The beginning of FFRC was 9/1/2000. My daughter, Dawn, and I knew we would love to run a feline rescue center. Our first room was known as Kitty Campus Room. We immediately took in 12 cats. I was overwhelmed with the thought of having to find homes for so many! Little did I know where all this was eventually going to lead. I remember our very first adoption–it was a joyous occasion! The kittens name was Nugget. At this time, we did not have the “spay/neuter before they go” policy in place. If a cat or kitten was adopted before she was spayed or neutered, the owner had to sign that this surgery would be done.
Dawn and I quickly realized how much a no-kill cat rescue was needed. The phone calls came in, cats and kittens came flooding in, volunteers started arriving and we decided this – if we were going to run a cat rescue center, we were going to do it to the best of our ability and set the standards high. We contacted Dr. Pettigrew’s office and talked at great length with him. He helped us set our protocols. At first, it was all so overwhelming. Where were we going to get money to do this great desire that we had? People soon realized that we were sincere in operating FFRC with high standards. People liked that and started supporting us.
In 2001, the second year, another room was built. This was called June’s Room. We thought how wonderful–we now have 2 rooms! Little did we know what was about to happen. Dawn and I also ran a dog boarding facility at the same time. We loved doing this, but felt the passion of the rescue center. We decreased our numbers for the dog boarding in the large main area to make more room for cat rescue work. This allowed us to take in more cats and do more adoptions. Cat’s Cove also became a reality. The Cove is a building used for cats that were given to us but have long standing litter box issues. Cat’s Cove is large, comfy, and fun for the cats.
In 2002, the third year, things changed again. Dawn felt the need to enter school to become a nurse. With Dawn gone, I drastically decreased the dog boarding. Another room was built called the Cat’s Corner Room. Our policy also changed on neutering. I felt very strongly that we needed to present to the public our opinion of how important it is to spay and neuter. No longer would any cat or kitten be adopted unless he/she was neutered/spayed first. This is a standard I feel all shelters and rescues should have. As cats that needed homes continued to arrive, our adoption rate went up. People were responding to and supporting the rescue center. Kitty City was also built. It is a large building that is located right behind the main rescue center. The purpose is to hold the overflow from the main area. Kitty City also houses the Cat’s Cove gang for the 4 cold winter months.
In 2003, the fourth year, we continued to grow. Our volunteer numbers went up. We came up with a wonderful, updated protocol on vaccinations, worming, etc. New health records were devised and were well received by the adoption families. Much of these same protocols still exist today.
In 2004, the fifth year, several things happened. We opened our own spay/neuter clinic called Earth Angels. The clinic was open to the public and did all of FFRC’s spays/neuters. With Earth Angels on our own property, it was so easy to walk out the back door with an unneutered/unspayed cat and several hours later walk back in with the surgery done! This also meant that we had a vet on the property 3 days a week and this was wonderful for us! We also added the 4th Rescue Room, called the Mewcomer’s Room. This was the beginning of taking in anywhere from 230 to 270 cats in a year. This was a busy time, a fun time and a growing time.
In 2005, the sixth year, things continued on. Our volunteer numbers continued to rise. This is the year we had a catastrophe. ALL cats were tested for leukemia upon arrival. One day, I noticed a cat that had been here for 5-6 weeks was not feeling well. I decided to do a second leukemia test. The horrible result was a positive reading. This event made us aware of the fact that a one-time leukemia test was not enough. If a cat had just contacted leukemia shortly before arrival to FFRC, the antibodies may not be strong enough yet to show on a test. That day we tested every single cat in the rescue center–some 80 felines. It was a big job, and necessary. We had 3 other cats come up positive. They were quarantined, were still positive on their third test, and were euthanized. This was a very sad day–a day of mourning. It also made us set our health protocol even higher yet. We decided every cat here would be retested again in 4 weeks for leukemia. It was expensive testing, but we wanted to be known for adopting out healthy cats. A cement floor was added to Kitty City. A new window was added to Kitty Campus Room.
In 2006, the seventh year, another change in health protocol came about. In addition to our leukemia tests, we now decided all incoming cats would have a leukemia/FIV test. We would still repeat the leukemia/FIV test in 4 weeks. We took in a record 270 cats for this year and spayed/neutered 244 . We sponsored a huge Adopt-A-Thon here on the property.
