Maddie Oscarson is no stranger to multi-tasking. The busy college student may be attending classes, working two jobs, and planning her wedding, but she still finds time to rescue outdoor cats around Minnesota. “Somehow I got sucked into cats,” says Maddie, who has been rescuing and fostering feral cats ever since she was a kid.
Now the busy student rescues cats with her fiancé, Travis. “I noticed how bad the cat problem was and how many stray cats were wandering around,” Maddie told Minnesota’s Hometownsource. “So we catch all the random strays that wander around.”
And the couple’s lifesaving work has assumed extra urgency as winter closes in.
Rather than trapping, spay/neutering, and releasing fixed feral cats back into their colonies (aka Trap-Neuter-Return), Maddie and Travis practice something closer to Trap-Neuter-Adopt.
13 more cats not having babies after this afternoon (2 not pictured)!
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After the rescued cat is humanely trapped and spay/neutered, Maddie places each cat with a foster family for one month.
If the rescued cat is friendly and socialized after his or her homestay, the student then helps them get adopted. But if the cat isn’t adjusting to family life, she finds a barn or store seeking a working cat instead.
“I’m super, super picky about the animals,” Maddie told the paper. “There’s a bigger issue of not having enough people wanting to adopt or foster cats in long-term committed homes… So, I’m super picky because I want to make sure that we always have the right fit for each cat.”
The college student also spends each fall building DIY shelters to keep outdoor cats safe and dry when winter arrives.
“Minnesota winters are insane,” she said. “We find [the cats] frozen to the ground. That’s where the shelters come in… A lot of them go to the colonies and homeowners.”
Usually, Maddie and Travis just make cat shelters on their own, but this year they enlisted volunteer help by hosting a shelter-building event in Becker, Minnesota. Fifteen volunteers helped converted old coolers, insulated dog houses, and sheds into 80 shelters for outdoor cats.
All of these winter cat shelters won’t build (or drive) themselves 🏘🚘If you’re looking for an opportunity to give back…
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“This is the first year we didn’t do it on our own,” said Maddie, who has required several weeks to build 50 shelters with Travis in past year. “It’s a big project for us. So, to make 80 in two days was pretty sweet.”
The event was such a success that Maddie hopes to harness volunteer labor build outdoor cat shelters moving forward. But even if building shelters isn’t your thing, the student believes everyone can help homeless animals.
“If one college girl with two jobs and planning a wedding can do this, I think everyone can do some little part,” Maddie told the paper. “I get that you don’t have to love [cats], but it is a problem everybody should care somewhat about. I’d just encourage people to fix their pets.”
You can help by supporting GreaterGood’s TNR efforts, making a donation to help fix and vaccinate feral cats, or by building your own DIY cat shelter. Find out how to convince feral cats to take shelter here! Let’s do our part to keep homeless animals safe this winter.