I hadn't seen Gretchen, a past volunteer, then adopter, now friend (the best part of rescue work), since before Christmas, so when we met at our usual watering hole in Owego after a very long hiatus, she had presents for the cats:
Of the basics of cat rescue (above and beyond food, of course, which many rescues are picky about), cat litter and paper towels head the list. They are depressing to buy because--while for one cat they aren't that expensive--to manage the care of a bunch of cats, they take a bite out of the budget.
I am always so surprised and thrilled when a person comes to visit the cats for the first time, perhaps to adopt, and they come toting a great big package of paper towels. I have to admit, the fact that they realized we would need these and brought them before they even learned whether this was a nice place (versus a frightening dump) always impresses me. And those people almost always turn out to be some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Toys are always appreciated from those who know us (and from those who are mailing gifts--obviously paper towels would be a bit ungainly and pricey to ship!). New toys are great, not only for the cats, but for the experience of adopters. Shabby, fur-covered cat toys make potential adopters shake their heads quietly in concern. They may not say anything, but believe me, they are thinking it. So to have the option of throwing out old toys and replacing them with new keeps the cats interested, and the adopters more comfortable interacting with them. Also, should any cat fall ill, even with a sniffle, all the toys have to go in the trash and be replaced with new, so that virus doesn't hang out after the place is disinfected.
Yet paper towels are gold. They may seem to be a modest $10 donation to the person giving them (well, almost $11 or more now), but they are 1/3 to 1/2 of a bag of good-quality cat food for us! The cats can get by without premium toys if they need to, but a place like this can't function without cat litter and paper towels. And if the day came when there were only X dollars to spend and all three had to be purchased, it's the quality of the cat food which would have to go down to afford them all. You only save about $2 if you skimp on the quality of paper towels. You save $20, and can buy almost two more bags of economy food, if you go down to lower-quality food. And that's not a place we would want to be. Back when we only had younger cats, a few weeks of a cheaper food wasn't too much of a concern. I recall the days of ping-ponging between a lower-grade food and Purina One depending on my budget. But now that we have four senior sanctuaried (non-adoptable, except to the most understanding of homes) cats who are over 13, two senior adoptables, and three 3+ year old adults, skimping on food could result in huge veterinary bills (Decent kitten chow is actually fairly affordable compared to high-quality adult food).
Luckily, early last spring we received a HUGE donation of quality food, so the cats will stay on that gravy train until probably March.
So thank you, Gretchen and Brian, for the gift!
Here's little Zoe, their Owl House cat:
I still have past thank-you posts to make for other gifts the cats received this holiday season as well. And our 2013 wrap-up newsletter should be in the mail soon.