Sunday, October 26, 2008

Preventing Halloween CATastrophy

Much has been said about the violence to animals during the month of Halloween. Although some stories might be categorized as urban legend or hearsay, it is true that ritual sacrifice does still exist, as do practises of other types of animal abuse in the form of 'pranks'. There are also instances of animal sacrifice and torture at the winter and summer solstice, but it is the Halloween holiday and the danger to cats that we will focus on for this alert.

Stray cats are an especially easy target during this time of year. Some shelters report a significant increase in requests for black cat adoptions shortly before Halloween, so much so that October is sometimes called "Black Cat Month". Consequently, many animal rescuers and adoption organizations now refuse to allow the adoption of black cats during October and some organizations do not adopt out ANY cats at all for the entire month, regardless of color.

A subtler form of cruelty can also happen during Halloween with people who want a black cat as part of their costume or as a living decorative prop for a Halloween party, haunted house, Halloween game or prank, as a scare or surprise. These cats are later returned or dropped off somewhere after the holiday is over.

Throughout history, cats have long been associated with magic, mysticism, the occult, and myths, ranging the full spectrum of human imagination. Even today, many of these old superstitions still survive. Black cats in particular, are the unfortunate recipients of a plethora of projected superstitions that cast them as an omen for bad or good, depending on where people happen to live or what they were raised to believe.

For all these reasons, if you care for or know of an animal in need of a home and are approached by a person or persons looking to adopt or foster but with whom you have even the slightest misgivings, it is best to err on the side of caution and NOT let the animal go with that person(s).

During the month of October it is also best to keep cats indoors, regardless of their color, but especially if they are black. Cultists and pranksters aside, just the number of strangers who are out and about on Halloween, along with extra cars, people partying and playing pranks, can make the outdoors unsafe for animals during this holiday.

For additional information on Halloween safety for animals, including tips on safely decorating with the well-being of animals in mind, please see the wide range of articles on this topic and more on Humane Society's website at

Safety FURst,
Big Purr

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October Paws for Thought

Greetings fellow animal lovers. It is October and the Autumn litters of kittens being born are happening as fast as the changing leaves. It is probably no coincidence that this month, October 16th, is the date of National Feral Cat Day.

A feral cat differs from a house cat or a stray who is lost or abandoned, or even a cat who is very shy or skittery. A feral cat is not socialized to humans. Feral cats are not homeless pets. They have a home - it's just not a home with humans, and it's a home that is outdoors. Feral cats are not without a family - they have a family, it's just not a family with humans. Their family members are other cats, with whom they share a very deep bond and connection.

Feral cats, for the most part, are widely misunderstood. They are largely perceived as a nuisance, based on generalized and erroneous misconceptions about cats as a species overall, and misinformed ideas about disease and wildlife depletion

According to statistics from Alley Cat Allies, 70% of cats entering the nation's shelter system are euthanized, with the rate being 100% for feral cats. Even no-kill shelters can be greatly challenged by the resources needed for feral cats, especially when there are so many other adoptable cats in need of placement who are already well socialized to people. Feral kittens can be adopted if they are taken and socialized at a very early age but for adult feral adults, the best proven method towards a compassionate and effective solution is TNR - Trap, Neuter, Release.

A.W.A.N. supports and salutes our animal loving friends who work hard towards reducing the overpopulation of feral cats through the care and management of feral colonies and TNR. In doing this intensive work for animals, they help to provide a better life for cats in existing feral communities and for other cats and wildlife as well.

For more information about feral cats and how you can help, please visit our friends at Alley Cat Allies and check out the resource library at Best Friends . There you will find information about TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release), how to care for and manage feral colonies, how to socialize feral cats and where to seek resources for assistance.

May the Furs Be With You...
Big Purr

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September Cat's Meow

Summer is behind us and the A.W.A.N. hotline is ringing with calls about unwanted kittens and growing feral colonies. As the weather moves into autumn, the second round of litters born before the winter months is about to begin. Now more than ever, we are going to need additional temporary foster homes to help keep homeless kittens socialized who are up for adoption.

