Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Noel and the Funkhausers

Sharon proudly admits that she’s been "privileged to have had many fur babies in my life."

Obviously then, her nibs, Miss Noel was not her first. Sadly for Sharon, however, Noel’s entry into their lives was due to the death of the family’s 17-year-old orange tabby to kidney failure, and the fact that their 6-year-old gray tabby, Sweetie, was in mourning.  

"When my friend, Marilyn, a volunteer for Furry Friends, told me how many cats and kittens needed to be adopted, I visited them several times and found it impossible to choose from among so many beauties," explains Sharon. "But the last time I was there, I picked Noel up and held her as I walked around watching the other cats. Then, when I looked down, she was sound asleep and still purring. It was the loudest purr I’d ever heard, and my heart melted. She was the one!" 

The Funkhausers couldn't have asked for a better fit. Noel and Sweetie are now the best of friends and love chasing after treats together. When Sharon’s husband tosses them treats, they laugh as the two cats chase each other up the stairs and back down again. But let the family leave the house for a few hours, and Noel soundly scolds them upon their return! 

"She’s actually learning to fetch," says Sharon. "She’ll dig around in her toy box and I’ll throw her mouse so that she can chase it. But I must admit that morning is our favorite time of day. While the adults are having coffee, the cats are frisking about, until Noel changes course and curls up in my lap for some love. During what we call our ‘love fest’, she gives me kisses and rubs her forehead against my chin."

As for bedtime? When Sharon heads upstairs, Noel runs past her and is happily ensconced in the "big" bed by the time she gets there.  

"Noel usually sleeps between our pillows, and I like to curl my arm around her at night. Yes ... she's mama’s baby! She may be two years old, but she’s still very much a kitten at heart, and still needs to be near us."

Nomi Berger is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.  For more information about Furry Friends visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact them at information@furryfriendswa.org or (360) 993-1097

Whiskers and the Wilmotts

Having been committed cat owners for over 20 years, the Wilmotts, after the death of one of their two latest cats, knew that lonely 2-year-old Cosito needed a new companion.

"We decided to get another cat," explains Debbie, "but didn’t really want to go through the kitten stage again. We were familiar with Furry Friends as they took several sets of kittens born to feral moms from our neighborhood several years ago.

"We also knew that The Cat’s Meow Luxury Boarding (we board Cosito there) often had cats from Furry Friends in their adoption room, and both Jo and Amber felt 4-year-old Whiskers would be a good match. We met her, and brought her home the next day.

"Thinking the cats needed to get used to each other’s scents before introducing them, we put Whiskers in a separate room. Cosito, however, had other plans. He kept vigil outside the door, even sliding his paw under it, and refusing to move. We went out for several hours and upon our return, found that not only was he still there, but that one of her paws had slid out from under the door. Needless to say, the introductions were made then!"

And the two have been best feline friends ever since, romping and playing, chasing and looking out for each other, and cuddling together with their humans. Whiskers, once skittish and not fond of being picked up, is a cat transformed, provided she’s approached slowly and spoken to softly.

"When we’re sitting, she’s a little love bug," Debbie says. "She loves being petted under the chin, and she likes to groom Cosito, just as a mama cat would. She also likes lying on us while we watch TV (a big step in trust for her), and will sometimes even sleep on our laps."

As a treat fiend, now on a treat "diet", she still comes running – hopefully -- whenever she hears the familiar rattle of spoons in the kitchen drawer.

"Bringing Whiskers into our family was the best move we could have made, especially for Cosito. She’s taught him some of the things he missed out on as a kitten, such as how to play with balls and catnip-filled toys. She has really brightened up our lives."

Hot Weather and Cool Cats!

Make sure your cats stay cool in the summer heat!

Wait a minute – are we talking about the same creatures who reach near-spontaneous-combustion temperatures when they bask in a sunny spot next to a window or in front of the fireplace in the winter? YES! Even though our floofy fluffballs love warmth, hot weather is something that can be very dangerous for cats. When cats enjoy a sunny spot or relax in front of a fireplace, generally only one side of them receives the heat, and they can move whenever they want. However, in weather-related heat-waves, the entire body of the cat is immersed in warmth and sometimes it’s not so easy to escape the heat. How can you help? Here are some ideas:

  • Know the signs of heat stroke. If you see your cat panting, drooling, being excessively lethargic or if she has a fever or collapses, get her to the vet right away. Heat stroke is no joke – it can cause permanent organ damage or death.
  • Provide cool spots, indoors and out. If you have outdoor cats, make sure they have access to a shady spot no matter where the sun is. Indoor cats will appreciate access to rooms with tile or concrete flooring that they can sprawl out on and cool off.
  • Water, water, water! Make sure your cats have access to fresh, clean, cool water at all times. Refresh several times a day if your water bowls are outside or if you do not have air conditioning. For a little bit of fun you can put ice-cubes in the water that will keep it cool, and provide a little play-time enrichment!
  • Catsicles for everyone! You can give your cats ice cubes with treats in them (like catnip, or freeze tuna water in cubes), or you can make a wet-food catsicle. Check out PetFinder’s recipe here.
  • Keep the air flowing. Air conditioning is great, but if you don’t have AC, make sure to keep a fan blowing in your cat’s favorite area. In the evenings, open up the windows to get cool, fresh air inside (but check the screens first to make sure they won’t pop out of the window!).
  • Play and exercise during cooler hours. Don’t play with your cat during the heat of the day – exercise can happen in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. Or, if it’s super hot and the temperatures aren’t going down at night, wait until another day. It’s ok to miss a day of rigorous exercise!

Stay cool, everyone – I hope you are having a fun summer and that your furry family members are enjoying the season as well.

