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Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Kiki!
June 16, 2010

Kiki was one of three tiny kittens rescued from a feral cat colony in Fort Greene. One of our dedicated volunteers feeds the feral and abandoned strays on this block and found the litter by surprise when she was doing her daily feeding and watering of her colonies. 

Kiki and her siblings were quickly rescued (and their feral mother trapped, vaccinated, spayed and returned) and brought to Empty Cages Collective. Once they were spayed/neutered and vaccinated, the babies were ready to head home! A wonderful woman named Morgan decided she liked Kiki best! Kiki has adjusted wonderfully to the good life, loves her new big brother Bear and sleeps with her new family every night. Congratulations Kiki!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Carrol & Isis!
April 18, 2010

Carrol, aka Miel, was rescued from the mean streets of Greenpoint. She was found under a log sick and terrified, but not wanting to leave her perceived safe space. Carrol was the most recent target of a nearby neighbor who has made it her personal mission to kill the neighborhood's cats by capturing them and sending them to NYC Animal Care & Control to be killed. The odds were against Carrol making it to her next birthday, so Empty Cages Collective (ECC) quickly intervened.

Within a few days with ECC (with love, food and medication) her fear evaporated and she became a loving cat ready to find a home to share with a loving human roommate or two.

Carrol quickly became a favorite at the ECC shelter space, as volunteers loved to pet such a fluffy, adorable kitty. And Carrol enjoyed the space far more than when she was hungry and scared out in Greenpoint, fighting for survival and avoiding run-ins with people that think strays and abandoned kitties should be at Animal Care & Control rather than on the streets. And while ACC might keep cats sheltered from the elements, they are far more at risk of death there, in a kill shelter space. But thankfully Carrol was found and rescued before she would have to suffer that fate.

After a longer than expected stay at the ECC shelter space, Carrol was finally adopted at the end of February. Isis and Jim came to see her and fell in love with her. Her transition to her new home began a bit rough as she spent a bit of time hiding under the bed, overwhelmed by her new quarters. But she adjusted quickly and now follows her human living companions all over the house and talks to them often. In fact, on a recent long trip to the vet Carrol was calm and collected; though, understandably, she was very happy to be home when it was all over.

Isis said that it took about a full month for Carrol to be fully comfortable with her new home, but they can tell she now knows she scored well to have have such a loving home. She enjoys when friends come to visit as she gets to showcase her very sweet curious nature. And when she is not making new fans she has taken to claiming her favorite spot on the couch and in her favorite chair.

Carrol is now in the arms of a stable and loving home. What better place could there be for such a wonderful and loving cat?

Help make it possible for other cats to transition to permanent homes by DONATING to Empty Cages Collective so we can work to assist other cats to find as loving a home as Isis and Jim have given to Carrol.

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Mercury The Hen Finds Home Down South
March 22, 2010

Mercury (right) with her good friend Doodle at Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary in North Carolina

ECC Volunteer Staff Member Kelly with Mercury During a Dust-bathing Session
Some people don't look at chickens as a high priority for rescuing or deserving of compassion and care, with billions being killed each year for "food" and millions suffering to produce eggs in the US alone. Others are exploited, tormented, and killed in cock fighting and humiliating rituals like kaporos.

At Empty Cage Collective (ECC), we recognize chickens as the smart, funny, sentient beings they are, and if we can give them a helping hand or a better life, we will certainly try. The fact is, chickens are just as worthy of ethical and just treatment as any cat or dog. For one especially sweet and lucky hen named Mercury, life is now what it is supposed to be. Dusting, foraging, and living with her rooster friend Doodle at Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary in North Carolina.

Mercury was found abandoned in a cemetery in Queens. She may have escaped a local live market where birds languish until being slaughtered for human consumption or was abandoned by someone who was "using" her for eggs and no longer had any use for her. Regardless, when ECC found out about Mercury's plight we agreed to take her into protective custody in order to provide temporary care and housing until a long-term home or sanctuary was found for her.

