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August 8, 2011

Fat, Happy Cats: A Success Story

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center staff socializes San Nicolas Island cats; two kittens find a forever home

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals

  • Harrison and Marnie. Amanda Koehler

  • Spike and Savannah. Bob & Marie Grier

  • Winkle & Malford. The Pearson family.

by Julie Hauserman

Some of the island cats who were rescued from a planned extermination at the U.S. Navy’s San Nicolas Island in 2009 are now warming up to humans, and The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. is looking for volunteers who might like to come help socialize them.

“They are learning not to run away from humans. It is an unpredicted behavior change,” says Wildlife Center Director Ali Crumpacker. “These cats had very little experience with humans on the island.”

A few of the cats will now “weave around your legs as if they have always been around humans,” she said. “They are very fat, happy, content cats.”

The Wildlife Center has 43 of the cats in a special outdoor habitat. Before The HSUS stepped in, all the cats on San Nicolas Island, the most remote of the Channel Islands off the coast of Los Angeles, were going to be euthanized because they were a threat to endangered birds, reptiles, and foxes native to the island.

Now that the cats are acting more social, the Wildlife Center hopes that volunteers can come play with the cats so they will be suitable to adopt into forever homes—like Amanda Koehler’s cat-friendly house in Denver, Colo.

Koehler, an attorney with the U.S. Department of the Interior, heard about the San Nicolas Island cats at a professional conference.

“Having The Humane Society of the United States go in and rescue those cats’ lives was really touching,” Koehler said.

“They happened to mention that there were some kittens available,” said Koehler, who had just lost one of her beloved cats. When she started asking about the San Nicolas cats, she was told that two of the eight-month-old kittens had really bonded, although they weren’t litter mates. They needed to stay together.

“The next thing I knew I was going to California to get them and bring them back to Denver,” Koehler said.

Now called Marnie and Harrison, the two rescued cats remain inseparable.

“They are affectionate, they are great, and they have adapted very well to my home,” she said.

If you would like to volunteer to help further socialize the San Nicolas cats at the Wildlife Center so they can find new loving homes too, contact Ali Crumpacker at 760-789-2324 for a volunteer application packet. 

Read more about feral cats and how you can help them.

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