Amplify Austin is one of the biggest fundraising days for Thundering Paws. It is a 24 hour period starting at 6 AM on March 4th and ends at 6 PM on March 5th. Join us for a day of giving with a leader board and matching gifts. You can also make your gift to us early and it will count towards our 2021 total! Last year Thundering Paws received $14,878.50 in donations and this year, we would like to double that and reach $30,000!
Or donate directly through our Amplify page!
Our Amplify Story
We saw the pandemic coming and didn’t miss a beat! We put on our masks, learned to avoid each other physically, stayed home when ill, got ourselves tested if necessary. While others hunkered down, seeing what would happen next, we actively reinvented ourselves.
People wanted cats! Long-time residents such as Mary, age 9, and Martina, with medical issues, went to wonderful adoptive or foster hospice homes. Within a few weeks, 33 cats at the sanctuary dwindled to 11!
We took our cats out of the Cat Adoption Center at Petsmart as we didn’t want to endanger our people. We put on hold the wonderful volunteers who had kept those kitties clean and happy. We stopped adoption events. We sent our Adoption Coordinator home but continued paying him until he had another job on the horizon.
We neither laid off nor cut anyone else’s pay.
The results of our new virtual meetings between potential adopters and our kitties were phenomenal! Cats in their familiar surroundings showed their beautiful true colors and began zooming (pun intended) out the doors. We began contactless deliveries. We prided ourselves on our safety.
And it has paid off. We’re all still healthy, and hope to stay that way.
Back in 2018, we had begun partnering with San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter (SMRAS). We beefed up our foster program, designated a board member as Foster Coordinator, and vowed to help SMRAS work toward no-kill by taking the majority of our kitties from there. As the pandemic worsened, however, Texas shelters shut down. In Spring, 2020, while we still wanted to help the kitties of Hays County, the strategies we had in place to do so disappeared. Worried that we would have no kitties to offer our adopters, we went farther afield for our mom cats and kittens, single kittens, and adult cats.
There are always cats somewhere who need our help. Our job was to find them, and we did.
Many kitties, and the people who cared about them, were left without recourse when the shelters closed. As one of the few rescues that responds via phone and email, Thundering Paws fielded more and more desperate pleas for intake.
A healthy cat or kitten on the street is easier to ignore than one with runny eyes, a dangling limb, or ribs visible from starvation. These are the kitties people picked up, and, failing to find help for at municipal shelters, brought to Thundering Paws. Our vet bills skyrocketed!
At the same time, our regular donors were losing jobs and trying to feed their families. Contributions plummeted!
We’ve said many times, “Serendipity RULES Thundering Paws!” During the pandemic, home sales have boomed. Our donor who manages a title company was able to pay hundreds of dollars in vet bills for us. Another donor, now working from home, paid much of our spay/neuter clinic costs.
Our Foster Coordinator’s college age daughter won’t return to campus until the viral numbers are much lower. A marketing major, she volunteered for us all summer and I don’t think we would have survived otherwise. She’s now a part-time staff member, doing what she does best, making money.
Leery about letting too many people inside, we asked volunteers to delve into our trap/neuter/return program in Dripping Springs (TNR DS), begun in October, 2019. We’ve neutered and returned 30 feral and community cats, and our intake numbers reflect many kittens trapped, tamed, and brought into our program. We’ve taken the time to refine TNR DS so we now have a team responding to citizens with breeding cats in their yards. People call sobbing about seeing kittens born only to disappear! We can now halt that cycle for them.
We’ve also shifted more volunteers to outside jobs such as scrubbing carriers and litter boxes, and building projects.
With fewer inside volunteers, we have to pay more staff hours. We don’t mind, as we love our staff. Our loyalty to them inspires loyalty from them. They have all stuck with us.
We watch with sadness and horror as the sickness and death numbers rise in our country. Yet we know that we are doing our small part to keep people employed, boost our local economy, give people soft purring machines to shelter in place with, and fulfill our mission, rescuing kitties. Thundering Paws has taken in as many cats in 2020 as we did in 2019—twice as many as in 2018—and adopted out more. We’re forging ahead into the second calendar year of the pandemic with courage and pride!
We are so aware that we could not have done a SINGLE THING this year without YOU!
Fosters: Twenty-six fosters and foster families watch over and love our kitties. We value those people! We will not give a foster any kitty with issues beyond their capability, nor will we leave them stuck with unadoptable cats.
