Veruca - A success story

Dear Nine Lives Staff & Volunteers,

We adopted Veruca (now Juno) a few weeks ago and we feel exceptionally
lucky to have her as part of our family.

She is a joy, snuggling and playing with equal abandon. Our dog is in love with her too! They are constant companions... playing like fools, eating, and sleeping together.
Thank you so much for helping us find her, and for providing such excellent care. We have special thanks for the foster family who sheltered her while she was still nursing kittens, as well.

The Avis-Reece family

Nine Lives article in the Mercury News.

Redwood City cat shelter may be forced to close
By Shaun Bishop
Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 09/11/2009 10:50:14 PM PDT

On a recent summer day, Monica Thompson walked up to a nondescript warehouse in Redwood City and pushed past the screen door into a large room filled with nearly 200 cats.

Some were sleeping in cages, others crawling around a large enclosure with climbing posts toward the back of the building. Dozens were roaming freely around the room, rubbing against the legs of visitors. One was sprawled out on an overhead beam, napping.

"Every cat in here," the veterinarian says as she looks around, "was supposed to be killed."

Instead, Thompson takes them and finds them new adoptive owners through the Nine Lives Foundation, which she founded in 2004. Thompson calls them "death row kitties" — cats that were scheduled to be euthanized at other shelters because of behavior problems or health issues.

Sometime this fall, though, all those cats in the foundation's shelter may need to find another place to go.

With donations to the foundation dropping during the recession, Thompson says she can no longer afford the shelter's $40,000-per-month cost, 80 percent of which comes out of her own pockets.

She also runs a veterinary practice offering low-cost care for cats in a separate Redwood City building, and gives about $20,000 per month from her practice to the shelter. But she says that's not enough and the shelter may have to close or downsize significantly.

"There's only so much I can do by myself," she said.

For now, the shelter has stopped taking new "death row" cats as it tries to find homes for all the current residents in case it has to shut down.

Determined to save as many cats as she could, Thompson, 43, founded the foundation five years ago and moved into the warehouse on a frontage road along Highway 101. She says shelters all over Northern California now regularly e-mail or call her with offers to take cats.

She acknowledges shelters have to euthanize some cats because the cats are gravely injured or because the shelter runs out of space. But she believes shelters too often put down cats that have adoption potential.

"It's not (the shelter's) fault, but I still think there's so much that could be done that isn't," she said.

The accountants say she's crazy trying to run a low-cost veterinary clinic and an expensive rescue shelter at the same time. "I was an economics major and I know better," she said, "but somebody has to do this."

Besides the "death row" cats, Thompson has been giving her clinic patients another chance at life.

A couple months ago, a woman brought in a black cat that had been struck near a freeway onramp in Tracy. The cat's front left leg was crushed and her abdomenal cavity had been split open.

Thompson took the cat, waived the $100 surrender fee, then sewed up her stomach and amputated the leg for free.

"Cats with these kinds of injuries don't make it past the shelter," Thompson said as the recovering cat pawed at her. "And you can see she definitely wants to live."

The cat was adopted and named "Mimsy" by its new owners, who posted a grateful message on the Nine Lives Foundation's blog.

"Mimsy is becoming more playful and curious, too, and likes to be up on her hind legs to scratch her tower or swat at the Cat Dancer," the family wrote.

Rescue groups like Thompson's aren't a panacea for the thousands of unwanted cats that come into Bay Area shelters.

The Peninsula Humane Society is required to take all of the 10,000 dogs and cats per year that come through its door, said vice president Scott Delucchi. The humane society treats many of the cats but also has to euthanize some.

The organization put down 196 "treatable" cats last year, meaning "they had some issue that, given endless resources, they could possibly be treated and then placed into a home," Delucchi said. Another 1,265 "untreatable" cats, those that were simply suffering, were also euthanized.

"The ones we can't treat are often the real difficult cases that would be hard for any rescue groups to take on as well," Delucchi said.

Thompson says she has until the end of October to make a decision on the shelter's future. She's planning to run a "Coins for Cats" fundraising drive encouraging donors to collect coins through the end of the month.

She has also sent letters to donors and adoptive families asking for $20 per month to keep the foundation going.

"If they can just help us with $20 a month, that makes a huge difference," she said.

For more information or to donate, visit

E-mail Shaun Bishop at

Avis & Mimsy (a.k.a. Corral) - a success story

Hello Nine Lives!

