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“Is the mother there?” How You Can Help During Kitten Season

From late spring to early autumn as many as 50 cats may be delivered to a local shelter in a single day. This large influx of cats is a result of “kitten season”. During these months, large numbers of feral and unaltered cats reproduce. Because many of these cats live outdoors, their litters are born in spaces where people such as yourself may find them. So when you find a litter of kittens near your home here is what you can do to ensure the best chances of survival for the kittens.

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Ask yourself this important question, “Is the mother there?” Kittens have the best chance of survival with their mothers and should not be separated from their mothers if at all possible.

1. THE MOTHER IS THERE.
If the mother is there and the family is not in danger, you have two options. You can leave the family alone and aid them by providing food for the mother in a different location far enough away from the kittens that the mother is not concerned of exposing her litter. You can also try and rescue the mother and her kittens.

If the mother is there and the family is in danger, the best decision is to try and rescue the mother and her litter. If you choose to rescue the family, you must be prepared to help bottle feed and care for the mother and kittens until they are adopted or a local animal rescue shelter can assist you.

You can help reduce pet overpopulation by spaying the mother of the litter. Whether you have chosen to leave the kittens in a safe place or have rescued the mother and her litter, the mother should be spayed. She can become pregnant almost immediately after giving birth and while she is nursing, so it is best to bring her to a local animal shelter as soon as possible. Spaying the mother will not affect her ability to nurse.

mother and kittens

2. THE MOTHER IS NOT THERE.
The first thing you do is WAIT. Mother’s often leave for periods of time to hunt for food. It must be absolutely clear that the mother is not coming back because 50% of kittens taken from their mother that are nursing die. Depending on the season (winter is a more dangerous time for kittens than the summer), you must determine how long to wait before being certain that the mother is not going to return. If she does not return then, for the safety of the litter, the kittens must be rescued. Keep the litter together while they continue to be bottle fed and pass through the socializing stages.

kittens outside

For information on how to bottle feed and care for kittens, Pawmetto Lifeline is hosting a FREE class on how to bottle feed found or orphaned kittens and puppies February 28 at 2 p.m. or March 4 at 6 p.m. You must register by contacting DeeAnn Jones at 803.465.9175 or djones@pawmettolifeline.org

 

 

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The Gift of Unconditional Love

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On Valentine’s Day, we think of love and what that means to each of us.  To me, I think of unconditional love – the kind I receive from my pets. No matter the day I am having or the stress in my life, my pets are there to give me the kiss I need or to climb in my lap to reassure me that everything is okay.  They always greet me at the door with the same unconditional love, even if I just stepped outside to get something out of my car.

You may think this is just my personal pets, but this is also true with my foster pets.  I have fostered for more than 8 years and have had 94 dogs come through my home.  Each of them came from an unknown situation with little to no background history, and in some cases, I really didn’t want to know.  They look at me with the love that they want to give.  Not just love, but unconditional love that they have to share.  I talk to them about how their life will be better now and how they will bestow on their new owner this amazing gift of unconditional love.  They just listen and I believe they understand.  During their stay with me, we have this conversation many times.  I have never regretted having so many dogs come through my home because I always have love in my heart and know that I have been unconditionally loved by so many!

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Think about offering this type of temporary home to a pet that wants to offer unconditional love to you.  Fostering saves lives, and without foster homes, how will this pet move to a forever home to offer unconditional love to someone that is waiting for their new fur-baby? Fosters are the bridge between a pet’s old life and their new one. As that bridge, a foster home not only gives unconditional love but gets so much back each and every time.

To sign up for our foster program, fill out the online application or visit us at 1275 Bower Parkway, Columbia, S.C.

by: DeeAnn Jones, Director of Foster Program, Pawmetto Lifeline

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It’s Always the Right Time to Protect Your Pet from Heartworm Disease

ribbonIf you’ve ever been to one of Care-A-Vans’ stops, chances are you’ve seen the photos of the long noodle like worms growing from the heart of a dog or cat. Naturally these images would disturb any compassionate animal owner as they express a very clear message: heartworm disease is fatal. The good news is you can protect your pet from this disease.

