Friday, March 6, 2009

Office Space or Hospice Place?

By Daniel Quagliozzi

When cats enter the shelter with life threatening illnesses, it can sometimes be a very long road until they are ready for adoption. In some of the more serious cases, these cats will need to be hospiced in homes for months at a time until they reach a level of rehabilitation or pass away with dignity. It's a tremendous service that's very generous and never taken for granted. But, what do you do when you run out of homes to hospice cats and you have lives to save?

The SFSPCA found the answer to this question in it's own shelter. We opened our office doors to "Offspice" some of the shelters neediest cats & dogs. Why not let them live with us while we work? We can give them their medications, keep track of their weight and appetite and most of all , give them love to help them feel better. Were there any objections to this idea? No way!

Since the summer of 2008, The Cat Behavior office has been a safe haven for cats with various debilitating illnesses and behavior concerns as well as a destination for the volunteers and staff who love them. We thought, why not!?! We have the space and essentially our office is just like a cat condo. Lets get some cats in here! Cat trees and litter boxes were soon added to the office as well as cages for some of the shy kittens.


There was " Dab " an undersocialized kitten that bit Daniel the first day he was here but turned into an angel after weeks of socialization and TLC from the volunteers & behavior staff.
Lets not forget, Gilroy , a staff favorite who lived out his last golden year, walking on a harness all around the shelter, dressing in his Santa costume , going on various radio and tv shows and even made a debut at Holiday Windows, while being treated for intestinal cancer. He touched so many but left us early this year after losing his battle with the disease.


Then, there was our orange tabby, Yo , a cat with liver cancer, who stayed briefly in the office until he built up an appetite and gained enough weight to move on to a foster home. To this day he is still living there. His foster parent may never bring him back.


Oh.. and Maya, a brown tabby senior cat who lounged in the office while being treated for arthritis. We had special stairs for her to get up to her favorite spot on the cat tree. Maya is currently available for adoption!

The Offspice trend does not stop at the behavior office. Other departments have also volunteered to take in our special needs cats as well. In fact, Moses aka "The Senator", a long haired black cat, being treated for hyperthyroidism, arthritis, high blood pressure and various lumps that give him character, is currently running the show in the office of our Client Care Manager.

Suzanne Hollis says that one night while she was home, the Senator stepped on the redial button of the phone on her desk and dialed her! She could hear him breathing on the speaker phone. What a character! Along with his huge medical record comes a feisty "cattitude" that comes out when the Senator is being examined. Can you blame him though? "It's a small sacrifice to share my desk with such a handsome politician of love", said Suzanne.

We'll be posting the progress and availability of any special needs cats that apply to be roommates in the Cat Behavior Office. Maybe YOU want to open your home to a cat that needs help too? If you are interested in Fostering or Fospicing a cat or kitten, contact Alison Lane in our Foster Care Program. She can be reached by email : or by calling 415 522-3542

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