Dr. Marci Koski is a certified Feline Training and Behavior Specialist whose mission is to keep cats in homes and out of shelters. If you are having problems with your cat's behavior, visit Marci's website at www.felinebehaviorsolutions.com. Marci also volunteers with Furry Friends, a no-kill cat rescue organization in Vancouver, WA. You can learn more about Furry Friends at their website, www.furryfriendswa.org.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Olivia and Janice

Once upon a time, Olivia wasn’t the happiest puss-in-boots around. But feast your eyes on this fabulous feline now.

Her adoring adoptive mom, Janice, has even bestowed oh-so-awesome Olivia with a regal nickname: the Duchess. Talk about your rags-to-riches kitty cat tale.

“She’s doing wonderfully,” says Janice, “and the more I play with her each day with various toys, the more active she becomes. She’s really, really gotten into it. She’s also eating like a little horse and drinking a lot of water -- usually from the bathtub! She sometimes sleeps in there as well, probably because it’s cool, and with the curtain up, she feels secluded and comfortable.”

But these weren’t the only secrets on Olivia’s “favorites” list. It seems she’s a cat who actually craves milk.

“I recently set down my bowl of cereal,” Janice recounts, “and before I knew it, she had her nose in the bowl, lapping up the milk. Since then, whenever I go to the fridge, she starts yowling, runs over to her dish and sits there until I pour some milk into it.”

Another unexpected and pleasant surprise came in the form of a recent indoor “garage” sale Janice held. Fully prepared to keep Olivia safely tucked away in the privacy of the bedroom, Olivia chose instead to be in the front room.

“So I let her out, just to see how she would do, and she was fine! She occasionally slipped under the kitchen table, but remained at my feet most of the time. When a close friend stopped by with his two daughters, Olivia amazed us all by jumping up onto one of the girl’s laps and staying there awhile.”

One can only speculate as to the other happy surprises laying in wait for the Duchess’s loyal court of admirers.

Bossy, Megan and Alex

Nicknamed “Kisstopher” because of his tendency to lick his pet parents’ faces while giving himself a bath, big boy Bossy is as sweet as sugar without the calories.

Noticed first by Alex at PetSmart, it took little convincing for Megan to meet the plush, striped puss at the Halfway House. In fact, admits Megan, “He ran and jumped over things from across the room to get to us! I’d never adopted an adult cat before, and I’m so glad I did. While kittens are pretty much guaranteed a home, amazing adults like Bossy are overlooked and ignored. Adult cats are the way to go!”

But the deeper she fell in love with Bossy, the more Megan wondered about his past. She couldn’t imagine how such a perfect (and potty trained) cat could have been abandoned. Who were his owners? Why did they leave him? Did he run away? Is that what he DOES? And yes, Bossy did try – twice – to slip past them, but they tagged and “tamed” him and taught him that being indoors was most definitely “in.”

If there’s any doubt as to who rules the roost in this roomy apartment, one need only look at the assortment of cat toys and dishes, food and catnip, litter and litter boxes to know. And beautiful Bossy knew a good thing when he saw it.

“His adaptation to us and our home was immediate,” says Megan. “No sooner had we brought him inside than he jumped right on the bed and kissed us. Then he walked back and forth between Alex and myself purring, head butting, and giving us more kisses. Talk about a housewarming!”

The sole focus of his cat guardians’ love and attention, Bossy revels in being their one and only. A blend of energetic and easygoing, depending on his mood and the time of day, he loves one particular batting toy with bells, ribbons and feathers on the end, which Megan uses “to get him up and running around.” But his favorite time of day, without question, is “when we wake up and feed him in the morning.

“A cuddly lap cat when he wants to be, he’s very generous with his kisses and purrs. I’ve also discovered that when I scratch the base of his tail and the bottom of his back, he seems to go into a trance, moving his head back and forth like a pendulum. It is SO cute.”

As for this trio’s sleeping arrangements? Bossy sleeps everywhere, often switching between lying at the bottom of Megan’s feet in bed and curling up on the couch.

Kiss kiss.


Furry Friends Offers Microchipping and Cat Adoption At the Peace and Justice Fair

Event Date:     Saturday, September 10, 2016   9am to 2 pm

Who:              Furry Friends, a nonprofit, no-kill, all-volunteer cat adoption organization in Clark County

What:             Microchipping for dogs & cats – Also adoptable cats will be on display

Location:        Esther Short Park, downtown Vancouver

Cost:               $20 per pet for microchipping (a $50 value)

Furry Friends will be offering their cats and kittens for adoption Saturday, September 10, 2016 at the Peace and Justice Fair held at Esther Short Park, 301 West 8th Street in Vancouver, WA. It has grown into a huge family event, with more and more participants every year.

Come on out and “purruse” the adoptable cats, talk with the Furry Friends volunteers relax and listen to music, get all sorts of info on what you can do to help the kitties besides adopting a cat and check out some of the great cat themed merchandise that Furry Friends will have for purchase.

Furry Friends will be offering discounted Avid FriendChip ID microchipping for dogs and cats onSaturday, September 10 from 9am to 2pm. The chips will be implanted in your pet by our volunteer licensed vet tech for only $20 (a $50 value). We will complete and submit the registration paperwork. Unlike other brands, there are no annual fees. Cats often do not wear collars, and may not have any other form of ID. A recent study showed that less than 2% of cats without microchips were returned home. However, if a cat is microchipped, the return-to-owner rate is 20 times higher than if the cat was not microchipped. This unique permanent identification gives your lost pet a much better chance of coming home.

Furry Friends volunteers and the cats will be available Saturday from 9am-4pm. Come on out to meet the cats and volunteers or to learn more about the care of cats and the mission of Furry Friends.