Our Foster Coordinator, our Assistant Director, and our four veterinary technicians rotate their availability to answer calls, field suggestions, observe symptoms and behavior, and dispense and administer vaccines, medications, and other therapies that don’t require a vet. Four veterinary hospitals, a traveling veterinarian, and two low-cost spay/neuter clinics work with us to give our babies the best health care possible.
We disclose everything to our adopters that our fosters disclose to us. This keeps the kitties in their forever homes and provides them with long and happy lives.
Foster Hospice: There are kitties with terminal medical conditions that prevent them from being adopted but haven’t yet diminished their happiness. We’d rather these cats be in homes where they are cared for and adored. Kind fosters who will give them the love they deserve while not prolonging life when there is no longer quality take on these cats while Thundering Paws pays their vet bills.
Forever Foster: Similarly, people who cannot afford a cat may take those single kitties who are hard to place while we pay the vet bills. Forever Fosters’ conditions can be eclectic: chronic upper respiratory problems; special diets or cat aversion requiring being in a single cat household; or other issues.
The Sanctuary: As with those of Forever Foster cats, the reasons our current 15 cats live at the sanctuary are varied. Two kitties, Jennifer and Ariel, who took years to tame, have never known any other home and it would be dreadful to move them in their dotage. Three were taken in as feral kittens but refused to tame. They have no territory to which to be returned. Another feral cat, Phoenix, has three legs. Newt has cancer treated with Leukeran, requires monitoring, and her sponsor, who cannot take her, lives nearby. Tina was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), fatal until a few years ago. She has been treated with an experimental drug and she also requires monitoring. Skweeks was tame to his late human, and allows some staff to pet him, but will probably never be tame enough to be adopted.
We have three cats here whom we hope will be adopted. Spirit, from Kerrville, and Meeta, from South Austin, both bite and scratch. We are training them…we hope. Spirit is doing very well and Meeta is in the early stages. Fingers crossed for these kitties. They want to be sweet, but they’re frightened, of what we don’t know. We learn more every day. Bijou is FIV+ and has been being treated for ringworm for a long time. We finally have him cleared. He is also on a special diet.
Then there’s Beauregard. Assistant Director Scott Haywood set out traps for eight months before finally capturing him. We had him neutered, rabies vaccinated and corrected his entropion, a painful condition in which the eyelashes rub against the eyeball. What we got back was an FIV positive, lovable, big “wumpus,” the darling of everyone here. People ask to adopt him all the time, but he’s a TNR cat and this is his territory. He would be miserable being inside all the time, yet so far he has deigned to come in at night and sleep on our bed. Just as we return other community cats to their homes, we let Beauregard live in his home—here at Thundering Paws.
The building is the home of Director Anne Zabolio and Assistant Director Scott Haywood. We each have a cat.
Adoptions: Adoptions are the heart and soul of Thundering Paws and we’ve done more this year than ever before and it’s only mid-November. We’re at 172 adoptions this year and counting. We’ve adopted out kittens, half-blind kittens, skittish kittens, shy cats, FIV positive cats, a feline leukemia positive kitten, deaf cats, cats with various life-long conditions, Foster Fusion cats (formerly known as Foster Failures, such a derogatory term!)
Our adoption team helps people choose the right cat and, if the cat doesn’t work for whatever reason, at any time in the cat’s life, he or she comes back to us.
All of our cats and kittens are microchipped and these microchips have brought several lost kitties back to us. If the adopter has contacted us and asked for help, we of course give the cat back.
Adoption Center: Tomlinson’s Pet Food Store in Belterra Village has a HUGE, fun, cat adoption center, and our kitties are showcased there. Their caring staff keeps the environment clean and, when there’s a lull in business, they pet and entertain the kitties. We are so very grateful for that space!
TNR DS: Thirty cats were trapped, neutered, and returned this year, more if you count the traps that we have loaned out for a refundable deposit. Many more turned out not to be feral and came into our foster and adoption program. TNR DS is growing by leaps and bounds!
Advice to the Lovelorn: Cat-loving people call and email us with problems with their personal cats, feral cats, community cats, cats and kittens they have found, and we answer them. We take the homeless cats that we can support, and when we don’t have the resources, we try to suggest other solutions.
For owned cats, we have solutions to many common problems, yet rather than publish these on our website, we prefer to communicate directly. So many nuances can be lost without that communication.
Monthly Giving: The solution to many of the ills of modern society is service to others. We give people a way to give that is easy yet makes them feel good.
Mewsings, Our Weekly Newsletter: Our weekly email newsletter keeps our supporters in the know about what’s going on at Thundering Paws. Subscription is free, of course, and we keep it entertaining with pictures and videos.