A volunteer staff member with Empty Cages Collective, plus 4 other native North Carolinans, happened to be taking a van down for the holidays and couldn't think of a better traveling companion than Mercury. After the 9-hour drive, Mercury and the humans couldn't be happier to reach their home. Once she arrived, it was like Mercury had always been there. She immediately covered her shiny black feathers with fresh dirt (dust bathed), started pecking for worms, and got to work removing debris from her new house. Seeing this picture, you would not believe she had ever come so close to something horrific happening to her. Her new roommate, Doodle, who was rescued after falling off a slaughterhouse-bound truck, fell in love at first sight and followed her everywhere. His natural chicken instincts were not as strong as Mercury's (he seemed a little lost until her arrival), but now he has grown into a strong protector, making sure nothing harms his beautiful hen.

We only wish all animals traditionally thought of as "food" were so lucky.

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Biggles Finds Love
February 14, 2010

Biggles! at home

Biggles makes friends easily!
One evening, an employee of Foodswings, a local vegan restaurant, called an ECC volunteer she knew and asked him to come rescue a stray mother cat and her two kittens. The feline family was about a block away from the restaurant and seemed very hungry. ECC flew into action to retrieve the starved, shy mother cat and her young.

Biggles and her two kittens, Basil and Dakota, were quickly brought to our shelter space. Biggles was a good mother and both kittens were healthy but shy. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find an adopter willing to take on three cats at once, so we set out to find them all good homes, whether together or separate. The kittens found homes fairly quickly, but Biggles remained with us for a little longer. She became very friendly with the ECC volunteers, and we knew her outgoing personality and funny face would help her find a home.

Kate wanted a cat who was social. She lives with two roommates and often has guests over. Once Kate met Biggles, she knew that Biggles had the personality she was looking for. As for being shy in her new home, that didn't happen with Biggles! Biggles settled into her new home immediately. As Kate tells us, "As soon as you left, she started hanging out with us all the time . . . She is always laying around on the couch or running back and forth around the apartment. She's a very happy, well-adjusted cat who is friendly with everyone who comes by!"

Biggles and her kittens are now all in wonderful, loving, permanent homes. That's the best outcome we could have wished for!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Colette Goes Home
January 30, 2010

Colette was found wandering around as a stray, pregnant and hungry, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. While she was in good health when she was found, she was clearly familiar with being around people. Perhaps someone dumped her there thinking the area would be a refuge for her. Unfortunately, it was not. We took her in, cleaned her up a little, got her veterinary care, and set out to find her a new home.

When Alison came to our shelter space, she spent some time looking at all of our adoptable cats, but she kept coming back to Colette. In the end, Colette's beauty, extra friendly personality, and funny husky voice won her over.

Alison says, "She's the sweetest and most hilarious cat I've ever known, and I'm so glad to have her. She gives kisses and sleeps next to my head and purrs like a motor when I come home."

Alison also shared this story with us. "I went home to Texas for the holidays and brought her along with me. She was the perfect traveler. While at home, I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder, and I'm really glad I had her with me. She was a very nice companion while recovering. I've included a picture of her laying on me which she only did while I was feeling particularly bad. So sweet!"

Alison adds, "Thank you all for everything you do for these animals, and I am so grateful and thankful that you kept Colette for me until I could find her."

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Fern Finds A Home For The Holidays
January 15, 2010

Fern Says Hello To ECC Volunteer Photographer Before Her Adoption in December!
Fern came to us as a stray from the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. One of her eyes was damaged from an inner ear infection that she had contracted on the streets. After visiting the wonderful veterinarians at Manhattan Cat Specialists she was found to be in need of some antibiotics but otherwise healthy. She recovered from her infection except for some slight damage to her one eye.

Joe and Pam were looking for a new friend after Joe's cat passed away of old age. They took to Fern because of her outgoing personality and her gentle pleas for more petting. They decided to take her home right before the holidays, even though it was a stressful time of year. They took a chance and welcomed her into their home a week before their holiday trip. Everyone is glad they did!

According to Joe, "She traveled amazingly well and was very comfortable at my parents' place over the holiday. She traveled back to Brooklyn with similar ease and has thoroughly settled in. Pam and I are both amazed at how sweet she is. She loves to be around us, and only occasionally walks across the keyboard as we are typing. She even lets us trim her nails (as long as we only do a couple at a time). Basically, she's perfect."

From the streets of Crown Heights to a cozy apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Fern's journey had a very happy ending. We hope for a day when all friendly felines get such breaks in life!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Rocco Gets Lucky!
December 12, 2009

Rocco digs his new digs

Rocco was brought to Empty Cages Collective (ECC) by volunteer Christopher Bollman - a tireless advocate for stray and feral cats and a big help to ECC. ECC has worked with Christopher to sterilize the free-roaming felines who call his block home. Many of these cats are feral - having no interest in being roommates with humans. Rocco, however, was different.