Furry Friends is a nonprofit, all volunteer, no kill, cat adoption organization in Vancouver, WA. Its mission is to help homeless, relinquished and abused cats by providing spaying and neutering, medical care and foster shelter for as long as it takes to find their forever home.

For more information about Furry Friends, visit www.furryfriendswa.org, email information@furryfriendswa.org or leave a message at (360) 993-1097.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Gretchen and Henry

To call Gretchen a cat lover would be an understatement. For a woman who has owned in excess of fifty cats throughout her life, she’s most finely and fabulously "fixated on felines."

And Henry (originally named Pandu) is the most recent of her furry, four-legged loves. What’s particularly unique about this pussycat happily-ever-after tale is that Gretchen adopted him without ever having met him.

Why? You might ask.

"I based my decision on what the Furry Friends volunteers told me about his looks and his lovability," admits Gretchen. "And because of his Siamese markings. I've had numerous part-Siamese kitties, and I adore their appearance as much as their personality."

To her delight, Henry slid into the groove fairly quickly with her Tonk and her Bengal, staunchly refusing to be dissuaded or discouraged by their indignant growls.

"He follows me everywhere," Gretchen says, "and sleeps on the pillow beside me. He gets along wonderfully with my Rottie who readily accepted him while the cats were still growling at him.

"He plays with everything, and I do mean everything. He's even dragged out toys that have been ignored for years by my other cats."

His special favorite, however, is a toy with an elastic cord that hangs in the door frame. The better to bat at it, no doubt.

"Henry is one heck of a good eater," laughs Gretchen. "Truth be told, he’s a bit of a piggy. And although he cuddles with me sometimes, he’s fonder of climbing the cat tree and watching the world from on high."

A Loving Letter from Jasper

Meow to my furry friends,

It was a dark and stormy night. I was wet and cold, hungry and lost. I had to get out of the rain, but I couldn’t find my way home. In desperation, I crawled under a car and jumped up on the wheel. A very kind man heard me crying and brought me to his house. It was nice and warm inside, and there was food! But because he had other cats, he didn’t have room for one more. He called Furry Friends and a lovely lady picked me up and took me to a place called the Halfway House where she said I’d be safe. She also named me Oakley, which means “Field of Oak Trees.”

They sent me to the doctor to see if I was healthy, but the next day, I noticed some of my parts were missing. (A little kitty humor here). Life at the Halfway House was pretty good, and I got lots of attention. And food! But I really wanted a home of my own. One day, a volunteer came in, and when she picked me up, I climbed onto her shoulder and nuzzled into her neck. Although she didn’t know I did this with almost everyone, she later told me that she felt a real connection. She even visited me during the week. On her next visit, she learned I was ready for adoption and promptly claimed me as her own.

She took me home and introduced me to my brother, Cooper, and my sisters, Alice and Dali. She also changed my name to Jasper, which means “Keeper of the Treasure.” But best of all – she had and still has good food. Yes, I like to eat. A LOT! I tell her when it’s time to eat every morning and afternoon. (I tell her at other times too, but she usually ignores me). If she doesn’t get up early enough in the morning, I try to pull the covers off her or lie on top of her. When she finally “dishes up”, I try to help by nudging her. I eat so quickly that she feeds the other cats first, giving them the chance to eat before I arrive for “clean up” duty. I learned that if I ate part of MY food, I could finish theirs and still have some of mine left. One day, I got into big trouble for taking a pork roast out of the kitchen sink, unwrapping it and chewing on it. And although I left it in the middle of the living room rug so that she could have some when she got home, she didn’t seem to want any.

I’m very happy in my new home. I spend my day sleeping outside in Purrsia (that’s the name of our catio), where I’m safely enclosed but still have plenty of room. There’s even a ramp that goes up and out across the yard. My Mom is the best. I jump on her shoulder as soon as she comes home from work, and she lets me stay there for as long as I want. When she gets ready to leave in the morning, I try to jump on her shoulder to keep her there. (It doesn’t work).

And so, to my fellow adopted Halfway House alums, I hope you’re as lucky and happy as I am. To those still waiting, please trust there’s a special someone who will feel the same connection with you that my Mom did with me, and that you too will find your fur-ever homes.

Love, Jasper

Jasper is 'owned' by Furry Friends volunteer Colleen Figley

Local Cat Rescue to Host “My Fair Kitty” Dinner and Auction

(Vancouver, WA) Furry Friends is hosting its eighth annual dinner and auction fundraiser on Saturday, September 17th from 5 PM to 9 PM at the Firstenburg Community Center, 700 NE 136th Ave, Vancouver, WA. 98668 

Festivities begin at 5 PM with guests having their photos taken and placing bids on the dazzling assortment of silent auction items. Dinner, catered by Summerland Catering, will then be served, offering a vegetarian entrée and including a dessert bar. The live auction, gaveled by auctioneer Doug Quinn will follow, and the evening will conclude with the awarding of the prize for the most popular “My Fair Kitty” costume. 

Advance tickets are $50 per person and $55 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased through PayPal at www.furryfriendswa.org. All proceeds from the event will be used to fund both the rescue’s operating costs and the building improvements on the halfway house they recently purchased to accommodate their ever-expanding roster of cats. 

Furry Friends is a nonprofit, no-kill 501(c)(3) animal rescue serving Clark County. Run entirely by volunteers, their mission is to save ailing and abused, abandoned and relinquished cats by providing them with medical care and socialization, spay/neutering and shelter until they are placed in appropriate adoptive homes. 

For further information on the rescue, please visit www.furryfriendswa.org, email information@furryfriendswa.org or call 360-993-1097.

