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Kitty care

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Pam O’Brien is quite possibly an angel — at least there are a lot cats who think so.

O’Brien, of Federal Way, fosters cats for King County Animal Care and Control at her house in the Redondo neighborhood.

In the past two years, nearly 50 cats have been through her house on their way to adopted families. Oftentimes, she takes care of a mother with kittens. She keeps the kittens until they weigh two pounds and are old enough to be neutered or spayed and then adopted.

Sometimes, O’Brien brings home sick cats and nurses them back to health. She gives them medicine and wipes the boogers from their face. Being away from the other animals and out of a cage allows the cats to heal more quickly.

“For the health of the animals they need to get out of there,” she said.

In about two weeks the cats are healthy again and can return to the shelter. Healthy, happy cats are more likely to get adopted, O’Brien said.

“They get their personality back,” she said. “When they sit in there too long, of course they just end up sitting there. They’re depressed... people just walk past.”

O’Brien said she dreams of having an animal sanctuary one day. Until then, she makes do with an indoor cat condo that she recently built on her property.

“If I could do this for a living I would love it,” said O’Brien, who is a trooper for the Washington State Patrol.

Last week, O’Brien brought home the first group of cats who will take a vacation from the shelter and live in her cat condo for a few weeks. The group consisted of five adult cats who had been in the shelter since September.

“I don’t like going down there because it’s so heartbreaking and I want to take every one of them home,” O’Brien said of the animal shelter.

The condo is a separate structure from the house with carpet, lights, heat, windows and even cable so the cats can watch Animal Planet. About 10 cats can live comfortably in the condo. There are several pieces of furniture the cats can scratch, climb on and relax in.

Last week, the cats adjusted quickly — napping, playing, eating and looking out the windows.

“They’re just happy. They get to stretch their legs,” O’Brien said. “I think cats and dogs, when you rescue them, they know it.”

In addition to the cats living in the condo, O’Brien has two six-week-old kittens living inside the house. She’s been fostering the kittens since they were brought into the shelter half-frozen at two weeks old. They didn’t have a mother and O’Brien and a friend bottle-fed them.

“They’re like babies to me. They’re just helpless and they need humans,” she said. “I wish I could do more. Sometimes you get frustrated because you can’t.”

O’Brien said she wishes more people would help the shelter out by fostering cats. If 100 people each took just one cat home for a couple weeks, it would make a world of difference, she said.

“It’s the key to help the shelter out is fostering,” she said.

Staff writer Margo Horner: 925-5565, mhorner@fedwaymirror.com

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