Brian’s Home is a popular blog hosted by mancat Brian that promotes adoption by always signing off with “Adopt cats, we deserve it!” That’s definitely a blog that’s right up our alley! But, do you know the human behind Brian’s Home? If not, prepare to meet Terry Frum today!
This coming weekend on October 16th, cat lovers everywhere will be taking part in and promoting National Feral Cat Day, a day to raise awareness about community cats, often referred to as feral cats. While we will have more on National Feral Cat Day later, I thought it was appropriate this week to highlight people who do their part to help feral cats.
Enter Terry – who has been working with community cats since 1999. While Terry primarily works with feral cats in the greater Greenville area and upstate South Carolina, he has been involved in rehoming cats and kittens throughout the entire country.
Before we meet Terry, want to know something fun(ny)? Sometimes when fellow bloggers meet Terry in person, they call him Brian. Something Terry considers to be a compliment. I wonder how Brian feels about that…
A Conversation with
How did you get into working with feral cats?
When we moved to South Carolina, we came with two fairly large dogs and one calico cat. As you can imagine, with two large dogs with access to the yard we didn’t see any feral cats. Unfortunately, our two dogs died seven months apart in late 1998 and early 1999, and it wasn’t too long after that when I first noticed a feral tomcat in the backyard. It was obvious he was a tomcat, and he was a big bruiser, too. That same cat is still around, amazingly old for a feral, and now he moves quite slowly. We don’t see him often these days, but we do still see him every couple of weeks.
I didn’t think much of it at the time and I put some dry food out for him. Not too long after that, we had a call from a friend in our neighborhood. They were looking to rehome their orange tabby cat, Moses. It wasn’t because they didn’t love him; it was because they recently had a baby and Moses wasn’t adjusting well at all to having a baby, and baby noises in the house. The noise had him stressed out beyond belief. I went to visit Moses and we got along wonderfully, and the next week Moses came to live with us.
Our calico cat Beth was not a fan of others but she tolerated Moses. Beth died of cancer and that left Moses as our only kitty. The following year, there was a horrible ice storm in our region and Charlotte, North Carolina was hit particularly hard. Another neighbor happened to be in downtown Charlotte and found, on the sidewalk, in freezing rain, a super young kitten. She scooped it up and brought it home with her, not only to keep it safe but to search for a home for the little guy. Her husband was extremely allergic to cats, so he was kept in an upstairs bedroom all by himself for several months. That’s no life for a kitten. Neighbors tend to talk and the neighbor with the kitten soon learned that we had adopted Moses. Yes, as soon as we saw the young guy, we knew he was meant to be with us. Moses seemed fine, but somewhat lonely, so Ivan came to live with us. Ivan, according to our vet, was a pure Maine Coon, and until that time we had never heard of that breed. Moses and Ivan formed a special bond and were fast friends.
None of us knew, but Moses had a serious heart defect. And once it was discovered, it was too late. When Moses died, Ivan was heartbroken in a very serious way. It was obvious that Ivan wanted a pal, so we started looking for the right fit. Yes, you may have guessed, but that proper fit was Brian.
When I brought Brian home, the friendship was instantaneous. The introductory period was less than two minutes and a friendship was formed – you’ve never seen two happier cats. Brian had been overlooked at the shelter for nine months and was longing for love and a home, and of course Ivan was equally longing for a pal.
All the while, I had been blogging about Moses and Ivan, then Ivan and Brian. My first two blogs were hijacked, and I had no choice but to delete them. Ivan, bless his soul, let out a scream in the middle of the night and was gone in less than five minutes. Brian was devastated, as was I, and that evening still haunts me. Brian was so very lonely and it wasn’t too long before we adopted Sascha, then Gracie and Zoe together, then Dolly (our social media rescue), then Precious, then Kit. All rescues, most with a feral start to life. Brian immediately accepted every new sister with open paws. Brian had also adopted the blog, and the mission was to show everyone the importance of adoption.
The tagline on our blog is “Adopt Cats, We Deserve It” – and I felt it was time to actually walk the walk, not just talk. In the meantime, our feral group had grown from one to several, and it was obvious I needed to learn more about helping them besides just providing them with food.
At about that same time, I started helping a local lady who was dealing with a feral cat colony in a local trailer part. This same kind lady was instrumental in rescuing our Dolly and Precious. I had never heard of TNR (trap-neuter-return), but we ended up trapping 50+ cats and kittens from the most horrible trailer park in the world. The residents would try to run over the cats for fun. All, yes, all were rehomed or taken to safe havens after being spayed or neutered. I just couldn’t believe there were so many needing so much help.