Volunteer Spotlight with Diane Stevens

Your name: Diane Stevens

Tell us a little about what you do with Furry Friends: I am the main graphic designer and photographer for the group, I also create any illustrations they need. Some of my other duties include public relations, marketing, contact with the media and writing articles for publication. I write for the Columbian’s Cat Tales blog every other week as a representative for Furry Friends. I have a weekly shift at the adoption center at PetSmart in Hazel Dell, WA caring for the Furry Friends kitties on display. I also help plan events for the group and whenever they need a performer I use my guitar and vocal skills for them.

How long have you volunteered with Furry Friends? I retired from my job November 2014 so that is when I finally had more time to devote to volunteer work.

How did you get involved with Furry Friends? Before I retired I knew that I wanted to be involved in animal welfare work when I had more time. Furry Friends looked interesting and I decided to attend their annual dinner auction to get a feel for who they were. I was quite impressed with their operation. They are a small nonprofit group that is run entirely by volunteers.

Why do you volunteer? My life has been blessed in many ways and I am now in a position to give back to society. I have a passion for animals and it is up to us humans to help them out. There are so many cats out there living terrible lives. And so many people that are in need of someone helping with their cats. Furry Friends is always receiving distress calls from people with a cat problem. Such as an elderly person having to go into assisted living and they can’t take the cat with them, or a person that has to move into a place that does not take cats or the mom cat that shows up at your back door with a litter of kittens etc.

Do you also volunteer for other organizations? If so, what are they and what do you do? Yes, I am a church musician for St John Lutheran Church in Vancouver, WA. I play guitar and sing every Sunday for the service. I also take photographs; do videos and other assorted tasks for them.

What is your favorite part about volunteering for Furry Friends? Being around the kitties and helping them out is a highlight. Also my fellow volunteers are great, giving, loving people, it is such a pleasure to be around them and work on a common cause. I am also having a blast using all my creative and business skills for something I am passionate about.

Do you have any pets at home? Yes, three cats. CC & Norman are 16 years old and Benny showed up at our door this year, he is 11 months old now.

Tell us about other hobbies or interests that you have? I have just stopped playing ice hockey due to a broken ankle a few months ago. I started playing when I was 50 years old. There were no women’s teams at my rink so I played on a men’s team. I eventually joined the Portland Phoenix which is a women’s team in Portland. I also perform in a music show with my husband Mickey Stevens who has been a professional musician his entire life. In our show, I play rhythm guitar and sing. I change clothes about 6 times during the show, assuming other characters. We perform a mix of classic rock, country and old standards. I also enjoy hiking, horses, kayaking, gardening, painting & drawing and crafts. 

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop

Summer Festivities and Feline Safety

What would summertime be without Fourth of July celebrations and family reunions, backyard BBQs and porch, patio and pool parties? Whether held outdoors or indoors, whether with fireworks or fanciful decorations, feline guardians must NEVER let down THEIR guard.

When planning a celebratory event for people, plan it with the safety of your pet in mind by following these simple, common sense suggestions:

1. Warn your guests to keep all alcoholic beverage holders (from glass and plastic to paper and Styrofoam) out of reach of your cat. Alcohol can be very poisonous to pets, causing them to become weak or ill, fall into a coma due to respiratory failure, and possibly die.

The same applies to all non-alcoholic beverages (including soda, tea and coffee) because the caffeine they contain can cause rapid heartbeats, extreme agitation and muscle tremors in your cat.

And if a BBQ is on the menu, keep your curious cat away both from the heat and the sizzling, scintillating smells emanating from the barbecue grill.

While most cats won’t voluntarily jump into water, they can easily and accidentally fall into a swimming pool when either chased (by a dog) or distracted (by the hubbub). Naturally good swimmers, they can’t, however, climb OUT again without a ramp or a person’s prompt, helping hand.

2. Should your party include pretty and perky party favors (such as firecrackers, miniature flags and sparklers, glow sticks, paper hats and poppers, balloons, streamers and confetti), keep them out of reach of playful paws and retrieve any fallen favors from the ground or floor as soon as you see them.

If swallowed, these same party favors can swiftly turn pernicious, potentially causing an obstructed digestive track, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery.

Because many cats have extremely sensitive ears, the sudden, startling sounds made by poppers and horns, firecrackers and noisemakers can be both frightening and unnerving. For this reason, it’s wise to keep all fearful felines far from this form of fun and frolics.

3. Remind your guests that all table and plate scraps are off limits to your cat’s inquisitive nose and inquiring mouth. Parties abound with unsafe temptations, including salted chips, nuts and chocolate, fat drippings, highly seasoned meats and dips that contain avocado, onion and garlic.

While some of these sweets and savories may merely cause mild stomach upsets, some can be highly toxic.

Haunce is about 8 weeks old and he and his 9 tabby brothers and sisters are available for adoption through Furry Friends.

Haunce is about 8 weeks old and he and his 9 tabby brothers and sisters are available for adoption through Furry Friends.

4. To be safe instead of sorry, provide for your cat’s comfort beforehand by providing her with the protection and privacy of her own purr-sonal chill space. A quiet bedroom, far from the partying crowd or the explosion of fireworks, is ideal.

Supply your cat with “all the comforts of home” – including her cat bed, a scratching post or pad, and her favorite toys. Set down a bowl of cold, fresh water and spread assorted treats around. For additional calming, leave the TV on low or play some classical music to blunt the effects of the noise outside.

Place a note on the door warning your guests to please NOT enter the room or let your cat out.

Play peek-a-boo once in a while, or stay for a pet, a cuddle or a game to reassure yourself that your cat is content, and to remind her that you’re always close by.

