Early April, a lovely calico cat wandered into a vacant farm and purred her greeting to the farm-sitter. He could not take her with him when he had to leave, so he called FOTAS.

One FOTAS volunteer took the cat to a local vet to be tested for feline viruses and, as she was pregnant, scheduled her to be spayed Monday morning. It was Friday, so a second (dogless) volunteer agreed to foster the cat for the weekend, but that night the cat had five kittens. So the very excellent momma cat and her babies were accommodated in a third person’s guest cottage for seven weeks.

They named momma cat Nona, and several FOTAS people provided food, litter, toys and company for the feline family. A second local vet agreed to place and “fix” the five kittens. Last week Nona found a loving home on an occupied farm. That’s one way FOTAS brings the community together to make a difference.

Now that summer is in full swing, abandoned animals will overwhelm the already overcrowded County Shelter. So it is opportune to celebrate Lenny’s Brigade and the volunteers who created it as our Month-of-the-Cat points to another need.

Founded by two cat lovers – Kathy, a retired veterinary cat specialist, and Carol, a retired accountant with a passion for spay/neuter as the best response to animal overpopulation – Lenny’s Brigade extends FOTAS’ Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) beyond household pets to stewards of community cats.

Lenny’s Brigade (named for a stray kitten that didn’t make it, a symbol of too many like him) is a trap-spay/neuter project directed at cat lovers whose hearts are bigger than their pocketbooks when it comes to stray cats. Founded in the fall of 2012, Lenny’s Brigade goes where called to help people get the cat colonies they are supporting under control.

The SPCA Albrecht Center also partners with Lenny’s Brigade, providing surgical services and even surgical facilities for Kathy to use when available. Carol carefully researched trap performance and funded 20 traps, for which she has also sewn covers to help trapped cats remain sane.

As word traveled, grateful clients have called on Lenny’s Brigade: the owner of the Wagener feed store; the New Ellenton Post Office; an elderly man with Parkinson’s who loves every cat that wanders in and is overwhelmed as they multiply; the kind woman who rescued her neighbors’ abandoned pregnant cat. She placed the first two litters but finds there is no place for the third.

Volunteers, too, have responded to the need. They help identify colonies or with trapping or transporting. There are even vet tech volunteers helping Kathy with surgeries.

Lenny’s Brigade is currently seeking contacts in Warrenville and Gloverville. They would also love to hear from any other cat advocate groups in Aiken County.

Lenny’s Brigade “Community Cat” hot line is 803-507-6315. If you or someone you know are a “Community Cat Ally,” call Lenny’s Brigade and you can help make a difference, too.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, contact info@fotasaiken.org or visit www.fotasaiken.org.

By the Numbers

May 2012 2013

Intake 613 510

Adoptions 61 74

Transfers 47 55

Put Down 558/91 percent 412/81 percent