Photo submitted Sullivan A. Fitz-James presents one of three shelters to Feline Guardian Angles. Pictured front row, FGA’s Myra Lampkin, Barbara Hoef, Sue Harvey and Diane Schraff; back row, Troop 48’s Sullivan Fitz-James, FGA’s Kate Ludwig.
When faced with the need to come up with a community service project to fulfill a requirement for achieving the top Boy Scout rank of Eagle, Sullivan Fitz-James of Amsterdam Boy Scout Troop 48 thought of Feline Guardian Angels, an organization that had helped his family with a homeless cat situation.
After losing her home to Hurricane Irene, Fitz-James’ grandmother had temporary housing at a local trailer park. While at the park, she began acting as a caretaker for a homeless mother cat and her litter of kittens. Recognizing that this situation could soon result in an overpopulation of feral cats, Fitz-James’ family contacted FGA to assist in the capture, spaying, and neutering of the mother cat and kittens. Being that this cat family was not feral, Fitz-James’ family was able to find new homes for all of them.
Soon after this, FGA was faced with a situation of a large population of feral cats at an abandoned house. While adult feral cats usually cannot be domesticated, kittens, if found young enough, can be domesticated with the proper handling. Fitz-James’ family was contacted by FGA president Myra Lampkin to see if they could help by providing foster care to one of the numerous kittens.
The family agreed to foster and attempt to domesticate a calico kitten, warned that it would take a while to acclimate her to humans, and she should be handled with gloves to prevent scratches.
The kitten very quickly became domesticated and part of the family, and was adopted by them.
Several years later while working on his Eagle requirements, Fitz-James contacted Myra to see if they had any need that could be met with a community service project. Myra indicated that FGA had a need for shelters to use in areas where the feral cat population has been altered with their spay/neutering program, but the existing population required shelter from severe weather.
Sully came up with a design, built a prototype out of cardboard to be sure it would meet FGA’s requirements, fundraised for materials, and organized work parties with his Scout Troop (Troop 48) to build three shelters for FGA. Local businesses Home Depot, Passano Paints and Affordable Sheet Metal assisted with donations of materials and service.
The shelters were presented to FGA, and deployed by them with success this winter.