Heartworm disease is easily preventable, which can be very frustrating to veterinarians and those working in the animal community. Although heartworm disease is treatable, the treatment is very serious and can pose a fatal threat to infected animals. It is far easier, healthier for the pet and much more cost efficient to prevent the disease in the first place.

As described by the FDA on its website regarding heartworms, “heartworms are carried by infected mosquitoes that transmit parasitic worms that grow in the arteries of the lungs and heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals. The heartworm larvae enter the bite wound and move through the pet’s body and can grow up to 12 inches long.” Since South Carolina is known to have mosquitoes all year round it is very important to maintain heartworm prevention in pets even in the colder months. All it would take is one warmer day for mosquito larvae to hatch then bite and infect an unprotected family pet.

heart worm

The FDA agrees that, “animal owners who stop giving heartworm prevention medication during the winter run the risk of their dog or cat contracting heartworms. If the animal becomes infected and the heartworm preventative is later resumed without testing, the owner may be putting the pet in danger. The preventive medicine can kill so many microfilariae (the offspring of adult, female heartworms) at once that it could shock the animal’s system, with potentially fatal results.Also, preventatives will not kill adult heartworms and they will continue to reproduce.”

This is why it is so important for owners to test their dog or cat prior to starting heartworm prevention! Since practitioners and researchers have also been noticing some resistance from the heartworm prevention it is very important to retest your pets every year. In doing this, if a break through were to occur an owner could find out as soon as possible and notify the product manufactures. With proof of the animal being on prevention consistently and on time every month, an owner could possibly gain assistance in treatment from the manufacture while at the same time helping the researchers understand a need for adjustment due to resistance in the product itself.

Another issue veterinarians face is convincing clients who have indoor pets about the importance of heartworm prevention. Mosquitos can easily access indoor environments through open doors or windows. How often have you woken up to a random bug bite that you weren’t aware of the bug? How often have you been frustrated about a fly in your house that you can’t seem to get out or figure out how it even got in? All it takes is one mosquito bite to transmit heartworm disease! Whether the bite occurs inside the home or outside while the pet is relieving itself is moot. What is essential is keeping your pets on a FDA-approved prevention all year round and being proactive in preventing the disease instead of waiting to be reactive and risking possible complicated or fatal treatment.  heart foot prints

Contact our animal clinic to find out how you can start protecting your beloved pet today:

(803) 465-9100
clinic@pawmettolifeline.org
1275 Bower Parkway, Columbia SC 29212
 
 
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Reasons You Should “Beat the Heat” with Your Female Cats

When it comes to reproduction, cats are quite abundant breeders. Female cats are able to reproduce up to three times a year. Each pregnancy produces several kittens at a time. One female cat is able to produce twenty four kittens in a single year.

cats have a lot of babieas

Female cats are “polyestrous”, meaning they go into heat early into the year and will continue to cycle in and out of heat every 14-21 days until bred. The first heat cycle typically begins around four months of age, putting even young kittens at risk of becoming pregnant.  While fertility may gradually decline overtime, there is no age at which a female cat can not become pregnant as cats do not go into a state of “menopause” such as humans. The average life span of an indoor cat is fifteen years which for an unspayed female cat means the possibility of a life time of hundreds of kittens.

Female cats that are not spayed are a risk for multiple health issues as well as poor behavioral and hygienic problems. Mammary cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in cats. Reproductive hormones are the primary cause of mammary cancer found in cats. Spayed cats have a 40-60% lower risk of developing mammary cancer.

In addition to the risk of cancer, female cats that are not spayed are at risk for infections of the reproductive tract and a severe uterine disease called pyometra. Pyometra is a disorder in which bacteria enters the uterus which becomes infected and filled with pus.  Undetected, this condition is almost always fatal.

