Locals help manage cat population
Margo Cicci Wisniewski of South Fayette Township has always been an “animal person,” growing up with dogs, horses and barn cats. However, as she grew up, she learned how mistreated and disregarded cats were. People would be concerned about dogs eating from a dumpster or a pregnant dog living behind a shopping center but not exhibit the same concern for stray cats. Further, when people move away, they often just leave the cats behind, and she felt these animals needed and deserved an equal voice.
When she was vice president of her family’s now-closed business, Cicci Dance Supplies, she would host a cat food and toy drive at the company’s yearly convention. Now, as she pursues a real estate career, she continues her efforts on behalf of cats.
She signed on with Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT), eventually serving on its board. By rescuing stray or abandoned cats, the organization’s efforts help control and stabilize the local cat population to allow the animals to live healthier lives. In 2013, she became a member of the group Pittsburgh Feral Cat Movement after an urgent request one day went out for a foster home for 11 sick kittens with eye infections which had been pulled from a house. Since then, she has fostered around 45 kittens and cats. Her volunteering time can range from fostering very ill kittens with complicated medical care, to trapping cats, transporting them from rescue to foster homes to clinics to shelters, and distributing food and winter shelters.
When temperatures drop in the winter, the need to help animals increases. Cats can and do suffer from frostbite and can die out in the cold. The group hosts fundraisers so they can provide winter shelters stuffed with straw. Donations are needed to help pay for extensive medical care that is often needed with stray cats that are rescued. Volunteers are always needed to trap feral cats for TNR (trap/neuter/return-release) or to offer foster homes.
Pittsburgh CAT is the foster/adoption side of Homeless Cat Management Team. Last year, Pittsburgh CAT spayed/neutered more than 400 cats and kittens and adopted out more than 300 of them. HCMT provided low cost or free spay/neuter services for an additional 1,400 cats.
“By working together as one, we are able to save so many lives and reduce the number of homeless cats through spay/neutering services and through fostering/adoption,” said Wisniewski.
The organization is holding its fourth annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 3-7 p.m. April 28 at J. Verno Studios on the South Side. To buy dinner tickets or obtain more information on adopting cats or volunteering, visit www.homeless cat.org.