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Rescuing Purebred Cats: Interview With Kirsten Kranz

Jul 14, 2014 · Updated Jul 14, 2014 · ·
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  1. Anne
    "I'll let my Himalayan cat have babies just once or twice. I know I'll find good homes for her kittens."

    We hear that on the Pregnant Cats & Kitten Care forum occasionally from irresponsible cat owners. Apparently, some backyard breeders think that just because a cat is purebred it is certain to find a good forever home. They couldn't be more wrong, as anyone dealing with purebred cat rescue will tell them.

    Purebred cats end up in shelters and on the street just like any other cat. Ethical breeders always stipulate in the contract not only that they are willing to take back the cat, but that the owners are required to return the cat rather than surrender it to a shelter or try to re-home the cat themselves. Alas, backyard breeders and kitten mills prefer to take the money and move on to producing the next batch of cats for sale.


    Kirsten Kranz with Mouse the Sphynx

    Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue - SPCR for short - is a 501c3 nonprofit rescue in the Midwest which tracks down purebred cats in shelters and through owner surrenders. The cats are placed in foster homes for further rehabilitation until a forever home can be found for them. In a recent email interview, SPCR founder Kirsten Kranz told us about the challenges involved in rescuing purebred cats.

    Q: Please tell me more about how SPCR started? Who were the people who started it, and what was the trigger? Who are the people leading the organization today?

    A: SPCR was founded by me, and I am the person leading it, as I have been for 15 years. It is a group collaboration in the sense that we have wonderful foster folks who have joined the organization year by year, and they do everything from setting up booths at pet expos and cat shows to transporting cats all over, to healing and adopting out thousands of cats. But in terms of decision-making and running this organization, the buck stops here. It is a full-time, 7-day-a-week, non-paid labor of love. Fortunately my husband has a good job and is very understanding.

    SPCR was started gradually when I was volunteering many hours at our local humane society in the 90s. That was the beginning of the rescue group movement, and though there were many groups available for every breed of dog, there was nothing for the purebred cats that came in.

    Though these types of cats only make up a small minority of the cats that flood into shelters every year, they tend to have a LOT of issues and are the first to be euthanized. Persians and Himalayans typically come in with everything wrong with them, and the average shelter does not have the time, money or expertise to deal with them. Some breeds like Siamese and Abyssinians are very high-strung and freak out in shelter environments. If there are no resources for them they are put down. It became obvious after my time in shelter work that the needs of these unique felines needed to be addressed in calm, knowledgeable fostering environments.

    Q: What are the unique challenges of finding homes for purebred cats? Are some breeds more difficult to rehome, possibly due to their special-care needs?

    A. Once we developed a niche out there in social media with our website (www.purebredcatrescue.org) and hugely popular Facebook page (6000+ members), it has not been a challenge at all to find homes for our cats. I receive over 200 emails a day, and most of those are from folks with inquiries. Our website receives 2000 hits a day, and since it is updated daily there is always that “what’s there” factor that keeps people coming back.


    SPBS Volunteer Kay Perry of Oak Park, Illinois and a foster

    The challenges revolve more around simply managing a very specialized rescue like this and dealing with the massive vet bills that result from dealing with cats that often have a lot wrong with them due to severe neglect. The average stray (or owner surrender for that matter) Persian has terrible teeth, eye ulcers, matted coat and sometimes is unable to breathe due to tiny nostrils. That involves, for a single cat, a major dental, full shave, laser surgery to open the nostrils, medications, blood work, testing, vaccinations and follow-up care. And that’s not counting a spay or neuter if needed. We place almost 600 cats a year. Our vet bills average $8000+ MONTHLY.

    Once the cat is healed and ready to go, they do go quickly. People know what they want, and we offer what others don’t. Oddly enough the cats that are the most difficult to rehome are the ones that look most like “regular” cats. We do have a small section on our website devoted to “regular” kitties that come in from time to time, but they take a LONG time to place. People who visit our site are not looking for “regular” cats or they would go to their local shelters (which we ALWAYS encourage!)

    Q: What are some of the rarer breeds that come through your rescue?

    A: We’ve had just about everything. Most recently we’ve been getting in “mixed purebreds” such as a Highlander (curled ears, polydactyl), Lambkins (curly-coated Munchkins) and Bambinos (Munchkin/Sphynx crosses). I think we have only ever had one Singapura in rescue over 15 years, so that is probably the most rare. But that is a very rare breed anyway.