In 2007, the eighth year, things stayed calm and smooth. Two volunteers built an outdoor enclosure, which was added to the front side of the office. By opening a window or a cat flap door (floor level) the cats can go in and out as they choose during nice weather. Cat’s Corner Room had a large vertical window added. We also purchased a new shed to store our dry food supply.
In 2008, the ninth year, we had a wonderful thing happen. We won The Animal Planet Cat Hero of the Year award. What an honor! I was humbled beyond belief. We held a huge party of celebration and had about 400 people come! All very old and tired furniture was removed from Cat’s Cove and 3 new big pieces were added.
In 2009, the 10th year, we became a part of the Ustream world. Towards the end of this year is when the Ustream cam started in the Rescue Center! A metal awning was added over one of the door entrances to help keep our visitors dry.
In 2010, the 11th year, our incoming numbers continued to climb. Our Ustream cam was having a positive effect for the rescue center. In the past we used several window a/c units to cool the rescue center. In the winter, we used a gas heater on the wall. This all changed when we had a REAL a/c and furnace put in! We also applied white fiberboard to all the walls-a huge improvement. A long window was put in the front office overlooking the outdoor porch.
In 2011, the 12th year, we had a major change. Three new rooms were added to the backside of the rescue center: Thumper’s Room (a quarantine area), a bathroom (we love having this) and a Welcome Room/Office. The Welcome Room became our main entrance. Audio was also added to the webcam. We have truly made webcam friends all over the world. After having Earth Angels open in 2004 and doing over 11,000 spays and neuters, we had to close the doors. Our vet was offered a full time job elsewhere. We still do the majority of our spays/neuters here at the rescue center. We have our veterinarians who is willing to come in, give physicals, do the surgeries, and give medical advice. Kitty City also saw a big improvement. A heavy winter door was put on, insulated windows were installed, insulation was applied in the walls followed by fiberboard walls, all of this made the building so much warmer.
2012, our 13th year, was another year of growth. At this point, we had reached over 2.3 million views on the webcam! We also saw a new epoxy floor put down in the rescue center. We love it. It’s so easy to clean. And to think this all started in a 3 car working mechanic garage! This is the year Derecho arrived! Derecho in his own way, changed the history of FFRC. Our addition to FFRC in this year was our wonderful Storage Room. No more stuffing items here and there! Now everything has its own place. We also added a metal roof from the Rescue Center to the Kitty Kastle, and over the sidewalk.
The year 2013 was our 14th year. This was a big year in improvements. Kitty Kabana was added to the front of FFRC-such a bright yellow and orange room-full of big windows, with bird feeders for the cats’ entertainment. We now have a sidewalk that leads to Albert’s Garden and a sidewalk to Cats’ Cove. We reached 9 million total views on our webcam.
2013 was the founding year of the FFRC Nation-signifying friends all over the world. We added a much needed Back Thumper’s Room, which is an extended quarantine room. This also gave us the ability to do surgeries in this room. We also added the Mail Room where the FFRC store is and where we process all the outgoing mail. We had a wonderful Christmas surprise from the viewers. A U-Haul truck arrived with 206 boxes for FFRC!. This is also the year that our dear friend Paul passed away. He will always be remembered.This is the year that Zelda Belda Girl became a Moss! We also made the commitment to take care of more CH (cerebellar hypoplasia) cats. Derecho has been guiding us! We reached over 9 million total views on the kitty cam! On the property, a wonderful Gazebo was built. It’s nice to have this place to visit, sit and talk with visitors and to relax while overlooking the farmyard.
2014–what a great year! This was our 15th year. Jenna Radar is fully in and operational. We have used it twice for short periods. In the Main Area, the new white cabinets and cupboards went in! This gives us about 3 more feet of countertop! On 3/3/14, we reached 10,000,000 views on the cam. April brought the completion of the sewer lines–finally…..it’s done! That was a big project. The 25 x 35 Memorial Shelter House was also completed in the spring and used for our outdoor events and for many lunches and relaxing times with our visitors. May 5 was the day our dear Putter passed away. He will always be thought of with much love. May 27 our Magenta passed away–another loss of a great cat. We adopted 2 cats with CH this year—Freemont and Wrigley. Another great triple events happened—Catathon, Catstock and Can-ival. We added a wall to the Store/Mail room to make 2 separate rooms. By the end of the year, we were over 12 1/2 million views on the cam. No where else could there be such a wonderful, supportive group as our FFRC Nation. You are all so very much appreciated! We continue to take in and adopt out as many cats and kittens as we are able.
