Friday, January 15, 2016

Saving Boston's Forgotten Felines #BtC4A

The winter of 2014-2015 is one Bostonians won't soon forget. 94.4 inches of snow fell from Jan. 24- Feb. 22, with a season total of over 110 inches making for the snowiest winter ever recorded. The cold was just as unrelenting: the temperature didn't reach 40 degrees for a month and a half straight.

Records weren't merely broken, they were obliterated.

While stats like that are tough for humans to take, imagine being a cold, hungry and homeless cat. Sadly, Boston streets are flooded with feral cats and kittens. The Feral Cat Warriors of Boston’s Forgotten Felines fight to help these sweet babies survive every single day.

I recently got to chat with Victoria, one of the amazing ladies of Boston's Forgotten Felines about the work they do, the difficulties they face, and what we can all do to help.

MMM: Please tell us about Boston's Forgotten Felines and how your organization came to be.

BFF: Boston’s Forgotten Felines is a new 501c3 charity organization less than a year old. However, Joni Nelson, the founder of BFF has been at this for over a decade. What began as a simple feeding a stray along her school bus route in Dorchester has turned into over 50 feeding sites for over 150 cats mainly in Dorchester & Roxbury areas of Boston.

What is a typical day like for one of your volunteers (or is there such a thing?)

BFF has a small army that is currently feeding Joni’s dozen sites every morning. This army takes turns feeding. Joni on the other hand has taken on another feeder’s over 100 sites as he is in end stages of Pancreatic Cancer. Many of us are trying to help her do the many tasks that she does. From feeding ferals, to trapping cats to be TNR’d, to trapping friendly cats, to finding foster homes (as we’re not a shelter, just a rescue) to house the friendlies until adoption, to bring sick cats to the vet, transporting to & from vet appointments. Joni is just one person so she needs an army to help her with all these tasks. We’re desperately looking for more volunteers. We don’t expect any one person do juggle tasks like Joni does; if each of our volunteers does one thing and it may not look very big alone that’s one more task off Joni’s plate. The more help we get the more feral cats we can save! And saving them is exactly what we’re doing. Without the Feral Cat Warriors many of these cats would still be suffering in the streets or dead. "Many hands make light work."- John Heywood

What's life like for a feral cat?

Life as a city feral cat sucks. From trying to stay warm from the frigid winter elements to not being hit by cars or shot by idiots practicing their gun skills in the inner city streets to fighting racoons and rats. Their only highlight of the day is their visit from one of the Feral Cat Warriors of BFF.

Last winter was the worst in Boston history, both for cold and snow. How hard did it hit the feral cat population?

We lost many of our ferals last year in Storm Juno. Many of our ferals got stuck under porches with no way out due to the snow packing them in and they’re not getting food and they freeze to death. A slow & horrible way to die.

What difficulties are you currently facing?

Currently we’re facing the need to find more feeders who will help feed the over 50 sites. Even one person doing a 2 hour slot once a week would be a HUGE help. We also feel that TNR alone is NOT the answer. Education is key to eliminating this epidemic and we feel we need to teach the children of the area so they can bring home the knowledge and share it with their families.

Many of us around the country can't be there "in the trenches" with you, but want to help Boston's Forgotten Felines. What can we do?

Thank you. We have a wish list on Amazon and Walmart of the foods that we feed the ferals daily. We feed at 50+ sites a day, for over 130 cats. BFF uses 52 lbs of dry food a DAY, 100 LARGE cans (13 oz) of wet food a DAY. We also go through a lot of paper towels, trash bags and kitty litter. Donations are always welcome. Our wish lists:

We also have a Paypal account that helps us cover any veterinary bills we have:

Also, SHARING our Facebook page and posts help more than you know! That’s how we get word out on our adoptables and our fundraising needs.

Do you have any tips on how we can help the ferals in our own communities?

People don’t think they have stray cats or ferals. They don’t see them so they don’t know that they are there. Feeding them in your neighborhood helps them tremendously. Please feed your local ferals. Please fix them by TNR (trap neuter return). Please find homes for those that are friendly. For those who are unadoptable please provide them shelter. Find the local rescues in your area to let them know you’d like to help in their efforts. If there are no local rescues in your area, start one! Most small rescues are started by one person or just an idea. The ferals will thank you!

What are some things you wish more people understood about our feral friends?

They did not CHOOSE the life they were given. They did not ask to be abandoned in the streets by their previously owners, nor born in the streets by their abandoned parents. Animals have the same rights as us humans to live a life of joy & happiness. Help these ferals by eliminating some of their worries & fears. No one should be left starving out in the cold, including ferals. These feral cats are not your enemy. It’s the only life they know and it can be a good life with some people out there watching out for them.


