The cat’s out of the bag! Renegade Paws Rescue has added community cats to our growing list of animals we serve in our area. However, none of these cats will need to enter a shelter before receiving life-saving intervention. How are we going to do it? Well, stick around and we’ll tell you exactly what this new program entails.
Renegade Claws is an innovative program inspired by the community for the community. Stemming from the Renegade Community Action Now (CAN) program, Renegade Claws supports community cats while empowering people to join the no-kill movement through education and action.
Getting our Tails in Gear
Our community program, Renegade CAN, continues to help saves live across the Lowcountry by providing much needed services like community spay and neuter, a pet food pantry, and homeless outreach and support. But we saw a major gap in services that we felt needed more attention: community cats.
According to the ASPCA, “community cats”, is a term used to describe outdoor, unowned, free-roaming cats. So, are they all feral? Not necessarily. Community cats can be feral, friendly, healthy, sick, adults, kittens, and altered or unaltered. Some of these cats may even have caretakers who look after them.
Besides daily or weekly feeding, TNVR—trap, neuter, vaccinate, and release— is often something that a caretaker practices in order to manage colonies of community cats. TNVR allows caretakers to better manage the cats that they take care of in their community. It is considered one of the most efficient and humane methods of caring for unowned community cats.
Essentially, Renegade Claws has two main components that make up the program: TNVR feral community cats who have adapted to the outdoors and may already have established caretakers and bringing adoptable community cats, mostly young kittens, into rescue where they will then find loving homes.
Many adult community cats have adapted to living outdoors and, according to Best Friends Animal Society, "[w]hen properly cared for, community cats are happier outdoors in their own territory." Each cat's needs will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis as the wellbeing of our animals is of upmost importance. Although some cats may be best suited to living outdoors, other cats, especially kittens, may thrive as indoor house pets and will become adoptable once they have been carefully rehabilitated, altered, and vaccinated.
All Paws on Deck
In July, we were grateful for the opportunity to attend the Best Friends Animal Society National Conference, an entire weekend dedicated to learning more about animal welfare through experts across the nation. In our time at the conference, we learned that community cats make up a disproportionate amount of euthanasias a year.
More than twice as many cats are euthanized compared to dogs, despite about an equal number of cats and dogs entering shelters every year. As a Best Friends partner working towards the No-Kill 2025 initiative, we felt that it was time to combat the high number of cats being needlessly euthanized in county shelters in the Lowcountry by creating a program that diverted cats from ending up in shelters at all.
Many community cats have adapted to living outdoors and, according to Best Friends Animal Society, "[w]hen properly cared for, community cats are happier outdoors in their own territory." Each cats' needs will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis as the wellbeing of our animals is of upmost importance. Although some cats may be best suited to living outdoors, other cats, especially kittens, may thrive as indoor house pets as they haven't developed any permanent feral behaviors.
However, it’s no secret that Renegade Paws Rescue began as a dogs-only club. It would take a hard-working, catastic person to lead such a daring program.
That’s where Chela Gutierrez comes in.
The Cat Who Got the Cream
A local fire captain, writer, and kitten-rescue extraordinaire, Gutierrez has been rescuing and caring for community cats for several years in the Savannah area. As a local leader, Gutierrez had been an independent rescuer often getting calls about kittens or cats needing help throughout our community.
Gutierrez pioneered a kitten rescue operation unlike anything we had seen before, even converting part of her home in order to care for more kittens at a time. Because of her extensive experience with community cats, it was an easy choice choosing Gutierrez to lead this innovative program in our community. We are so glad to have Chela joining our rescue and allowing us to reduce euthanasia rates in local shelters and save more lives.
A Very Bright and Fluffy Future
We are so excited for the future of our rescue as we work towards a tomorrow where no adoptable pets are needlessly euthanized in our community. We have already received several calls about cats in our area needing help and we have already adopted out our very first Renegade Claws cat, Mr. Love!
All of us here at Renegade Paws Rescue are blown away by the support we have received from this special program. Without the continued support of Renegades across the nation, we would not be able to further Renegade CAN’s mission to enable a healthy, safe, and happy quality of life for the pets in and around Savannah, GA.