2016: a Very Happy (Cats) Year!

521 Sweet Stories

Sweet Pea belonged to a family who kept their cats outside in their Palmer Park neighborhood. When the temperature dipped well below zero, they let in everyone but him, leaving him to shiver and cry at the door. A kind neighbor brought him to us when they admitted he wasn’t “pretty” enough to come inside.

Now Sweet Pea is the constant companion for Bill and his extended family. This wonderful cat has a bright new life, purring constantly for his new guardians who love him dearly.

A Happy 5th Anniversary!

It’s been five years since we opened our doors and we have saved over 1,800 cats since then! We found forever homes for 521 cats and kittens in 2016, with another 6 returned to their guardians and another 32 in safe haven with our foster families at year’s end. We completed fully 10% of all shelter cat adoptions in the Pikes Peak Region in 2015 and were on track to do the same last year.

Sweet Pea is one of 239 adults adopted last year, including seniors and catolescents. Kittens are always easy to adopt, so we’re very happy to be saving 14% more of these higher-risk adults!

With the help of a grant from the Petco Foundation, we adopted out 116 pairs of cats and kittens under our Buddy Discount, helping us keep together lifelong friends and siblings. This grant helped us deliver our first two kitten Grand Slam adoptions, two sets of four lucky brothers and sisters going to their forever homes together, as well as one Triple Play in 2016. Everyone knows how hard it can be to find a good friend for a cat, so when kittens and cats go home already bonded, we help set them up for life. Our Buddy Discount helps us get them home without giving them away, modeling our conviction that they are valuable and trainable, not disposable.

Research has finally caught up with what many cat guardians already know, that FIV+ cats cat live very normal lives with the right roommates and good veterinary care. That enabled us to begin helping these special cats, adopting out 10 FIV+ cats and kittens in 2016. With grant assistance from the Lucille Drinkwater Allen foundation, we got the additional blood tests to support these cats and those they live with.

The Nose Knows

At our inspection this year by PACFA, our Colorado State regulating agency, Inspector Hanson said,

The staff maintains the area better than any other cat facility I have been to. There was no smell present and the colony areas were very well organized.

Our visitors often say they can’t tell by the smell how many cats we have at our Haven. Our staff and volunteers are constantly working to improve hygiene, which also keeps down our illness and stress…for our volunteers as well as our cats!

Happy Volunteers = Happy Cats

Last year our two Volunteer Coordinators, Wendy McKinney and Chelsea DeCesare, helped increase our volunteers another 19% to 130+ volunteers. Our Foster Coordinator, Genesis Martin, pitches in to help with training, where we set the tone for our Feline Friendly focus, always seeing the world through our cats’ eyes with our Five Cat Wishes. Our volunteers, including foster families, are the very heart of Happy Cats with their loving care of our cats and kittens. Their commitment helps keep most of our funding channeled directly to the costs of feeding, housing and caring for our kitties.

Save Means Stay

Our returns increased slightly last year from 10% to 11% after we found out not all of our lost or abandoned cats come back to us from other shelters for rehoming. We try to make sure each adopter knows that all Happy Cats have a lifelong safety net at the Haven, no matter the circumstance. We provided over 1,500 follow-up calls and emails with our adoptions last year to help keep our cats in their families. We are grateful for our behavior consultant, Melissa Shandley, who also helps with advice, targeted socializing, home assessments and installations when needed. To save a cat means we’ve done everything we can to help him or her stay happily at home for life.

Cat Skills School

For five years, we have provided community support for our adopters and the public with classes. We continued our monthly Kitty Kindergarten, Click with Your Cat, Eat-Play-Love Cat Enrichment and Litterbox 101 classes for the public. For our volunteers, we offered monthly Shy Cat Handling and Adoption Counseling classes and a special Tellington TTouch class with Linda Hoover of Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique. We field 15-20 calls a week from people with cat behavior problems, offering advice and referrals along with our classes. This commitment to our community further lowers the number of abandoned and euthanized cats in the Pikes Peak Region by helping cats stay in their homes.

Paws for the Community

In 2016 we premiered Purr Me a Story, a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District. We hosted children to read out loud to our kitties, honing the reading skills of our future cat guardians while giving our cats a more normal home-like experience, with purrs and smiles all around. We also held a Cute Cat Photo Contest to celebrate Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month in June.

Again in 2016, we spread the word about Happy Cats at the Manitou Springs Wine Festival, Bristol Brewing Karma Hour, the Colorado Springs Pet Expo and HSPPR’s Pawtoberfest. We were the Rescue of the Month with Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique and a recipient of their Santa Paws Christmas Photos event. We also received grants for our upcoming videos from Gigi’s Gift Shop and PlayTime Petsitters.

