Big Daddy Dreams
Big Daddy showed up at a managed cat colony, starving and sick. His tipped ear proved he had been trapped, neutered and returned outside at one point. His other ragged ear and poor body condition showed the fights he had endured trying to survive.
The colony feeders started offering food away from protective home cats so he could eat. Soon they noticed his eyes were so infected he could barely see.
We trapped and brought him to one of our partner veterinarians, the Animal Clinic of Woodland Park. Dr Volz got him in immediately for surgery on his eyes.
His time recovering in foster care showed us this gentle giant had obviously been someone’s precious kitten at first, as he took to inside life right away. After some weeks of healing, we thought he might be ready to turn in his feral card ? and find a forever home. We put his story on Facebook and within days, Big Daddy went viral, with over 47,000 views and 860 shares!
His new cat mom had just lost her cat of many years, so she wasn’t sure she was ready at first. But that big, goofy face with his rough ears and eye job quickly convinced her she was. Now Big Daddy spends his days relaxing at home in his club chair instead of dying slowly on the street.
Big Daddy is a Refugee Cat, a cat lost or pushed out somewhere along the way. Intact cats are hardwired to mate, and mating cats are hard to live with. Sometimes all they need is that essential neuter or spay surgery to turn them into loving, lifelong companions.
Big Daddy’s story shows how the lifesaving work we do is made possible by everyone in our extended Happy Cats family. From the colony feeders who spotted him…to the veterinarian who saved his life…to the volunteer foster mom who helped him recover…to the thousands of people online who cheered him on until he found his perfect adopter, all of us helped Big Daddy’s dreams come true.
Along with Big Daddy, we found homes for 646 other cats and kittens in 2018, an increase of 20% over 2018.
The reason we can help so many cats is because of you, the hundreds of volunteers, supporters and donors who believe in the work we do! It’s also thanks to all our adopters, people with hearts of gold as committed as we are to giving all these cats another chance at happiness.
In addition to those adoptions, we trapped and fixed 442 community cats through our TNRCare Program, for a total of 867 cats and kittens last year! Giving all these cats the same second chance we gave Big Daddy, whether inside or outside, is the core of what we do.
It’s Not a Save Until They Stay
We continued to do our best to provide support to any cat guardians who need it to keep cats in their homes. Last year we ramped up our Ask Ms Kitty Helpline, with 57 cats helped through this service to our friends in the cat community, including other rescues.
Ask Ms Kitty was funded by a Maddie’s Fund Innovation Grant and started by Cat Behavior Consultant (CBC) Melissa Shandley of Play & Treat Pet Service. She handed the baton to CBC Carole Galloway of Colorado Cats Boarding last year.
Carole’s case tracking found that half the cases could be helped by her two behaviorists-in-training. The other half were more complicated issues that took a professional’s house calls and individualized sessions.
In addition, Carole took data from the cases to build an online Knowledge Base that will enable more efficient handling of the simpler cases. We are applying for more grant funding in 2019 to keep this much-needed program going.
Along with our monthly behavioral and enrichment classes, Carole, Melissa and Happy Cats Director Sara Ferguson also collaborate on a monthly Ask Ms Kitty column for Life After 50 newspaper. Our goal is to continue to show everyone that cat behavior issues can be solved…well before they are given up. You can read those Ask Ms Kitty articles here.
Support for All 9 Lives
Beautiful pastel tortie Brooke came to Happy Cats in 2012 when her guardians, one of our original founders, decided they needed to downsize and had the wrenching task of deciding who to keep.
She found a home with a nice senior lady and was happy for several years until the lady died. Her family returned her to us so she could find someone equally nice. She was much more confident, even regal this time around.
It didn’t take long before her new family found her. Heather and family wanted an affectionate kitty to love and Brooke fit right in!
Our cats’ lives can span a human generation and they do their best to keep up with the changes we put them through. At 9 years young, Brooke still has half her life to share, purring on laps with her new family and helping their son grow up.
Our returned adoptions have stayed at about 10-11% since 2011 because we support our Happy Cats after adoption, including thousands of follow-up calls and emails. That gives us a chance to solve small problems before they get big…and also to celebrate the adopters’ love for their new kitties!
Each time a cat is returned, we learn more about them and their needs. We know there is someone out there for every single cat, no matter what stage they are in, and we keep trying until we find them.
