Room to Roam

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Keeping cats and wildlife safe — in style

We love our feline companions. So much so that it’s easy to forget they are natural predators, and those hunter instincts have can deadly consequences for other feathered and furry creatures in the neighborhood.

The Portland-area Audubon Society reports that nearly half of the injured wildlife cases brought to its welfare centers involve cat-related injuries. To help address this issue, the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, Portland Audubon Society, and Portland-area humane societies and animal shelters partner in an annual Catio Tour.

Now in its 6th year, the Catio Tour is a tour of homes showcasing enclosures created to provide safe spaces for cats to enjoy much-needed outdoor time while protecting wildlife and songbirds.

“We’re not saying keep your cat indoors,” insists FCCO Executive Director Karen Kraus. The goal of the Catio Tour is to inspire people to build their own catio. Protected outdoor spaces for cats, Kraus says, are a win-win. Catios protect pets from cars, birds of prey, and coyotes. Kraus points out that cats can also be preyed upon.

Catio tours are still a new idea, Kraus says, but similar events have caught on in other communities such as Seattle and Santa Cruz. The first year of the tour in Portland, organizers didn’t know what to expect. But signups were overwhelming, and this year’s tour will have about a thousand attendees viewing around a dozen Catios. “Many people try to see them all,” Kraus says, while some opt to visit select properties.

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Kraus hopes the biggest takeaway from the self-guided tour is that it doesn’t take a lot of money to create appropriate outdoor experiences for family cats. The goal is to inspire people to build their own backyard feline spaces.

Catio budgets range “from frugal to fabulous, DIY to designer,” Kraus says. “If you don’t have a lot of money you can build a catio.” Some are elaborate, with elevated areas and diverse sources of stimuli. Others are simple, chicken coop-like structures on a back porch.

“It doesn’t have to be expensive,” Kraus assures. “This is stuff you can do at home. Whatever you can envision you can afford.” Almost all catios are built from supplies available at most hardware, garden or farm-supply outlets.

The Catio Tour is a natural for a community that cares about nature and the environment. Kraus hopes attendees will come away from the tour with the feeling that anyone can help cats and wildlife share a better balance. “All of us play a role in this,” she says.

Portland Catio Tour * Saturday, Sept 8 * $10; benefits FCCO * feralcats.com.


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William Kennedy is a freelance writer who lives with his wife and daughter in downtown Eugene, Oregon. He's had many furry friends in his lifetime. Currently, he's tolerated by a black cat named Midnight.

Get your costume ready

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Vancouver’s Furry Friends cat rescue has a plan for this year’s fundraiser that could fill your Instagram feed. Organizers at the all-volunteer rescue encourage guests to attend in costumes that celebrate the historical spirit of the legendary Three Musketeers — but with a feline flair.

The fundraiser, happening Saturday, Sept 15 at Vancouver’s Firstenburg Community Center, supports operating costs for and improvements to the rescue’s recently purchased Halfway House, which expanded shelter capacity. 

Whiskers, swords, and costumes are optional, but registration is required. Get tickets and details at FurryFriendsWA.org.

Paws for Celebration supports St. Martin’s Rescue

St. Martin’s Rescue, a nonprofit, no-kill, special needs, medical and senior dog rescue is known for helping pets with some of the most heartbreaking histories find forever loving homes. “We rescue dogs from high-kill shelters, provide all medical care and adopt them into loving, fully vetted homes,” says director Susan Licari. 

You can support or be a part of this very special foster-based organization.  The group’s annual fundraiser, Paws for Celebration, is happening Apr. 9, 10am-1pm, at Sage Wellness Center in Beaverton. Learn more at stmartinsanimalrescue.org.

Get Ready for the FURBALL!

The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, aka FCCO, has hosted its annual fundraiser, The Furball, for 19 years. This year’s event — Catsino Royale — takes place May 6 at the Portland Art Museum.

The evening will include silent and live auctions, raffles, a dessert auction, and a Wall of Wine. Also light fare by Artemis Foods and local wine and beer compliments of Sokol Blosser Winery and Hopworks Urban Brewery. Attire for the evening is 1960s, or James Bond spy-wear.

KGW Chief Meteorologist Matt Zaffino emcees, and Chris Sheik is acting auctioneer. For tickets/info, visit feralcats.com.

Recycling – It's a Northwest Thing

Furry Friends will be offering their recycled cats and kittens for adoption June 25–26, 2016 at the Recycled Arts Festival (RAF) held at Esther Short Park, 301 West 8th Street in Vancouver, WA. In addition to the kitties, there will be great cat themed merchandise that Furry Friends will have for purchase.

