WHY DO YOU HAVE TWO NAMES?
CATS-ARE-PURRSONS–TOO was the first name chosen for the organization to emphasize that feline purrsons, not unlike human persons, deserve respect and have the right to a life fulfilled because they are creatures of God, and “He saw that all was good.” (Genesis 1:31) Two quotations from great philosophers were also reflected in that first name:
Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Dr. Albert Schweitzer: Until man extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace.”
That early title named only CATS as beings we care about, and didn’t really emphasize ALL ANIMALS. We wanted to include our original concern for helping their COMPANION HUMANS as well. It was our cofounder, Eleanor Fuchs, who suggested TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL, declaring that when we allow our hearts to be touched by an innocent little animal, we can indeed feel the touch of an angel with a message straight from God’s heart to ours.
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you.” Job 12:7
“Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. –Meister Eckard (1260-1327)
So in 1995 CATS-ARE PURRSONS-TOO was renamed and re-incorporated as TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL. So many of our supporters knew us by our original name, that we could not drop it entirely. One is now a legal A.K.A./D.B.A. of the other. Donations can be made to either name as our 501-C-3 tax deductible not-for-profit designation applies to both names.
When asked, we make the distinction that CATS-ARE PURRSONS-TOO applies to the cats in our home, and TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL names that part of the organization which helps people care for their companion animals (dogs, cats, birds, etc.) in their own homes. TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL is the more inclusive, umbrella organization.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE CATS –ARE –PURRSONS-TOO logo, a kitten on a globe?
The first public event in which we participated, and launched our organization’s name was a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Earth day, in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
We needed a logo. I kept hearing the slogan “Save the earth!” I believe it is not enough to “Save the Earth”; we must create an environment of GENTILITY to enable all to thrive.
Watching a group of rescued kittens explore, tumble, play, I wrote a poem part of which is here to illustrate the logo:
GENTLE THE EARTH,
LITTLE KITTEN –
Be a sign to Humankind, Little Kitten
That a gentle touch powers the earth,
Soft Paws climb gingerly to the top,
Playful give-and-take makes the world go round.
And we need to stop and watch sometimes;
Survey the whole environment, embrace each part
Interacting, enriching each other,
Valuing the whole interdependent kit-n-kaboodle.
ARE YOU NON-KILL?
Absolutely! Once we take in a cat, or help an animal, we want it to live out its natural life either in our home or in an adoption or foster home. We will provide veterinary care and an optimal environment until our vet ascertains that it is suffering terminal pain. Only then will we allow euthanasia. When we do, it is with the cat in our arms, so that its last feelings are of being loved and cherished. We have had some cats live for 20 years with us, having been too shy to be chosen by adopters or with a chronic condition such as diabetes, cerebellar hyperplasia, or cardiomyopathy.
WHAT ABOUT CATS WHO TEST + FOR FL,FIV,FIP?
Every cat upon entrance is tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Aids. If it is found positive, kept in isolation until retested a month later. We do not have a separate room for FL+ cats, but we try to have them admitted to shelters that do. Cats with FIV do not seem to be a problem since that is only transmitted through blood and simply means a suppressed immune system, usually manifesting in dental diseases which we treat as needed. So, FIV cats are in our population. We watch them carefully, and certainly tell prospective adopters, but most FIV cats live long happy lives in a stable caring environment.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is the worst diagnosis: There is no test, only terrible symptoms which manifest very suddenly and usually in kittenhood. “Infectious” means highly contagious, especially to young littermates whose genetic systems are trying to fight it off before recognizable. Sadly, once a kitten shows symptoms, there is no cure or treatment and we must euthanize before it suffers more and before it infects others. This is heartbreaking for our caregivers.
WHAT IS YOUR CAPACITY?
Generally 60-70 residents. But, when asked to accept a new cat, we must consider our resources to care for it over a lifetime potentially; money in our bank account, pledged monthly donations for future, hired caregiver stability, daily helping volunteers, while keeping permanent space for returning cats whose elderly humans may die or move to care homes.
In the winter months, it is important to hold the number of cats down to prevent overcrowding inside, since the screen house must be closed.
At any given time our cat population is composed of: 1/3 belong to persons who plan to reclaim them: elderly in the hospital or rehab, folks transitioning from homelessness, families in crisis. We love to enable these reunions between people and their beloved pets.
1/3 are our lifelong residents, too old for adopters to choose, or with special needs or a chronic condition. The cats are not “unadoptable” but visitors don’t want to take on their “problems” or cost. Usually these cats are the favorite and most pampered by our staff and volunteers!
