Sybil, Danny, Mario, Chelsea, and Nick are in good company and glad to be alive at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. They, along with 48 other feral cats, were slated to be trapped and euthanized to protect native wildlife living on San Nicolas Island, the outermost of the Channel Islands of California. The Fund for Animals is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.
Animal technicians Kimberly D'Amico and Christine Jensen are the cats' "personal assistants" and have taken many of them from hissing and growling to purring and relaxing. Today, the cats have toys, reliable meals, special treats, and human kindness. Several kittens, who were removed from the island when still young enough to be socialized, have now found forever homes.
Home Sweet Home
In 2009, The HSUS helped rescue more than 50 San Nicolas Island feral cats who would otherwise have been euthanized.
The generosity of DoGreatGood.com helped the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center build a special, secure habitat to house the cats permanently. The outdoor enclosure provides trees, hiding spots, toys and sunny spots for the cats to sleep.
It was a stressful transition. The cats were humanely trapped on the island and then flown to the wildlife center – their first close-up contact with people. They have adjusted beautifully to their new home in “feral cat paradise.” Cats climb the trees in their enclosure, look forward to mealtimes and sometimes seek out affection from their caretakers. The cats relax in the sun and play with one another.
About The Project
San Nicolas Island, located about 60 miles off the mainland, is owned by the U.S. Government and has been used by the U.S. Navy as a missile telemetry site since the mid-20th century.
A population of feral cats has lived on this island since at least the 1950s. The HSUS worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Navy and Montrose Settlements Trustee Council, representing a consortium of natural resource agencies, both to preserve the natural integrity of the island and to save cats and wildlife. This wildlife includes seabirds who increasingly rely on islands as refuges, as well as native species, such as the unique Channel Island fox and the federally threatened island night lizard. This important collaborative project saved many lives.
Setting a plan in action
As part of the removal effort, the agencies agreed to transport healthy captured cats to the mainland into the custody of The HSUS.
Although The HSUS supports Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats, it recognizes situations where returning cats may not be appropriate—such as on San Nicolas Island. By offering a solution and providing a positive outcome for these feral cats and wildlife, The HSUS hopes it will set a precedent for more humane feral cat management among state and federal agencies.
One Kitten’s Story: Willow
Willow was always a special kitten. She was just 6 weeks old when she and other cats were flown off the island and arrived at the Fund for Animals Wildlife Care Center in Ramona, Calif.
Willow weighed just 1.5 pounds, the smallest of all of the San Nicolas Island kittens. When she and the other kittens were together, Willow loved to play. Unlike the other kittens, she needed to nap more frequently. It turned out that Willow had a heart murmur.
Willow's veterinarian sent her to a specialist who diagnosed her with Patent Ductus Arteriosis, a heart condition that can be corrected with surgery.
The excellent veterinary team treating tiny Willow was successful in correcting her PDA and eliminating her heart murmur. Willow was able to go home to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center the next day.
A couple interested in adopting (one a biologist who had worked on San Nicolas Island for 20 years) visited the cats. After meeting all of the San Nicolas Island kittens, the choice was clear—Willow. Her tough start in life was finally over, and her life as a pampered indoor kitty with a new family was just beginning.
Help Make A Difference
For more information, please visit www.humanesociety.org and www.fundforanimals.org/wildlife_center.