We are enormously grateful for our friends at the UC-SPCA and DC-SPCA for their continued support through their excellent low cost spay/neuter services and to some of our local veterinarians who have been most generous. There is more good news now that the mobile Spay/Neuter Van for Ulster County will begin accepting appointments soon. However, in order to help meet the demand for the number of cats that need to be spayed this fall, we need volunteers to assist with transportation in driving cats to and/or from appointments. Please Email us or leave a message on the hotline if you are able to help out in this way.


We extend a mighty big thank you to all our animal loving friends who supported the A.W.A.N. fundraisers a few months back; including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian, recording artist Joy Askew, the great bassist Tony Levin and Woodstock's own Uncle Funk, prodigy bluesman Myles Mancuso, Keegan Ales, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Woodstock Animal Sanctuary and all the folks who attended, volunteered and/or contributed to the silent auction and summer yard sale. The money raised at these fundraisers made it possible this summer for more than a hundred cats to be spayed and neutered and when necessary, medically cared for - preventing a multitude of new litters which would have brought about literally hundreds more homeless cats this fall.

Make sure to check the website calendar section in the coming weeks for updates on our autumn events and information about our holiday concert in early December. Also, check out our blog section here the 15th of every month for more news and updates.


In closing, I would like to end with a short quote in memory of our beloved animal companions and animal rescues and all those who crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge this spring and summer......

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye. Men have forgotten
this truth", said the fox," but you must never forget it.
You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
(from The Little Prince by Antoine Saint Exupery)

For the animals,
Big Purr

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lots Going On!

First, Joy Askew, a powerful and compelling performer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and recording artist, will perform a solo concert to benefit A.W.A.N. The date is Saturday, April 5, 2008, 8 pm, at Unison Arts Theater, 68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY (click the preceding link for a map and directions).

Joy is best known for her work with Peter Gabriel, Joe Jackson, Laurie Anderson, and David Byrne. Her sixth solo CD, The Pirate of Eel Pie, is scheduled for release April 8, 2008. David Doud of WDST states, "Joy Askew's performance really draws you in - you'll want everyone you know to hear this record."

Tickets are $15 in advance and for A.W.A.N. members and $20 at the door.

Joy joins with A.W.A.N. in our shared commitment to helping animals. Funds raised from this concert will support our continued work addressing the cycle and suffering of homeless companion animals and its contributing efforts towards future projects that include helping to bring a spay/neuter van to Ulster County.


Then, on Saturday, May 10, 2008, Uncle Funk will perform in "The Big Purr," another soulful, fun benefit for A.W.A.N. This one will be held at Keegan Ales, which is located at 20 St. James Street, Kingston, New York (again, clicking, on the preceding link will get you a map and directions). There'll be great music, special guests, dancing, fabulous food, a silent auction, and much more! Tickets for this event are $20 in advance and for A.W.A.N. members and $25 at the door.


We have also added a couple of Adoption Days events! The first will be held Saturday, June 14, 2008, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's WFAS Jamboree. The WFAS is located at 35 Van Wagner Road, Willow, New York. The next one will be Saturday, June 28, 2008, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary's, CAS Shindig. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is located at 316 Old Stage Road, Saugerties, New York.


Finally, we have added a new page to our ever-evolving site. Our Animals for Adoptions highlights the stories of deserving individuals who really need a home (for now or forever). Please stop by at the A.W.A.N. site to learn more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Big Purr

Coming this spring...

Fundraiser Extravaganza for A.W.A.N.!

Great music, dancing, delicious food, silent auction and much more!!!

Date, time & location are to be announced...

For more information and updates, click here or watch this space for announcements.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Welcome to the A.W.A.N. Blog

Please check back frequently as we populate this space with information, news, and other articles relevant to our mission.