Are you a cat lover? One could definitely say that about Sandy Monaghan, founder and president of Los Gatos Foster Animals Cat Rescue, as well as all the wonderful volunteers there. Founded in 2012, Los Gatos is a nonprofit, volunteer-staffed, no-kill animal rescue in Genesee County. “We officially became a nonprofit in November 2013, but I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Monaghan shares. “I’ve always had a soft heart for animals in trouble,” she admits. “Some people are interested in helping the less fortunate; I’ve always cared about that.”
Currently, there are 200 cats in the Los Gatos foster network. The organizations work in a partnership with PetSmart in Flint Township on Miller Road, where the cats are brought in to be adopted.” The partnership has been good for us and for the cats,” Monaghan reports. It’s also good for the store, as the adopter can pick up the necessary items to take their cat to its new ‘forever home,’ she adds.
There are 34 dedicated volunteers who foster cats for Los Gatos. “And they all care about cats,” Monaghan says. A home test is required in order to become a volunteer for Los Gatos; they make sure the homes are safe to house the furry animals. The fosters are responsible to feed and water the felines, and must clean their litter box once a day. “We cover all the veterinary costs, though,” Monaghan reports. The volunteer fosters also must help in the adoption process. They take pictures of their foster cats to place on the adoption website, and they have to attend an adoption event once a month, Monaghan explains.
An adoption event is held at PetSmart on Miller Road on Saturdays, from noon to 7pm; and on Sundays, from noon until 5pm. Since the adoption events began, about three years ago, 850 cats have been adopted into forever homes. “Our adoption fee is $120, which covers spay/neuter, combo test, age appropriate vaccinations, and worming,” Monaghan says. “The kitties do not leave our care until they are healthy, socialized and spayed or neutered.”
When a person decides they would like to adopt a furry friend, they sit with an adoption counselor and fill out an application. “We are not in favor of declawing,” Monaghan says, which can be a deciding factor when it comes to making a decision on an adoption. “If you place more value on your furniture than your pet, maybe you should consider a dog or a fish.” Also, if an adoption doesn’t work out, Los Gatos will take the kitty back.
Los Gatos also helps care for feral cats and cat colonies throughout the county. There are caretakers for the cat colonies (unpaid) who make sure they are fed every day. “We provide the food, and it’s a real labor of love,” Monaghan says. “There are cat colonies in every town,” she explains. “Feral cats will congregate anywhere there is a food source in the area, such as in an outbuilding at an apartment complex or under someone’s deck.” Los Gatos does what they call T.R.R. – Trap, Rescue and Return. They catch the feral cats in a live trap, get them neutered or spayed, and also give them a rabies vaccination. A very tiny piece of one ear is cut off so they can determine which ones have already been fixed, Monaghan explains. Los Gatos is also dedicated to educating people about the importance of neutering, and gives presentations at various locations.
Not only does Monaghan spend hours working as the president of Los Gatos, she has nine cats of her own and three fosters. “This is my passion,” she admits. “It’s a lot of work, but it is also amazing to me to see how our volunteers blossom as they get into this work. They grow beyond their own limits. It’s not just good for the cats, it’s good for everyone!” It’s been said that cats and pit bulls are regarded as the most easily disposable animals in the world, but Monaghan doesn’t see it that way. “Cats are mysterious and have a healing and spiritual nature,” she says. “And what I’ve found is that the whole rescue process heals people.”
Los Gatos is funded 100 percent by donations. “We are so thankful for any and all donations we receive,” Monaghan says. “We will continue to be watchful and mindful stewards of all the creatures entrusted to our care.”
Photography by Eric Dutro