Rocco was already socialized - most likely lost or abandoned by his caretakers - when Christopher first met him on his street. More then just being friendly, Rocco wasn't interested in living the stray cat life and was actively trying to convince someone to take him in off the street. ECC decided to offer a helping hand.

ECC got Rocco neutered, vaccinated, treated for parasites, and tested for feline leukemia and FIV - and accepted him into our adoption program. Rocco then waited (not-so-patiently!) for a chance to find a permanent home.

Fast forward a few months, and ECC's friend Tim Soter decided it was time to adopt another feline friend. Rocco was finally chosen! No more cold nights on the street and no more kitty incarceration in a cage. Rocco would finally have a home to call his own.

Tim recently wrote to us about his buddy Rocco: "He is great mix of teenage exuberance and calm sweetness. He's really a great cat and it's great to get him out of a cage and into a bigger space for him to run around and play with toys."

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Orville's Story
October 8, 2009

Young Orville with his mom Adelaide.

Orville resting with his canine friend.
In March 2009, the Empty Cages Collective took in Orville, a week old tabby kitten, along with his two sisters and their mother Adelaide. The little family had initially found shelter from the streets in a basement, and later arrived at New York City's Animal Care & Control.

Unfortunately, at AC&C the kittens' sweet, devoted mother tested positive for the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). She was otherwise healthy and happy, but her health condition made her - and her little ones - candidates for killing. Feline Leukemia causes a suppressed immune system, but cats with the condition can live asymptomatically for many months or even years. Furthermore, there is NEVER a guarantee that the test performed is 100% accurate, or that the cat will not successfully fight the virus off.

Despite these facts, shelters and animal control facilities routinely "euthanize" cats with FeLV, robbing them of an opportunity to live a full life. The Empty Cages Collective believes that all cats should have the chance to have a good, happy life, and knew that we had to help Orville and his family.

At ECC, Orville and his sisters showed themselves to be silly and sweet kittens - friendly, energetic, curious, and always up to something! As the kittens spent their days cuddling with their mom and playing with each other, they were growing into sleek, strong little cats. The time came for them to get spayed and neutered and hopefully adopted. Because the kittens had been born to a FeLV infected mother, we knew there was a decent chance that they would test positive for the virus. But happily they did not! More than that, mother Adelaide was retested and found to be negative (showing again how unnecessary and misguided preemptive euthaniasia is for FeLV-positive cats).

Orville and his family all found loving homes - Orville with a kind woman named Sandrine. Sandrine says of Orville,

"Orville is so adaptable, easy, curious. Very good-natured cat. Rita, the family golden retriever came to live with us this summer and in 2 days dog and cat were friends. They play together--she'll lie down, still, and he'll grab her head and chew on her ears--and they often sleep near each other....

He often sleeps on the bed, cuddles and purrs early in the morning, and take afternoon naps on our desks when we work. He purrs whenever we pick him up. He plays hide and seek with us and entertains himself with his toys, especially the stuffed chipmunk filled with catnip...."

We are so happy that Orville is living the good kitty life with Sandrine and Rita. Thanks to our adopters and friends, we are able to help more animals - ones often overlooked by traditional shelters - find homes and happiness.

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Eve!
September 15, 2009

Eve & her big brother Kiwi
Empty Cages Collective is lucky to have many wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of animals. Some of our volunteers fall in love, while in the midst of working for all of the animals in our care. Mariah Wilson, an ECC volunteer who helps in our shelter space, organizes volunteer recruitment, and with our adoption events fell for a little lovely named Eve. This is their happy ending:

"Eve was one of our first kittens of the season, born on Oscar night, of all things. A litter of six was born, two of whom were too weak to make it, sadly. But the four who remained - Eve included - were rambunctious, feisty, and adorable.

I knew the moment I saw her that she was the one. Isn't that the way it always is? I had been looking for a second cat for a while. My older cat, Kiwi, got along well with his occasional feline roommates and I decided it was time to bring a more permanent member into our lives. When I saw Eve - that crazy Picasso face, that triangle shadow cast off the side of her nose, that wild calico pattern snaking across her whole body - I couldn't stop staring. She was gorgeous!!