Discounted Avid FriendChip ID microchipping for dogs and cats will be offered on Saturday, June 25th from 9am to 1pm and Sunday , June 26th from 9am to 1pm. The chips will be implanted in your pet by our volunteer licensed vet tech for only $20 (a $45 value). This unique permanent identification gives your lost pet a much better chance of coming home.

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

Let the Games Begin!

Athletic games are among our favorite pastimes. Even people who don’t keenly follow a sport often get swept into the excitement of competition at its best — the NBA playoffs, the World Series, the World Cup, the Super Bowl, and perhaps most compelling of all:  The Olympic Games.

Who can resist cheering the power and drama of lifelong athletes vying for the ultimate prize: being named the best. Not us!

If that's you, too, get ready for excitement the third Sunday in July, when athletes from everywhere converge to show their skills and compete for top prizes in … Best Howler, Marathon Napper, Best Trick, Limbo Dog (most are great at it until they start wagging those tails), and more.

The annual Basset Hound Games are happening July 17 at Settlemier in Woodburn. Registration is 8:30-10am; the games begin at 10:30.

Whether you take your Basset to compete or attend simply to witness the excitement, the Basset Games are fun, hilarious, and memorable. Participation is $15/first hound, $10/each additional dog, covering all events, all day.

Food and drinks available on site. The day also includes a Parade of Rescues.

The Basset Games are presented by Oregon Basset Hound Rescue, a nonprofit dedicated to finding homes for Basset Hounds who have been abandoned, dropped off at shelters, or are otherwise homeless. Bassets available for adoption live with foster families while awaiting their forever home.

Learn more at oregonbassethoundrescue.com or Oregon Basset Hound Games on Facebook..

Cats on stage like you’ve never seen

Samantha Martin’s heart belongs to cats. In 2009, she created Acro-Cats, a show combining entertainment and education that shows how — just as with dogs — training enhances the feline/human bond. 

All tricks are performed by shelter cats, ranging from kittens to seniors. Tuna, the star of the show, is 13. Martin works with rescue groups across the country, and has found homes for over 150 cats to date.

Acro-Cats is showing at the Aladdin Theater in Portland June 25-26. Participating as stage hands and assistants will be volunteers from House of Dreams no-kill cat shelter and Furry Friends Washington, and a portion of ticket sales will go to those groups. For details and ticket info, visit CircusCats.com.

Retail + Pets + Community = L♥VE

On Valentine’s Day 11 years ago, Nancy Fedelem took ownership of Salty’s Pet Supply on Mississippi Ave. in Portland.

It was a love affair from the start.

It all began in 2005 when Nancy left corporate life in California to move to Portland with her husband Matt. Unsure of what she wanted to do next, she lent a hand to a friend who had just opened a pet supply store. In six short months, she owned the place. “I love retail,” she smiles.

Apparently it loves her too: in 2012, she opened her second shop, Fang & Feather in NoPo’s Kenton neighborhood. In May of last year, Nancy and both shops were honored with an SBA Small Business Spirit Award, with an acknowledgment that said, in part: “A steadfast contributor to both the Mississippi and Kenton Business Associations, Nancy’s commitment to the business community, pets, and their owners, makes her a standout entrepreneur and truly ‘spirited’ small business owner.”

While appreciative of the accolades, what is perhaps most meaningful to Nancy is that she and her businesses have become integral members of their neighborhoods.

“I love the animals, the customers coming in with their pets, and being able to help meet their needs,” Nancy says. Having degreed and built a career in set design and event planning, she also loves the visual aspects. “It totally plays into my love of theatre and design.”

While that love comes naturally, Nancy’s love of dogs came as a surprise. Her husband wanted to adopt one shortly after they married. Nancy had always had cats, but had never wanted a dog. But Matt prevailed, and soon the family included Monk, a Rott/Lab mix. “I was like, Ugh!  He’s your dog,” Nancy laughs.

But with a little time, training, and more than a few sloppy kisses, Monk won her heart. In the months that followed, the family added Sharona, a MinPin rescue. While fostering MinPins, Bubby came along. Then came Bryan, a “foster failure” and their first adoption in Portland. 

In addition to her love of retail and pets, there is one more passion many identify closely with Nancy: community outreach and support. Among her favorite community activities is a Photos with Santa event held during the holidays at both stores. “We raised $1200 for Multnomah County Animal Services’ Dolly Fund last year,” she says happily.

