Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 67 – DivaPets Cat Rescue

DivaPets Cat Rescue

DivaPets Cat Rescue is an all-volunteer, foster-based cat rescue serving the greater Kansas City Metro. They are a group of crazy cat ladies dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our feline friends. Because they are foster-based, they can focus on ensuring the best match of kitty and home. They had significant growth in the last two years with the number of foster homes which means they are able to help more kitties. They have completed 109 adoptions since January 1st, 2020. They have been doing adoptions by appointment since the COVID lockdown and have adopted almost all of the kitties who have been in their care! They are ready for kitten season!


Website: http://www.divapets.net/


“Welcome to the Animal Rescue of the Week podcast, where we feature outstanding organizations from around the country, that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert connects animal shelters with volunteers to do animal transport and fostering. Learn more and sign up for free at www.Doobert.com. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue!

 Diva Pets Cat Rescue is an all volunteer, foster based cat rescue serving the greater Kansas City Metro. Their group of crazy cat ladies are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our feline friends. Because they are foster based, they can focus on ensuring the best match of Kitty and home. This organization has had a significant growth in the last two years, with the number of foster homes, which means they’re able to help more cats.

 Hi, Laura, welcome to the show. Hi, Kimberly. Thanks for having me. Of course, I’m so excited to learn more about your organization. So you are the Marketing Coordinator and you’re also part of the board at the Diva Pets Cat Rescue, which serves the Greater Kansas City Metro area, is that right? That’s correct. Oh, perfect. I’m happy I got that right. I wanted to make sure I had all that information in there. It’s a lot, yes. No, but let me know what’s going on over there? What’s all about your organization and how did you guys get started? Well, we are an all volunteer, all foster, cat rescue. We have about 30 foster volunteers that work with us. And right now we have 107 kitty cats in foster care. All my goodness. Well, of that, 12 sets of kittens. So kitten season has started. Our group got started, I never can get at the exact year, but I think it was about 12 years ago. There were a group of people who became friends, and they had been working with other volunteer organizations, and that particular organization disbanded. And so a group of these ladies got together and decided to form their own rescue group. And our Executive Director, Tanya, happened to be the head of the Cattery at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, at that time. And so she, you know, she was able to kind of lead us. We had access to easy access to medical care and all of that, and she retired about a year and 1/2 ago. So we have had a lot of, I won’t call them growing pains, it’s been very positive changes, but we’ve had to learn some new ways of getting our pets vetted. 

So we now have a vet of record. We have fancy shelter software, and we just had to start learning how to do a lot of things differently than we’ve done them in the past. And we’re still growing. We’re excited. We can take credit cards now. How funny. But I mean, you know, that’s the way it goes, right? You kind of get accustomed to the way things go and how they work. And then, you know, before you know it, things change, and you have to kind of make that pivot and kind of make those positive strides to, grow and find what works best for you guys. So I love that you guys are doing that and I love your guys story and how you guys started. I mean 30 fosters right now, that’s an awesome amount of fosters in your care. That’s people fostering. We have 107 cats. Oh, yeah, and I’m happy to hear that you guys are prepped for kitten season. I know that right now in this world, everybody’s freaking out of, you know, how are we gonna handle kitten season? So I love hearing that you guys have already started taking them in and caring for them and everything, So that’s always great.

 So share with me a little bit about your community. Like, how is it over there, for some of us who may not be in your area? Do you have overpopulation issues with your animals? Lots of strays running around? How does that look? Well, because our foster homes are spread out across the greater Kansas City area. Different areas have different problems. Kansas City Kansas has a lot of open space, and so there are a lot of a lot of feral communities. I live in a planned community, and we have a huge feral population here. We don’t do as much of the “on the ground trapping”, but we work with several organizations who do go out and trap kitty’s and get them TNR. We take in, obviously mothers and babies from some of these community outreach groups.

Okay, so is that how you get a lot of the cats that come into your care? You work with other organizations? Do you take in owner surrenders? We don’t do a lot of owner surrender. We do some, a lot of the time, owner surrender is typically because it’s someone, one of us knows or, you know, a friend has brought it to us. But we do work with work with Beauties and Beasts, who pull from the Wichita Animal Control, which they are a high kill organization. And so Beauties and Beasts will tag up and we if we can help, we do. Some of our best rescue stories have come from there. We work with other organizations like Ray of Hope, who bring in cats and into the system. And if they can’t take care of them, then they will send them over to us. A lot of what we do is kittens, mamas and babies because they don’t do as well in a regular shelter environment. But I mean, that’s good to hear because, you know, they’re the ones that kind of need that extra TLC, right? Exactly. They need TLC. The mamas need to not be in a cage, in a shelter. They need a place where they can feel safe with their babies. I think that’s one of the things that we really provide is that safe space for the mamas and babies.

