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.

Spotlight on Furry Friends Volunteer, Lisa

Your Name:  Lisa 

Current employer or place of business:  large international computer company 

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends, Vancouver Washington 

How I got involved: My son needed a senior project for high school.  One of the staff members in the school office, mentioned Furry Friends. That began in May of 2010 and he still volunteers today, when he has time available. That was my introduction to Furry Friends.  I was intrigued by the dedication and caring of the volunteers and wanted to help. This is my forth year on the Dinner Auction Committee. 

Why I give back: I began volunteering in High School, as a candy striper. If you look around, there is a lack of resources everywhere you turn. The only way to fill those resources is through volunteers.  I want to a part of an organization that makes a difference.  Furry Friends is that organization Furry Friends is a responsible organization that has a proved track record of longevity in this community and fills a need for animals and people alike. 

Proudest moment as a volunteer: It was actually not as a volunteer but as a family looking for a pet. We had recently said goodbye to my son’s cat and our second cat was lonely.  I reached out to Jennifer Hart at Furry Friends to adopt.  Funny thing is, cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.  We now have 2 of Furry Friends many rescued cats in our home.  They have brought us a lot of joy AND entertainment! 

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about? We live in a disposable society.  Be it natural resources, people, animals, etc.  It breaks my heart to drive along a street and see all the trash on the side of the road, or a pet that has been abandoned, the mentally ill living in the street.  I’m not sure how to solve it all, but if I can make a small difference and hope to be an example to someone else, then maybe that someone else will want to make a difference as well.

 Just for fun: What are your hidden talents, hobbies or interests?  For fun and relaxation I enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, sewing and crocheting.

Volunteer Spotlight with Pati Hinkel

Let's face it. There are so many cats in need that if we didn't have volunteers helping us, we could never accomplish helping the kitties at Furry Friends.  It's so inspiring knowing that each of the kitties in our care has so many heroes working to help them find a better life and a permanent home.  We want to shine the spotlight on one of our amazing volunteers who help us make Furry Friends a success. 

Name:  Pati Hinkel 

Current employer or place of business:  Community Services Northwest-I am a chemical dependency counselor-work with pregnant/parenting addicted moms in Clark County. I have worked for the same agency for over 25 years.  I have a job that I absolutely love-drug/alcohol counseling with pregnant/parenting addicted moms in Clark County.  Very rewarding and never a boring day! 

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends which is a cat adoption agency in Vancouver. I volunteer every Monday evening at the Halfway House and have been doing this for three years. I feed, clean and pet the cats. The kitties love affection, they are so love starved. I would love to see more people volunteer with this group. The Halfway House is where they house most of the cats. Some cats live with foster caretakers and some are at the Adoption Center at PetSmart in Hazel Dell, WA. 

How I got involved: Heard all about it from a friend 

Why I give back: Rewarding and very, very fun. My favorite part about being a volunteer with Furry Friends is spending time with other people who LOVE cats, as much as I do! I have two cats and a dog at home and I can’t imagine my life without them. They bring so much joy to our household. 

Proudest moment as a volunteer: Sponsoring my own table for the annual Furry Friends fundraiser/auction. The next auction will be coming up September 17, 2016, called ‘My Fair Kitty’.  I’m looking forward to helping with that event. 

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about? I’m passionate about helping homeless people and animals. I wish I could help them all. 

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents, hobbies or interests? My Granddaughter, gardening, working out, cooking, traveling.  Got my first pet (cat) at the age of 54!  I am hooked; there will always be a cat in my household. 

About Furry Friends

Furry Friends Washington is a 501c3 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. For more information, visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact information@furryfriendswa.org or leave a message at or at (360) 993-1097.

The story of a failed foster parent

In the world of cats, a foster parent is a person who cares for a cat or kitten until they are old enough, well enough or socialized enough to be adopted. At Furry Friends, all of the kittens in our care start off in foster homes where they get lots of attention and become well adjusted to family life.

My story begins one cold and rainy day as my husband and I were driving home. We enter our neighborhood and a small kitten runs across the road. We parked the car and I went back to find the kitten. There he was, a little tabby kitten hunkered down in the wet grass, cold and afraid. It seemed to me that he was just waiting for me to come. I picked him up, brought him in the house, dried him off, and made a comfy place for him in one of the bedrooms.

We also have two 16-year-old senior cats. I didn’t think that a kitten would be good for them. They are both declining and I thought the stress of an active kitten would be too much for them. So, our plan was to be foster parents for the kitten until he was ready for adoption.

It was a good plan, but it didn’t work. This kitten stole our heart. We soon gave him the name Benny, and since we were not about to give him up, our foster parenting ended!

Then came the task of introducing him to our older cats.