A female cat in heat can become frustrated with the desire to find a mate, resulting in behavioral and hygienic problems. While in heat female cats will howl, often through out the night for a mate. Unneutered male cats may wander around your property in interest of the female. Female cats will also sometimes spay urine while in heat.

Spaying a female cat is the only method to prevent litters of kittens as well as potential health and behavioral problems for your cat. It is much safer, and easier to spay a cat before her first heat cycle. Spaying before a cats first heat lessens her chances of potential mammary gland tumors as she ages. Many believe keeping a female cat indoors, away from males, will prevent pregnancy or prevent roaming. Unfortunately, in heat females are frustrated with the desire to mate and easily become escape artist in search of a male. It only takes a few moments outdoors for a fertile cat to become pregnant.

Beat the Heat

Pawmetto Lifeline is prepared to “Beat the Heat” in 2015 for female cats in hopes of preventing thousands of unplanned litters this year. During the month of February, in collaboration with Petsmart Charities, Pawmetto Lifeline’s Spay/Neuter clinic will spay your female cat for only $20. While space for this special is limited, it is life-saving for the overwhelming number of kittens who are born every year. If you’re female cat is not spayed and you would like to contribute to a longer, healthier life for her as well as to ending pet overpopulation by preventing future litters of kittens, be sure to call our clinic to “Beat the Heat”, today!

by: Caitlin Gomez, Officer Manager, Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic

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Love Isn’t Always Easy

My cat is a little bit of a jerk. This is not to say that I don’t love him, or that I regret adopting him. But if I am being honest, he’s not very nice. And that’s okay.
atlas glare
Atlas’s story is not unique, at least not at first glance. In early 2013, he was just one of the thousands of homeless animals brought to one of our local municipal shelters in the Midlands, but by a stroke of luck or fate or perfect timing, there was space for him in Pawmetto Lifeline’s adoption program. By March, he was up for adoption, single but ready to mingle, right? Not so much.
Atlas on alert
See, like I said, Atlas can be a jerk. He’s temperamental, finicky, and opinionated – so basically, he’s a cat. But when an adopter comes in looking for their perfect companion, they generally don’t look for the one who is glaring in the corner clearly thinking bad thoughts. So after more than a year on adoption row, a stressed Atlas was moved upstairs to the administrative offices for a breather. And there’s where I came in. For the next few months, Atlas stalked his coworkers, feline and human, and acted out almost constantly. He had a bad reputation and was living up to it.

But once or twice a day, he would come into my office and whisper sweet nothings. I got cuddles and head-bonks, and I saw, ever so briefly, the cat he could be when he felt safe. I was hooked by that glimmer, that faint hope that Atlas could actually be a happy cat if given the chance. And who better than me to give him that chance?
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We committed to fostering Atlas for a few months to see how he did in our admittedly chaotic house. From the first night we brought him home, he started his transformation. He stopped picking fights, stopped lashing out, and best of all, stopped being scared all the time. He knew he was safe, and he didn’t need to always be on guard. He wanted to be with his people and cuddle, and yes, sometimes, nibble a little. But as we learned to love him and he us, we also learned to read his cues and know when he was getting overstimulated, upset, or was just tired of our adoration.
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We made our adoption of Atlas official in May 2014, after he had been homeless for more than a year. And in the months since we adopted him, we haven’t regretted it once. Yes, he is still a jerk from time to time, but you know what? So am I.
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Adopting a “hard to adopt” cat can be challenging but the rewards are monumental. You have the chance to save a life, make room for another cat in need, and you get to see the difference unconditional love can make in the life of an animal. And with time and patience, that “hard to adopt” cat becomes the easiest to love.

 

by Amanda Hamilton, IT and Online Fundraising Manager, Pawmetto Lifeline

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Making Room in Your Heart

Ever wondered what a “Canine Care Volunteer” at Pawmetto Lifeline does? Well, one of our volunteers, Amy Aaronson, shares her experiences and her favorite parts about working with our adoptable dogs!

