The Cat Network–Doing the Impossible in West Allis

by Ruth (Monty’s Mom)
(West Allis, Wisconsin)

Merlin the Miracle Cat

Merlin the Miracle Cat

Merlin the Miracle Cat

Dealing with the over population of cats, including the plight of feral cats, can seem like an insurmountable task. This is the story of a no-kill shelter which serves the needs of unwanted cats and seeks to find them forever homes. I'm posting this article under Feral Cats, because of the way this shelter has been able to do some great things for ferals.

I first discovered The Cat Network on a walk with my sister. We started to go by it every time we took a walk because we enjoyed looking at the cats through the windows. This was before I had Monty, and I wasn't ready to adopt a cat. I was frequently cat sitting for a friend and I wasn't sure how her elderly cat would react to another cat living in what he obviously considered his house. Since catching Monty and giving him a home, my little ex-feral cat has motivated me to get more involved helping other cats who are not as lucky as he has been. I donate to The Cat Network primarily because of the work they do with feral cats.

I once believed that any cat with no human contact before eight weeks of age could be very difficult to tame and any cat after twelve weeks without human contact was destined to forever remain wild, terrified of people. Before TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) became legal in my area a lot of cats were being killed simply because they were feral. It is assumed that any adult feral cat can never be someone's pet, so any older feral cat brought into animal control (or many animal shelters) was essentially under a death sentence, simply for the crime of being a wild animal.

There is a cat named Merlin living at The Cat Network who was brought in as a feral adult cat. Shelter volunteers state that there were warning signs on his cage, and you did not want to get too close! A truly feral cat is a formidable creature, and Merlin was no exception. His typical reaction, according to shelter workers, was to try to "shred you with his claws." But with time, food and love, Merlin is now completely adoptable. He's a docile, friendly cat. Looking at him you could never guess the hard start he had in life or even really picture what his reaction to humans used to be.
And Merlin isn't the only one. A big orange cat has a similar story. When I first met him he was sleeping on a carpet square on top of a cage. Again, one could never guess he was once an adult feral, as he contentedly allowed the volunteer to stroke him and scratch behind his ears. He was the picture of contentment, quite happy with his new situation in life.

This got me thinking about all the cats who have been killed because they supposedly could never have been anyone's pet. How many could have become like these cats, with a little time and patience?

Not every feral cat can be tamed. There was another adult feral brought in who had to be released after being altered and given needed medical care. The staff realized that that cat was not going to come around and the kindest act would be to make him part of the new TNR program and return him to his home.

It can be easy to despair and believe that there is no way to deal with the abundance of feral cats without killing some cats. The Cat Network proves that this is simply untrue. But we need more people who care, like the volunteers and donors who support this and other cat rescue organizations.

The Cat Network has no time limits on adoptions, and does not kill cats just because they are old, feral or difficult to adopt for some reason. If they can't find the cat a permanent family, he is welcome to live there for the rest of his life. The two feral cats mentioned above are not the only cats there who probably would have been killed at other shelters, even some who claim to be no-kill.

One cat I met has sensitivity near his tail from a previous serious flea infestation. He's a great cat unless you touch near his tail- then he'll try to bite you. He just needs to go to a home without kids, to adults who will be careful with him. How many other shelters would have given him that chance? The Cat Network realizes a cat doesn't deserve a death sentence just because he has a medical problem.

Another strength of this shelter is that they don't believe any cat should spend his whole life in a cage. The cats greet you when you come to the door, and visitors are encouraged to come and pet the cats. The result is some really well socialized cats who will make exceptional pets for people.

Sometimes cats have to be in cages temporarily because of medical issues (such as not being neutered yet) or because they don't get along well with the other cats, but efforts are made to give these cats time out of their cages as well, so no cat there is really living his whole life in a cage.

Some cats are fostered (cared for in the homes of volunteers) and this allows the shelter to serve even more cats, including cats who are in need of socialization, who are sick or pregnant. Since each cat is allowed to live at the shelter for as long as necessary, when a cat is adopted, not only is that cat saved, but the one who replaces him as well. I believe that "when you save a cat, you save a world", as Finn (a frequent contributor to this site) often says.

I want to continue to tell some more of the stories of those worlds saved at The Cat Network in future articles, but for now I will simply give their contact information in case any readers would like to learn more about their philosophy and mission or perhaps donate-- or if you live close by, take home a cat who will probably be the best animal companion you've ever had!

Personally, I think a cat with a great back story like Merlin's would be an awesome addition to any family-- a cat with a history and a past. He looks so wise in the picture I took, and I suppose that's because he is.

The Cat Network is located at 8121 West National Avenue in West Allis, WI. They can be found online at Petfinder - The Cat Network or contacted via email at or by phone at 414-297-9674.