In the ideal world, the newcomer cat has the same energy level and disposition as the resident cats. All my cats had similar dispositions, but the energy level was going to be a problem.

First step in the introductions is to expose all cats’ scents to each other. Any cloth item or blanket that your cats have been lying on will work. Introduce this cloth to the other cat(s) so they can get used to each other’s smell. It is helpful to put this near their food bowls. Next let them see each other, but keep them separate. Site swapping is beneficial. In site swapping you take the newcomer kitten/cat and put him/her in the area or room where the resident cat(s) roam, and you put the resident cat(s) in the room where the newcomer stays. The animals become more familiar with the smells. The final step is supervised visits with each other. Increase the amount of times for these visits daily.

The introductions for Benny, CC and Norman went okay. After an adjustment period, everyone got accustomed to what to expect from each other. Benny wants to play and rough-house too much with Norman, so we monitor that. One of the keys to success is for us to have two or three strenuous daily play sessions with Benny. We try to wear him out so he doesn’t pester the older cats, a plan that has worked well.

Bottom line is, we feel so blessed to have Benny in our lives. We are so happy that we failed as foster parents. He brightens our life daily. And he was a great companion for me when I broke my ankle. Benny was the perfect nurse during those slow days while I healed. I encourage everyone to become a cat foster parent, maybe you won’t fail like we did.

~Diane Stevens

Volunteer Spotlight on Furry Friends volunteer, Cindy Mael

Let's face it. There are so many cats in need that if we didn't have volunteers helping us, we could never accomplish helping the kitties at Furry Friends, which is a no-kill, all volunteer cat adoption agency in Vancouver, WA.  It's so inspiring knowing that each of the kitties in our care has so many heroes working to help them find a better life and a permanent home.  Today we want to shine the spotlight Cindy Mael. Here is an interview that we did with her.

Name:  Cindy Mael

Employment: Self-employed medical transcriptionist.

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends

How I got involved: My husband and I saw Furry Friends at Esther Short Park back around 2008 and adopted a cat.  From there I became a volunteer, cleaning the Halfway House.  I also started doing pet visitations at nursing homes.   

My proudest moment: When doing visitations, it was really fun to see the faces of the residents when they saw a cat.  Also, I devised a wheeled walker (and then a stroller) to carry the cats from room to room.  The people loved seeing the cat in the stroller. 

What are some of your other interests? Hobbies include sewing, playing the piano, crossword puzzles and reading.  I’m also a member of a Kiwanis club, and volunteer with the quilt group and library committee at St. John Lutheran Church in Vancouver.  One of my favorite things is lunch with friends. 

Anything else you would like to add? I’ve been with Furry Friends for about 8 years.  We have one cat that we adopted from Furry Friends, and she’s a lot of fun.  I clean the Halfway House where the adult cats are housed one morning a week.  I have worked the cat adoption events at PetSmart in Hazel Dell and other locations. I have also enjoyed being involved in visitations at care facilities. Bringing a cat to one of these places brings so much joy to the residents. Since I went back to work, I’ve had to limit my volunteer activities.  

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. They care for the kitties as long as it takes to find their forever home. They are an all-volunteer organization; there is no paid staff.

Benefits of pet ownership go beyond companionship

Miranda Larsen and Tango

Miranda Larsen and Tango

You may not know it, but Fluffy and Fido may be quite beneficial to your wellbeing. In addition to the love and companionship that they offer, the joy that you receive offers health benefits that are well documented.  Multiple studies show that pets can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and anxiety, boost immunity, and can help with allergies.

A recent study shows that children growing up with a pet in the home have a lesser chance of developing allergies and asthma as they get older. It also teaches the child about responsibility, and caring for others.

Pets not only help your physical health, but your mental wellbeing also. It has been known that playing with a pet raises serotonin and dopamine levels, which are the nerve transmitters that have pleasurable and calming properties. Pet owners are also able to cope with stressful situations better than non-owners.

“C’mon big dog; let’s go.”

It’s time to get out of the house and take a brisk walk through the neighborhood—big dog and his owner share a need for exercise, and somehow, walking together at least once every day usually makes exercise a pleasure. Having a dog is a great incentive for getting outside, or if you have children, dogs and kids can play for hours wearing each other out. It’s a win win situation.

Leash training has become more popular for cats, but you are not going to get the physical exercise that you need trying to take Fluffy for a walk. You will get more health benefits from the joy that a cat brings to you and the calming effect on your soul.

Adopting an animal in need is a wonderful feeling; and this feeling will never cease. You will get the enjoyment and companionship, and obtain all the health benefits that come with pet ownership. There are many animal shelters here in Clark County looking for you to find your perfect fur baby. One local cat rescue organizations called Furry Friends has a great selection of kitties for your perusal. Check out the available kitties on their web site at www.furryfriendswa.org.