2015–our 16th year! The Covies received a big make-over. No longer will they go to Kitty City for the 4 winter months–it was a bit cramped in there for this many cats. A wonderful big building–16 x 24 was built for them. It’s called The House that Jonah Built (THTJB). We have 2 heaters in there for the winter. In the warm summer, we have 2 big fans. Surprisingly, even in the heat, it stays very comfortable with just the fans. We also have hot water in this building which helps us all with the cleaning! It’s full of Kuranda Towers and shelves to climb. All the Covie cats can fit very comfortably in this building. We also have a Covie Haven which is beside THTJB. It too has a heater and fan to keep them comfortable. The Haven is only 8 x 12 but gives additional space for when a cat wants to get away from the others. Both of these buildings have a cat door for going in and out whenever they please–all 4 seasons! For 3 seasons (not witner) their beloved Cove building is still being used. Surrounding these 3 buildings is almost 500 feet of Purrfect fencing. So, the cats can go in and out as they please to their playground area. We also built an outdoor big jungle gym for them to climb high. In the playground area are picnic tables for visitors, cat barnhouses to sleep in, and all kinds of fun outdoor things. We are grateful to our FFRC Nation for helping this to be possible.
2016–our 17th year! Wow, we have done so much in these 17 years. The whole goal is all about the cats and how we can help them. After all, every cat matters. We have taken on a goal of low cost spaying/neutering for as many cats as we can. That is the key, the answer, to the overpopulation problem of cats. We started this in January. For 2016, we spayed 335 females and 228 males, making a total of 563. We have three options to accomplish this—Transport Day with HumaneOhio, our Voucher Program with HumaneOhio, and also performing some public spaying/neutering here at FFRC.
We have other “rough” numbers to give you. We have taken in about 210 kittens and cats for 2016. This number reflects some cats and kittens that never came into the Main Area. Maybe because some were rehomed immediately, or some cats went out to our farmyard or went to a friend’s farmyard due to their feral state, or perhaps were scooped up by volunteers immediately. There are many reasons.
We have 24 residents that are in the Main Area of FFRC–our permanent cats. We also take care of many cats out on the farmyard: 19 Covies, 11 Porchies, 5 grey barn cats, 5 red barn cats, and 11 Firecats. That number changes all the time. Sometimes Barnies migrate to be Firecats, sometimes a Firecat decides to be a Porchie. All of these cats are cared for, vaccinated, tested, have monthly flea prevention (or as many as we can do!) and most importantly spayed/neutered. And then of course, we have our “main cats”—the kittens and cats that are in the Rescue Center awaiting adoptions!
We also currently house 16 CH (cerebellar hypoplasia) cats. Some are permanent residents and some are available for adoption—each CH cat is evaluated for adoptability. We also love our special needs cats. We may have blind cats, one-eyed cats, no-tail cats, three-legged and two-legged cats, or deaf cats. Some just have “emotional issues.” We try our best to find homes for these special needs cats–but they must be healthy enough and emotionally stable to be adopted. And of course, these special needs cats are intertwined in the daily living amongst the resident cats and all the kittens and cats that are also adoptable. It’s one big happy family! We hope to reach out to our community and everywhere with the message that all cats, the “normal” ones and the special needs cats, are important—each cat truly does matter.
We have accomplished much in way of improvements this year. Some of the goals reached are:
● permanent electric line for the FireHouse
● permanent heating system for THTJB
● replacement window for Kitty Campus room and the little window
● new shed for FFRC
● new picnic table, a new heavy duty wagon, and a Kuranda Tower (for Bella’s Place)
● freezer for the storage room
● load of stones around Shelter House/gazebo/stone lane
● cement slab in Bella’s Place
● new sign–we love it and are proud to have it!
As always, we are super appreciative of our volunteers, our supporters, mods, admins, chatters, lurkers and all that are connected to our FFRC Nation.