Friends & Family Adoptions
Another way to ensure that cats and kittens settle in with their new families confidently is to send them home with a friend. Fully half of our total—328 adoptions—were for pairs and triplets, with 12 triplets going home together in 2018!
Being solo hunters, cats aren’t hardwired to make new friends. So when we see cats pairing up in our comfy colonies, we try our best to find homes where they can stay together for their lifetimes. Our foster families also watch for those special bonds in kittens so they go home together too.
Fear Free Handling
We have continued to use our certification in Fear Free Handling to help lower the stress of our cats and kittens while they are with us. Lowered stress means less illness while they wait to be adopted.
Keeping Them Happy & Healthy
Our Cat Care Manager, Carole Casner, had a very busy year with arranging 425 spay and neuter surgeries, 108 more than last year! She and her assistants also performed 82 FeLV/FIV blood tests and 46 fecal tests in-house.
That enabled us to help more intensive cases like Jackson, left on the steps of a church in an 8-inch carrier and found hours from perishing; Bella whose stress caused her to quit eating and need a feeding tube…twice; Sammy, Angel, Penrose and Venus who were all found last summer starving and locked in basements, traps and apartments; and tens of dentals. We used separate crowdfunding for many these kitties to help preserve our medical budget for our regular veterinary needs.
With over 800 spay/neuter surgeries last year, we are especially grateful to the Denver Dumb Friends League’s Solutions Clinic for providing free spays and neuters for our kittens and community cats, as well as our local veterinary partners. We also thank our other wellness partners who offered free well-kitty exams to get our kitties off to a great start!
Our Priceless Volunteers
We know how how precious everyone’s spare time is. That makes the time that so many people invest to keep Happy Cats Haven thriving even more precious.
Our Volunteer Coordinator Katherine Luce held 29 orientations in 2018, with 141 people in attendance! We have 70 regular volunteers and double that who occasionally help.
They log in close to 5,000 hours every year, estimated to be $120,000 in volunteer contributions. This helps channel more of our funding directly to the costs of feeding, housing and caring for our kitties.
We hear repeatedly that people love to visit because our facility smells as clean as cats themselves prefer. That’s because of our core Cleaning Tech volunteers who start first thing in the morning—every single day!—to make sure our cats are ready to show off their best, tidy selves.
Our Socializers ensure the cats know they are loved while they wait for adoption. They enrich their lives with playtime and help with grooming and training, if needed. Their interactions help us learn more about each cat.
Our volunteer Adoption Counselors use that knowledge and recovery to help match each cat with their new human family, including their new feline and canine friends too. Every single volunteer does so much to help us help the kitties!
Foster Families Save Lives
It was another bumper year for our hard-working Foster Program, led by Foster Coordinator Genesis Reyes-Martin. Our foster families spend weeks and months caring for moms and kittens, ensuring that frightened little ones go from scared and hiding to purring and asking for pets.
At our peak in August, we had 170 cats and kittens in 50 loving foster homes! Over 70% of our kittens come from the street, likely from people who abandon their unfixed older kittens, leaving them vulnerable to intact males like Big Daddy.
The fact that we provide everything needed to foster not only frees up the families to focus on the cats, but also gives them a consistent head start to grow up to be confident, Happy Cats.
Adoption Outreach Partners
We continued to find true cat heroes with our Outreach Partners. All of these businesses also put their hearts into caring for each of the cats or kittens who stay with them.
Shannan Longley and her crew at Catagonia Cat Hotel offer two plush colonies for our singles kitties who don’t do well at the Haven, with wonderful views and visits with her cat-loving clients. Shannan also helps out with her grooming services when our cats need a little extra help.
Pet supply store Chuck & Don’s in Castle Rock has been our partner for three years now, with the loving support of Outreach Coordinator Janice Obye. Last year, they helped us adopt 34 cats and kittens from the facility.
We also began a new partnership with Pet Supplies Plus, who also host a foster cat or kittens for us, as well as hosting Adoption Fairs and donating food for our community cats.
Keeping Our Community Purring
We debuted Meowmaste Kitten Yoga in 2018, our cat-centric yoga session with kittens! We’re grateful to volunteer Jenny Holliday for getting this wonderful program off the ground and to the Manitou Art Center for hosting us.
We are starting our third year 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 sponsors books so kids can practice their reading and get social time for everyone.
