partner for the kitties. He provided us with 73 trees and scratchers for our retail shop in 2019, equipment that helps us spread the word about the pain and emotional trauma that declawing puts them through.
His discounts to us helped us raise over $1,300 more that went directly to operating costs. In addition, he’s always happy to refurbish older scratchers and trees, which makes them a very sustainable investment for our adopters.
We appreciate being able to walk our talk by providing equipment and cat-centric gifts that support our commitment to saving as many cats and kittens as possible…and keeping them home once they get there!
Huge purrs and headbonks to our extended Happy Cats Family for your support.
2019 by the numbers:
661 cats & kittens were adopted at HCH in 2019, including –
55% adults and 45% kittens
735 total cats & kittens were in safe haven at HCH in 2019
including 429 who were fostered
321 bonded cat friends & siblings were adopted together,
almost half of all adoptions
1,800+ followup emails and phone calls were made to help keep cats home
453 adopted cats & kittens and 419 community cats were fixed in 2019,
for a total of 872 spays and neuters…
preventing thousands of needless cat & kitten deaths
Spay/neuter costs for cats & kittens in 2019: $34,000,
tripled from $9,700 in 2018
Total food & litter costs in 2018: $25,700, up only 2%
285,982 website hits for an average of 23,700+ per month
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Our Veterinary Partners
Healing Path Animal Wellness
Claremont Ranch Animal Hospital
Furry Friends Mobile Vet
Our Family Vet
HSPPR Surgery Center
Bijou Animal Hospital
Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology
Animal Clinic of Woodland Park
Compassionate Care Veterinary Support
Our Community Partners
Colorado CATS Boarding
Catagonia Cat Hotel
Pet Supplies Plus
Pikes Peak Bulletin
Pikes Peak Chocolate & Ice Cream
Black Bear Distillery
Manitou Art Center
Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique
St. Paws Thrift Store
JJ’s Helping Paws
Board & Brush Creative Studios
Sky and the Animals
Susi Holmes Photography
Bristol Brewing Company
Coaltrain Wine & Liquor
Dr Elsey’s Cat Food
Pikes Peak Library District
Playtime Pet Sitters
Emily Roehler of Fox21
Manitou Brewing Company
MacKenzie Place Retirement Community
King Soopers Community Rewards
Global Pet Colorado
Smiling Toad Brewery
Goat Patch Brewery
Our Happy Cats Board