The Cat Network--Doing the Impossible in West Allis to Feral Cats

Comments for
The Cat Network--Doing the Impossible in West Allis

Click here to add your own comments

May 03, 2012 Montes Mom (Ruth)
by: Catt Lady

What a nice write up on the Cat Network. We adopted two siblings from there, Felix aka Tucker and his brother Freddy aks bashful. They are wonderful healthy cats and bring us much joy. I do like to stop by the Cat Network when I can just to visit and drop off food. Lynette and her crew are angels for what they do.

Mar 08, 2012 Come see us!
by: Dancinpaws

Hi Ruth,

Just let us know so we all can meet some afternoon. Some of our volunteers that were negative are no longer with us. We have some great new volunteers. No, we are not connected with the resale shop. I believe that is another rescue group.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Mar 07, 2012 To Dancinpaws
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I'll contact you as soon as I know what my schedule is for next week. I do live close by and I even have a little cash set aside I've been meaning to bring over for the cats! I'd like to do a story on Monty's real mom and her latest and last litter. Maybe I could interview her (the cat) and write from her point of view.

I think you may have a problem with a burned out volunteer. I understand the burn out. However, I worked in an office one summer where I was taught by the owner of the company never to say no to a customer. Find a way to say yes, even if you have to refer them to someone else, or offer them an alternative, whatever, but don't just shut them down by saying "No" outright. I think the volunteer I spoke to could have provided help in writing the article; an invite to come by during normal hours, an offer of a pamphlet containing info about the rescue. I felt really shut down by her response saying the article was not needed. It seemed really odd, and actually, because of her response I've been a little skittish about coming around. I felt that it was better that I just stay away, because if I come over there I'm going to see a cat I want to write about.

Now that I know you actually want me around, I'd love to help with positive publicity. I'm thinking I'd like to try to write a song about one of the cats. If you look under the "Cat Sounds" tab on this website you can find my song about Simon, Able Seacat. I can burn CD's that you could sell at the shelter. Does that thrift store over on 68th and Lincoln benefit your shelter too? I could put Simon's song on the CD, my song about Herman the Police Dog (from West Allis) and I have a few general songs about animals from Wisconsin like turtles, frogs, etc... I could add to those with some songs about your cats specifically. The CD's cost practically nothing to make so I can donate as many as you need. People could adopt a cat who has his own song.

I think sometimes when I have really creative ideas people get freaked out. Try to stay open to the fact that I can do this and it will be really cool. Listen to Simon's song and give it some thought.

Mar 06, 2012 Come visit us, Ruth!
by: Dancinpaws

Hi Ruth, Glad to hear from you. We would like to invite you to visit us. Lynette and I would like to make an appointment to meet you at the center. Maybe some afternoon when we are not open, so there are no interruptions. We will give you a tour and you can meet our adoptees. That way you will know who Lynette and I are. In the past, some volunteers have taken it upon themselves to make decisions that only Lynette should make. Looking forward to meeting you. Let us know what is convient for you.


Mar 01, 2012 To: Dancin Cat
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I can't remember exactly who I talked to-- at the time I assumed I had contacted the actual owner of the shelter, because that is who I had requested the interview of via e-mail. I know things were a little overwhelming at the time with an outbreak of ringworm. By the time I talked to whoever I talked to it was already under control, but between treating cats, throwing out cat furniture, and cleaning I'm sure you were all exhausted. But whoever it was did not say, "This isn't a good time, can we do it later?" Whoever it was (a woman) said you were written up recently in one of the smaller local papers recently and that was enough, because she didn't see how another write up would help. I think I mentioned the possibility of donations from the creator of the site as well as possibly from readers, but the reaction to my proposed article was still not enthusiastic. I really had wanted to do a featured cat article from the Cat Network, like maybe once a month or so on PoC, but I just felt like it wasn't wanted. I'd already promised Michael a story so I did this one and one other anyway. I knew he'd probably send a donation after seeing the incredible work you do, so I figured the good outweighed the bad, but honestly I felt a little guilty and sneaky even to write this article.

I do suggest your shelter to anyone who even remotely suggests they are looking to adopt a cat. You have my cat's birth mom there with a different litter of black cats. I know it's her because I saw her around when she had Monty's litter under my porch and all her kittens look and sound exactly like him. I paid to have her spayed.

I certainly don't believe the rumors-- they are too at odds with what I've seen. But someone representing The Cat Network did turn down free publicity just because it wasn't to a strictly local audience. I donate to a shelter for cats in South Carolina because of what I've read about it on this site and through Facebook! When people start to really enjoy reading about a place that helps cats they want to give money to support it. I start to feel guilty reading so many great stories about the cats that I feel I ought to pay for my enjoyment of reading about them at least!

