Jan Magnusson opened her door one day to find a kitten sitting on her door step.
The cat, now named Munchkin, had an eye infection and was in serious need of medical attention. Luckily, Munchkin had found its way to the right place. Indeed, it's not uncommon for cats to come under the care of Magnusson, the founder of Happy Strays Cat Rescue, a not-for-profit organization.
"We take in stray and abandoned cats, mostly kittens, that people don't want anymore. We provide medical care for the cats that need it, that's why we're a little bit short right now," said Magnusson, whose organization has facilitated 984 cat adoptions since its founding in 2006, including 185 this year.
Happy Strays is reaching out for community support after recently taking in two kittens with problems that racked up high medical bills. Munchkin's bill reached $800 and his eye eventually had to be removed. Another cat, named Tiny Tim, who was found in a wheel well of a truck with infections all over his body, ran up a $1,200 medical bill. The organization's spay-and-neuter clinic also just sent Magnusson a $1,200 bill for all the operations she's ordered this year.
"It'd be so nice to just write a check and pay all the bills off," Magnusson said. "Anything above and beyond the bills we already have goes straight into more medical care."
Once the cats receive the medical care they need, they are placed into one of 15 different foster homes in La Cañada, Pasadena or Tujunga.
Lexie Dreyfuss' La Cañada residence has served as one of those foster homes for four years.
"I feel better working for Happy Strays because I know I'm doing something that helps," said Lexie, a 13-year old La Cañada High student.
There are anywhere from five to 15 cats in her house at a given time, she said. Cats can stay in a foster home for as little as a week or as long as a year.
"We have about 50 or 60 kittens in our rescue now and we're getting calls daily to take in more," Lexie said.
Cats are prepared for adoption while staying in a Happy Stray's foster home. They are acclimated to living with people, dogs and other cats. The organization requests a donation of $100 to adopt a cat. The donation covers spaying or neutering, testing, flea treatment, deworming and the first year of shots for the adopted cat.
Every Saturday, Happy Stray's kittens are taken to the La Cañada Petco at 475 East Foothill Blvd. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for prospective adoptive families to see. People looking to adopt from Happy Strays are first screened.
"We do as much screening as we can. We want to make sure the kitties are going to be taken care of," Magnusson said.
For more information, visit Happy Strays website at http://www.happystrays.org. With Christmas and New Year's Day falling on the next two Saturdays, Happy Strays won't appear at Petco again until Jan. 8. Those looking to donate to the organization can send checks to Happy Strays Rescue, P.O. Box 12, La Cañada, Ca. 91012.