Welcome to the Street Cats Club

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

By Kyra Jumper jumper@emporia.com

Victoria Partridge received a message one night about a kitten stuck in a storm drain across from Town Royal. Partridge set out to rescue the kitten. On a rainy Tuesday morning, she visited the drain to find the kitten gone.

She still had hopes of rescuing the kitten, so she came back that night to find the little kitten still in the drain. Five days and countless hours later, Partridge was able to rescue the kitten.

Partridge is the founder of Street Cats Club, a program of the non-profit organization Humane Society of the Flint Hills. “I began working on it at the end of 2019 and it came about because I noticed … there’s a lot of community cats roaming around,” she said.

At the time, she was just fostering cats through the Emporia Animal Shelter. She questioned how she could approach the issue proactively and help control the cat population in Emporia.

After meeting with the Humane Society, together they worked to expand the program to provide colony caregiver support. This provides caregivers with food, winter shelters, vet maintenance, training, advice, supplies and support. “As my interest in fostering and then doing other sorts of helping, like trapping, grew, then word grew as well,” Partridge said.

Partridge attended training at the Friends of Felines Kansas in Wichita to learn how to properly trap outdoor feral and stray cats to follow through with the trap, neuter and return or foster process. Now she receives phone calls from other community members wanting advice on how to help.

“The final thing that we’re doing that I’m really excited about is working on establishing funds to offer a no-cost spay or neuter to any cat,” Partridge said. “This can be any indoor cat or outdoor cat. Just to really eliminate any barrier from people spraying or neutering their cat.”

She expressed that they are always looking for foster cat parents in the community.

“To be a good foster parent — and I’m only going to speak about cats because that’s what I have experience in — it’s really to be able to offer a safe environment in your home,” she said.

She has informational videos posted on the Facebook page that realistically include the time, money and effort that goes into being a good foster cat parent. “If you have other animals in your home, all of your fosters need to be quarantined for two weeks before introducing to your other animals,” Partridge explained. “That way, for example, I just rescued a kitten out of a storm drain across from Town Royal. That kitten is currently being quarantined because I have other foster cats and my own home kitties in my house. Well, whenever I took that kitten to the vet, I found out she has an intestinal parasite, ringworms, fleas and ear mites.” While taking care of one cat with these medical problems is easy, she explained how not quarantining your foster cat could spread the bugs and parasites to other pets which makes care difficult.

Partridge shared another one of her rescue stories. She said that she likes to name her foster cats by themes, so her current theme is the popular Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy”. “[Vanya] was really sick, so I snagged her and she was having a lot of breathing problems and she was really underweight,” she said. “I thought she was just anemic, but she wasn’t improving with all the treatments she was receiving. She was finally diagnosed with a traumatic diaphragmatic hernia.”

A traumatic diaphragmatic hernia is when the person, or animal, experienced a lot of physical trauma that causes the diaphragm to rip and rupture. This happened to Vanya which caused her intestines to shift up in her chest cavity. Therefore, she could not eat as much and had a restricted breathing capacity.

Partridge expressed that it was really tough after hearing Vanya’s diagnosis. She got a quote from the Kansas State Vet Hospital in Manhattan that said the surgery would cost anywhere between $2,500 to $3,500. “I set out to start fundraising to see if I could raise the money and over the weekend I raised all the money, over 80 people donated. I was able to give Vanya the surgery,” she said. “A huge thank you to anyone who reads this and donated, because that was just amazing. So many people came together.”

However, more issues arose before the surgery. Vanya was just a kitten, Partridge questioned if she could survive the surgery. Her intestines could have adhered to the muscles in her chest and could complicate things even more. “In the end, everything turned out so great. She had a perfect surgery, they did a wonderful job on her,” she expressed happily.

Partridge’s goal is to always help the cats. She posts updates on her foster cats regularly on Instagram and Facebook @thestreetcatsclub. More information can be found on how to donate, volunteer or become a foster cat parent can be found at streetcatsclub.org. Partridge said that there will be merchandise available on the website soon. Any questions on how to help can be emailed to info@streetcatsclub.org.