By Janet McAfee
Coachella Valley cats have a wonderful advocate in Mary Ewing, a local resident who works tirelessly to save their lives and find them new homes. Her program, Whiskers and Purrs, supports the cat rescue operation for Loving All Animals in Palm Desert.
For animal rescuers, there is usually a defining incident that ignites our passion to save and protect them. For Mary, it was a litter of adorable squirming kittens that touched her heart. Her neighbor was fostering them for a private rescue organization, Tender Loving Critters (TLC). Mary was surprised when she learned of the need for fosters, and how there was not enough space at shelters for the incoming animals. She recalls, “We have always had cats and dogs, but I was like 95% of the population who think you simply go to a shelter or a pet store to get a new pet. I had no idea about the lack of homes and the euthanasia that still happens.”
In 1999, Mary began fostering cats in her home. In 2012, she began volunteering with Loving All Animals, and Whiskers and Purrs was hatched. Mary coordinates efforts with other cat rescue groups. She rescues cats from shelters, as well as saving abandoned ones that otherwise would be shelter bound. The phone calls and pleas for help are endless, so Mary diplomatically encourages others to become part of the solution. She will say to people, “We’re here, we want to help you, but we need your help too,” suggesting they foster or help with Trap/Neuter/Return efforts.
In a nation of “pet lovers” the overpopulation of cats results in tragic consequences for our felines. For the millions of cats that end up in our public shelter system yearly, only 25% of them make it out alive. Here’s another shocking fact of “life”…..All underage kittens and puppies (8 weeks old or younger) are routinely euthanized at public shelters. There are 2 reasons for this. These underage animals often require around the clock bottle feeding, and shelters cannot provide this coverage. The second reason is that state law requires all adopted animals be spayed or neutered prior to adoption, and these animals are too young for this procedure.
One Thursday evening, when our county shelter stays open till 7:00pm, standing in front of me was a woman turning in a cardboard box full of a dozen tiny kittens, just starting to open their eyes and explore the world. I could not keep quiet. I politely asked her if she could return tomorrow to drop them off, explaining that the rescue coordinator might be able to get them a foster during business hours. She shrugged her shoulders in disregard, and she might as well be dropping off a pile of garbage at the dump. Fortunately, most people who know better will do better.
Public shelters do not have the resources to house and care for the influx of animals, and the fate for these little animals is imminent: Born to die. Countless others perish in the fields in the sweltering summer heat or fall victim to prey.
Did you know that one pair of breeding cats and their offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 kittens in 7 years? Did you know that taxpayers pay over a billion dollars per year to capture, impound, and euthanize millions of animals simply because no home can be found for them? Every time a cat enters our shelter system, it costs the taxpayers over $400.00 and sadly will probably cost that animal its life.
What can you do to help? Consider fostering a mother cat and her newborn kittens. This is the right way to teach your children about the “miracle of life” rather than producing another litter of kittens when there is a limited number of homes. Get your pets spayed and neutered.
Mary points out that if every person did one more thing to help homeless animals, we could solve this problem. “It’s going to take a million people doing one more thing. If we could get a cat advocate in every Coachella Valley community, in every country club, at every public school, we could solve this”. Volunteer at a shelter or rescue group. If you have no time to volunteer, send a donation. Attend an animal charity event. Share photos of homeless animals on Facebook. Tell your friends and family to spay and neuter their pets!
Mary Ewing and Whiskers & Purrs is sponsoring a rummage sale on May 16 and 17 in Palm Springs, the proceeds from which will go towards the spaying and neutering for our community’s cats. Mary explains, “100% of the money raised at this rummage sale goes to the Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) program. Loving All Animals’ Whiskers & Purrs program currently pays for every feral taken into Animal Samaritans under the LAA/No Kill Coachella Valley program. This TNR program operates on a month to month basis as funding permits. Please stop by look at the beautiful items we will have for sale!”
Cash tax deductible donations are also welcome, go to www.lovingallanimals.org and specify Whiskers & Purrs. Fabulous rummage sale items include electronics, office furniture, beautiful kitchenware, home furnishings, and many other “barely used” items. The rummage sale is located at 286 N. Sunset Way, Palm Springs, this Saturday 8am to 3pm and Sunday 9am to 3pm.
Next season, Mary is planning a Motorcycle Poker Run to benefit the cats at Loving All Animals. Participants will pick up a poker card at various locations during their ride, and the person with the best poker hand wins the 50/50 jackpot. This is about keeping it fun and keeping it creative for the “critters”.
For more information, contact Mary Ewing at Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000. Drop by to meet Mary at the rummage sale. If you have space in your heart and in your home, consider becoming a foster parent. These magical creatures deserve all of our help as they bring us so much love, joy, and companionship.