June 21, 2018
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Forgotten Felines works to help control Maine’s feral cat population

Photo Courtesy of Forgotten Felines
Photo Courtesy of Forgotten Felines
By Joni Averill

This is a new description of an organization for me, but most appropriate, I believe,  and I’m surprised I have not run into it before.

Forgotten Felines, a 501(c)3 organization based in eastern Maine, is what its founder Pam Hansberry of Stockton Springs describes as a “paper-only organization.”

That means Forgotten Felines does not have a facility to house the work it does.

All the work of Forgotten Felines board members is conducted through visits, phone calls, emails, mailings and whatever other means are necessary to achieve its goals.

Forgotten Felines works to help people “who feed the homeless, stray, abandoned and feral cats, and who often have a colony in their backyard,” to connect with veterinarians throughout Maine and get those cats spayed and neutered, Pam said.

“We work with many vets, especially up and down the Maine coast.

“We absorb the entire cost of spaying and neutering” and then the cats are returned to the individuals “who can continue feeding them without worrying about having little kitties.”

Pam told me we would be surprised at the number of colonies of feral cats that are located within our readership area, including our major cities and our smallest communities.

Board members were in Machias recently, she said, “working with a colony up there and took 12 5- to 6-week-old cats out of that colony. We have a colony in the Augusta area and there are three within a four-block radius in Bangor.”

Forgotten Felines focuses on what is called TNR, or trap, neuter, return.

Started in January 2009 and receiving its nonprofit status in February 2010, Forgotten Felines is “dedicated to educating the public about feral cats by providing literature and advice on caring for feral, stray, homeless and abandoned cats, assisting in humanely reducing cat overpopulation with TNR, providing access to low-cost spay-neuter services and helping to place adoptable cats in loving homes.”

Forgotten Felines works “to raise awareness of the plight of the feral cat by promoting and expanding humane methods for the care of these cats.”

It was in 1989 when Pam was living in Philadelphia “in one of those massive complexes” that she “started seeing cats and started feeding them” and then learned about a national feral cat organization called Alley Cat Allies.

“I always send people” to that website “because there is a lot of information there,” she said of http://www.alleycat.org/.

“That’s where I learned about trap, spay and neuter and releasing back to the wild.”

Pam explained that feral “means fear of humans” and that feral cats, once they are spayed and neutered, should be released back into the wild, but it is all right for them to be fed.

In the 20 years she has been working with feral cats, Pam said, she has rescued more than 1,000.

The owner of Maine-ly Cats, a business that makes cat products, she met her other board members at a craft show and they joined forces to get Forgotten Felines up and running.

And while agreeing to use her full name and where she lives, Pam prefers to let the other board members remain anonymous because, as she explained, when people find out who they are and where they live, cat owners are apt to drop off their cats, and that’s not what the organization is about: It is about helping take care of Maine’s feral cat population.

Not state- or federally-funded, the organization is donor-based, Pam said.

“We work through two big sales, each year, at Marden’s in Brewer, which is pretty popular, and we have an annual yard sale.

“We work events such as a pet adoption day in Ellsworth; we got a small grant from Walmart and we have a quarterly newsletter people can sign up for.

“We’ve applied for a few other small grants, and we have a doctor who matches us” for spaying and neutering “so if people give us $10 we get $20.”

Last year, Forgotten Felines took care of 313 feral cats in Maine.

“We’re well over 100 this year and the season just really started,” Pam said. “We have a waiting list for help and over 60 kittens in our foster care system.”

The feral cat population can explode if cats are not trapped, spayed and neutered, Pam said.

That is why she hopes you will offer your support by visiting forgottenfelinesme.org, sending a donation to Forgotten Felines, P.O.Box 19, Bangor 04402-0019 or attending the Forgotten Felines yard sale or donating to its bottle drive from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, on the corner of Seventeenth and Hutchinson streets in Bangor.

If you want more information about Forgotten Felines, you are welcome to call Pam at 567-3249.

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