Photo Credit: Danapel C de Veer 
Creative Credit: Sharon Keenan

Would you like to help Boston's Forgotten Felines on an ongoing basis? You can sponsor a kitty for $25 a month, set up through automatic deductions via Paypal.

With $25 a month you are assuring these cats that they will be fed and remembered forever. Your favored feral will get their own album on BFF’s Facebook page and you will get periodic emails with updates and pictures so you can stay in the loop of his care.

Even though we can't bring these feral kitties into our homes to love them, your donation will show them love from afar. If you're interested send BFF a private message on Facebook!

Photos used with permission: BFF Facebook


Anonymous said...

What good work these folks are doing and so good of you to share it with us!!

Unknown said...

"They did not CHOOSE the life they were given." Wonderful, wise words. It is illegal to feed outdoor animals except birds in my city but there are a great number of organizations hard at work to TNR, foster and adopt friendly ferals, and build safe feral habitats (where it is legal to feed them!) Thank you for sharing this interview on the hard working people in Boston not forgetting the sweet kitties of the streets.

dawn said...

Great interview about a group doing great things! We have several groups here who work with feral cats. It is amazing to see what they do. Thank you for sharing and joining in Blog the Change!

Anonymous said...

I read, on Facebook, what BFF was up against last year. They do an amazing job! Thanks, Melissa, for bringing them to the attention of others.

Random Felines said...

thanks for highlighting this group! we love TNR groups and wish them the very best...

LetterstoAndrew said...

Wow, isn't it horrible the way this country considers animals disposable? It makes me sick.

I thank you for sharing this worthy cause on BTC and for joining the blog hop.

pilch92 said...

Thank you for writing about Boston's Forgotten Felines. This is the group that I donate to when I can, they do so much with the little help they get. I would love to see them get more help.

The Menagerie Mom said...

What a purrfect group for you to highlight today. The thought of all of those homeless kitties trying to stay warm and fed makes me so sad every day. It's wonderful to know that there are groups like this full of compassionate people who give their time and resources to help these kitties. Thank you for sharing this!

Priscilla King said...

Please understand that there's a huge difference between a completely feral cat and a free-range pet! One of my social cats periodically "strays." I've tracked her--she does this to spend time with a friend of hers whom my other cats don't like. Although her growth was stunted, probably by exposure to the poison that killed her mother and siblings, she's loved and fed, and if nobody's tried to trap and move her she knows her way home. We need more *respect* for animals, not more misguided efforts to "help" all animals fit into a single mold!

Connie - Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

a lot of people do not understand what the term feral really means, and while it is nice that they have never had contact with a feral cat, it is frustrating to try go get them to understand the difference.

Connie - Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

excellent post, thank you for taking the time to write about this.

Pawesome Cats said...

We don't have cold winters here, but many parts of the world do. We're so grateful for organisations like this one - who are making a difference in the lives of feral cats. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Well now dat we be in tears, fanks fur sharin'. We hate dat kitties was killed last winter and every winter. We hate dat kitties have to live outside. And we will go so far as to say we hate da peeps what abandoned those kitties to begin wiff. We just don't unnerstand it. Weez sendin' lots of purryers.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

Just tweeted this most important initiative, thank you for sharing it with us! catchatwithcarenandcody

Mickey's Musings said...

A very good and timely post.
Purrs Georgia and Julie,
Treasure and JJ

KimT said...

I always look forward to your BtC4A posts, and once again I'm not disappointed. Amused, in fact - seems you and I had some similar thoughts ;)

This sounds like an amazing organization, with such dedicated heroes! I love, love, love how Victoria believes in the emphasis on education. That's one aspect that is often neglected, but so very important. Wishing this organization and all the beautiful babies they help the very best.

Thank you for blogging the change for animals,
Kim Thomas
Be the Change for Animals
CindyLu's Muse

meowmeowmans said...

Thank you so much for this post about this wonderful group, doing such amazing and important work. They are BFFs to those kitties, indeed!

Cathy Keisha said...

I love the answer to that last question. As you know, TW walks around every day with cans and pouches of wet and dry food in case she sees a cat. It never fails that if she forgets, she’ll see one and feel guilty all day. Winter is horrible on those poor creatures but summer is no picnic either.

Rascal and Rocco said...

Sounds like they do some great things for feral kitties. Thanks for spreading the word! ~RascalandRocco

The Daily Pip said...

Oh my gosh, the thought of so many being trapped under porches and freezing to death is heartbreaking. I have been active with feral cats here in the Chicago area and they face many of the same issues as Boston. We also have a large coyote population in the city ...

Fur Everywhere said...

It sounds like BFF does great work! I am so glad there are organizations out there that specifically take care of the community/feral kitties. All kitties deserve to be cared for and loved.

A Tonl said...

Such a wonderful post and such an amazing group to feature!

Nancy said...

Thanks for posting! This is such important work!!!

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