Posts By: Emily Fromm

For Cats, Easing the Stress of Shelter Life

Life in a cage is stressful for shelter cats, and stress can lead to health and behavior problems that keep cats from being adopted. So we have grant programs designed to ease cats’ anxiety — both in the shelter and as they transition into their new adoptive homes.


The Stretch and Scratch attaches to the cage wall so it doesn’t take up living space.

We grant adoption groups Stretch & Scratch cat scratchers and ACES Humaniac Cat Castles cat carriers/habitats. Both go in cats’ cages and enable them to engage in instinctive behaviors there (scratching, hiding and resting on higher ground). And both go home with the cats when they’re adopted so they have something familiar in their new surroundings.

As part of the Cats R Cool program in partnership with The Animal Rescue Site and, we’ve granted out 33,780 Cat Castles to 66 adoption groups and 40,000 Stretch & Scratch cat scratchers to 107 organizations.

Both grants have been huge hits. As Wendy Mirrotto, executive director of Kitten Krazy, Inc., in Medina, Ohio, tells us: “I LOVE these Stretch and Scratch Cat Scratchers! The cats love them, too! They are purrfect for any cage and give the cats somewhere to stretch and scratch — a very important function for a cat.”

The scratchers are especially helpful for cats who are isolated as they recover from illness or surgery, including Henrietta, who was found frozen to a pipe and had to have a leg amputated due to frostbite; Bea, who arrived at the shelter covered in burns and stab wounds; and Roadie, whose eye was dislodged from its socket and had to be surgically removed.

Cats R Cool

Luna at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson enjoys her Cat Castle.

The scratchers also help cats adjust to foster and forever homes — and can even curb unwanted behaviors there. “One of our adopters complained about [her new] kitten scratching furniture,” says Feline Finish Line Rescue president Catherine McCulloch. “I gave her two scratchers and told her to tie them on the table legs. She said the kitten loved them and started to leave other items alone.”

The Cat Castles likewise help cats both in shelters and at home. Inside their cages, the Castles give the cats a place to hide as well as an elevated vantage point (via a “turret” on top of the box) where they can view their surroundings while feeling secure.

“These boxes are vital to the enrichment and stimulation of the cats we are caring for while they are waiting for their forever homes,” says Humane Society of Southern Arizona Associate Director of Development Morgan Rost. “The boxes/perches will remain with the cat or cats — if a bonded pair — through the duration of their time at the HSSA and will go home with each cat at the time of their adoption.”

Thanks to donors like you, shelter cats like Luna (right) can rest easy while waiting for their forever families.




symbaSymba was our little man. He had his own “big boy” attitude. We had him from a puppy and I always took him to work with me at the insurance agency and the customers just loved him. He had a curly tail that everyone just loved to try and uncurl. He recently learned the “kissy, kissy dance,” as we called it. He would sit down and twirl around and give you kisses. Symba and Emma were best buddies and she, as well as the whole family, are lost without him around. He loved to run and fetch a ball and just go for a walk with you or cuddle in your lap. Symba will be missed and was very much loved by all who met him.–Robin Spencer-Laurie


rubisueThank you for the opportunity to tell you about my little girl, whom I miss everyday. She was 16 years old when I lost her. She was born in a puppy mill and resided there for a year and a half. She never learned to be a puppy. Those things were beyond her and though I tried, she never really got it. She was my confidant, the keeper of my secrets, my everything. She had a compadre named Kash. He passed away at the age of 5 after being stepped on by a 90-lb. lab. He lived 10 days after the accident. He was my first heartbreak. I had him from the age of 5 weeks.

268 (2)Ruby started going down hill within in months after he passed. The vet diagnosed her with diabetes. She lived a year after the initial diagnosis. Her liver swelled to the size of a football and was as hard as one too. It was squeezing out her other organs, and pushing her diaphragm up and blocked her lungs. She had to lay over the edge of the couch to open herself up to breath. Towards the end, she started panting from panic. She had this fear in her eyes that pleaded, “Mommy, help me.”

After several sleepless nights, we made a trip to the vet with not bringing her home with me as an option. Well, after we got there, that was my only option. I could not bear to watch her suffer. We (Ruby and I) had a long talk at the vet’s office and we shed many tears together as she gave me her permission to let her go.

She fell asleep in my arms, and we came home together, where we buried her under the Japanese Weeping Cherry Tree, on the opposite side from Kash. They are both together waiting on me on the Rainbow Bridge. She was always so thankful to me for giving her a home where she eventually ruled the roost: my husband, Kash, and always me. I cannot tell you how badly she is missed, but I still feel her here at times. It may be just a look in the eyes of an abandoned dog, a lost or hurt dog. Her heart will always be with me. I am actually looking for another Dachshund, around two years old — male or female, it doesn’t matter. I have a male 2-year-old Dachshund named Opie; he’s a piebald and he needs a buddy. He loves kids, cats and other dogs. Rubisue was one of a kind. She was mine and I was hers. Thank you for letting me tell you about her. She truly was the joy of my life.–Debbie Mullins


rue at moms

I adopted Rue from a local rescue in Anchorage, Alaska, where he had been returned twice. Rue was about two years old had been abused and neglected and was very shy and afraid of humans. After a couple days of hiding under the bed, he finally was coaxed out for a meal of tuna and dog kibble (he loved tuna more than anything).

Within a few weeks he started to trust and loved to come along for runs, hikes, and car rides. For a 25-pound pup he was fearless, loved to climb mountains, and even chased a moose! We think he was a Westie mix, but with his long legs, he was more of a sprinter, and wow could he run, run, run!