    Q: How do you identify a cat as a purebred? For example, does every shorthair colorpoint cat qualify as a Siamese or Siamese-derived breed? Do any of the cats come with papers?

    A: I would say less than 1% of our cats come in with papers. Certainly every colorpoint shorthair is NOT a purebred Siamese, and we try to make a distinction regarding that. We frequently list “Siamese mixes” and “Maine Coon mixes” because they are in a very gray area that is difficult to determine. However a Persian is a Persian is a Persian. You can’t miss those flat faces. And when you have been doing this for as long as we have, and attended as many cat shows as our volunteers, you know when you are looking at something real.

    [float]Q: Can you please share a memorable story of a cat that found a home through your rescue?

    A: Good lord, I don’t even know where to start with that one. There have been so very many. Here is a "before and after” photo of a white Persian male named Max that came in a couple years ago in horrific condition. He had been living in a cage in a dark basement for years with little to no care and was surrendered to us under conditions of anonymity because the owners knew they would face charges if their names came out. His transformation under the care of his foster mom Heidi Dooley was simply amazing.

    Another side note that people would be interested in is that, as time and space allows, we have taken in dozens of Persians, true Egyptian Maus and a few Siamese from an animal welfare group in EGYPT over the years (www.esmaegypt.org). We have many pleased adopters who have taken on these cats, and those have been wonderful stories as well. Unfortunately due to the expense and political upheaval in Egypt right now we have not been able to take any this year, but this story alone is very interesting and worth checking out.


    Take a minute to visit the Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue website to learn more about the organization and see which cats are currently looking for homes.

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  1. kellsierhae
    Wondering if the kitten I rescued recently is a DHL or a Nebelung? I know it might be difficult to tell in photos but I would like opinions!
  2. susan73
    I took in a Savannah Cat. At first I had no idea of what he was. He was VERY odd looking. But very very sick he was within 2 -3 weeks of starvation due to stomatitis. Thru looking on the web I found his breed,and the vet agreed with me. Now here's the thing, he was fixed!. And his fur was greyish with very vague blackish stripes. Not like any fur colors, normally seen in them. He's taller than a normal cat, but not as tall as a normal Savannah. His ears are bigger than a normal cat,but not as big and tall as a normal Savannah cat. He was so sick,it makes me so angry even now. I feel that the breeder just fixed him in case someone took him in and tried to breed him,then just threw him out like trash!!. His babies could have been normal Savannah's, at least the fool didn't kill him. Now he's sick again,2 years later he got a kitty cold I took him in and got the meds. only it got worse and turned to pnuemonia. I'm scared to death he will die. All the meds he's on seem to be making some progress. He wants me to feed him still though. One vet wanted me to put him down,I threw one hell of a fit,she didn't even try to find an alternative,just said he will probably just get worse and cost a lot of money for meds and tests that may not do any good. Stupid woman!!. The other vet was apprised of the situation and has worked veritable miracles. But he said it may be that he has feline aids. When I first took him in the vet talked about it but he got his teeth out and go his weight and health back so I had stopped thinking of feline aids. I can't stand the thought of loosing him. I will not ever put him down though.If it ever comes to that then, he will be kept comfortable and at home with me. until the end. I'm searching for the Savannah breeders in my area of ohio and I want to find the one he came from if possible,I figure maybe they would have photo's that look like him..fingers crossed. If I ever do find the one then God help them.for doing this, to him,. He was about 4 -5 months old when I took him in,just a little baby thrown out on the streets and sick too. The vet said he could have been born with the stomatitis.Sorry for the rant and long post.
  3. jennafly
    Both my kitties are rescued "purebred". One even came with papers (the original owner gave them to the rescue organization) the other came from a shelter a couple hours away from me. Both are darlings. My bestie got a bonded pair of Himalayans at the humane society. One is seal point and the other lilac, both gorgeous. I tell EVERYONE who will listen that with just a little less haste and a little more patience, you CAN find nearly any breed you fancy. Though one was older, 9, the shelter kitten was only 8 weeks and appears to be a flame point siamese, right down to the crossed, ice blue eyes and extremely personable nature!

    I love what organizations like yours do. Rescue, educate, save lives... Thank you!
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