Hi, this is Dasha, the founder of the Feline Foundation.
I am writing this post to let our feline community know what's going on, what our plans are and to ask for a favour.
For the last 16 months, we have been working daily to help abandoned and sick cats recover and find new homes, as well as drastically improve conditions at the shelter: implement regular vaccinations and cleaning practices, put into use isolation units, provide timely treatment to sick cats and renovate some of the rooms. To everyone who supported us — a big thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together we saved and found homes for hundreds of cats.
All these measures paid off. We have had no deaths or severe complications from infectious diseases at the shelter — until now.
On the 15th of June, the sisters found on the convent grounds 14 abandoned kittens, with presumably their mothers put all together in a box. A week or ten days later, the youngest fell sick and quickly died; the older ones followed suit. Only two remain alive as of the 10th of July.
As soon as the kittens developed symptoms, we brought them to a vet, where they tested positive for feline parvovirus (commonly called "cat plague" in Ukraine). According to our vets' experience, cat litter's survival rate is 80%. We immediately closed the shelter for quarantine and implemented measures suggested by the infectious disease specialists — all that were possible in the shelter conditions.
The good news is that of today, no other cats show symptoms of parvovirus infection, and we are very hopeful it will stay this way. One adult cat (Tosha) is at the clinic at the moment. He was already sick when the outbreak happened and was hospitalised out of fear he would not survive.
Besides the heartbreak, the suffering of the cats, and the enormous effort to limit the outbreak, we face two serious issues.
The first and very urgent is an outstanding bill for all vet services the cats have been receiving and may still receive. It is the first time we are facing such a health crisis, and we are determined to address the issue on a large scale to prevent unnecessary deaths in the future (more on this below). But to do so, we need to see the end of the outbreak and recover from this horrible and tragic situation first. This is why we ask you to help us raise funds to cover the medical expenses and replenish the emergency funds. We are still very young and building this nonprofit from scratch to end the suffering of cats and animal lovers.
So far, we have paid ~300 USD out of emergency funds, and we still owe the clinic ~400 USD (find the bills here). Every day in the clinic for Tosha will cost around ~40 USD, and we hope — fingers crossed — no more cats will need hospitalisation. Besides that, we still need to purchase vaccines, anti-parasite treatment and hygiene supplies, as this proved to be a measure that spares cat lives, our mental health and scarce finances.
UPDATE: The goal is to collect 2000-3000 USD to survive the outbreak, continue caring for the cats and have enough time to develop solutions and find stable sources of funding (grants, partnerships, subscription donations etc.). In fact, any donation, no matter how small, brings us closer to our goals.
To support us: go to https://feline.foundation/donate or spread the word about us and our struggle.
The second issue is the realisation that the shelter is not equipped to handle serious infection cases. I was surprised that only a handful of hospitals in the city take in cats with feline parvovirus — it is so contagious, dangerous and hard to manage. Moreover, after talking to volunteers who regularly pick up cats for adoption from the streets, I realised that kitten death en masse from parvovirus is a pervasive problem. For the volunteers, it means burnout, emotional suffering and financial difficulties.
Fortunately, this problem has a solution, and small areas in the city are already under control — where responsible caretakers sterilise street cats and provide them with food and medical services at their own cost. No kittens are born in the streets, no outbreaks happen in these populations, and the number of cats naturally decreases with time.
The second part is having a specialised cat housing facility with trained vet personnel that can take care of homeless cats with unknown status, quarantine them, test them according to the professional guidelines, vaccinate, sterilise and then release them back, rehome or place in one of the shelters once they are safe for other animals. As of today, no such place exists in the city.
In the meantime, we desperately need funding to plan convent shelter expenses more efficiently, to have more time to organise volunteers and develop and test measures that will finally — a personal dream of mine for many years — end cats suffering on the streets of our beautiful city.
Stay in touch with us if you are interested in what we do since I will be making updates regularly, and not just on unfortunate events.
P.S. As I am finishing this post, a large number of drones is flying in our direction, so I moved to the corridor. This war — as horrible as it is — has made many Ukrainians realise that we can no longer delay what had to be done years ago, as the price for this chance is so hefty.