 So, in your area, would you say that you have a very supportive community of your organization? Yes. One of the things that since I’ve been involved with Diva, which has been about five years now, is that all of the rescues in Kansas City, we’re all on the same page. And if one of us can’t help the, you know, somebody else will step in, and we really do, I think, a good job of supporting each other because it’s all about the animals in the end. I always love to hear that when all of the organizations are trying to work together towards the same goal because I feel like that is what’s most important and it’s better for the animals. Ultimately, like you said, you know you if you guys can’t support them or you guys can’t help them out cause you don’t have capacity, you know, just any reason like that. It’s great to have those other resources to kind of fall back on and see if they can help too. So that’s always a bonus in my eyes. Oh yeah, teamwork makes the dream work. Yes, I love it. 

So share with me a little bit about some of the events. I’m assuming that you guys put on some fundraising events, to kind of help with funding and kind of help keep your community involved with your organization. What do those look like? Before the pandemic, we did weekly adoption events, with our adoption partner, a PetSmart in Shawnee, Kansas, and we do some fundraising there. We do the Drag Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s, which is always a good time. We try to do three or four of those a year. We do a lot of applying for grants, and yet the smaller donations is really what we do. Because we’re all volunteer, it’s a little more difficult for us to, you know, do a big fundraising event. So we do a lot of a lot of Facebook giving. We do a lot of birthdays, we try and do as much passive fundraising as we can through Amazon Smile and things like that. And those are great ways to, you know, help out and I’ve noticed, like during the pandemic and even a little before then, a lot of organizations are moving towards those Facebook givings and, you know, helping out on Facebook fundraisers, and they seem to be pretty successful. And I’ve noticed that during this whole COVID pandemic, that a lot of events are going virtual to kind of help out.

So that leads me down the path of you know, what are some of the challenges and struggles your organization faces prior to the pandemic? And now, during the pandemic? I would say probably one of our biggest challenges has definitely been that we haven’t been able to do our adoption events. Although we have been doing adoptions by appointment and since the first of March, we’ve adopted over 50 kitties, just by one on one appointments. So that that’s been great. You know, we’ve also I think it’s also been more difficult to get cats and kittens in to be vetted or fixed, so that they’re ready for adoption. Just because the shelters and medical facilities that we work with, you know, have, you know, tightened down their hours. So there’s just many, if not more, cats who need attention and fewer places to get that done right now.

 So how are you guys managing that? I’m assuming when you guys do your adoption process, you ensure that those cats are clearly vetted and probably spayed or neutered. Are you guys, with the adoptions that you’ve had during the pandemic, that are more of the one on one? How are you guys doing the vetting process and Spay/Neutering? Is that something that you’re scheduling a little bit down the line with these adopters or the cat strictly has to have those before they get adopted? All of our cats are fully vetted, spayed or neutered and microchipped before they’re even put up for adoption. It’s a choice that we’ve made to not do any kind of pre adopt. So since we’re all foster based, we have the luxury of being able to hold on to our kitty’s until we can get them fully vetted. We do have a vet of record and you know so she has been a big help to us. But she’s retired, so she doesn’t do surgery anymore. So basically, all the animals, they can’t be adopted until they’re vetted and spayed or neutered. It’s a great thing. And, you know, spaying and neutering is a huge thing, you know, to keep the overpopulation.

 So how are you guys managing with the kitten season right now? Are you guys doing okay? I know that that’s, a lot of times, it’s a big thing that we say is coming around the corner, but it seems like it’s already here. Yeah, you know, over the, since I started fostering when I first started, it seemed like there really was a kitten season. And now it just seems like they’re kittens all the time. All year round, right? We actually are doing OK right now. I think in the next few weeks ,we will see, cause we’re gonna have probably 15-20 kittens that are going to be ready to be fixed, all about the same time. I know the five I have and one of our other fosters has a mama with seven babies, they were all born on the same day and they’re all about the same size. So we’re going to be jockeying for surgery space. But, you know, we’re looking and reaching out to other veterinarians in the area and, you know, seeing if some regular veterinarians would give a special pricing. Well, I mean, at least it’s a problem that you guys know ahead of time is coming. That’s a good thing to kind of look at the positive side.