As I began volunteering at Empty Cages, I would end my shifts by trying to spend a little time with Eve. This was not an easy feat: she had a good Mom. Too good. Dear GOD was she MEAN. A protective mama cat, feral to the core, Kate spared no energy in making sure we knew that she did NOT approve of us. We actually had to use a cardboard box (the Kate shield) any time we went in to retrieve her kittens for meds. She would hiss, growl, and strike at the shield as we plucked her little fuzz balls up, one by one. But any time spent with Eve was worth it for me, even if it drew a little blood. She was a little nervous about being held at first, but when I sat with her in my lap she would calm down and curiously examine her surroundings. I felt like we had a good thing going, so once she was spayed I took the plunge and put in my adoption application - a week later, little Eve was mine!

Her introduction to her new big (BIG) brother Kiwi was seamless. Eve fell into the routine of chasing him around the apartment and batting at him playfully, and Kiwi, in his typical laid back demeanor, took her abuses. But he doled out some revenge of his own. Occasionally, when she least expected it, he would get a running start on the couch and LEAP, almost landing directly on top of her. Her tail would immediately go ** POOF ** and she would screech and run under the couch.

But their relationship is more love than hate. I often catch them grooming each other and cuddling together in the same chair. When I start clapping and pointing at them, they immediately look embarrassed that I've discovered their secret feline amour. But they've let me take a few pictures of it here and there. Eve is a cuddly, happy, purry ball of love. In fact, as I lay on my stomach writing this, she has taken her typical position under my arms, nestled against my chest. It's her happy place -- her little human cavern. She could lay there purring for hours, letting me give her little kisses. That's my baby girl."

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Peter's Tale
March 26, 2009

Torpedo Turned Peter has turned into a strapping young cat in a happy home.

Peter greets his person at the door almost daily.
Peter, who Empty Cages Collective (ECC) volunteers first knew as Torpedo, was a feisty feral kitten when he arrived at our shelter. Rescued from the streets of Flatbush, Peter was born with three siblings to a sweet brown tabby couple who had been abandoned by their guardians. The feline family struggled to survive, dodging cars and dogs, and accepting food freebies whenever they were offered. Eventually the six-feline family made friends with a kind woman named Nicole. She started feeding the cats regularly and began seeking out ways to better their situation.

Unfortunately, by the time Nicole got in contact with ECC, two of the four kittens had been killed by cars. We knew we had to help this cat crew as quickly as we could. We immediately offered Nicole assistance with capturing the survivors. Soon enough, Mom and Dad, as well as Peter and his brother, White Socks, were in our shelter to get some much needed TLC.

On top of needing socialization to become trusting of humans, Peter had a hernia that required surgery. After healing from his operation , Peter came around to seeing humans as friends. Meanwhile, Peter waited patiently to leave shelter incarceration and enter the good life. His patience was rewarded. After months with ECC, Peter was adopted by a great guardian, Evan Wise.

Evan has shown time and again that he takes Peter's needs and care very seriously. Evan recently wrote to us: "Peter sleeps in my bed every night and is usually waiting at the door when I come home from work. He's developed a bizarre 'flop' type thing... he'll come up to you and straight up headbutt your hand/leg/foot a few times and then quickly fall over onto his side, expecting some serious petting. He's been such a good cat and everyone that has met him agrees."

We are so happy that our friend Peter finally found a secure and loving home. We want to see to it that the many other companion animals in need in NYC are given the same opportunity to receive the compassion and respect they deserve.

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Irving's Story
March 14, 2009

Irving: A few days after rescue

Irving and his guardian, Defne

Irving relaxes in his permanent home!
It was well over a year ago when the Empty Cages Collective met our friend Irving - a tough street cat with a sweet side and soft spot for food. The Empty Cages Collective was working on a Trap-Neuter-Return project for feral and stray cats in Bushwick, Brooklyn when one of our volunteers felt something brush against his leg. The cat who would soon be known as Irving had smelled the tuna and sardines being offered to the feral felines and made a quite approach. Instead of waiting for the volunteer to step away, Irving decided he'd make friends on the spot and grab a bite at the same time!

It was soon realized that Irving, un-neutered, dirty and homeless - was suffering from a severe ear mite infestation and had scratched his head raw, causing an infection. We immediately scooped Irving up and put him in a carrier so he could get veterinary care and eventually be placed in a loving home.

