Felines find a few friends at farm

  • Sue Waldburger<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:46am

Folks associated with St. Hilda-St. Patrick Episcopal Church don’t take lightly the Biblical mandate to care for all God’s creatures.

Since last summer, the Edmonds church and a neighboring farm have partnered in a plan to salvage cats and kittens dumped on their semi-rural properties off 52nd Avenue W. in the Meadowdale area.

“As stewards of God’s earth, we are supposed to be helping these creatures,” said Desha Davis, a church parishioner and unrepentant softy when it comes to animals.

Cat dumping is nothing new to Dave and Janet Fairbank of Fairbank Hands-On Animal and Pumpkin Farm, a working farm that’s a popular field-trip destination in the fall for area schoolchildren. They’ve salvaged many cats over the 30 years they’ve operated the farm on which they raise pigs, ducks, chickens, geese and pumpkins.

Dave Fairbank figures about 20 felines currently roam his farm. Invisible by day, they appear at night with glowing eyes to gobble the 75 pounds of dry kibble it takes to feed them every month.

The church got involved when one of the pregnant farm cats wandered over to give birth to her litter, Davis recalled. She said she saw to it the furry family was fed, attracting the attention – and appetites – of more farm felines.

Davis said she took to the church priest, Father Peter Snow, what she termed “this crazy idea, but if it could work …” She won his approval to address what was, literally, a growing problem.

The result was a farm-cat ministry in which the church helps manage the Fairbank Farm cat population by arranging adoptions, surgical altering, “foster” care for recuperating cats and help with feeding. Purrfect Pals, a cats-only adoption organization, joined the effort by providing spaying-and-neutering services at discounted rates, Davis said.

So far, four cats have been altered with more to come as funds become available, she said, adding that she has a “rehab room” in her house for cats recuperating from the surgery. “I hope within a year we can have this colony stabilized” through altering and adoption, she said.

Summoning animal-control officers to take abandoned cats off their hands is not the preferred option for the partners. The Fairbanks, who formerly ran Lynnwood Petland, said they’d rather simply accommodate cats that work for room and board by helping control the farm’s mouse-and-rat population.

Precious, one of the Fairbanks’ own two farm cats, unwittingly aided the ministry by “mothering” a litter found in the chicken coop, Dave Fairbank said. She cleaned the newborn kittens and even nursed them when, inexplicably, “milk came in,” he recalled.

With hearts bigger than their disposable incomes, the felines’ rescuers welcome donations of dry cat food and money for veterinary services. Also welcome are families willing to adopt or provide interim foster care for abandoned cats.

Desha Davis and St. Hilda-St. Patrick Episcopal Church can be contacted at 425-743-4655 or through e-mail at office@sthildastpatrick.org.

“We’d prefer people didn’t drop any more cats off,” concluded Dave Fairbank, who, along with his wife and church neighbors, hope pet owners will take to heart the Proverb urging the righteous to care for their animals.

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