We supported our community with many other events, including our SuPurr Bowl Party at Chiba Bar, a 719 Rocks rock-painting party, the 20th Anniversary Art on the Streets where we helped premier the huge cat sculpture downtown by Byeong Doo Moon; the Grand Opening of Claremont Ranch Animal Hospital with our very own OJ as their office cat; Blessing of the Animals at Broadmoor Community Church; Westside Community Center Summer Picnic and the PechaKucha storytelling at the Manitou Art Center’s 30th Anniversary celebration, featuring Barb Jones, our TNR Coordinator.
Lending a Paw
We are always in awe of our community and our sponsors for their support of us! In 2018, many companies donated food for both our in-house cats and our community cat neighbors, especially to Pet Supplies Plus and the PetSmart at Citadel Crossing, but also the Manitou Springs 5th Grade and so many other individuals who drop by regularly with food in hand. PetSmart also sponsored our annual Kitten Shower with donations specifically for our babies.
Our friends at K&H Pet Products donated a huge supply of beds and pads, which we will be sharing with everyone for years to come! A Facebook plea for Buddy Blankets saw literally hundreds of blankets pouring in from our generous crafters, including the crafters at Comfort for Critters.
Many local restaurants and bars supported us sharing our Happy Cats family with them, including Bar-K Lounge, Pizzaria Rustica, Smiling Toad Brewery, California Pizza, Bristol Brewing, Chiba Bar and Chipotle.
Since we began, the Pikes Peak Bulletin has supported our adoptions with free weekly ads. We were also able to tell our stories at two Manitou Springs events in 2018, both the Heritage Brew Festival and the Wine Festival, and at KCME in their Culture Zone series.
We also had a ball at a fundraiser at the new Board & Brush Creative Studio, making cat-centric signs to decorate our homes and our new building!
Grants and Giving
Our grantors help us out with funding for everyday operating expenses like microchips and vaccinations, including Bissell Pet Foundation, Michelson Found Animals, Herbst Matching Funds, LexisNexis Cares, Lucille Drinkwater Allen Trust, Pikes Peak Bulletin & Emerald Fields and Maddie’s Fund.
Many of our friends who order regularly from Amazon support us by simply using their Amazon Smile portal. If you order anything from Amazon, and especially if you are a Prime member, this is an extremely easy way to help the kitties!
We also appreciate all of our Facebook friends who came through when we needed them for emergency medical and behavioral issues. Facebook doesn’t allow us to thank each of you personally, but please know how grateful cats like Jackson and Sammy are to you all.
We are humbled to have qualified once again for the Give! Campaign, our hometown fundraising campaign supported by the Colorado Springs Independent. This year our Happy Cats Family helped us break our previous records with over $34,000 in donations!
Bar-K Lounge hosted our trivia tournaments for Give! and we also partnered with the Manitou Art Center for a vintage jewelry sale and with All Breed Rescue and Training for their Howladay Craft Bazaar. Once again, our Happy Cats Family proved to be great beer aficiandos, allowing us to come in third in Bristol Brewing’s Black Lager competition.
Colorado Gives Day in December also helps us raise money for operations, as well as getting out the word about our Guardian Angel Program. Our Angels support us with monthly donations and are the backbone of our financial giving.
Our membership in Community Shares of Colorado gave us another place to showcase our good work, with support coming in from all over the state from federal and state employees. Thank you, Colorado!
We work hard on both sides of the overpopulation equation: saving homeless cats and kittens on the ground as well as preventing deaths and suffering by fixing outside cats. As most people know, a pair of intact cats can produce thousands of cats over their lifetimes.
We get dozens of calls weekly asking for help or being referred to us by other shelters and rescues during kitten season. Our volunteer TNR Coordinator Barb Jones and her team trapped, neutered and returned 442 cats and older kittens here in our region.
Our focus is always on the mother cats, because when they are taken care of, so is the community they live in. Most of them were someone’s cute little kitten just months before, now teen moms struggling to keep themselves and their babies alive on the street.
Our first goal is to ensure everyone is safe, then we assess for adoptability, bringing in anyone who can be recovered. Then our foster families and volunteers work hard to give them a chance to become loving companions and Happy Cats!
Big purrs to everyone who helps these kitties and their caretakers to stabilize populations and ensure they stay warm and fed all year round! In 2018, Barb was able to expand her crew to include a couple more trappers as well as several more people who assist with feeding 800+ community cats per day, cats who are either fixed or on the radar to get spayed or neutered. If you would like to join her team, please call us for more information at 719-362-4600.