In spite of an ice storm, our loyal supporters came out to our big year-end event to celebrate our 5th anniversary, Top Cat & Tails, raising thousands for the kitties. We are thankful to the media who sponsored stories for us, including Fox 21 and SOCO CW for television coverage. The Pikes Peak Bulletin has been with us since our very beginnings, donating a weekly ad for the kitties, and we now have a monthly ad in Life After 50 too.

In July, we once again welcomed Samantha Martin and her Amazing Acrocats to town. We are always thrilled to partner with organizations that help support solving problems with training and enrichment, and the Acrocats do that with (cow)bells on! Twenty-two Happy Cats volunteers helped them put on three shows at Stargazer’s Theatre, to the delight of Pikes Peak cat lovers.

We also increased our Guardian Angels by 25% through our Colorado Gives Day in December. With their help, we are sustaining Happy Cats into the future through recurring donations for basic operating costs.

A Purr a Day

Medical care was our biggest increase in expenses this year, up over 50%. We took in two large groups of cats and kittens sick with coccidia and giardia, contagious and communicable diseases of highest risk to the babies. Our staff and volunteers went into high gear, making sure they were isolated and received special care and medication, so everyone survived with purrs intact.

We took in many severely neglected cats who needed specialized care in 2016. We worked hard to bring them back to health from abandonment and trauma: a halter and a collar left to grow into skin; kidney disease, stomatitis and irritable bowels; chronic diarrhea and upper respiratory infections; heart conditions and neck wounds; and even a kitten without a penis! Our increase in adult intakes also brought more seniors with mouth issues, reflected in the 12 dentals we provided for our cats in 2016. These expenses spurred us to invest in some equipment that will allow us to save on medical care in the future, including a microscope, otoscope and Wood’s lamp.

Our partner veterinarians pitched in to help us with spays and neuters for the 282 kittens–plus many intact adults–who came through Happy Cats on their way home. We are especially grateful to Healing Path Animal Wellness, Compassionate Care Veterinary Support, Animal Clinic of Woodland Park, Cheyenne Mountain Animal Hospital, Uintah Pet Emergency and Pine Creek Veterinary Hospital for assistance with our medical needs, as well as all our other partners who offered free initial exams to our adopters to get our kitties off to a great start!

Lending a Paw

We qualified for Indy Give! for our fourth year, our hometown fundraising campaign supported by the Colorado Springs Independent. We raised just over $30,000 for our operations…including $1,500 from our beer-loving cat fans who downed over 500 Bristol Brewing Black Lagers to support the cause! We are very grateful to all our generous supporters through Give!, especially to our Matching Donors: Arthur L. Borgersen, Catagonia Cat Hotel, Betsy & Chris Miller, the Happy Cats Board, Healing Path Animal Wellness, Effie & Rhue & Picabo’s guardian, Peanut’s guardian, in Spencer’s memory, Sarah F. Roach and Vickie Smith.

Grants are the only other funding source besides the kindness of our donors. Our Operations Manager, Laura Barbee, honed her grant writing skills this year, garnering grants from the El Pomar Foundation, the Petco Foundation, Lauretta Boyd and Lucille Drinkwater Allen Foundations, Onshore and Lexis Nexis. In addition to that, she helped us become the only Colorado Springs non-profit to be added to Community Shares of Colorado, a workplace giving collaborative that focuses on diversity in Colorado. We are very excited to partner with the other organizations in this group in 2017.

We were able to add our Foster Coordinator Genesis Martin and Medical Manager Marien Rodriguez to our employee roster, bringing us to a bit over 3 fulltime employees. With the increase in adoptions, our average is 176 cats saved per full-time position, possible only because our amazing volunteers pitch in to do everything else that needs doing. Along with our regular volunteers, over 300 hours were donated by 12 work-study students through our partnership with Colorado College.


Spearheaded by our TNR Coordinator Barb Jones, we continue to support the community cats of the Pikes Peak Region with our TNRCare Program, funding over 200 TNR surgeries with donations from our supporters. We received over 400 lbs of food in our April Foods Drive (thanks to a story with Fox21 News) and over 600 pounds in October for National Feral Cat Month with another food drive sponsored by K&H Pet Products. With regular donations from St. Paws Thrift Store and Rescue Bank, Chuck and Don’s, Wag ‘n Wash and Walmart, Barb gathered and distributed an estimated ton of food, often with very little help.