Both businesses support many organizations, including PAW Team, which provides quality veterinary care for pets of low-income and homeless individuals and families, the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank, and others.

And as they give, they grow. Soon Fang & Feather will move into larger digs — four times the current space, and double the size of Salty’s — and expand to include farm and feed as well as pet supplies. The new location is still in the Kenton neighborhood, and Nancy looks forward to continued involvement in the community.

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While there is much work to be done for the new Fang & Feather’s opening in late July, right now Nancy is busy preparing for another favorite annual event:  the annual costume contest Fang & Feather hosts in May as part of the Kenton Street Fair.

“We had a great turnout last year — a ton of people!” says Nancy, adding that she expects the event to be even bigger this year.

If you’ve never met Nancy, or visited Salty’s or Fang & Feather — or even if you have — this is a great time to stop by. Get your best friend dolled up (this year’s theme is children’s book characters) and get in on the fun! 

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Raise the ‘WOOF’

SPOT helps spay and neuter dogs for low-income folks

Some rescue groups are more high profile than others. SPOT, aka Stop Pet Overpopulation Today, is more low key. The group serves low-income people who often don’t have smartphones or computers, a double-whammy in terms of getting word out for their services. And there’s the little bit of confusion with this magazine’s name! While the names are similar, the organizations are not affiliated.

The Eugene group’s biggest annual fundraiser is April 9, a 1920s-themed casino night to hopefully raise about $20,000 — enough to fund about half the surgeries planned for 2016.

“We reach out to folks who range from low-income to homeless,” says Joey Curtin, SPOT’s President. “We get a lot of referrals from veterinarians who know there’s just no way they can afford the services, so they know these animals aren’t going to get fixed.”

At almost 20 years old, SPOT has evolved over the years. In 2008 SPOT partnered with WAG, the Willamette Animal Guild spay neuter clinic. The existing SPOT board had been working to raise revenue to help all kinds of animals with various veterinary situations, but they were ready to retire. Curtin was on the WAG advisory board at the time, and she and the other concerned parties put their heads together.

“One of the many needs we saw was that there wasn’t an organization in Lane County raising money to get dogs fixed,” Curtin says. “A few were doing similar things for kitties, so we decided to take that piece and do something with it to help people with the cost of getting their dogs fixed.”

Since that time SPOT has helped fund surgeries for 3,200 dogs in Lane County, possibly 3,300 by now. “I’ve been saying 3,200 for several months and haven’t stopped to count!” Curtin smiles.

Donors can feel good about supporting SPOT. “We have no rent, no salaries, almost no overhead, a $14.95 a month phone line we all can tap into to pick up our calls, and just the expenses when we do a fundraiser,” says Curtin. “Consistently, 96 to 97 percent of every dollar we raise goes directly into spay-neuter vouchers. We want people to know that when they donate to us their money is really getting used.”

SPOT’s Roaring Twenties casino night is being produced by a company specializing in casino events, with professional catering. There will be black jack, roulette, craps, Texas Hold ‘Em, and a WOOF — Wheel of Outrageous Fortune. “It’s outrageous fun!” says Curtin, who encourages attendees to dress in ’20s attire.

People who haven’t gambled before needn’t feel intimidated, says Curtin. Friendly dealers are happy to teach and help, and it’s all in fun. Because the event is as dedicated to ‘fun’ as funds, dealers are likely to slip you an ace and cheat. Attendees will be provided “funny money” for playing, and more can be purchased if desired. At night’s end, winnings are exchanged for raffle tickets for high-end prizes.

In 2014, SPOT set a goal to spay or neuter 150 Pit Bulls at a cost of $10 each; they’re repeating that goal this summer. “Pit Bulls are the most prevalent species in the shelters for a lot of reasons,” says Curtin. “A primary one being their litters are so huge. The average Pit Bull will have between eight and 12 puppies. There also are a ton of puppy mill Pit Bull breeders. It’s a popular breed, but it’s also one that ends up in shelters more than any others, and they tend to not get adopted as easily as a lot of other dogs.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Chihuahuas are the second most common shelter breed, also due to puppy mill breeders. “We’re going to do a project in tandem with WAG in August to get those little guys fixed,” says Curtin. “We do all dogs every day, but when we see areas that really needs a serious focus we try to shine a spotlight on it.”

SPOT: Stop Pet Overpopulation Today  *  www.spotspayneuter.org


Vanessa Salvia's love for animals began as a child, when stray kittens just seemed to follow her home (who thankfully, her family accommodated). She lives on a sheep farm outside of Eugene OR, surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, chickens and kids.