I only have room in my home for one dog right now, but volunteering at Pawmetto Lifeline gives me the chance to share my love with lots of dogs on a regular basis until they find their own homes. Since I started volunteering at Pawmetto,  I’ve seen so many great dogs find such amazing homes and families.

Volunteering Pic

While dogs patiently wait for the perfect family to come and find them, they spend their days sleeping, eating, barking, and of course walking and playing with volunteers like me. There’s nothing like the smile on a dog’s face when they know it’s their turn for a one-on-one walk or fetch time outside. Spending quality time with these dogs has given me the chance to learn more about dogs of all different breeds, ages, and sizes.  All the dogs are sweet and eager to provide unconditional love, but they all have characteristics that make them stand out.  And I can’t forget about the adorable puppies who just want to play and give kisses.

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Not only do I spend time walking and playing with the dogs, but most recently I’ve started giving tours of the dog room. I enjoy telling visitors about the facility and introducing them to the dogs. When giving tours I also get to see dogs find their forever homes.  The best part of giving the tours is certainly seeing a dog walk out with his or family.

I know that having one dog is a lot of work, so housing and taking care of a whole room of dogs takes a full staff and volunteers. Spending time walking the dogs and giving tours is relaxing and rewarding, especially when you see so many dogs leaving to go to their forever homes!

by: Amy Aaronson, Canine Care Volunteer, Pawmetto Lifeline

To find out more about volunteering with Pawmetto Lifeline, click here !

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The Foster Experience

We appreciate all of our foster homes so very much, and their experiences fostering help people find the courage to open their homes to join the foster movement. Below is one such testimonial.

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I’ve been fostering dogs for almost 2 years & it’s been a wonderful experience. I have dogs, cats & chickens of my own but there’s always room for 1 more….or 2…..maybe 3!

There are many reasons I enjoy fostering. One benefit is how good it is for my animals as well as the foster dog. It’s important for them to be socialized & while mine are very social with each other I want them to know how to behave around others besides their own “family.” I also think it helps me to be a better pet parent because I’m getting experience dealing with different issues I may not have with my own pets. Plus I have other foster parents to go to when I’m not sure about something that comes up & I’m able to use that knowledge for my own pets as well as my fosters.

Sometimes fostering involves helping a dog change a bad habit or learn new habits to help them to be more adoptable. But I think one of the most rewarding aspects is watching an animal bloom & come out of its shell. The dog you see when you first bring them home may not be the same one you see in a week or 2 or even more. As they start to relax & feel safe you see their real personality come out. Sometimes you see something that needs to be tweeked but most of the time you see a sweet loving dog that just wants to love & be loved.

A few people have told me they couldn’t foster because they’d become too attached & it would be too hard to give them up. I feel that way a lot! When it’s time for my foster dog to move on it’s happy & sad at the same time. You can’t help but become attached to them & sometimes fall in love. I’ve become attached after just a week & boo hoo’d my eyes out when they left! But I always try to remember they’re going to their forever home, I can’t keep or afford them all & by sending them on to their new families I’m making room in my home & heart to help save another dog.

by: Liz Krejci, Foster Home/Volunteer, Pawmetto Lifeline

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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet

2015 is here! As you consider your own resolution for the New Year, remember to include a resolution for your pet, too. Here are just a few of our tips for assuring your pet has the best year yet!

Spay/Neuter
Give your pet the gift of a longer, healthier life. Studies show that spaying or neutering a dog or cat reduces the risk of certain cancers and other diseases. There are a number of benefits to spaying/neutering your pet.
•         Spayed pets are less likely to develop mammary tumors and/or ovarian cancer and neutered pets are less likely to develop testicular cancers.
•         Altered pets are less likely to roam in search of a mate; therefore your pet is less likely to be injured (hit by car) or catch a disease from another animal.
•         Spaying and neutering your own pet, benefits your entire community by limiting animal overpopulation.
•         Spaying/Neutering reduces/eliminates the urge for your pet to mark their territory (spraying)
•         Raising puppies and kittens are costly and require an abundance of care! Spaying/Neutering saves money and time that would be spent on raising puppies or kittens.

