“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ~Albert Schweitzer
For Salem Friends of Felines, the holiday season is simply “meow-velous.”
“Kittens are in high demand come holiday season,” says Heather Clark, SFOF’s director of marketing and fundraising. “Unfortunately, the breeding season, also known as the kitten season, is generally over by the time the holidays come so there are very few available. We do, however, have many young adults and senior (kitties) deserving of love waiting for find homes year-round.”
Although many people like choosing a feline “gift” for their loved ones, SFOF prefers adopters meet the kitty in person to make sure there is chemistry between them, Clark says.
“This December, we will reduce the adoption fee for all adult kitties, 1 year and older, to $25,” she adds. “In the first week of November, we sent out our second annual Holiday Cat-a-log, which is a fundraiser. We carry printed copies in our shelter as well as online.”
Salem Friends of Felines is a limited admissions rescue that believes in helping “every kitty we can,” Clark says.
Founded over 12 years ago by six women with a passion for helping homeless felines in Marion and Polk counties, SFOF ensures cats will not reproduce an unwanted litter of kittens as well as helps those that are abandoned, unwanted and homeless to find a “loving, forever family home,” Clark says.
The ASPCA estimates that approximately 2.7 million healthy and perfectly adoptable pets are euthanized each year. Of that number, 70 percent are kittens and cats.
“Every life matters,” Clark says of SFOF, which can house about 50 cats and kittens at a time, and greatly relies on volunteers and foster homes.
The nonprofit rescue organization operates with a staff of five – executive director, lead vet technician, two assistant vet technicians and a foster coordinator — and about 20 regular foster homes and 120 volunteers, who clocked in about 50,000 hours of donated work last year.
“We shelter and find homes for about 1,200 kitties every year, and provide low-cost spay and neuter vouchers to about 1,110 families every year,” Clark says.
In 2015, SFOF received $235,260 in tax-deductible donations and about $28,000 in grants. The rescue organization also operates a thrift store to provide funding to the shelter, helping to keep it financially healthy. Providing 21 percent of last year’s budget, the thrift store is located on Commercial Street SE just north of Bush Street SE.
Volunteers are always needed for morning cat care at the shelter, cat care at PetSmart on Lancaster Drive, and adopting out cats and kittens on Saturday afternoons. Volunteers are also needed to work at the thrift store, sorting and pricing clothing. SFOF asks for a commitment of one day per week, a three-month minimum from youth ages 12-16 years, and six months minimum for ages 17 and older.
Foster parenting opportunities are regular or any time in the year, seasonal for kitten season May to September, relief to cover vacations of regular fosters, and specialty care for older, ill or special-needs kitties.
Veterinary care at SFOF is provided by Evergreen Veterinary Hospital in Salem.
“Rescuing cats is our passion,” Clark says. “Right now we are only able to help 23 percent of the kitties that are in need in Marion and Polk counties. The thrift store will be allowing us to use newly opened-up space for us to remodel and create a bigger shelter to help more kitties. We will be starting a fundraising campaign to help with this transformation project.”
The SFOF thrift shop is located at the left end of the rescue shelter, 980 Commercial St. SE, Salem.
Shelter hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. SFOF is closed Easter, Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s days, with early closing at 3 p.m. on Christmas and New Year’s eves.
For adoption fees, to view kitties available for adoption, and/or for more information, visit sfof.org.