We later moved on to another huge colony of ferals adjacent to a shopping mall and along a busy highway. We were able to trap 43, and after their spay/neuter, the kittens went to a local rescue. Some were transported to rescues up north, and the adults were relocated and became part of a barn buddy program.
All the while, there was feeding that had to be done, twice each day, every day. This process has unfortunately repeated itself throughout the years. Most recently, we’ve been working a horrible hoarding situation with 70+ dogs and 20+ cats and kittens.
So, I became involved in helping these helpless critters before I even realized how deeply I was committed. Our own feral colony now consists of seventeen, ten of which have been trapped, spayed or neutered and brought back home. The others are a work in progress.
Does anyone else in the community help you?
I work a lot with Kitten Action Team mostly because I have adopted four of their cats and they were the first group I became familiar with here. I’ve also worked in placing hard-to-place cats for Concerned Citizens for Animals. There are several dedicated individuals I work with on a regular basis as well as our vet, who cares for so many at her own expense.
I want to give a special shout out to Cheri (Cats of Wildcat Woods), who you recently featured. Cheri was able to get several kittens placed with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, North Carolina and was able to find a home for two adult ferals who really just needed an opportunity to live and to learn to trust again.
Can you describe what you do for community cats?
With our feral family we provide three meals each day, most have been successful graduates of TNR, and the remaining will graduate soon, they just don’t know it yet. Many we have trapped have gone on to rescues and were later adopted. Most recently two young kittens from kitten season this year were adopted together.
We’ve had several adult cats that were obviously abandoned that we were able to place almost immediately.
About how many cats do you think you’ve helped?
When I started this journey I thought it would be a great idea to keep track of each individual cat we tried to help, both locally and nationwide. I soon discovered what a daunting task this was since literally hundreds of cats and kittens ended up being transported to other shelters. I gave up on this bright idea about six years ago with the last number on my spreadsheet being 512.
What is the best part about helping community cats?
The easy and obvious answer is seeing that you are making their lives a little bit easier. I can tell you that for me there is nothing better than when the feral cats run towards you instead of away from you.
How do you cover expenses?
We take care of all of the feeding expenses for our feral family. When we TNR, the spay and neuter expenses are usually funded by the local rescues we work with on a regular basis, plus our extra special vet often provides initial healthcare for them at very kind and compassionate rates. Often there are extraordinary medical needs and, thanks to a wonderful social network, I’ve been able to raise the funds via YouCaring.com, and I am a YouCaring.com Ambassador.
Is there a rescued cat that stands out in your mind?
Long time readers of our blog will likely remember everyone coming together to help sweet Bootsie. Poor Bootsie was abandoned in 2015 when his owners packed up and pulled away with a U-Haul. There was poor Bootsie, sitting in the driveway for weeks until new people moved in. Bootsie’s owners never treated him for ear mites he got a year earlier. A hematoma and horrible scar tissue rendered him with constant pain and scratching. The ear canal, which is bent normally, was so thin that no medicine could get in to bring him relief. Vets told us his eardrum might rupture and would be excruciatingly painful.
We were able to rally the troops, our blog and social network followers, to raise funds to get Bootsie the surgery he needed. So many people assisted with donations and online auctions to raise the funds. Fortunately, an alternate treatment was identified and the fundraising community opted to use the funds for that treatment, which thankfully worked.
We were also trying to find a home for Bootsie, but it was next to impossible with his medical history. Bootsie was, and still is, a kind, gentle and loving soul. He was being fostered by one of our rescue partners.
After clearing the ear hurdle, sweet Bootsie developed cancer on and inside his nose. Again, the troops rallied with funds for surgery, which was done at the University of Georgia in Athens. Bootsie had a successful surgery and is still doing fine. He was officially adopted by his caretaker, who had been with him since he was abandoned.
Is there anything else we should know about what you do?
We don’t operate a shelter and with seven inside cats, we can’t foster. We’re constantly asked the “can you take my cat” question, and we cannot. We will try to help if we can, but aren’t overly sympathetic with some of the excuses we hear why someone cannot keep their family member.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
Back in the day, as they famously say, I was an accomplished musician and never met a musical instrument I couldn’t play. Those were the days!
A big thank you to Terry for sharing with us his experience in working with feral cats. Terry’s personal mission statement is to always encourage everyone to rescue, adopt, love and repeat! That sounds like a pretty great mission to me! You can connect with Terry via Brian’s Blog.
Do you work with community cats or know someone who does? Contact us to let us know!