When I moved to Washington 11 years ago, Rue was already 16 and we worried about how to get him safely from Anchorage to Seattle. My vet said driving him would be best, so we took to the road for a three-day, 2,300-mile trip. Rue loved the drive and got to stay in hotels along the way; he thought he was a rock star.

Two years later, and a despite enjoying the less-extreme weather in Washington, Rue started to decline, had multiple seizures, and stopped eating; the vet mentioned that he was a very old dog at 18 and it was probably time to let him go. That was over eight years ago and this past year I decided I was ready to adopt again. I wish I had not waited so long; having my new rescue, Buck, has been such a joy and being part of a dog community again is so rewarding.–Joanne Landry

Download “Give” to Help Pets!


Malea and her beloved adopted dog, Oscar.

Check out a special guest post from recording artist Malea McGuinness — then learn how you can help animals while treating yourself this holiday season!

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”―Mahatma Gandhi

This quote was relevant when it was first said and is just as relevant now. We are evolving, but perhaps not as quickly as we could be.

Animals have always had a deep place in my heart, even during times in my life when I was unable to have pets. Maybe in some ways I have identified with rescue animals because I myself needed to be rescued early in my life.

When I made my transition from Broadway actress to singer/songwriter, I started volunteering at The Amanda Foundation, a rescue group in Los Angeles. This is really where I was exposed to all the animals who came in from shelters, puppy mills, dog fighting, etc. I learned how important it was to spay and neuter, as The Amanda Foundation was one of the first rescues I knew of to have its own spay/neuter truck. I also learned about the importance of tagging and microchipping your pets. [Learn more about why Petfinder believes all pets should wear collars and tags.] I also learned that one person can make a difference, and I was so fulfilled seeing animals go off to their forever homes, knowing that, in a small way, we volunteers had helped them on their way.

When I became busier with my touring schedule, I started working with different animal foundations and societies around the country. My experiences showed me that I could best help by raising money and awareness for this cause, by doing my music and being an animal advocate.

My latest song, “Give,” has to do with the season of giving. It reminds me of this time of year five years ago, when a dog named Oscar came into The Amanda Foundation just as we were closing, right before everyone was going home for the holidays. He was 10 years old, a Pit Bull mix with a brindle coat, and his owners didn’t want him anymore — he was too old for them, they said. He was crying and I tried to console him by taking some warm blankets out of the dryer and wrapping him up and putting him in my lap. We just hung out there in his kennel until I had to go home. I adopted Oscar a few months later. He had a special talent: He could make anyone — even the most vehement anti-dog person — a dog lover.

There’s so much to be grateful for this holiday season — it’s been an eventful year for me, giving birth to my daughter Grace a few months ago. We as humans have the power to help so many who need our help. I wrote this song, “Give,” while on my “Save A Life Adopt A Pet” tour last year. While traveling across the country I had the pleasure of meeting many inspiring people who give whatever they can to help animals. And like I say in the song, “We’re all in this together.”

–Malea McGuinness

Want an extra way to help pets? Download Malea McGuinness’s song “Give” below and she’ll donate $1 per download to the Petfinder Foundation through Dec. 30, 2013.

Learn more about Malea:

Top 10 Reasons to Give to the Petfinder Foundation this Holiday Season

One of the easiest ways to help pets in need this holiday season is to donate to the Petfinder Foundation to help homeless pets like Brandy (pictured). Here are 10 reasons to give:


Brandy was adopted from California’s Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

1. It’s a great gift for your favorite pet-lover. Donate in honor of a loved one and we’ll send her or him a beautiful holiday card with a personal letter announcing your gift.

2. You’ll get a free calendar. Gift $50 or more and we’ll send you a certificate redeemable for a free personalized 12-month calendar from!

3. You can memorialize a beloved pet. Give in memory of a pet and we’ll send you a charm customized with your pet’s name by our friends at Fuzzy Nation. You can also send us a photo and some remembrances to post to our Pet Memorial Wall.

4. Your gift will help the pets in the greatest need. We offer aid to shelters and rescue groups during times of crisis or disaster. Recently, we helped the survivors of a deadly shelter break-in and a shelter that was hit by a schoolbus.

5. Our partners help your donation go further. Each year since 2012, our friends at Orvis have matched your donations up to $30,000. We’re also able to help thousands of pets in need thanks to cash and product grants from our partners at the Animal Rescue Site, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, John Paul Pet, Bissell, Petco, Wahl, KONG, Thundershirt and more.

6. We help pets put their best faces forward. We teach shelter staff and volunteers skills that help pets find homes. Our One Picture Saves a Life program, in which we train shelter workers to take professional-quality pet photos to post online, has saved countless pets like Brandy (read Brandy’s story here).

7. Your donation will go toward pets, not fundraising. Over 90% of every dollar we spend goes toward programs that help homeless pets — not toward advertising or other fundraising or administrative expenses. Check out our blog post, “When You Give to Us, Where Does Your Money Go?”, for more info.

8. We have good grades! We have the highest possible ratings from the top independent charity watchdog groups: Charity Navigator, GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau. And we post all our financial documents to our website. Visit our Financials section if you’d like to learn more.

9. We won’t sell your contact information. You know how after you give to some charities, you immediately start getting phone calls and junk mail from dozens of similar organizations, all asking for money? That won’t happen when you give to us. You can read our privacy policy here.

10. You can meet the pets your donation is helping. We ask the shelters and rescue groups we help to tell the stories of the pets whose lives are impacted by our grants. You can read these stories in the adoption groups’ own words, and see pictures of the pets, in our Success Stories section.

However you decide to help homeless pets, all of us at the Petfinder Foundation would like to wish you and your (two- and four-legged) family a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!