This is what I wanted to do for The Cat Network. I still believe that others who enjoy the stories will start to want to help, even if they aren't local.

Mar 01, 2012 Rumors Not True Ruth
by: Dancinpaws

Hi Ruth,

Would you please contact me at I don't know who you talked to, but it wasn't Lynette. She would be more that happy to give you an interview just to stop the rumors. We are up and running and have "fur orphans" looking for new homes.

Cat Lover

Mar 01, 2012 Ruth Please contact me from Cat Network
by: Dancin Cat

Greetings Ruth, I would like to contact you as Lynette and I can't figure out who you are as she was not the one who turned you down for an interview. We love positive publicity. The rumors are NO TRUE. Someone is spreading them to hurt us. Our goal is to find new homes for our "fur orphans". We still have Merlin and more. We have remodeled our adoption center and have worked very hard to make it a warm and confortable sactuary for homeless cats. My email is
Looking forward to hearing from you so we can set facts straight.

Feb 24, 2012 Rumors
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

People who try to help cats, and especially feral cats, are often hated. I don't know about cats not being tested for diseases, but some are quarantined at times. The shelter is always clean, the cats seem healthy to me. I know that a fire at a shelter in Kenosha last year caused rescues up here to be stretched to capacity to take in the surviving cats. I highly doubt she has 100 cats, but the rumor might have started after that fire as I think I heard the director of this shelter took in some of those cats.

I will say this: the director of The Cat Network would not give me an interview. I wrote this article based on conversations with volunteers and my own observations. I offered free publicity and told her that PoC would very likely send a contribution to her (Michael did, in fact) but she said they'd been written up in the local shopper stopper type paper and that was good enough. She made me feel bad to even be asking to write about the shelter. I don't think she wanted this article written. Too bad. We have freedom of speech and I knew positive publicity could only help the cats. But a person who would make someone trying to help feel bad is likely to give herself some enemies needlessly. This in no way negates the great things she does for cats, but you need people skills, and not everybody has them. I think the rumors are false, but she probably ticked the wrong person off. Between the cat haters and alienating those who just want to help, things are probably being made more difficult than they need to be. I'm sure it's lonely helping animals, with so much to be done and money, time and allies being scarce. I think it would be easy to become bitter. Sad, because that doesn't help the situation.

Feb 23, 2012 Not always great
by: Anonymous

I was recently at en event where I heard talk that this group and their leadership were in trouble with the city. I heard talk of the director having over 100 cats in her own home. No one person can care for that many cats. It is hard to say no, but it is not good for any of the cats if there are too many. I have also heard that the cats are not tested and FeLuk & FIV positive cats are allowed to roam freely together.

Feb 22, 2012 comments

Cat Network has always been a big help to our group They have taken cats that may have otherwised been euthanized.
Lynette is very helpful and giving.

May 27, 2011 adopted two cats from the shelter
by: Pat

I also adopted cats from the shelter and was impressed by the enviroment. It was nice to see so many cats out of cages in a warm safe place with lots of food and water. When I walked in I was greeted by so many cats that needed a nice home it was hard to pick just two! The Cat Network is a nice temporary home for cats until they get adopted, I was lucky to find it!

Oct 15, 2010 Merlin
by: Michael

Merline looks adorable to me. If I was in West Allis and was in a position to adopt a third cat, I'd choose him!

Michael Avatar

Oct 15, 2010 great place
by: kathy

This sounds like a great place. Out little feral cat is not getting any tamer. I got sort of close to him the other night and he started hissing at me. At least now he trusts my neighbor Bill to feed him also. He does not trust anyone. It took me a year to get him to come and eat. It took him about 6 months before he would eat Bills food. But now that he does I wont have to worry about him being hungry. Everytime Bill sees him he brings him food. No one knows Mr Greys story.

Oct 14, 2010 Wonderful Shelter
by: Ruth

That's a wonderful Shelter Ruth, it sounds very like our local one where animals aren't confined any more than necessary.
Sometimes cats called feral are not actually feral but have been badly abused and abandoned and totally lost their trust in people.
I don't think any cat should be written off as unadoptable. We had one we trapped a few years back for CP, so vicious and mad we called her 'Psycho Cat' We couldn't return her after spaying as the people whose garden she was in with her kittens threatened to poison her.
It took a while but just sitting with her talking softly and singing to her and she ended up in a good home, as did all her kittens.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Oct 13, 2010 Hi
by: Ruth

I love this rescue center. I like the way the cats can look out the window and behave normally. Above all I like that it is a genuine no kill shelter. Thank you for bring it to PoC and sharing. I changed the title because "The Cat Network" is a keyword so I put it in the title.

Michael Avatar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.