The third kind are the delightfully healthy young cats and kittens who present themselves readily to people looking for their new purrfect family member. We are always thrilled both for the cats and the adopter, when a purrfect match is made!
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED? WHAT ARE YOUR HOURS?
We are not an open –to –the –public business or animal shelter. TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL is a not- for- profit Organization whose mission is to help the elderly and others keep their companion animals in their homes. CATS-ARE-PURRSONS-TOO is that part of the organization that cares for cats in my home as long as that care is needed – until reclaimed, or for a lifetime or adopted.
Our house is located on the North side of Chicago, roughly 5000N, 2000 W. It is primarily the home of Marijon Binder, founder, who welcomed felines to her family as needed. So, times for visiting are arranged by appointment during a conversation with her.
If you are interested in choosing a feline friend, volunteering or just visiting, please call (773) 726-6336.
WHY, WHEN AND HOW WAS CATS-ARE-PURRSONS-TOO/TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL STARTED?
In 1983 Marijon Binder offered to care for the pets of elderly neighbors whose health and needs could be better met for in retirement or care facilities than in the big houses in which they had raised families. Some other neighbors volunteered to help, especially when Marijon was travelling. One neighbor, who suffered increasingly debilitating arthritis, was the dedicated “stray cat lady.” An effort was launched to trap, neuter, and help these cats adjust to humans and indoor living in Marijon’s home, until ready for adoption.
So, our organization began as a neighbor-helping-neighbor endeavor. Recognizing the deep love and concern that people, especially the elderly, have for their pets and the responsibility they feel toward the welfare of all animals.
HOW IS THE ORGANIZATION FUNDED?
Good people who feel the love of their own companion animals send donations, using our calendar or newsletter envelopes or through paypal, Chase Quickpay, or our website. In that regard, it is still a neighbor-to-neighbor sharing endeavor. Many of our caring donors have contributed for many years. We send bi-monthly newsletters to tell stories of some of the animals and people that donors have directly enabled TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL to help since the last newsletter.
Some people engage their employers matching charitable giving program.
Some have initiated local fundraising activities on their own and sent TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL the proceeds. Scouts, Campfire girls, school bake sales, children bringing birthday present monies, and even a major Chicago marathon runner – these are just a few who have been touched by their own animals and want to share that experience and support.
We do apply for Corporation grants and are grateful to receive a few each year. However, we cannot count on these sources for budgeting essential needs.
No, there is no government or church financial support at all.
HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SUPPORTERS
Our bimonthly NEWSLETTER is exactly that – an illustrated journal of news to update our friends about the cats in our care and especially those we have recently taken in, the people we are helping, and our current projects/needs/planned events.
We send EMAILS only occasionally, to alert to time- sensitive happenings. We also post interesting news on our FACEBOOK page and INSTAGRAM. Check back frequently for updates and new pictures! We welcome your comments too.
Our annual Benefits, Sunday Brunches provide opportunities for Marijon to update news, tell stories about the beautiful people and animals we have met recently, as well as answer questions and respond to discussions amongst our guests.
In the fall, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, our theme is THANKSGIVING FOR ALL THE ANIMALS WHO TOUCH OUR LIVES. Our Spring BOOKS’N’ BASKETS BENEFIT features an author-speaker of an animal related book, with a signing.
Both are great social events for people who love animals to meet/make friends with like passions and experiences. They are hosted at the Holiday Inn Ballroom on Touhy Avenue in Skokie, Illinois, on a Sunday 11am -3 or 4. The fabulous brunch buffets have vegetarian and vegan options. We have FUNdraising such as raffles, silent auction of themed baskets, and a short live auction as well as Unique Boutique of pet items.
In the middle of March, we have a double booth at the CHICAGOLAND FAMILY PET SHOW AT THE Arlington Racetrack in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Friday – Sunday. This is where we display information about TOUCHED BY AN ANIMAL/ CAT ARE PURRSONS TOO. We share some of our stories, and we show some of our cats for adoption, as well as FUNdraising games and handcrafted items.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE?
We are actively pursuing a plan with developers of retirement places to build a model community where people can retire with their pets. They will know that neighbors will help care for each other’s animals if needed, short term. On the property there will be state-of-the-art retirement havens for the beloved animals who outlive their human companions, or whose humans can no longer care for them in their residences—one for dogs, one for cats, and a walk-in aviary for birds! The grounds will have enabling gardens and natural beauty for restful and healing delight.