Pawmetto Lifeline’s Spay/Neuter Clinic  offers affordable spaying and neutering to the public. To learn more about our pricing and special promotions please contact our clinic at 803-465-9100.

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Vaccinations
Many homes receive new additions to their family over the holidays. Puppy and kitten vaccinations begin between 6-8 weeks of age and continue in a series of vaccinations up to 16 weeks of age. Dogs and cats should then be vaccinated annually. Vaccinating your pet is essential for your pet’s preventative care. Many canine and feline diseases can be prevented with safe and effective vaccinations.

Pawmetto Lifeline’s Spay/Neuter Clinic holds a low cost vaccine clinic every Friday from 10:30am – 12:30pm and again from 2:00pm – 4:00pm. The low cost vaccine clinic is also open every 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 9:00am – 1:00pm. There is no examination fee and appointments are not required. Vaccinations start at just $9.

Also, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Pawmetto Lifeline’s Mobile Vaccine Clinic, Care-A-Van, travels around the Midlands and other communities, providing the same services and prices, right in your neighborhood! Check out their schedule to see when they will be in an area near you!

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Heartworm Prevention
A heartworm is a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected animal. Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes and are a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets.

Monthly heartworm preventative is the only measure to help reduce your pet’s risk of developing heartworm disease.  In addition, some heartworm preventatives may also protect against other worms such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. A heartworm test is required in animals six months and older in order for heartworm preventative to be prescribed by a veterinarian. In addition, testing your dog for heartworms should be completed annually, even if your pet is on heartworm preventative year round.

Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic performs heartworm testing during our low cost vaccine clinic hours for only $20 and even sells many major heartworm and flea prevention brands at competitive prices.

Pawmetto Lifeline’s Care-A-Van, the mobile vaccine service, is also equipped with preventatives and can provide the testing and the prevention meds on-site!

Microchipping
Microchips are a permanent identification for your pet, increasing your pet’s chance of returning home if they become lost. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice, that use radio frequency waves to transmit information about your pet. They’re implanted just under the skin, typically right between the shoulder blades.
The microchip is programmed with an identification number that is read by a microchip scanner. In the event your pet is found and brought into a veterinarian office or shelter, your pet will be scanned and this identification number will present. This identification number is registered with a microchip company and with the identification number the finder contacts the microchip company and receives the owner’s information.
Collars can come off, tags become illegible, but microchips are permanent forms of identification for your pet. Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic offers pet microchipping for only $25 during our low cost vaccination clinic. This service is also available on our Care-A-Van stops!

Annual Check Up
Establishing a relationship with a full service vet is a key component of preventative care for your pet. Yearly examinations are essential in your pets care outside of vaccinations. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or obesity are common in aging pets and much easier to manage when detected in the early stages of the disease process. Make a date with your regular vet during the New Year to discuss your pet’s overall health.

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Gifts for Your Pets during the Holidays

‘Tis the season for gift giving and warm holiday cheer. It is important not to forget the furry members of your family during the Holidays. To help you, we have created a list of fun gift ideas for cats and dogs!

  1. Home-made treats: Try some of Martha Stewarts Paw Print Dog treats or Becky Hardin’s Catnip Croutons: Homemade Cat Treats or Paw Print Dog Treats

    Martha Stewart's Treats

    Martha Stewart’s Treats

  2. Catnip Sock Toys: Have a sock that you cannot find the mate to? Try turning it into a fun new toy for your kitty! Just fill the sock with some catnip and either sew the parts together so the sock is sealed or tie tightly with a piece of yarn, which will allow you to refill the sock in the future.
  3. Personalized Pet Bowl: You can purchase ceramic bowls at any craft store, pet store, or home supplies store. You will also need some food-safe ceramic paint. Decorate with your pet’s name and get crafty. You can also try-out Martha Stewart’s tutorial for these beautiful hand decorated bowls.