TNR is not our mission, but always overlaps as we get tens of calls weekly for assistance all over the region. We focus on the homeless mother cats first, preventing senseless feline deaths from overpopulation, and rehabilitating them and their kittens into adoptability whenever we can. Please call us at 719-362-4600 if you are interested in helping with this program by trapping, transporting or delivering to those in need.

Eagle Scout Nate created and supervised his friends to make four huge and professional quality feral cat houses, with donations from local businesses for the materials (and Marco’s Pizza!). These are being used this winter to keep our community cats safe and sound.

In October, we partnered with Wild Blue Animal Rescue, St. Paws Thrift Store and PawsCo of Denver to assist with a mass spay/neuter weekend in Palmer Lake after we all received calls about three mobile home parks with an estimated 100+ cats overpopulating the area. Our generous donors allowed us to fund half of the surgeries and we have plans to finish the operation in 2017.

Every Little Bit Helps

Every donation, large and small, adds up to help our cats and kittens find their homes. Rory Wagner of the Monument PetSmart visits us weekly with food while others keep us stocked with towels, detergent and toys. From children with lemonade stands and birthday money…to Karen and her donated van…to Susi with her fabulous photography…to Sharon & Rick’s washing machine…to Shirley’s beautiful retail case…to 100+ blankets from Wrapped in Love…to hundreds of knit beds and tens of hammocks…to cat-specific, calming Music for Cats to help lower stress…our kitties were loved and cared for by our community.

Home away from Home

Living at a business is very stressful for most cats, but we hand select an outgoing, dog-friendly one to partner with Chuck & Don’s pet supply store in Castle Rock. In 2016, they helped us adopt out a cat a month from their facility, caring for our kitties like they were their own, as does Board member Janice Obye, our Outreach Liaison. Kittens are usually more confident, so we also held two Kitten Adoption Fairs at our local Wag n Wash and one at our Monument PetSmart partner to help us get them home during the summer.

Happy Cats Shop

Our Happy Cats Shop continues to provide the best cat-tested products to keep our cats and their people happy. We unveiled a new t-shirt during our anniversary to add to our Happy Cats t-shirt and hoodie collection.

We are committed to offering alternatives to declawing that help our cats and kittens stay the way nature intended, with paws and claws intact. We continued to partner with Michael from Feline Furnishings to offer locally produced, sustainable cat trees and scratchers to our adopters and friends. Every one of these products supports their instinctual need to scratch and mark appropriately and helps save cats and kittens from the pain, trauma and possible rehoming that can result from declawing.

Loving Endings

Several mostly senior cats came to us in bad shape after being found trying to scrape by outside after their people moved away and left them, with kidney and heart disease as well as horrible neglect. Our generous foster families pitched in make their last months probably the best in their lives, providing renal, cardiac and emotional support in their final weeks. Dr. Lee with Compassionate Care continued to assist us with many of these kitties, making their hospice time as comfortable as possible, and a generous donor even provided the special food needed for one, Dame Helen. She went on to became a “foster success” when her family decided to adopt her…no hospice for her yet, thank you!

Planet Happy Cat

2016 saw our plans for our new building at 327 Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs continue to clear hurdles. With the persistence of Ray Ferguson, our Construction Manager, and Bill Beard, our Architect, we received approval through the Manitou Springs Planning Commission where one of them said before voting unanimously, “This is a no-brainer!” We then presented before Manitou City Council and again, passed unanimously. The plans have been with the engineers since then and we hope to clear Regional Building Department in Colorado Springs this Spring.

Purrs and headbonks to our Happy Cats friends and family for another wonderful year from the volunteers & staff of Happy Cats…and all our cats & kittens!

2016 by the numbers:

521 cats & kittens were adopted at HCH in 2016, including –

196 adults, catolescents & special needs

43 seniors

282 kittens

Including fosters, 559 total cats & kittens found safe haven at HCH in 2016, up 14%
10% of all shelter cats in the Pikes Peak Region are being adopted out by HCH alone
232 bonded cat friends and siblings went home together with our Buddy Discount
130+ volunteers gave their time & love, up 19%
176 cats, on average, were adopted for every fulltime staff position
1,500+ followup emails and phone calls were made to help keep cats home
200+ community cats were spayed or neutered in 2016
Thousands of needless cat & kitten deaths were prevented with TNR surgeries
Total veterinary costs for our cats & kittens in 2016: $32,000+
Cost for food & litter for a cat per month: $13 (up $2)
Cost for a FeLV/FIV virus test per cat: $25
Average cost for a spay or neuter: $50