Miller, Mark James

“No cat is unadoptable,” said Roxanne Bohn, the Feline Network’s adoption coordinator. She points out that the focus of the Network is on finding homes for cats that have been rescued or abandoned, and reducing the population of feral and homeless cats in San Luis Obispo County by spaying and neutering.

A pictograph of a smiling cat with six long whiskers and an oversized heart is the symbol of the Feline Network. Taken from a code once used by hobos, the sign of a big-hearted cat scratched on a fence or a tree told fellow wanderers a kind-hearted person lived nearby, someone who would provide a handout, meal or a place to sleep.

The raison d’etre of the Feline Network is to do for homeless and rescued cats what the kind-hearted used to do for hobos — feed them, shelter them and then go a step further and find them a loving home. Their website, www.felinenetwork.org, offers photos of each cat or kitten that is currently in their care and is ready to go to a new home.

“Meet Delilah! She is a super sweet and super affectionate girl who just loves to snuggle.”

“Meet the elegant Mr. Tibbs. He was rescued a few weeks ago …”

Each cat, before being adopted, has their shots and a visit to a veterinarian, and is nurtured until it is felt they are ready for a new place to live.

But that is only part of the story. As adoption coordinator, Roxanne very carefully screens prospective owners, wanting to be sure the temperament of the owner is compatible with the temperament of the cat, and will not approve an adoption until she is sure the fit is right. She will keep a cat as long as is necessary until the correct match is found.

Educating people about cats is an important part of the Feline Network’s mission, especially when it comes to the need for spaying and neutering to reduce feline overpopulation. An unspayed female cat, her mate, and all of their offspring producing two litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter, can produce 12 cats the first year, 67 cats the second year, 376 cats the third year, and an astonishing 2,107 in year four. After that the numbers take quantum leaps, reaching an incredible 11,606,077 cats in nine years.

Thus, the need for spaying and neutering is critical. The Network’s Fix-A-Feline program has helped fix more than 6,000 cats and kittens since 2006. The Network offers spay/neuter certificates worth $60 for female cats and $40 for males, good at vet offices all over San Luis Obispo County.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 30.4 percent of U.S. households have at least one cat — the average is two — which means there are 74 million pet cats in America, more than the number of America’s other favorite pet, the dog.

That should not come as a surprise. The human/cat relationship may date back as far as 10,000 B.C. in the Fertile Crescent, when cats were used to keep mice away from harvested crops. In 2004 a 9,500-year-old grave was found on Cyprus that contained the remains of a cat buried alongside a human. The Roman Legions took cats with them to keep rats and mice out of their food supplies.

The Feline Network was founded in 2002, and operates only in San Luis Obispo County. Volunteers are needed and welcomed. For more information you can visit their website, or call 805-549-9228, ext. 707.

Dedicated to Shiva, 1994—2013.

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Mark James Miller is an associate English instructor at Allan Hancock College. He is also president of the Part-Time Faculty Association. He can be reached at mark@pfaofahc.com.