~Natalie Luther

Volunteer Spotlight on Furry Friends volunteer, Tanika Campbell

Let's face it. There are so many cats in need that if we didn't have volunteers helping us, we could never accomplish helping the kitties at Furry Friends.  It's so inspiring knowing that each of the kitties in our care has so many heroes working to help them find a better life and a permanent home.  We want to shine the spotlight on one of our treasured volunteers, Tanika Campbell. Here is an interview that we did with her. 

Tell us a little about what you do with Furry Friends?

I started out as a socializing volunteer last year in 2014. I also worked the Furry Friends table at the South Pacific Rum Bar in Vancouver one Saturday a month speaking with patrons about the rescue. My husband Mike and I also take our dog to senior therapy visits at assisted living centers twice a month.

How long have you been with Furry Friends?

We discovered Furry Friends exactly a year ago.

How did you get involved with Furry Friends?

We chose Furry Friends as one of the shelters to donate food and supplies from our annual animal shelter food drive.

Why do you do volunteer work?

It started when I was helping a family member who lost their job and struggled to make ends meet. My husband and I gave them food and supplies regularly so they would not have to stress over losing their beloved pets. After they got back on their feet I wanted to continue helping someone, realizing how fortunate we are.

Do you also volunteer for other places? What are they and what do you do?

Working at Frito we are able to purchase large amounts of cases of chips which we have donated to many shelters and events to say thank you for the hard work. Some of these have been the Humane Society, Fences For Fidos, Walk/Run for Pets Marathon, Furry Friends, National Guard.

What is your favorite part about volunteering for Furry Friends?

I love the variety of things you can do to help. There are many events to help with, dog therapy, and simply visiting and loving the kitties at the Halfway House and the Furry Friends adoption center at PetSmart in Hazel Dell. 

Do you have any pets at home?

Oh yes! A Chocolate Lab, a Chihuahua, 5 adorable cats (two of those were strays that popped into our yard this year), and fish.  I love animals. Their innocence and unconditional love is something I cannot live without.

Do you have a job outside of Furry Friends? If so, what do you do?

We work full time for Frito Lay. I am admin and my husband works as a shift lead

Tell us about other hobbies or interests that you have?

Majority of our time off is spent with our animals. We love taking our dogs to the park or for a ride. We love to travel, and taking pictures of wildlife.

Didn’t you recently organize a pet food drive? Tell me about that:

Four yrs ago we started an animal shelter food collection. It started with our own contribution. I posted on FaceBook (FB) to friends and family that we were donating, if they were interested in contributing let us know. Our family added a few bags to the pile as did a couple co-workers. We donated about 300 lbs of food.  The following year I posted about the food donation on FB, and made a slide on the reader board at work. We ended up donating about 700 lbs of food and 130 lb of litter. From there it has grown to our current donation of 1400 lb of food and 600 lb of litter, various supplies, and cash donations. I now utilize the reader board at work, FB, also a mission board which I post at Frito Lay, and many emails to food companies. Family also helps by sharing on their FB. We give to two local shelters which are Furry Friends and Second Chance Companions.

Didn’t you rescue a kitty at 2:00 am and were able to reunite him with his owners? Tell me about that:

 I was fortunately in the right place at the right time! I was driving home from work at 2am on Saturday and I saw a white cat on the side of the road. As I pulled over the kitty ran into the road, but stopped when I started talking to him. I scooped him up just as a car was coming upon us. Thankfully he had tags. I took him home, dried him off, and set up our spare room with food and blankets (he was not thrilled with our dogs). In the AM I contacted both numbers and spoke with his owners. Ten minutes later I took kitty home to his tearful mom who told me they had just returned home from the Seattle Children’s Hospital. She was so thankful that she didn’t have to tell her children that they had lost their kitty. It would have ruined Christmas. 

To Volunteer with Furry Friends

Furry Friends website at www.furryfriendswa.org  or by contacting them at information@furryfriendswa.org  or leaving a message at (360) 993-1097.

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. Furry Friends cares for the kitties as long as it takes to find their forever home. They are an all-volunteer organization; there is no paid staff. 

To Volunteer with Second Chance Companions

Contact www.sccpets.com/  Phone:(360) 687-4569

Cats Meow has adoptable cats

Jasmine and Little Bear

Jasmine and Little Bear

Cat lovers who’d like to add another furry friend to their home and those who want to adopt for the first time now have another place in Clark County to visit kitties available for adoption.

The Cats Meow Boarding located at the Mill Plain/I205 intersection has offered the use of their Adoption Room to Furry Friends, a non-profit, all-volunteer cat rescue group, and the first two residents, Jasmine and Little Bear, have arrived.