Nomi Berger is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.  For more information about Furry Friends visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact them at information@furryfriendswa.org or (360) 993-1097

A Happy Tail to Tell



When I found myself homeless and without resources in April 2015, my car became "home" to my four cats and me. In desperation, I contacted numerous cat rescue groups, but Jennifer Hart of Furry Friends was the only one who answered me. She promptly agreed to take two of my cats, Hiway and Kahalua, who, along with Mommy Kitty and Q.T, had been my best friends for nearly 10 years.

The most painful decision was putting the other two up for adoption at SW Washington Humane Society. Fortunately, Q.T was adopted, while Momma Kitty was returned to me, where we spent the next year together in our four-wheeled "home." Furry Friends took remarkable care of Hiway and Kahalua. They were loved and cared for by all of the volunteers, and although the adjustment was difficult (I was the only family they had ever known), they soon became quite popular at the halfway house because of their personality and charm. And although I knew they could be adopted, I was at peace with that. But a part of me held onto the hope that when my life took an upward turn, one or both would still be there, waiting for me.

Throughout the year, I managed to visit them (usually on Wednesday nights), to get my "fix" of cat love by seeing them and loving on them without any restrictions. My thanks to Tanya and Jamie and the entire crew of Furry Friends for all the love you gave them. Spending that time with my precious boys lifted my spirits enough to help me through each tough day on my journey from homelessness to hopefulness.

Finally, my circumstances changed, and I recently found some housing. On a bittersweet note, though, Kahalua WAS adopted, and if his new owner is reading this, I hope you know what a blessing he is to your home, and that I hope you’ll love him as much as I did. When I asked to re-adopt Hiway, Jennifer was genuinely pleased to see at least part of our family reunited. Needless to say, Momma Kitty’s nose is still slightly out of joint, having been my one and only for an entire year, but she’s coming around. As for Hiway – he’s happy, and so am I.



Thank you, Furry Friends! Thank you for helping homeless cats and for helping homeless people make it through this rough journey called life. If anyone reading my story has thought about adopting a cat from Furry Friends, my advice is GO FOR IT! You will never find a better rescue group or more caring people, both at the Furry Friends Halfway House and at PetSmart adoption center.

Thank you, Furry Friends for the love and kindness you have shown every cat, every potential adopter, and especially ME!

- Chuck Edmunds


Griffin is a 2 year old blue Persian rescue cat from Vancouver. He was rescued by Furry Friends Washington cat rescue and is out to change everyone’s preconception about cats. His personal motto is "anything dogs can do, I can do better!"

In March of 2015, I unexpectedly lost my kitty of 18 years, Fluffy, to an unknown cause. I got him at 4 years old when my brother "rescued" him from a tree top as a kitten. Heart-broken and lonely without the companionship of a furry friend like I was used to, I couldn’t go another day by myself and quickly began the search for a new cat to adopt. Thankfully being a volunteer for Furry Friends Washington, I had an unlimited supply to choose from, but after several adoption attempts fell through for various reasons, I was feeling very discouraged.

One day, Lunda our adoption coordinator emailed me about a new young cat coming in that I needed to see and which, at the time, she thought was going to be a Maine Coon, like my Fluffy. The moment I saw him I knew it was meant to be! I didn’t know much about where he came from but his name was Jango, he was barely 7 lbs, was covered in fleas, had horrible ear mites, had sores on his head from scratching himself so much and his fur was so horribly matted that when he tried to walk it would pull his skin causing it to bleed. Despite being in such bad shape and it being his first day in a scary new place he melted right into my arms and never stopped purring, and that was that – I had met the boy for me. After some tearful begging to my parents, they agreed to his adoption. Jango was renamed as Griffin, got a few rounds of flea and ear mite treatments as well as his matts shaved off and he was ready to come home. 

Right away, we could tell he was no ordinary cat – more like a person in a little cat’s body. Today he has filled out to a healthy 11lbs 7oz and sports a lion cut in the summer to keep his dense fur coat, which reaches +7 inches in the winter. Griffin turns heads everywhere he goes whether he is walking on his leash or riding in his stroller or car seat. He walks around the pet stores when we are shopping for his food, attends pet shows and expos in his stroller and loves to go "bye bye" anywhere in the car, especially if he gets to drive.

People always ask "what kind of dogs is that?!" because he looks different than your typical cat and because they can’t believe a cat would be so calm on a leash in public, especially around big dogs. Griffin has no fear. Big dogs don’t scare him and he is extremely friendly so he will often approach the big dogs and people for a sniff! His personality and outgoing behavior came naturally for him.  I never had to train him to use the leash or to be comfortable in public with a lot of people and animals, he’s just a natural and he loves the attention. I just tell people "I hit the jackpot!"

He loves to play hide and seek and enjoys jumping out from behind doors to scare everyone, including our dog who doesn’t find it as funny! He also likes to "fetch" pine cones in the yard, munching on tortilla chips, and laying in his window hammock.  He doesn’t mind (too much) when I put him in a funny t-shirt.  His best friend is Murphy, a Siamese kitty adopted from Furry Friends by my brother. 

With Griffin’s outgoing and fearless personality, he was meant to be a therapy animal so once a month he visits a local retirement community. His unique look and sweetness lights up the faces of the elderly residents.  They always get a good laugh from getting a high five from him in exchange for a treat or whatever his latest little outfit it. He also has a Facebook and Instagram account (@CallMeGriffy) where I occasionally share my favorite pictures and videos of him.

Griffin has a unique and adorable appearance and a special personality which I always try to use to promote awareness for rescue cats and to always adopt, not shop! There are so many wonderful, beautiful and healthy cats waiting in shelters for someone to love them. Griffin is proof that you don't have to buy from a breeder or pet store to get the perfect Persian cat! I had always wanted a Persian growing up and I am thankful I chose to adopt.  Had I not, I would have missed out on the opportunity to rescue my perfect, one of a kind boy! When Furry Friends rescued Griffin, he also rescued me. He was exactly what I needed and he has been a priceless addition to our family.  He brings so much joy to us and everyone he meets!