My husband and I adopted little Avis about a month ago, after we fell in love with her at the shelter. She had lost her left hind leg last to a devastating tumor, which Dr. Thompson removed as soon as Avis arrived at Nine Lives. I'll admit that we were worried that we wouldn't know what to do for a tripod cat, but the volunteers assured us that she could pretty much do everything any other cat could do.
She is sweet as sugar, so it's hard to believe she was completely feral when she arrived at the shelter, even though the volunteers to assure us that she was. Before we brought Avis home, we wanted to have a buddy for her, and found a very outgoing, snuggly Karl in the playcage.
Once we brought Avis and Karl home, we discovered that they were super sweet and adorable individually, but Karl just had a little too much energy for Avis and their personalities just weren't well-matched. We tried everything we could think of, but we ultimately brought him back to his more playful buddies at Nine Lives.

We were so sad, and felt we weren't ready to bring another kitty home, but we should've known better. Avis was an only cat for just less than 36 hours, because Dr. Thompson sneakily introduced us to an adorable all-black Wonder Cat named Corral (now named Mimsy). Mimsy was hit by a car three weeks ago, after which a good samaritan brought her to Nine Lives. Dr. Thompson saved her life, although she couldn't save Mim's front left leg.
We chuckled at the idea of having two tripod kitties at home, but we were already hooked - Mimsy was such a doll! We brought her home to Avis, and since their introduction two weeks ago, they've gone from soft hissing to rumbling purrs, and are even allowing close-proximity
napping now!
Avis is settling in more and more each day to her new home. She has started to "hunt" her little toys, and is so proud when she subdues her "prey." She struts up to us with the toy hanging out of her mouth and vocalizes loudly to announce her victory. Mimsy is becoming more playful and curious, too, and likes to be up on her hind legs to scratch her tower or swat at the Cat Dancer.

We couldn't be happier with these two beautiful little girls, and we're thrilled that they're a part of our family. We want to say thank you to Dr. Thompson and all of the wonderful volunteers at Nine Lives, and to those two individuals, whoever you are, for rescuing these precious cats from the streets, so that they could eventually find their way into our home.

Amanda, Jesse, Avis and Mimsy

Corral found in the middle of nowhere

Hello Doctor Thompson,

Attached are the pictures of where I found Corral (the black kitty with 3 legs now). So glad she has already found nice people to adopt her. She is such a sweet kitty, I'm so glad I found her in time. Thank you for everything you have done for her! Take Care, and if I can help is some way one day, I would love to help your foundation in some way.

This photo shows the exit I found her off of .
This photo shows that by turning left you cross over the freeway, I found her against that railing.
Picture 3 - shows you there is nothing ahead but hills and coyotes, etc. She was in the middle of nowhere!
Thank you,
Stacey Anderson

Keeping Pets' Prevents Allergies

Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK

Keeping cats in the first year of life can help children

Parents are sometimes wary of keeping pets when they have a new baby.
But a study suggests that children who are exposed to two or more cats and dogs in their first year of life have a reduced risk of allergy.

The research also indicates it could lead to boys having a better lung function.

The research, carried out by scientists at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan looked at 473 children - 241 girls and 232 boys - some of whom had pets up to about seven-years-old.

Families can feel safe keeping dogs

It tested atopy - allergic reaction, lung function, and bronchial function each year.
A questionnaire when the children were one-year-old detailed whether or not they had pets.

Concentrations of dust mite allergens in bedrooms were measured at two years of age.

The children received skin tests to common allergens including cat, dog and dust when they were between six and seven years old.

They were also tested for lung and chest functions.


It was found those children who had been exposed to pets had half the number of positive skin tests to all the allergens compared to those who had not.

The researchers said that the link was still true when results were adjusted for gender, birth order, parental asthma and smoking and dust mite allergen levels.

In boys only, it was found that having two or more pets was linked to lower levels of immunoglobulin E, which is linked to hypersensitivity reactions, and better lung function.

The research was presented to the American Thoracic Society.

Dr Warren Lenney, a consultant respiratory paediatrician at North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, and a member of the British Thoracic Society's external relations board, told BBC News Online the thinking in the past had been to get rid of cats and dogs because they could be a health hazard.

He said: "It very much depends on whether dogs and cats have been there for years or whether it's a new acquisition.

"But they are still very bad news if you are an asthmatic to acquire a dog not having had one before."

But he said he found it "difficult to understand" why boys had different results than girls.

A spokeswoman for the Cats Protection League said: "These findings are good news for cats who are all too often seen as the cause of allergic reactions in children rather than a risk reduction factor."