Amber Groff and Jo Schmidt, owners of the Cats Meow say, “By housing our own separate cat adoption section within The Cats Meow facility, we will promote the connection between cat lovers and cats in need.  We will be showcasing cats available for adoption from Furry Friends.”

Jasmine and Little Bear are a bonded pair of littermates and must be adopted together. The two will do better in a quieter family where Little Bear and Jasmine are the only kitties or where there are no more than two other mellow cat friends.

  • Jasmine – Female spayed white Calico, 4 years. She’s friendly and energetic, skittish, loves to be petted and chase feather wands, but she can be shy and cowardly with other cats or in stressful situations. She has bonded to her littermate, Little Bear.
  • Little Bear – Female spayed Tortoiseshell, 4 years. She is friendly and gentle, loves to snuggle, be petted and held when she’s relaxed. She, too, is shy and cowardly with other cats or in stressful situations. She is bonded to Jasmine. Furry friends invites cat lovers to visit the Cats Meow Boarding and see if these kitties would be a good fit with their families and in their homes.

The Cats Meow, the only all-cat boarding facility in Southwest Washington, isn’t quite a typical boarding place; it offers cat owners the choice of four different sizes of suites for their feline companions. Owners can choose to have their cats stay in the Deluxe Studio, Luxury Suite, Double Deluxe Studio or the Penthouse. 

Jo Schmidt,  Amber Groff & Ollie

Jo Schmidt,  Amber Groff & Ollie

Amenities of the featured suites include ramps and shelving for play and climbing; bird viewing or TV area in the Luxury Suites; custom cat structures; comfortable beds and cubbies; skyboxes positioned for optimum sky-high views; socialization with volunteer “cat cuddlers;” climate control; daily email updates upon request; and access to veterinary care, only one block away.

Owners Schmidt and Groff say, “Our experience has been cultivated by our many years in the non-profit animal shelter sector. We will now bring that same commitment to promoting awareness of the ongoing need for adoptive homes. By housing our own separate cat adoption section within The Cats Meow facility, we will promote the connection between cat lovers and cats in need.  We will be showcasing cats available for adoption from Furry Friends.”

Furry Friends may be contacted at information@furryfriendswa.org or at (360) 993-1097 for more information.

The Cats Meow Luxury Boarding * 330 NE Chkalov Drive, Suite B, Vancouver, WA 98684 * 360-260-2287 * catsmeowboarding@gmail.com

About Furry Friends

Furry Friends Washington is a 501c3 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. For more information, visit www.furryfriendswa.org

Welcome to the Kitty Corner!

Whiskers the cat was cold, hungry, and alone. He was frightened and did not know what to do. He was suddenly homeless after his owners moved and left him behind.

Sadly, Whiskers’ story is one heard all too often by the volunteers at Furry Friends Rescue. Many people think a cat is ‘just an animal’ that will do fine if abandoned. This is so untrue. 

Here at The Kitty Corner, we hope to help people better understand cats and their needs. Here you’ll find tips on health and behavior, meet our valuable volunteers, and discover stories that will melt your heart — a few even written by kitties themselves!

If you are a person who can no longer keep your cat for any reason, you’ll find tips on what to do. Please consider the options.

Diane Stevens

Diane Stevens

Meet some new Furry Friends!

Volunteer Diane Stevens, the organization’s Marketing Director, is among the experts at The Kitty Corner. She is also a photographer, graphic artist, illustrator, event coordinator, and writer.

Volunteer Jenelle York will share stories of forever families (aka happy ever afters) found. Many of the kitties living in their forever homes have hit the kitty lottery. These success stories are wonderful and touching, especially when — as so often happens — the kitty’s former life was not so good.

About the organization

Founded in 1999, Furry Friends is a nonprofit, no-kill organization that rescues and adopts out homeless, relinquished, and abused cats in Clark County, Washington. Volunteers care for the cats as long as it takes to find their forever home. Furry Friends is all-volunteer, with no paid staff.

The house that serves as headquarters is undisclosed, closed to the public. While it may look like any other house on the block it is strictly the domain of cats.  Volunteers call the building a halfway house rather than a shelter.

Furry Friends cats can be viewed at furryfriendswa.org. Some are housed at the Cats Meow Boarding at 330 NE Chkalov Dr. in Vancouver, while others rotate weekly through the PetSmart Adoption Center at 316 NE 78th St. in Vancouver. Still others may be seen by appointment.

Currently, about 115 volunteers perform a variety of tasks, including feeding, cleaning, and showering the kitties with love. Many high school and college students volunteer in the evenings.

All our work is proven worthwhile when we see our cats find loving homes.

To learn more about Furry Friends Washington, their goals, how they are funded and how you can help, visit FurryFriendsWA.org.