 - Tess Ewart

Volunteering brings many benefits

Diane Stevens giving love during her volunteer shift at Furry Friends

Diane Stevens giving love during her volunteer shift at Furry Friends

Everyone knows that juggling a busy life is a challenge, but you may find that adding one more activity to the mix could bring benefits beyond what you may imagine.

The activity? Volunteering for a group that has a special attraction for you. The key is passion. If you care about what the group is doing, it isn’t hard to find a morsel of time to dedicate to the cause. Most groups have tasks that can take very little time, or can take many hours. It is up to you to pick a duty that fits your skills, enjoyment and time available.

The right match can help your mental and physical health, as well as increase your circle of friends and bring personal satisfaction from doing something for someone else. Even helping out with the smallest task can make a big difference to the lives of people, animals and organizations in need. If you are new to the area, volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your interests.

A few of the health benefits:

  • Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. For some who have had a change in life such as loss of a spouse, retirement, or relocation to a new community, volunteering can help you establish a new routine while doing something for someone else. It can give you more ambition for life.
  • Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can give you a natural sense of accomplishment, pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more positive you are about your life and goals.
  • Volunteering combats depression. Those fighting depression naturally gravitate towards isolation. Volunteering can get you out of the house and around other people or animals. Volunteering for animal welfare groups is a great way to combat the depression demon.

There are often jobs available for those with limited mobility such as writing thank you cards, returning phone calls, stuffing envelopes or putting labels on envelopes. Or if you are a person with computer, writing, marketing or graphic skills, there may be jobs for you that can be done from home. The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude.

Animal welfare and people

Many volunteer opportunities are available in Clark County. The key is to find a volunteer position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. My personal passion is animal welfare. Since retiring in 2015, I have dedicated many hours a week to an organization called Furry Friends, which is a local all-volunteer, no-kill cat shelter in Clark County.

Helping make a difference for the cats in our care has been very rewarding. Clark County Animal Control says that there are an estimated 96,000 cats in the Clark County, a huge number. How many of them are living miserable lives? I will do what I can to educate people about cats and try to find loving homes for as many of them as I can. Helping one cat may not change the world, but you can change the world for one cat.

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to have an animal in your life, then you know the fun, affection and loyalty they can bring. They can also have healing powers to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and more in a person’s life. I would encourage anyone to reach out to one of the many animal welfare agencies in the area for volunteer work. There are groups for cats, dogs, horses and more, all working on limited budgets and with many needs.  As you give your time to others, you will find that you have made the world a better place and the joy you receive cannot be measured. Give volunteering a try today.

Diane Stevens is a volunteer for Furry Friends, which is a cat rescue group in Clark County. To find out about volunteer opportunities with this group visit the web site at www.furryfriendswa.org or email information@furryfriendswa.org.


Paying it forward – Marci Koski

 Your Name:  Marci Koski 

Current employer or place of business:  Feline Behavior Solutions and US Fish and Wildlife Service 

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends 

How I got involved: I became involved with Furry Friends because I decided to start my own cat behavior consulting business, and needed to get my feline behavior certification.  The certification program required a certain number of field hours for experience, and I searched for just the right organization with which to volunteer.  I found Furry Friends and the rest is history!  I couldn’t have picked a better organization to work with – the people are incredibly dedicated, and each cat is special and unique.  Because they don’t have the resources that larger rescue organizations have, I feel like the time I spend volunteering with Furry Friends is really needed, and I’m able to make a real, positive impact on the lives of the kitties that Furry Friends works so hard to help. 

Why I give back:  I think everyone should give back as a member of a community.  It doesn’t have to be working with rescued animals, but I think that anyone can find a way to help others using their own talents, passion, and resources.  My passion happens to be cats (and other animals, but especially cats!), and my mission as a cat behaviorist is to keep cats in homes and out of shelters.  While we strive to give the cats at Furry Friends the care and attention they need, the best place for these kitties is ultimately in a forever home.  I love seeing these kitties get adopted! 

Proudest moment as a volunteer:  I was so proud when I heard that Peggy Sue was adopted.  She was a sweet, quiet tuxedo kitty with the funniest little meow, and had been passed over so many times.  She had been at the Furry Friends halfway house for so long, just waiting for her forever family to find her!  At one point, Furry Friends became involved with a film called Zombie Cats from Mars, and we provided the cat actors for the movie; Peggy Sue was one of the stars with some great scenes.  However, all the cats except for Peggy Sue had gotten adopted.  It was only a day or so before the Vancouver screening of the film when I found out she was finally adopted – I was able to meet her new mom at the film debut, and I was so happy to know that she had found the purrrrrrfect family to live with! 

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about?  As you might guess, I’m most passionate about animal welfare.  I’m involved with various groups that help cats find permanent homes and treat behavior problems so that cats don’t end up in shelters.  I love meeting people who have a passion for animals – they are some of the best people, with the biggest hearts! 

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents, hobbies or interests?  I used to play roller derby, but I had to quit so that I could build my cat behavior consulting business.  But it’s ok – just plain roller skating without knocking people over is fun, too. 

Additional Information: 

Tell us a little about what you do with Furry Friends:  I started out by volunteering at the halfway house, cleaning up after and socializing the cats.  I eventually became involved in providing social media support, then became the lead for the social media team.  I’m currently on the executive board, but I still do my cleaning shifts and maintain my social media duties.