Happy Cats Shop
We continue to provide a small but comprehensive line of cat products to support our adopters and the public. We also created some new t-shirts last year, including ones for the cat daddies in our lives! We thank everyone who helps us get out the word by wearing them.
Once again, Michael Chudzinski of Feline Furnishings was a great partner for the kitties. He made 77 trees and scratchers for our retail shop in 2018. He discounts his wholesale costs for us, which allowed us to raise over $1,100 more that went directly to operating costs.
In addition, he’s always happy to refurbish older scratchers and trees that are still sound, which makes them a very sustainable investment for our adopters. We appreciate being able to walk our talk by providing equipment that supports our commitment to saving as many cats and kittens as possible from the pain and emotional trauma that declawing puts them through.
Planet Happy Cat
Our 2018 capital campaign was right on track, with our Hard Hat parties and our online Cat’s Pajama’s Nonevent in March and April plus our Grand Opening in June helping us raising two-thirds of the $375,000 total estimated costs during Phase 2.
Special thanks to Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw for her gracious support at our Grand Opening and sharing her expertise at her workshop on kittens the next day.
Every dollar counts and we can’t say enough how thankful we are to have your confidence in this important next step for us!
However, our new building has been an exercise in patience for all of us! Last year saw the biggest building boom in Colorado Springs in 13 years, with slowdowns at every level…including our relatively small project.
We had high hopes to move in last summer, but right before that, someone stole our expensive, high-tech water heaters.
As anyone involved with construction knows, losing a trade out of the lineup means everyone else goes elsewhere to find work. With construction work so plentiful, we then had difficulties getting back in line for contractors.
Rest assured, work continued! Under the supervision of volunteer Construction Coordinator Ray Ferguson, many amazing volunteers gave their time to pitch in, helping us with everything from painting to electrical to cleaning & hauling.
Continuing our catification with the expert help of Shannan Longley of Catagonia Cat Hotel, and with our discount espresso cabinets, warm white walls and beautiful salvaged pine ceilings and baseboard all in, the next step is our epoxy flooring.
The final flooring installation and parking construction are scheduled mid-March. We are approaching an April move-in date!
With thousands of cats and kittens in their homes thanks to the good work we do, we know you have faith in us. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in this dream that will change so many lives–feline and human alike!
The next step will be Phase 3 of our fundraising so we can gradually expand to the second floor as our donations and volunteers allow. That will include 6 more colonies to eventually double the number of homeless cats and kittens we can save.
These sunny and spacious colony rooms will have their own secure outside catios. We have 3 colonies and 2 catios left for naming opportunities.
Our Purrflection Garden will offer quiet space for our community as well as our staff and volunteers. We already have visitors waiting for us to plant the garden! Two attached apartments will help stabilize our rent to an estimated 25% of current rates.
If you are interested in helping us out with the final Phase 3 for Planet Happy Cat in any capacity, please click to donate on our secure website at Colorado Gives or contact us at 719-362-4600.
We can’t thank our extended Happy Cats Family enough for your support. We are so excited to see what 2019 brings for our cats and kittens!
2018 by the numbers:
647 cats & kittens were adopted at HCH in 2018, including –
271 adults, catolescents, seniors & special needs plus 376 kittens
745 total cats & kittens were in safe haven at HCH in 2018, including 419 fosters, up 20%
328 bonded cat friends & siblings adopted together with our Friends & Family Discount,
a total of 50% of all adoptions
425 adopted cats & kittens and 442 community cats were fixed in 2018,
for a total of 867 spays and neuters…
preventing thousands of needless cat & kitten deaths
Total veterinary costs for cats & kittens in 2018: $55,000, up 10%
Total food & litter costs in 2018: $25,100, up 53%
Average cost for a spay or neuter: $58 down 3%
SPECIAL THANKS TO…
Our Veterinary Partners
Healing Path Animal Wellness
Compassionate Care Veterinary Support
Our Family Vet
HSPPR Veterinary Services
Bijou Animal Hospital
Animal Clinic of Woodland Park
Claremont Ranch Animal Hospital
Village Center Veterinary Care
Northwest Animal Hospital
High Country Veterinary Hospital
Our Give! Matching Donors
Board & Brush Creative Studio
Arthur L. Borgersen
Gigi’s Animal Lovers Gift Shop
Happy Cats Board
Red Rabbit Café & Ice Cream
Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique