Cat lying on window sill, similar to the one fostered by Paws and Claws.
(Photo Credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova | Getty Images)

Paws and Claws Aims to Rescue Cats With New Fundraising

During the third annual Hope for the Holidays program last month, Paws and Claws Cat Rescue gave holiday gifts to 75 felines. The local cat rescue shelter works to save cats that face the risk of euthanization. They began the fundraising initiative for the cats in December which is set to continue until mid-January, as per The Daily Northwestern. Through this program, people can provide for a cat by covering the food and care costs for the animal during the holiday period.

The cost to support each cat is different, depending on factors such as special diet requirements and medical procedures. So far, the campaign has brought the attention of approximately 50 donors.

Ashlynn Boyce, who started Paws and Claws and currently acts as the executive director, has expressed immense pride in the program’s accomplishments. However, she admitted that the project carries a touch of melancholy.

Boyce highlighted that numerous cats are enjoying a safe holiday for the first time, where they receive care and affection. This aspect is truly delightful, she noted. Yet, she added that “they are not in their forever home,” indicating a slightly heartbreaking side to the situation.

Paws and Claws have several other projects aiming to generate funds to maintain feline health until they secure a permanent home, she noted. One such project is the Paw Print Club. This monthly membership provides donors with benefits including merchandise, exclusive previews of events, and even the chance to name a cat. Presently, the club has 170 members contributing differing amounts starting from $10 per month, said Boyce.

Humble beginnings and dedicated volunteers

In May 2023, Paws and Claws launched its first facility. The organization formerly operated entirely on a foster-based system — an element that Boyce emphasizes remains essential to their operation. At present, the shelter oversees roughly 100 cats in foster care, providing full support with food, supplies, and medical treatment. Notably, many Northwestern undergraduates and postgraduates take on the role of foster parents, Boyce pointed out.

“It’s really nice for students, especially those who are really missing their pets back at home but can’t commit to long-term adoption,” she said. She also stated that the shelter’s operation is primarily driven by the 170 volunteers at Paws and Claws, which only has three paid staff members.

Destiny Reinhardt — a volunteer at Paws and Claws — said that along with feeding the cats and maintaining cleanliness at the facility, they build special bonds with them during their weekly shifts. After adopting a kitten from Paws and Claws the previous year, which she confessed to having fallen in love with, Reinhardt has found volunteering incredibly rewarding. She especially enjoys witnessing the cats gradually getting accustomed to humans and seeing their personalities evolve over time.

Paws and Claws celebrated a record-breaking year in 2023 with their highest adoption numbers and the rescue of 514 cats, Boyce confirmed. Sean Johnson, Cat Care Manager at Paws and Claws, stated that the majority of these rescued felines were from under-resourced animal control facilities or municipal shelters, mainly from the Chicagoland area and further afield.

Johnson revealed that in 2024, the shelter aspires to save a total of 1,000 cats and gradually employ a veterinary practitioner for vital medical treatments. He is optimistic about Paws and Claws achieving these targets.

“It’s a very big goal,” Johnson said. “We’re going to need a lot of help from volunteers and fosters.”


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