How long have you volunteered with Furry Friends?  I’ve been volunteering for over two years now. 

Do you also volunteer for other organizations? If so, what are they and what do you do?  Yes!  I also volunteer for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.  For a while I volunteered in the adoption cattery, looking after the cats and helping patrons find just the right kitty to adopt.  I’m currently working with them and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society to bring more cat behavior information and guidance into the Larch Cat Adoption Program, which provides inmates at the Larch Mountain Corrections facility with cats to socialize.  The inmates work with the cats until they are adoptable through either of the humane societies – it’s a really great program and benefits the rescue organizations, the cats, and the inmates.  I’m thrilled to be a part of it. 

Photo credit: Erica J. Mitchell

Photo credit: Erica J. Mitchell

What is your favorite part about volunteering for Furry Friends?  I love seeing cat’s personalities bloom, especially if they come from difficult situations.  We had one kitty, Kahlua, who was a big boy and would hiss and spit at you if you even looked at him – I’m not going to lie, he was pretty intimidating.  We discovered that he loved catnip, and from there, we were able to gain his trust and his loving personality came out over the course of a couple of months.  He was such a sweet kitty, and he was adopted into a great home!  All the work we did with him really paid off…seeing the direct effect of our care on cats is my favorite thing. 

Do you have any pets at home?  Yes!  I have five cats between the ages of almost 7 to 17.  I also have two neon tetras. 

Do you have a job outside f Furry Friends? If so, what do you do?  I’m a cat behaviorist with my own cat behavior consulting business, Feline Behavior Solutions.  I work with cats and their people to resolve behavior problems (like going outside of the litterbox and aggression), and educate people about the environmental and social needs of their cats.  My mission is to keep cats in happy, healthy homes and out of shelters!

Ferals, Strays and Barn Cats

You’ve seen them around, cats that seem to have no home and may be skittish towards you. These are cats that have either lost their home and have to fend for their self or they were born in the wild. These are usually called stray or feral cats. A stray cat is one that has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence. A feral cat may never have had any contact with humans or her contact was minimal. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. You can often find colonies of these cats around out-buildings on country property. They are sometimes called barn cats or farm cats.

When not properly taken care of, they can live miserable lives. Over population, diseases and predators are some of the dangers that these cats face. But people are often the biggest danger to these cats. People get upset with the number of cats on their property and they shoot, poison, drown or torture the cats. Some will trap the cats and take them to the local humane society. Unfortunately, these cats are usually put to sleep.

If you have country property barn cats can be a real blessing if you handle them correctly. Cats were originally domesticated to become rodent control, a job they are made for. When cats are in control, even snakes (and other predators) tend to stay away since there are no mice and rats to eat.

The first thing you’ll need to do is get your barn cat spayed or neutered. There are a number of agencies offering TNR (Trap, neuter, return) programs. These agencies will either assist you or take care of spaying or neutering that cat and bringing them back to you. Visit the resource page on Furry Friend’s web site http://furryfriendswa.org/pet-resources/ to find out more about TNR programs. The next thing you can do is treat these cats with respect. Feed them just like you would any other pet and provide clean water. Many people are under the misconception that if you feed the cat it will not catch rodents. That simply is not true; it’s in the cats’ nature to hunt; they will do it simply for the fun of it. Finally you will need to provide adequate shelter and bedding where they can safely escape predators and stay warm even in the coldest part of winter.

Barn Cat Programs

The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society has the only barn cat program in our area http://wcghs.org/adopt/barn-cat-program/. The next closest program is in Spokane, WA. The program is called "Farm Livin'" and it's run by Spokanimal.  You can find out more here:  http://spokanimal.org/farmlivin.php. There is also one in Aurora, OR called Meow Village http://meowvillage.org/.

When you adopt a barn cat from the WCGHS, an adoption counselor will go over how to acclimate your cat to their new environment and tips for making the adoption a success.  Those who adopt our barn cats agree to give them:

  • Shelter in a barn, warehouse, outbuilding or stable
  • Daily food and water – well fed cats tend to stay close to home and therefore do the best job of controlling rodents
  • Long-term veterinary care, as needed
  • A secure area the first few weeks in their new home while they acclimate to their new surroundings

If you have a building suitable for cats to live out their lives in safety and comfort, please consider giving an otherwise unadoptable cat or two a home. You will enjoy watching the cats and having the satisfaction of giving them a much needed home.  For more information, please contact adoptions@wcghs.org or (360) 835-3464.

Kittens in need of foster parents

Kittens, kittens and more kittens. Spring has sprung and so has kitten season. Now is the time when all the female cats of the land that have not been spayed have their adorable offspring. Now comes the problem of how to deal with these bundles of love. Furry Friends, a no-kill, all volunteer, cat rescue organization in Clark County seeks to provide for as many of these kittens as their limited resources can handle.

Enlisting more kitten foster parents is the first step towards providing for these little ones. Foster parents care for kittens, socialize them as they grow and are weaned and provide space for mom cats to raise their young. Without fosters opening up their homes, Furry Friends would not be able to take in pregnant females or newborn kittens. Furry Friends provides the food, litter and medical for the cats and kittens in foster care and fosters provide the love and socialization.

By opening up your home to foster pets, you’re not only helping to save lives, you’re providing the individual attention and care these kittens desperately need. Kittens are some of the most at-risk pets in shelters because some require around-the-clock care, and most shelters don’t have the resources or staff to provide that level of care. Fostering helps kittens find forever families and it saves their lives.

Foster homes are asked to provide care for the kittens and provide transportation to and from medical appointments as needed. Care for foster kittens includes a feeding schedule, cleaning, and lots of snuggling and play time. Fostering kittens is a very rewarding experience. By participating in this program, you are saving lives and helping kittens find families.