 But, you know, Laura, I just heard you mention that you have five kittens that you’re fostering alone, and I can clearly tell by talking to you that you love what you’re doing. What makes you so passionate about working in this industry? I didn’t really understand anything about rescue until I fell into volunteering. And it just so happened that I bought my first home. Turned 50. And a month later, my crazy cat lady kit arrived right on time, in the form of a feral mama having babies in my window well. And that’s how I met our Executive Director. A girl that I worked with fostered for the Humane Society and I had an issue with one of the kittens, and I was trying to figure out what to do with them and how to catch them and all of this. And she introduced me to Tanya and it was forming that relationship that helped me realize that, Wow, I can do this. And one of my best friends said that she thinks the best thing that has happened to me in a long time is when I started fostering. It’s just so much fun to watch these kittens grow up, and then when you turn them over to their new family and just see how much, how excited people are to get a loving kitty and that that’s my job is to help make them good pets.

 This is something that I’ve always been curious about. I’ve always wanted to foster. I’ve never personally done it myself because I work full time. I’ve got two small children and a husband. So right now, we don’t think fostering is a good thing. But how do you cope with raising those cute little tiny kittens and, you know, I’m sure handing them off to even the most loving adoption family has still got to be hard, right? It is. I always say, they take, you know, they live in our houses, they sleep in our beds and they take a little, a little part of my heart every single time. But I have to look at it almost as a job in that my job is to help these kitties find their forever home. And to do that, I have to make sure that they are socialized, that they’re healthy, that they, you know, they enjoy interacting with people, and that’s going to give them their best chance to have their best life. So although I’m not gonna lie, when my Clapton cat, I had this group of rock n roll kittens and Clapton got adopted, his first 15 minutes, at an adoption event, his first adoption event, I cried. The couple who adopted him were lovely, and unfortunately, their landlord was like, No, you can’t have any cats. So they ended up coming back to us. And now Clapton lives with me, forever.

 See, I love hearing those, but I’m like awe, poor kitty. But I just have this sense of when, I would be such a terrible foster failure. Well you get to a point where, I have one foster right now, she’s been with me almost a year. All of her siblings got adopted and she’s quite comfortable in my house, and I think she would be fine to stay here forever. But I know that the more cats I keep A) it’s a lot of responsibility and B) the fewer cat’s I can foster. So this minimizes the impact I can make because she’s going to make somebody an awesome pet. We just have to find her  the right house. There’s an animal out there for everybody. I truly believe that. One of our volunteers always says there’s a lid for every pot. There you go, see, and I love asking that. Thanks for kind of answering that and sharing how you kind of handle that, cause it’s always something that I’m curious about. Everybody handles things differently, but it’s great to see that you’ve got that balance, you know? So you kind of look at it as if you keep taking them in and keeping them, you can’t save anymore. So exactly. Exactly. And like I said, I’m not gonna lie. There are times when I cry. Yeah, you know, they I’ve just formed this special bond with them, but I know that that’s going to make them a good loving pet for somebody else.Oh, well, good.

 I’m curious, do you have any memorable stories that you would be willing to share with us? Whether they be kind of what got you started? I know that you said that you had a momma kitten show up or just any that have kind of really touched your heart more than usual? But, you know, we’ve had some amazing rescue stories. Clapton is a big, big story for me because I think he was always supposed to be my cat and that’s why he came back. But and he’s chewing on my finger right now. He’s like you’re talking about me, Mom, I know it. Yes. 

You know, some of our most interesting cases have been cats that we have partnered with Beauties and Beasts to pull from Wichita Animal Control. We pulled a cat named Marcel ,who had been picked up and had both of his back legs were broken, one of them in two places. And Beauties and Beasts asked if we could, we could pull him because he wasn’t getting any medical treatment at all. And so we partnered with a foster down there. We took care of all the medical and, you know, he had an adopter, you know, before he was even ready to go. But it took a couple of months of medical care to get him to where he could walk. But, you know, some places would have amputated the leg. But we were able to work with these other groups and get him taken care of. And now he is in a home, where he is spoiled beyond words. 

So there are a lot of stories like that. I like to tell the story of the litter that my little Clapton cat came from. He’s not so little now, but they were a group of five little kittens, pulled from Wichita. And when I got them, they all had upper respiratory. But they walked out of the carrier with their heads held high. It was like they knew, somehow, that they were safe. And that litter of kittens turned out to be the most amazing, one of the most amazing groups of kittens that I’ve had. They all take a little piece of me and, you know, some of them, it takes a little longer to get them adopted. I had one that I thought was never going to get adopted because, you know, she just would be really shy when she met anyone. And this one lady put in an application for her. We did the meet and greet. Cat melted in her arms. And I was like, Oh, obviously she’s been waiting for you. Yeah. So you know, it’s so awesome when you can see the cat, just obviously get their perfect person. Arnd that goes back to every cat, every animal has a perfect pet guardian out there. We just have to wait and find them. So I always love hearing those stories. They’re just so heart wrenching and, you know, it’s just amazing because that just makes this industry worthwhile when you can see that happy, adopted animal and everything like that. So I just love that.

