Furry Friends concluding 2023 with record-breaking adoptions as need for cat rescue rises


More than 600 cats found homes this year with Furry Friends cat rescue. Operating out of Vancouver, the rescue and adoption program expects to rehome a record-breaking 640 cats by the end of 2023.

The increased need for cat rescue has brought new challenges to Furry Friends as local shelters find themselves overwhelmed by an increase in homeless strays and surrendered pets.

The non-profit rescue was founded in 1999 by Nancy McMartin. Furry Friends’ operations have expanded over the years, with over 150 volunteers giving 40,000 hours of their time in 2023.

Furry Friends’ ability to rehome so many cats within a year is due to rapid medical care, the support of the community and the work of its volunteers, Executive Director Jenn Hutchman said.

“We can get them in and get them healthy and adopted quicker than before,” Hutchman said.

While Furry Friends saw an influx of strays based on seasonal kitten births in the past, that is no longer the case, and the rescue is seeing pregnant cats and young kittens year-round.

“There is no kitten season now,” Hutchman said. “We’re just always full. We never have less than 80 kittens. I don’t think it’s going to end.”

Surrendered cats are increasingly common at Furry Friends, said Diane Stevens, nine-year volunteer and head of public relations and marketing. Cats from poor living conditions, even indoors, often need intensive medical intervention.

“We’ve been rescuing a lot of hoarding cats this year,” Stevens said. “All of those cats and kittens need medical attention. They’ve been living in filthy conditions. There’s a lot of things wrong with them.”

Furry Friends partners with local vets for discounted medical care to keep operational costs low. As a no-kill shelter, some rescues need special medical attention that other organizations cannot provide.

“It’s still costly, but not as costly as if we were just a regular person,” Hutchman said.

Cats brought to Furry Friends often need to be spayed or neutered. Kittens frequently arrive with flea infestations and anemia. Extreme ear mite infestations are also common. Sometimes cats arrive with special medical conditions that are difficult to treat.

Rescue Rosie came to Furry Friends in April this year. She suffers from expensive medical complications that cause pain and mobility issues. Furry Friends believes the vibrant young cat deserves a second chance at a pain-free life. Rosie will soon have surgery to remove nasal polyps, which cause difficulty breathing. With enough funding, she will then receive a bilateral femoral head ostectomy to correct her malformed hip sockets.

Rosie was featured during Furry Friends’ Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28. Due to her unique medical needs, Rosie’s surgery will need additional community funding as the rescue seeks to avoid reducing the care of any of their other cats.

To save money and provide faster medical care for rescues, Hutchman is undergoing veterinary technician education. Giving medical care quickly is vital to getting cats adopted and making room for new rescues, Hutchman said.

A new medical facility will be in Furry Friends’ future, with city council approval and enough funding. The clinic is expected to be completed by 2025. The rescue can then employ a veterinarian and manage more complex medical care onsite, including spays and neuters.

“Right now we’re in the planning stages with the city,” Hutchman said. “We’ve already been approved for the building site. It’s basically up to the city if they want that on the property.”

“Once we get a bottom line of how much this building is going to cost we’ll have to do a bunch of fundraising,” Stevens added.

Furry Friends is actively seeking foster homes for their felines. Space in the facility is limited, and the organization could accept more rescue cats if more foster homes are available. The rescue can provide training, pet food, medical care and litter to individuals willing to foster.

For information about adoptable cats, volunteering or to donate, visit the website furryfriendswa.org, or call 360-993-1097.