DEAR DR. FOX: I was planning my charitable donations for the year, and in the past, I have contributed to PETA, the Humane Society and the ASPCA. However, this time I did a search and found a lengthy article online that was unfavorable toward all three. What pet organizations are deserving of donations? -- S.W., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR S.W.: I checked with a reliable person who's active in the field of animal welfare, and she suggested donating to the Humane Farming Association (hfa.org), Fish Feel (fishfeel.org) or Project Coyote (projectcoyote.org), a nonprofit I've written about previously. (Full disclosure: My daughter, Camilla, is the founder of Project Coyote.)
Other organizations to consider are the nonprofit Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), based near Chicago, which has teamed up with HFA on some issues, and the St. Louis-based Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, which works to shut down puppy mills and fights agribusiness-backed legislation in the state. (For more information on both groups, go to sharkonline.org and maal.org, respectively.)
You can also look into your local Humane Society or another local animal welfare organization. I would also suggest joining a community foster-care network to re-home cats and dogs from animal shelters or checking out local conservation, wildlife protection and rehabilitation organizations. (You can investigate any nonprofit's charity status and ratings at charitywatch.org.)
DEAR DR. FOX: I have had a new rescue cat since November, and she's been in her cage for a couple of months. I can pick her up in her bed, take her to the recliner, pet her, brush her and everything. Then, after a few hours, I put her back in her cage. She has been out of her cage for two weeks at a time.
Then she will hide and eat only one meal per day. I can't work with her; she reverts back to being semi-feral. Do I just let her out and let her continue this behavior? When I hold her on my lap, she swats at any other cats that come up for attention. -- D.A., Springfield, Illinois
DEAR D.A.: "Wow!" is my response to your issue because my wife and I have exactly the same problem with Fannie, a feral cat now in our home. The cat spins and pirouettes for food and likes to chase a feather lure at night, but hisses when I approach, bats and yowls at our gentle dog, and will not allow me to pick her up.
So you are ahead somewhat in socializing your cat. You might try using a Feliway Plug In cat pheromone dispenser in the room the cats frequent most; keep your semi-feral cat in that room. Feed the cats all within sight of one another, but with plenty of space, and try to engage all the cats in play together. Your rescued cat should be eating three to four small meals a day (canned, raw or freeze-dried, ideally) and a little dry food. Call her at feeding time and do not let her hide out in other rooms.
The cat needs to stay "immersed" in your living area. Having a cat condo and other places where this cat can hide or stay high off the ground and feel secure will help. If she feels most secure in her cage, which is her "den," then put it in view of your main living area with the other cats. But leave the cage open because isolation in other rooms may cause regression. Being able to groom her is a big step. Keep me posted!
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net. You can find past columns at www.uexpress.com/animal-doctor.)