 You know, I think that’s one of the things that really makes our group special and that we do really well. Because we are foster based, we know our cats and kittens really well and you know, we can tell you all of their quirks. And so when we’re looking at applications and meeting people, we can tell them the cat’s story. We can tell them the weird things that they do. And I think that helps people make a better decision about the right cat for their family. A lot of times people are like, oh this cat’s beautiful. It’s like, well, that cat may be beautiful, but it may not work with your small children or it might be super shy. And are you the type of person that can be patient with that? So I think that helps us make the best match possible. And it is important to know the animal in this case, you know, the cats that you have because you know, a lot of times you find there’re organizations out there that they’ve got a time restriction. You know, they’ve got to get animals in and they have to get animals adopted, so that they can make more room. But it’s always amazing that you find an organization like you guys that takes the time, that you guys can know your animals and tell a potential adopter, Hey, that one doesn’t like to be around kids or like loud noises or, you know. So it helps because it ensures that that animal is going to find a home that works best for that pet. And I think that it says that you guys have that capability to do that. And that’s, you know, I think that’s kind of a niche we fill in the wider world of rescue. So small groups like ours, who are foster based, can fill in the gaps, where some of the larger shelters just don’t have that kind of capacity. And so that’s kind of what we do. Yeah, I know, and that’s a great thing.

 So what is something that you guys have planned for this year or planned for after the crazy pandemic ends? What’s the future like for you guys? I think the future looks really bright. We’re really excited when we can start doing our public adoption events, where we can have 20 or 30 cats out for people to come in and look at and meet and greet and adopt. So we’re really excited for those, but I feel like our future is really bright. We have a very positive reputation in the greater Kansas City area, not only amongst other rescue groups, but also amongst our adopters. So a lot of our adopters come from people who were referred to us by other adopters. So we have to ask, How did you hear about us? Oh, my friend saw your cats on Facebook, or my friend recommended you because she adopted a cat from you guys. So I feel like that speaks well for us and about our future. So, hopefully we’ll be able to do this for a long, long time. We’ve got some of our human foster people, ranging in age from 85 to 27.  Nice. That’s a good demographic there. Yeah. Yeah, we had over from all walks of life. Some of us are professionals. Some of us some work in, are either vet techs or nurses. We have a pet groomer. Some people work in the financial industry, so, you know, we’re all across the board of what we do. And then this is kind of what gives us heart to our days. I guess. Yeah, and it’s great because you guys have all that different background and it, you know, I’m sure it helps just with the whole foundation of your organization to kind of have all those different traits going on. So that’s awesome. Exactly.

 If you needed more fosters and some of our listeners are in your area, what is the best way that people can get involved with your organization to help out? Well probably, to kind of understand, to best understand who we are, what we do and a little bit about our personality as a group, you can follow us on Facebook Diva Pets Cat Rescue. And if you want to fill out an application to become a foster or get involved with our group, you can apply on our website, which is divapets.net. So it’s important to get that dot net, not dot com. 

Perfect. So do you have anything else that you’d like to share with us today before we wrap things up? You know, I think we’ve talked about a lot of our stories. What we do, who we are. We call ourselves a group of crazy cat ladies. We just happen to be primarily women, crazy cat ladies who are just trying to make a difference one cat at a time. And I love that, and that’s taking those little steps. And, you know, it seems like you guys definitely have a good supporting community. You guys have an excellent amount of human fosters, and I mean, look at all those 107 cats that you currently care for, that awesome. You guys are doing great work. And I’m just so thrilled to see those cats being cared for, but also hearing through you and talking to you how passionate you are that they’re definitely in good hands. Thank you. And thank you so much for allowing us to share our story with you and your listeners. Of course, I absolutely enjoyed our conversation. And I hope that this helps kind of get you guys out there a little bit more and just kind of spread the great work that you guys were doing. Because ultimately, you know, we need more organizations, more people out there like you guys. And you know, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you guys. Thank you so much, Kimberly.

 Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a Dooberteer, sign up for free at www.Doobert.com. Here at Doobert, we help you help animals, and we’d love for you to join us to help save more lives.”

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