Wisconsin nonprofit rescue finds homes for kittens
JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Angela Kadlec cradled a tiny kitten belly-down in her hand while feeding the hungry baby formula in a syringe.
The orphan was found outside in the freezing cold with its eyes still closed and an umbilical cord attached.
While nurturing the wide-eyed youngster, Kadlec talked on the phone, offering reassurance to someone who had just adopted an older kitten.
On a recent Saturday morning, Kadlec and a handful of volunteers at Kadlec Ranch Rescue fed cats, cleaned cages and offered ample attention to mewing moms and growing kids.
Later, the all-cat rescue west of Janesville opened its doors to a steady stream of people.
The goal was to find homes for adults and dozens of kittens raised in volunteer foster homes.
The nonprofit rescue cares for orphaned or abandoned kittens, pregnant moms, moms with litters, and cats and kittens that need socialization.
They take in kittens from humane shelters around the state and northern Illinois.
“We specialize in kittens that humane societies generally euthanize because they don’t have the resources to care for them,” Kadlec told The Janesville Gazette. “That’s where we step in.”
This year, the rescue has tripled its reach.
Kadlec expects to surpass 1,000 kittens and moms, up from 375 in 2018.
At the end of October, the rescue had taken in 777 cats, which included 552 kittens younger than 5 months old.
To date, 419 have been adopted.
Eleven adults and 119 kittens are still at the rescue or in foster care.
Fulfilling a need
Kadlec, an Army veteran, works full time as a radiology tech at Madison’s UW-Veterinary Hospital.
Getting up before dawn, she dedicates hours every day to her passion for saving animals.
Ask her why she has taken on such a challenging job, and her response is to the point:
“Because there is a need,” she said.
Kadlec is not paid for her efforts. Nor does she have a set fee for adoption. But her kittens are not free.
She asks people wishing to adopt an animal to make a donation, taking into account that the rescue already has invested a minimum of $70 per cat for neutering or spaying and vaccinations. The amount does not include food, litter, housing and emergency expenses.
Until recently, Kadlec’s rescue was totally funded by donations.
Collins Aerospace of Rockford, Illinois, has awarded the rescue one of its first grants for $3,000.
The Collins mini grant will be used to buy more live traps and to make improvements for the kittens.
Kadlec takes rescue cats to Precision Veterinary in Madison for spaying and neutering.
She also traps and neuters feral cats to keep them from reproducing several times a year.
No animal leaves the rescue unless it has been spayed or neutered and has received the appropriate vaccinations.
Kadlec spreads the word about low-cost options for spaying and neutering cats, including Precision Vet and Spay Me, both of Madison. The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin also offers low-cost spaying and neutering.
“There should be no excuse not to spay or neuter a cat,” she said.
Kadlec grew up in rescue work and volunteered for a rescue before starting her own.
She began Kadlec Ranch Rescue in 2007 when Kadlec and her husband bought a small farm. The rescue obtained its nonprofit status in 2016.
Kadlec is determined to save and improve the lives of many animals.
“I grew up with the mentality that you help where you can,” she said.
Kadlec has seen many kittens too sick and too frail to survive.
In the aftermath, she and other volunteers know how important it is to take care of themselves.
“Burnout is a real thing in rescue work,” Kadlec said. “You need to be able to say ‘no,’ and you need to know your limits and boundaries.”
She praised the “12 dedicated volunteers, 20 foster homes and tons of donations from people who help us and promote us.”
Volunteer Lisa Stinson drives from Illinois to the cat rescue every day to care for animals. Sometimes she spends 12 hours there.
“What really impressed me about Angela is she isn’t afraid to work across state lines,” Stinson said. “Her objective is the same for all the cats — to find homes for them.”
Stinson finds purpose among the vulnerable felines.
“I love it,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”
Kristine Heckman, vice president of the rescue, worked in finance her entire life before retiring.
She used her business savvy and organizational skills to develop a database to track every animal and adoption.
She also screens people who want to adopt a kitten or cat and is involved in fundraising.
Heckman called the current year “a real growing process” because of the jump in the number of kittens.
“In October, we had 500 more than a year ago,” she said.
Like Stinson, Heckman said she loves volunteering at the rescue.
She has fostered more than 400 kittens and said she has thousands of kitten photos on her phone.
“I have a room specially built at my house for the kittens,” she said. “I seem to get the big litters. It’s extremely fulfilling to me.”
Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com