Since its inception in 1997, Fancy Cats Rescue Team has found homes for over 11,000 cats. The Herndon-based organization, founded by Cathy Awad, works with more than 100 volunteers to rescue cats at local shelters that would otherwise be euthanized due to space limitations or other factors.
A few factors that increase chances for euthanasia are older cats or those with special needs that may have more difficulty getting adopted. That's where Ronda Dalton comes in. For the past two and a half years, Dalton—a radio frequency engineer who volunteers with Fancy Cats Rescue Team as a foster mom and adoption coordinator—has fostered dozens of cats with challenging issues.
One of Dalton's first foster cats was a whopping 26 lb. domestic short-hair aptly named Big Boy. "He loved everything," Dalton said. "Other cats, dogs, hamsters, even flies. Thankfully he got a good home with a nice lady."
Other cats have had a little more difficulty getting adopted like litter mates, Calvin and Hobbs. "They were 12 years old and had a really rough life. They were extremely shy and skittish so I couldn't take them to the adoption events," Dalton said. A family with two young boys came to see the cats at Dalton's house and it was love at first sight for everyone.
Dalton is hoping for similar happy endings with four cats (three of which have special needs) she is currently fostering.
Coco Chanel, a 10-year-old, brown tabby, domestic short-hair was given up by her previous owner because her job required her to travel too much. "She's a real sweetheart and loves to play and roll over in these funny poses," Dalton said. "She's another one who doesn't do well at adoption events, they are just too stressful for her." When under stress, Coco is prone to urinary infections and therefore is limited to eating only dry cat food, "but since she has been with me I have not seen her have this problem at all," Dalton said.
Shanet, a beautiful 4 year old female Chartreux mix was quite ill when Fancy Cats first rescued her from a shelter. "Although she has always been extremely sweet, after being nursed back to health her loving playful personality emerged and she is one of the sweetest cats ever," Dalton said. She does have a somewhat sensitive stomach and needs to stay on a grain-free diet. She has closely bonded with Hannah—one of Dalton's other foster cats—and the two must go to a home together. "They are always cuddling, hugging, and licking each other, they're the best of buddies," Dalton said.
Cody is an ultra sweet (and handsome) 8-year-old, de-clawed, gray and white Norwegian Forest Cat mix. "He's a little shy at first, but once he gets to know you he really warms up," Dalton said.
Recently diagnosed with diabetes, Dakota requires daily insulin shots, which he seems to have no trouble with. "He already knows the routine. Right after he's done eating, he comes over, puts his paws on my lap and starts kneading me while he gets his insulin," Dalton said. "He's a total lap cat."
For those interested in adopting one of the foster cats in Dalton's care or who would like to see other available Fancy Cats rescues, visit their site for pictures and information. The week of September 19-25th, Fancy Cats is participating in Petfinder.com's "Adopt-a-Less-Adopatable-Pet Week. During this week adoption fees for special needs cats ((http://www.fancycats.org/persnickety/) ) will be $50.
All Fancy Cat rescues are micro-chipped so if one of their cats is ever turned into a shelter they can track it back to the group.
For those unable to have a cat as a permanent family member but who would like to help out, Fancy Cats is in dire need of volunteers to provide temporary foster homes. "The economy has forced a lot of people to give up their cats," Dalton said. "It's really sad because many of our cats have come back to us after years of living with a family because the family simply can't afford the care any longer."