FeralCare takes in unadoptable cats

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


“We would be better citizens of our own species if we understood the animals in the habitat around us.” –Nancy Howard.

Photos and text by Mary Jo Heller

Allow me to introduce you…. meet Lily, a grey and white short-haired cat, raised with two teenage boys who were allowed to mistreat her, so she now bites when overstimulated.

Maynard is a short-haired black and white cat who urinates everywhere. Grayson was a feral scrapper who had to be trapped when his owners moved and abandoned him. He has hyperthyroid disease, so his kidneys are now failing.



Problem cats? Indeed. These are cats that would not survive an adoptable shelter, because who would want a cat with these and other troubles?

For some of those cats here in the greater Seattle area, there is Feral Care, a center for problem cats that cannot be placed anywhere else, but that still deserve a happy life. Nancy Howard, owner of The Whole Cat and Kaboodle in Kirkland, has established a shelter on a five acre ranch in Bothell.

Some of their resident cats began life as feral kittens, but not all. Some, like the cats mentioned above, have problems that forced their owners to seek other measures.

While we all owe caring and support to animals we adopt, some owners who need to readopt or relinquish their pets have tried conventional shelters, and learned that their pet is “unadoptable.” Feral Care is the last resort.

Feral Care is unique; it does not adopt out any of their residents unless they are certain the person will be able to work with the specific needs of a particular cat. 

Some, like Leo, arrived as a trapped feral with a broken leg, and could be adopted to a select person. 
Interestingly, Thomas has six toes.

Keep in mind, a shelter such as the Humane Society or Seattle Area Feline Rescue in Shoreline would be a better place to find adoptable pets.

Nancy is invested in creating a world where cats are understood and wonderful companions.

“We can take better care of animals when we see the world through their eyes,” she says. The website through The Whole Cat and Kaboodle stresses helping owners see the world through communication with their pet.

What is your cat trying to tell you when they use your bed as their litter box? Their motto is “no bad cats.” Rather than more animals in the shelter, Nancy would rather pet owners contact her about options working with an animal. 

Too many beautiful cats, though, originally adoptable, didn’t do well in a home. These cats have problems, such as house soiling, or destructive behavior, and still deserve to have a second chance. 

Some of the urination problems Feral Care has seen were due to bladder infections that could have been cured by a visit to a Vet. 

(For information on cat problems and answers, see Seattle Humane) And of course, The Whole Cat and Kaboodle has classes and help for you as well .

Debbie Stewart runs the shelter along with two paid staff who work every other day, feeding, petting, and caring for the 100 cats in residence. The shelter has several rooms with a multitude of cat trees, several “living rooms,” beds, ceiling beams to cross, sheds, and many, many, litter boxes.

All cats are initially isolated when they first arrive, then socialized little by little in four separate rooms.

However, some cats will never be socialized. Some feral cats do become more social, but still untouchable.

Evelyn, a short-haired black cat, for example, has feline hyperaesthesia, a brain disease, and attacks everyone around, cat or person, in response to any cat fight near her. Some cats brought to the shelter can’t be coerced to eat and eventually may die.

Debbie tries to gain their trust so they will eat. The cats are fed a diet of raw meat: rabbit, duck, chicken, turkey as well as canned chicken and fish parts. Kibble is available too. 

Debbie also arranges for a veterinarian to see a cat when she perceives a physical problem. Urination problems, once cleared with medication, have sometimes also meant the difference between a mean cat and a friendly one.

Topaz, a cat with this problem, was actually taken back by its owner once she understood the reason for the behavior.

All of this takes money. There is also a need to expand. Feral Care is asked constantly to accept new residents for which they have no room. There are currently two volunteers who come on Sundays, although Debbie has never seen a time with too many volunteers.



Feral Care has a process for placement of new cats. There is a fee of $300 to add any cat to the shelter’s residents. Considering vet bills and food for the life of the cat, that is very little. Of course they exist on volunteers and donations. Feral Care spends $600 a week on food, and vet bills run into the hundreds of dollars. In fact, they spend about $20,000 a year on care for cats through veterinarians.

This year there is an event for donations through a Holiday Bazaar. This will be November 18th, in the Clubhouse at Kennard Estates, 2200 196th St SE in Bothell.

FeralCare is also a part of the GiveBig yearly donation project. There is a donation button on their website. One item they continually need is a heated catnip pad.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating, contact Nancy Howard.

Donations can be mailed to: 
Feral Care
2200 196th St SE #90
Bothell, WA 98012


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