How much time do I need to spend with the kittens?

As much time as you can. The more time you spend with your foster kittens, the more socialized they will be to people. The amount of time required for feeding will vary depending on the age of the kittens you are fostering. Very young kittens need to be bottle-fed every two to three hours if no mom available to nurse them, while older usually feed themselves between 4-5 weeks of ageup to 4 times a day. 

Can I foster kittens even if I have a full-time job?

Yes. The foster coordinator will match you with kittens appropriate for your schedule. You will need to be available, however, to take the kittens to a medical appointment if they are sick. All basic medical is done at the Furry Friends Halfway House in Vancouver. 

How long will the kittens need to be in foster care?

As soon as a kitten weighs 2lbs to 3 lbs it will be spayed or neutered and will be put up for adoption. Kittens usually start medical between 7-8 weeks of age.  We ask that they remain in your care till adopted. Usually the kittens are adopted out fairly quickly.

Furry Friends is in great need for kitten foster parents, won’t you consider becoming one today? Contact them at (360) 993-1097 or information@furryfriendswa.org for more information. Furry Friends is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that has been serving Clark County since 1999. This no-kill organization is operated and run completely by volunteers and dedicated to providing rescue, necessary medical, and spay/neuter for neglected and homeless cats while finding them forever homes. To find out more about this organization, visit www.furryfriendswa.org or www.facebook.com/furryfriends

Paying it Forward

YourName:  Karen Laksamana 

Current employer or place of business:  I started working at Formations Design Group in 1998 when I was still in college, and I became co-owner in 2006. We do web development and graphic design in downtown Vancouver. 

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends, a cat rescue organization. I currently design their quarterly newsletter, Formations hosts their website, and I work on the auction fundraiser committee every year and volunteer at the event. 

How I got involved: About 8 years ago, one of our clients at Formations—Iron Gate Storage, a primary sponsor of Furry Friends—asked if we would be willing to overhaul the Furry Friends’ website pro-bono. Since I’m a cat lover and it’s always fun to do a project that isn’t limited by budget, I jumped in. I soon got involved in other aspects of the organization. I later handed over the reins to the website to another developer who created a new WordPress site for Furry Friends, and I now help with design work instead. 

Why I give back: Initially it was because I just really felt like I could improve their web presence and give them more credibility as a non-profit to help them attract sponsors and donors. But I love the work they do and how committed they all are to the welfare of cats. I have three cats of my own and two of them are rescues.  

Proudest moment as a volunteer: Overhauling the bid tracking and checkout system for the annual Furry Friends auction and getting feedback that the process goes much smoother now that we use computers! The next Furry Friends auction will be September 17th at the Firtenburg Community Center. 

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about?  As a local small business owner, I’m really interested in the drive to ‘buy local,’ to support local businesses, and the recent effort to create a technology zone in downtown Vancouver. 

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents, hobbies or interests? Well, I’m actually a pretty good pool player, and I love to play softball. I’ve also recently taken up trail running.

Declawing Cats: An Inhumane Practice

“Help! My cat is clawing up my sofa, should I get her declawed? I hear it’s an easy procedure.”

Unfortunately, I have heard this statement more than once. People often mistakenly believe that declawing their cat is an easy fix for unwanted scratching. Some may think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat's nails—the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed.

Declawing is not a trim; it is the amputation of the last bone of each toe. On a human, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. It provides no benefit to the cat and does much harm.

Declawing causes problems such as: pain in the paw, bleeding, infection, tissue death, arthritis, loss of balance, and back and foot pain. A cat often turns to biting aggression or may not use the litter box because of foot pain. Many countries and several cities in California have banned declawing except for rare medical reasons. 

If you have problems with a cat that is inappropriately scratching, look at other more humane remedies for this problem. Scratching is a natural part of a cat’s life; you just have to understand what you can do to provide proper outlets for this behavior. 

There are some great resources if you would like to find out more about declawing or how to solve the inappropriate scratching problem. Check out some of these sites.

The Paw Project is probably the best source of declawing information http://pawproject.org/ 

Cat behaviorist Marci Koski wrote an excellent article on trimming cat claws and scratching.  http://www.felinebehaviorsolutions.com/trimming-cat-claws/. Marci has also done a podcast on declawing:  https://soundcloud.com/catchatpodcast/cat-chat-episode-03-cats-claws-and-declawing. The Truth About Declawing site talks about technical information about the declawing procedure and its repercussions: http://www.declawing.com/the-truth-about-declawing

Furry Friends honors volunteers who helped in 2015

Furry Friends recently honored those who volunteered for the organization in 2015. A record 13,339  hours were donated by more than 115 volunteers in 2015, making it the largest number of volunteer hours in the organization’s history.  Katherine Tucker had the most hours worked with 335 hours, Tonya Curtis came in 2nd at 271 hours and Marilyn Forker had 252 hours. Some of the jobs our volunteers perform include: Cat care, feeding and cleaning at the halfway house and adoption center, cat socializing, transporting cats, trap-neuter-return team, social media, publicity, marketing, graphics, photography, event planning, cat medical care, adoption councilors, auction committee, executive board, educating the public, cat foster parents, fundraising and yard maintenance. Our volunteers are love in motion, they give sacrificially and they are paid in purrs and head butts.

About Furry Friends

Furry Friends is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, no-kill organization that rescues and adopts out homeless, relinquished, and abused cats in Clark County, Washington. We care for the kitties as long as it takes to find their forever home. We are an all-volunteer organization; there is no paid staff.

For more information, please see the Furry Friends website at www.furryfriendswa.org  or by contacting us atinformation@furryfriendswa.org  or leaving a message at (360) 993-1097.