2013-11-06 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

We are going to celebrate two Last Hope Animal Rescue cat teams this week- one is a caring medical team that helped many feral cats; the other is an adorable feline football team that will be featured on TV during Super Bowl Sunday. Cheerleaders, start doing cartwheels for both teams:

The “Fix A Feral” Team: Last Hope hosts free feral spay/neuter clinics open to the public several times a year. During these mass Trap/Neuter/Return clinics, the canine corridors at our Wantagh Adoption Center are temporarily transformed into feline waiting rooms. “Have A Heart” traps and cat carriers line the halls, while female spay patients relax in nearby makeshift recovery rooms. The dogs waiting to be adopted patiently put up with the hustle/ bustle and disruption to their daily routine because a fully equipped mini-hospital is in their part of the building.

Last Hope Lions wait to punt and pass in the “Kitten Bowl” on the Hallmark Channel. Last Hope Lions wait to punt and pass in the “Kitten Bowl” on the Hallmark Channel. Last Hope held the first of two autumn “Fix A Feral” clinics on Sun., Oct. 27. This service is offered without charge to cat caretakers. Surgical spots fill far in advance. Thanks to our wonderful team of six volunteer veterinarians, plus vet techs and helpers, 85 feral cats were spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies and feline distemper, treated for fleas and ear mites, given pain medicine and ear-tipped (to identify their altered status upon release into their managed colonies). Even a once-starving orange tabby that a Good Samaritan found crying outside her Motel 6 room on her way up from Florida woke up neutered. Any tame cats in the mix are observed and evaluated as candidates for the Last Hope adoption program rather than being released to their trapping site right after recovery.

Last Hope stopped taking appointments after 107 cats were booked but there is no guarantee that designated, unsuspecting patients will cooperate and venture into a humane trap when scheduled for the big snip. There is no guarantee that the weather will be ideal for trapping either. Therefore, 85 out of 107 appointments is an excellent turnout. That’s 79% of the total.

We are so grateful for the dedication of Dr. Gay Senk, Dr. Kevin Cummins, Dr. Janet Juliano, Dr. Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, Dr. Jill Macleese and Dr. Catherine Czaya. Their veterinary expertise made sure that these 85 cats will never add kittens to the tremendous feral overpopulation problem on Long Island.

The second free “Fix A Feral” clinic will be Sun., Nov. 24. There are still a few surgical slots open. Contact feralpats@yahoo.com or 516-223-6673 to reserve a spot.

The “Kitten Bowl”: Welcome to the NFFL (National Feline Football League). Super Bowl 2014 is going to be “purrfect”! On Sun., Feb. 2, the Hallmark Channel will repeatedly be airing the first-ever “Kitten Bowl” as a warm and fuzzy alternative to the big game, and up against Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl.”

Watch these athletic kittens rumble, tumble and fumble to their hearts’ content. Fur will fly as cute contenders negotiate an agility-style gridiron of hurdles, obstacles, cat scratcher A-frames and tunnels, lured by dangling toys on strings or laser points. Kittens score touchdowns at the end zone with fuzzy footballs in claw, and get extra points for cuteness rather than field goals.

And to make the inaugural event even more spectacular, Last Hope was invited to send a furry team to the “Kitten Bowl.” Bill Abbott, the president and CEO of the Hallmark Channel, happens to be a long-time Last Hope volunteer and supporter of Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR). The “Last Hope Lions”, consisting of 10 feline fullbacks, mostly tabbies and a dynamo tortie, spent three days last week in a NYC studio filming scrimmages at a miniature stadium, and they had a ball. Their coach Milda, Last Hope cat coordinator, should still be exhausted by their endless energy.

Celebrities offer the commentary. Beth Ostrosky Stern will host the “Kitten Bowl” while John Sterling, the official radio voice of the NY Yankees, will deliver the play by play during the sports showdown. Rachael Ray, Regis Philbin and other famous faces will provide messages about responsible pet care including the importance of spaying and neutering your cats.

We are so grateful to be included in the “Kitten Bowl” because Last Hope is a relatively small, all volunteer, LI grassroots animal rescue. The Last Hope Lions are the “underdogs,” for most of the event centers around North Shore Animal League, considered the world’s largest nokill animal rescue and adoption organization. The two groups worked together “cat wrangling” and caring for the kittens.

Hallmark scouts are viewing the footage now to promote shining stars from each team. Watch for Last Hope’s tiny tortoiseshell running toward the goal posts on her hind legs. Turns out our “Touchdown Tortie” was found by construction workers behind the Huntington Station Applebees under a woodpile, while a Last Hope volunteer was having lunch there. Perhaps this is why she is so tough, and not content to sit on the sidelines or merely wave pom poms. She’s a survivor, and insists on being in the game.

Let’s not forget that every kitten wins. The Hallmark Channel reminds us that all participants in the “Kitten Bowl” are “adorable & adoptable.” The publicity will help to find the players and other kittens nationwide homes. Hopefully, by the time the program debuts on Super Bowl Sunday, each Last Hope Lion team mate will be watching themselves on TV with their new families. Last Hope plans to hold a Super Bowl Sunday adopt-a-thon to coincide with the broadcast at our Cat Adoption Center in Wantagh. Stay tuned.

For Adoption: Two special deliveries this week to Last Hope (www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org) from Babylon Town Shelter-“Drake,” a patient Pit mix spent over three years at Babylon waiting for someone to take him home. Despite great effort by the staff, no one ever did. Drake is such a deserving fellow. He is now at Last Hope, 3300 Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh, where we are hoping that a spotlight will shine on him in a smaller setting. “Autumn” is a young Retriever mix with Basset-style legs. One front leg bends at a 45% angle and x-rays this week are going to investigate further.

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