Erica’s lifelong love of animals shines through CatPAWS daily. Highlighting Erica is a bit difficult – putting into words the magnitude of how Erica helps this organization seems impossible. Between late night phone calls & texts and driving to a fosters house at midnight who may have a medical emergency with a kitten, are only some of the tasks that Erica does flawlessly, daily. Erica is a dependable, gracious, and a knowledgeable team member who many other volunteers turn to for answers with pressing cat and kitten questions.
Erica joined CatPAWS in 2015 after helping a cat in a dire situation with another volunteer. At that time, she took on the transporter position in the organization. Erica drove cats and kittens to much needed vet appointments. Erica’s position evolved and as she got more involved and connected, Erica became the foster coordinator. In this role, Erica interviews possible fosters, pulls kittens from local shelters for potential fostering, helps educate & mentor all foster families, and books spay & neuter visits for fosters. Between dozens of cats that CatPAWS has in fostering at any given time, this is hours of dedication to a position that is truly a labor of love.
Erica is also a trusted resource on a multitude of problems that kittens have that include diarrhea, heart murmurs, herpes, and URI’s. When a foster subsequently has one of these issues, Erica is the first one to meet them at the Vet and work on a plan of action to help the animal. Erica has learned so much from these visits and has built relationships with many of the veterinary partners that CatPAWS works with. “So many times I learn something new at these appointments that will carry over into another case. It really is one of my favorite parts in this role that I play with CatPAWS,” says Erica.
Erica is particularly proud of the team and people that CatPAWS has built over the past few years. “All of us are here because we genuinely care about giving all our cats their best life. Yes, there are frustrations at times, but I know in my heart that our success is the culmination of so many people’s efforts,” says Erica.
Erica also speaks fondly of Deborah, CatPAWS Co-Founder, who has helped her during her volunteer journey. “Deborah was there for me when my cat Guiness passed and she is continuously a cheer leader for the organization and all of us volunteers,” notes Erica.
Erica has taken on some of the most vulnerable cats that CatPAWS has seen. A “foster fail” turned family member, Guiness, is one of those. Guiness had ‘FIP’ which Erica had suspected, and a vet confirmed, sadly. FIP tragically ends the life of too many cats too soon. Erica enjoyed Guiness’s short year and a half life and was nothing short of a doting & loving cat mom. Erica, with her kind heart & giving disposition, now has Wizard, another cat who is living with FIP. Recent medical developments are helping to prolong the lives of cats with FIP and CatPAWS has raised funds for this treatment with Wizard.
During an unprecedented year, Erica has continued to push CatPAWS forward. Volunteers like Erica are hard to come by. Her efforts don’t go unnoticed and we are beyond appreciative for her dedication.
And, while a cat wasn’t in the cards with young children, it didn’t take long for Emily and Julie to become attached to a certain kitty, Basil. After many shifts with the kitten, it was apparent that Emily and Julie were smitten. Coming home and swooning over Basil became the norm, and Julie’s husband, Bill, soon took note. One particular shift when Julie and Emily returned, they noticed that Basil had been adopted. While the two were happy that Basil had found her forever home, the two couldn’t help but have slight heartbreak over a kitty that the mother daughter duo had certainly come to love. Much to the family’s surprise, Bill had adopted sweet Basil, now named Phoebe, as the resident cat at the Brown house. Julie and Emily were thrilled! Phoebe has enjoyed her time with Buster Brown, the family dog, and her new little friend, Mackenzie who the family is fostering for the time being.
CatPAWS is always looking for fosters, volunteers, and donors. For more information, visit www.helensanderscatpaws.com
Melissa isn’t alone in caring for these kittens. Katelyn, her 11-year-old, has stepped up to the plate in a big way in helping these vulnerable lives. “Katelyn has truly taken on much of the responsibility in helping with their daily care. And, while we have had some hard goodbyes, we’ve had so much fun as a family doing this,” says Melissa.
This year, CatPAWS has had over 300 successful adoptions- a record for the 10-year-old non-profit. We can’t do it without the help of wonderful volunteers like Melissa, Katelyn, Austin & Jason!