After healing from his wounds, Irving was adopted by a wonderful guardian, Defne Ezgi. They recently celebrated their first year anniversary together (Irving was adopted on March 9, 2008)! As Defne recently wrote to us, "Life has been really good with Irving. He's a very resilient cat and had no trouble adjusting at all. He's really playful and loves to run around, chasing me or being chased. He welcomes me home when I come back and purrs and licks my nose. He really is a joy to have. My friends definitely have noticed how happy he makes me. And I know that he's really happy with his life too. Thanks for making this happen!"

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Adam's Story
December 19, 2008

Adam just days after he was found on a busy street in Crown Heights

Surveying his new kingdom

Hanging with the boys

Adam was found as a 3-4 week old kitten in the middle of a busy street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Adorable, intensely playful, with tons of energy to spare, Adam was bottle fed by Lisa until he was big enough to eat on his own.

Adam had MANY suitors --as soon as we posted pictures of him our phone was ringing off the hook with prospective parents. Needless to say, we wanted Adam to find the right forever home with just the right people...and we DID!

Amy and Jeremy introduced Adam into their happy family last week. Adam is the "sprout" of the feline bunch--Frank, almost 2 years old, is thrilled to have a little buddy to play with, and Buddy ( at 12, the Senior feline of the bunch ) is just as thrilled to get some downtime for a change.

Adam patrols the apartment, looking for fun...and with his wee pot belly he is quite a sight to behold when he struts his stuff....

Thank you Amy and Jeremy ( and Frank and Buddy ) for opening your hearts and home to Adam!!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Quark (nee Zorro's) Story
December 10, 2008

This little guy started out as Zorro and was renamed Quark -- or "Q" for short--by his new people.

Q went home with Laura and Stephen back in September '08.

Quark mostly hung out in the bathroom sink while getting acclimated to his new people and feline "sib" Zee. At 8 yrs old, Zee had to warm up to little Quark but now they are fast friends--running, playing, and purring together!

Q is especially excited around the Holidays as he loves to bat his toys under the Xmas tree and then dive under the branches to retrieve them....

Happy Holidays Quark, Laura, Stephen and Zee--and thanks for giving Quark the gift of a forever home!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Juliette
November 23, 2008

This is Juliette. Juliette was rescued in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We trapped her, spayed her, fed and sheltered her and brought her to one of our frequent Adoption Events. Happily, Juliette went to her "forever home" with her humans Taylor and Cindy in early November. According to her people, Juliette "got pretty comfortable pretty quickly"--just check out her pics! Juliette was a feral kitten facing a life of hardship on the streets. Instead, she is sitting pretty ( see pic #3) and bringing all kinds of joy to her new companions!

Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Jake Goes Home!
August 27, 2008

On Saturday, August 10th, Jake, one of our very special adult cats, went to his new home. Jake's new caretaker, Colleen heard about his search for a home on New York Shitty. Thanks, Miss Heather!

Jake had been with ECC for months awaiting his chance to find a loving and permanent home to call his own. We rescued Jake late one evening while we were returning (sterilized and vaccinated) feral cats back to their colonies in Williamsburg and Brownsville, Brooklyn. We had made a few wrong turns, ending up on Rockaway Parkway. We saw Jake walking down the sidewalk, very close to traffic. When we got out and offered him some tuna, he quickly became friendly and inhaled the food as if he hadn't eaten in weeks. We also noted that our new friend wasn't neutered. We decided he was coming back with us to get veterinary care, and eventually, to find a loving home.

Jake had a few strikes against him in the placement department, however. He was an adult cat in a season and community experiencing a glut of highly adoptable kittens. He sometimes played too roughly. And he tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). While we don't routinely test healthy feral cats who will be returning to their colonies (more information on why can be accessed HERE), we tested Jake because we were going to find him a home.

In any case, FIV is a retrovirus, similar to HIV in humans, that results in a compromised immune system for felines. While FIV cats tend to be more highly susceptible to infections, they often feel just fine. In fact, FIV-positive cats can lead long, healthy lives, remaining asymptomatic for years. Unfortunately, many people are nervous about taking on a potentially special needs animal. Luckily for Jake, someone saw passed his FIV status, and realized he was a needy cat, with promising potential for a good, long life. We'll miss him, but we know there are plenty of others who need our help more now.

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