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Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society: COVID-19 Operation Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

MRFRS used the grant funds to help defray the added costs of housing cats in foster care rather than in our shelter. Since March, MRFRS has taken in 169 cats and kittens. While we would normally house the majority of those cats in our shelter, from March to May we housed 100% of our cats in foster care (and in June, 50% of the cats were housed in foster). Housing cats in foster is more expensive, as we lose the savings that economy of scale affords us. The funding from the Petfinder Foundation helped cover the additional costs associated with sending food, litter, and flea preventative home with each foster family.

The funding from the Petfinder Foundation allowed us to utilize foster homes for our cats during the pandemic -- 100% of our cats were kept in foster care from March through May. Foster housing minimized the potential exposure of our volunteers and staff to the virus, allowing us to continue our cat intake while keeping our human family safe.

How many pets did this grant help?


Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

We were able to take in Charlie, Ace, and Bella when their owner passed away during the pandemic — three 10-year-old cats who needed medical care and a foster home. All three were covered in live fleas. Ace had an ear infection and was extremely thin; blood work showed he had undiagnosed hyperthyroidism. Bella was suffering from a neurologic condition affecting her hind end.

With our shelter closed, we could only take these three sweethearts in if we could find a foster home.

Their foster mom says: “An email from the MRFRS was sitting in my inbox. The email asked for my help in fostering three adult cats. Three! Adults! We’ve fostered three or more kittens at a time but never three adults. The email attempted to assure me that the owner of the cats, who had passed away, supposedly did not die of the virus. Talk had just begun on the news of a tiger that had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I had a lot to ponder. Did I want to provide care and comfort to three adult cats during a pandemic? My answer, of course, was a resounding YES! I did question whether this was a smart thing to do. Could I possibly be putting my family in danger by opening up our home, and hearts, to these three homeless kitties? Now, just a few months later, we have learned so much more about this virus, and I feel guilty for doing all of this questioning.

“We were very lucky to get the opportunity to provide love and the other essentials to Ace, Bella, and Charlie. When they first showed up here, their condition was not good. Fleas were present, and all three cats had to be moved from a spacious palace-themed room to a small guest bathroom. They all had baths and eventually the fleas were eradicated.

“As the flea count decreased, their trust in me increased. They loved to spend time with me. Ace received daily ear medications and later an additional pill for hyperthyroidism. He took his pill without a problem and was such a pleasure to care for. Little Bella loved licking my legs when I’d go in to feed them breakfast in the mornings in my nightgown. Charlie, who started out as the shyest one, had blossomed so much and who would melt each time you’d rub his ears. Being able to foster these three adult cats was rewarding and was a little ray of sunshine during this scary time.”

Charlie and Ace have been adopted! Bella is still looking for her forever home. You can meet Bella here.

Further Reading