One of the many programs run by the Michigan Humane Society is the Trap-Neuter-Return program (TNR). The purpose of TNR is to humanely and effectively stabilize and eventually curb outdoor cat populations by trapping, spaying or neutering, and then returning feral cats to where they were found. The cats are sterilized and vaccinated against rabies at MHS and then provided for by certified colony caretakers when released. This improves the quality and duration of the lives of feral cats that otherwise have had no socialization with people and are more accustomed to thriving outdoors. The caretakers even have the option to have these feral cats tested for more dangerous diseases such as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Unfortunately, many caretakers opt out of these tests because they cannot afford them. However, one amazing and longtime MHS supporter, who has chosen to remain anonymous, took a huge step to fix this problem all for a wonderful stray gone too soon.

Mr. Fluffytail was a beautiful, medium-haired male stray cat that was found early in the fall of 2018 and taken into one of our shelters by our anonymous supporter. Mr. Fluffytail tested positive for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and suffered from multiple bite wounds. FeLV is a highly contagious retrovirus that weakens a cat’s immune system and it is the most common cause of cancer in cats. Our anonymous supporter and the MHS staff fell in love with Mr. Fluffytail’s charm and charisma, but sadly the donor could not bring him home because they already had several cats and could not risk exposing them to FeLV.  However, they were not ready to give up on him.

Mr. Fluffytail’s companion reached out to Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary, a cat rescue and placement center in Grand Rapids that takes in FeLV and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) positive cats. They made the trip from West Michigan so that he could live out his last days in a comfortable and loving environment. There were some days where he would rally and seemed to be doing better, but gradually the virus took its toll on Mr. Fluffytail. Sadly, Mr. Fluffytail died two days before Christmas.

The passing of Mr. Fluffytail deeply impacted the anonymous supportor. It was heartbreaking to see his health deteriorate and they didn’t want other strays to suffer the same fate just for being lost, abandoned or neglected. As a member of the TNR community themselves, the donor realized that not all colony caretakers are able to afford the tests to detect FeLV or FIV when they bring in feral cats. After working closely with our dedicated MHS team members, our longtime supporter took the initiative in making strides towards helping outdoor cats in our community.

This person’s compassion, combined with their desire to help create a better, safer environment for animals, led them to do something extraordinary. They pledged to cover the costs of FeLV and FIV testing for all feral cats brought in by TNR community members this year. Lovingly named “Mr. Fluffytail’s Program,” after the stray that impacted them so greatly, the program aims to help proactively detect these diseases to help strays and FeLV/FIV-negative ferals live safely outside and not have to experience the same pains as Mr. Fluffytail. Their hope is that one day there will be a cure for these viruses, but in the meantime, they are making big strides to help the animals in our community. MHS wants to give a big thank you to our anonymous donor for championing this program.

If you are interested in joining our TNR community or learning more about the program, visit our TNR page.