Interview with Dena Hugh, Fabulous Feline Foster

Dena Hugh holding a bi-color cat in her arms

Q: How long have you volunteered with Furry Friends?

A: Since December 2015.

Q: How did you get involved with Furry Friends?

A: While I’ve taken in many strays and other animals who have lost their way, I’ve always wanted to do more. I live alone in a three-bedroom house, and with no one to say I couldn’t, I converted one of the bedrooms into “The Kitten Room.”

Q: What is your function at Furry Friends?

A: I’m a foster home. When kitties coming in can’t live at the Halfway House, mine is one of the homes they go to. I mainly foster kittens, pregnant cats and moms with babies. To date, I’ve fostered 74 cats/kittens with Furry Friends and 30 with a previous organization for a total of 104 cats/kittens.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge as a foster?

Dena with cats Charlie, Cosmo, and Brandy

Dena had to gown up three times a day to take care of the kittens while they were fighting ringworm.

A: Taking care of the 10 Cowlitz Kittens rescued from a hoarding situation in Cowlitz County in June. They were suffering from flea infestations and eye infections, persistent upper respiratory infections and, worst of all, ringworm, which is extremely contagious and difficult to treat. Two of them were even missing one of their eyeballs! The smallest kitten weighed 12 ounces, and the largest weighed 3 pounds.

I provided them with round the clock care, especially at the beginning, administering antibiotics, syringe feeding them and keeping them hydrated. And while it’s been challenging, it’s also been rewarding as they’ve fought their way towards good health and the chance to live the happiest of lives.

I usually spend between two and three hours a day in their room, always gowning up first to avoid the spread of ringworm through my house and life, to give them their special, medicated baths – which they thoroughly dislike — trim their nails, and provide them with food and water. On “cleaning” day, they spend several hours in my bathroom while I bleach and sanitize their entire room. Then there have been the many vet appointments, various tests and adjustments to their medications.

I marvel daily at the fact that after five months, they’ve not only survived, they’ve put on the weight they needed, they’re thriving, and they’re now behaving like normal, healthy and playful kittens. The two with the missing eyeballs are scheduled for surgery to cleanse and permanently stitch the

Dena medicating Bandit

Dena also had to medicate the kittens. She spent 20 hours a week taking care of their needs.

lids over their empty sockets closed. And it won’t be long before all of them receive their two rounds of requisite vaccinations, get spayed and neutered, micro-chipped and, last but certainly not least, put up for adoption!

Click Here to view a video about Dena and the Cowlitz Kittens

Q: What is your favorite part about volunteering for Furry Friends?

A: The knowledge that I’m making a difference in the lives of so many helpless and needy kitties. It’s also reinforced by the fact that I’m Face Book friends with several adopters and have the chance to watch “my babies” grow up.

Q: Do you have any pets of your own?

A: Yes, I have five cats as well as two permanent foster cats who both have heart conditions, making them unadoptable.

Q: What have been your proudest moments as a volunteer?

A: That’s easy. Caring for and seeing the Cowlitz Kittens survive and thrive, and caring for Mini, one of my “heart patients”, who, despite being given a life expectancy of six to twelve months, has just passed her second birthday, and shows no signs of slowing down!

Dena Hugh on a hiking trail, smilingQ: Why do you give back the way you do?

A: I can, so why wouldn’t I? Animals give us the most unconditional kind of love. They don’t deserve to live on the streets when they have so much love inside them.

Q: What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about?

A: I wish more people would contact rescues whenever they see strays rather than thinking it’s someone else’s problem.

Q: Do you have a job outside of Furry Friends? If so, what do you do?

A: I’m a Pure Romance consultant, selling mainly bath and beauty products at evening parties at people’s homes.

Q: May I ask if you have any hidden talents, hobbies or interests?

A: I really enjoy outdoors activities, mostly hiking and kayaking. I’ve gone on a few three-day backpacking trips, but I generally stick to day hikes. I recently kayaked during a visit to the San Juan Islands and plan to do so again soon.

Q: Do you also volunteer for any other organizations? If so, what are they and what do you do?

A: I have no time available for any other organizations. LOL.

Posted in Latest Mews.

Diane Stevens