    Martha Stewart's Cat Toy

    Martha Stewart’s Cat Toy

  4. Cat Teaser: We all know how fun it is to dangle brightly colored jingly things in front of our cats. For Christmas, you could give you cat a new toy made with love. Have some left over fabric? Cut this in strips. Tie the middle of the strips together with another piece of fabric. Use a jump ring or old key ring and attach the fabric from the middle. Tie to a piece of satin cord, or something that is comfortable for you and your kitty. You can also try Martha Stewart’s project plan for a feather teaser.

    Craftbits' Tugga Toy

    Craftbits’ Tugga Toy

  5. Dog Tugga Toy: Do you have some old stretchy t-shirts or pants that you no longer wear? Well instead of throwing them away, these can be used to make a fun chew toy for your dog. Just follow the easy guidelines in Craftbits’ tutorial and you will have a new play toy for your dog.

However, DIY may not be for you around this busy time of year.

Fortunately, Pawmetto Lifeline’s pet store offers great gifts for cats and dogs of all ages and sizes.

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Some of the items on offer include our new 2015 Midlands First Responder calendar, limited edition Pawmetto Lifeline t-shirts, and our special hot/cold beverage tumblers!

All of these gift items and more are available on our online store or at the Pawmetto Lifeline facilities at 1275 Bower Parkway. And remember, 100% of proceeds from all of the times sold by Pawmetto Lifeline go back to helping homeless pets in the Midlands!

 

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Cats make great pets…no seriously!

Everyone knows the age old argument, “Cat or Dog?” The debate has been on-going since the beginning of time, and cats are often not celebrated the way they should be. We would like to take a moment to appreciate all of the sweet and sassy cats that have been a part of our lives.

Annabelle Done

We should never forget that cats adapt to their owner’s personality. They won’t scratch you or howl until you play with them while you are busy eating Chinese food. You can house train them in a matter of minutes, and cat’s keep themselves very clean. On a cold, rainy day in December, you do not have to worry about taking your cat for a walk.

Cats are perfect for both families with or without children. They adapt to the behavior of their owners and will react if raised in a very playful family. They will also leave you alone if you prefer not to interact too much. Even if a cat is generally independent, they sure do love to cuddle. Just be careful when they want to head- butt you in the morning. Never forget that cats are great excuses for procrastination.

Cat sleep

“I am sorry, I could not finish sending that email. The cat would not stop sitting on my keyboard.”

It is no wonder why there are over a million cat memes on the internet and videos of them playing in boxes. Cats provide us with a wealth of entertainment. You may even end up saving money on your cable bill after you adopt a cat. A cat will entertain you all on its own. However, if you have a laser pointer lying around, that can add some extra fun. Cats are great hunters and extremely thoughtful gift givers. Invite them to any event and they will remain calm, cool, and collected as well as bring the best hostess gifts.

Cats have been important figures through-out history. In ancient Egypt, the noblest cats were mummified along with their owners. They were used to keep houses and fields safe from rodent infestations. It was actually declared illegal to kill cats during this time period because of their essential service to society

When choosing what pet is right for your family, it is important to consider all of your options. Cats can be an amazing addition to the right family. They will offer you plenty of love and companionship.

sweet kitty

At Pawmetto Lifeline, cats are spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, brought up-to-date on vaccines, and dewormed before leaving to join their forever home. You can see our cats available for adoption at http://pawmettolifeline.org/adopt/adopt_a_cat/. To adopt a new family member, fill out an application and begin our adoption process now!

Please call (803) 465-9150 or email adopt@pawmettolifeline.org if you have any questions!

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