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As most of you know, we announced early in 2015 that we would be downsizing due to our own age and medical problems. This meant taking in fewer cats. We’ve held to that goal pretty well in 2015 and although we’ve only taken in 54 new cats and kittens and had 14 cats returned, our adoptions have only equaled our intake at 69. We still have 62 in our care as of November 15, 2015. A lot of our remaining cats are older or have special needs and many shelters would probably consider them unadoptable. Our cats stay with us for their lifetime and while some of them have “issues” others just get passed over for one reason or another. Even though shelter life is not what we hope for our cats, they are safe here until that special person or family comes along that sees the good in them and takes a chance to give them a better life.

We still have Hurley Garcia, a diabetic cat that was returned after 5 years and was put in foster care. He is on insulin and special dietary food but we have found another source for insulin that saves us quite a bit. The prescription food, however, has gone up in price. Pizza, our heart patient is still doing well and her medication is very affordable (under $10 for 4 months) but her yearly cardiologist visit is around $300. Our oldest cat, Ria, that we think is at least 18-20 years old, lost her brother Ira in 2014 and has been with us for more than 10 years. She’s on thyroid medication and prednisone but according to her latest bloodwork her medication was doing its job. She still seems happy, eats regular food, and once in a while even plays with her toys. Her two male roommates, Bob and Al, cuddle with her and she seems to like having them to keep her company.

As the cats age, they require more in the way of vet visits, bloodwork, and usually medication, surgery, or special diets. We have had quite a few cats with stomatitis which is a chronic and painful inflammation of the mouth that ultimately requires the extraction of most, if not all, of their teeth. Once they get rid of the teeth, the cats usually do fine.


Donors are the lifeblood of organizations like ours and although we can’t help all the people who call us, we truly believe that we shouldn’t take in animals if we are unable to care for them properly. We try not to ask you for donations too often but usually twice a year it becomes necessary for us to ask for help. We do not receive any state, federal, or county/city funding and instead depend on the generosity of the public.

Not many of our normal expenses decrease but we have been able to keep up with our bills and things we need to keep the cats well and the shelter running smoothly. As is the case every year, as 2015 draws to a close, the bank account reaches the critical stage and we depend on your continued support to help us make it to the next fundraising milestone which is Cat Tales that will be held on Friday, April 8, 2016.

Normal expenses for our cats remain necessary and steady. All of our cats are tested for leukemia and FIV, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped prior to adoption. They are all dewormed and treated for parasites including flea control. We buy our own vaccinations (except for rabies), microchips, and leuk/aids tests under company shelter programs but even with discounts, our adoption fees sometimes don’t cover our expenses. Occasionally, we take in cats or kittens that need extra care including bloodwork, dental work, or conditions that require special testing, treatment, or surgery. And don’t forget food, litter, utilities, telephone, internet access, insurance, license fees, building maintenance, and fuel for the shelter van. As the cats get older, their medical needs increase as do our vet expenses to give them a good quality of life knowing that many of them will be with us for the rest of their lives.

In a year’s time we make several trips to either the Huntsville or Decatur emergency clinic (usually on a holiday) and occasionally we need to use a specialist for non-routine treatment or surgery. As some of you may know, that’s not cheap.

It all adds up. So if you can spare anything this holiday season, we would greatly appreciate your help to allow us to continue to provide a good quality of life for the cats in our care.
Thank you to Dr. Wendy Rosenbek and her staff in Ardmore, TN and Dr. Michelle Ashman of Doorstep DVM who provide excellent care to our new cats as well as continuing care while the cats are with us.


We appreciate our volunteers but every so often a relocation or job or family commitment requires that they must leave us. Some of our volunteers have been with us for many years and even though we understand, we always hate to see them go.

We currently need a volunteer(s) at the shelter in Toney on Saturday morning – requires 2+ hours per week. Mornings are when we do our vacuuming and mopping, in addition to the regular twice daily scooping of litter boxes and replenishing food and water. It’s helpful but not required that you be able to lift 10-25 pounds.

We sometimes have an open spot (morning or evening) at Petsmart on University Drive to take care of the cats there so we would love to hear from you if you’re interested. You can email the shelter at challengershouse@mchsi.com, call the shelter at 256-420-5995, or go by Petsmart to pick up an application during adoption times.

Fostering can be very rewarding. Different circumstances require different commitments both in time and effort. Thanks to all of you who have in the past or are currently fostering. Please call or email the shelter if you’re interested in providing a temporary home for a cat or kittens. A home visit is required.


If you would rather provide supplies, we can always use the following:
• Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels
• Fancy Feast Classic (ground) canned food (fish or fowl please; most of them don’t like liver or beef very well)
• Liquid laundry detergent – any brand
• Scoopable cat litter: Nature’s Miracle Natural Care, Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal Lightweight, Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural, Tidy Cats Pure Natural, Tidy Cats Glade
• Force-Flex tall kitchen bags
• Advantage, Frontline, or Revolution flea control; Profender dewormer


Contributions accepted as follows:
• By mail: send checks to: 112 Tristian Rd., Toney, AL 35773
• By phone (MC/VISA): 256-420-5995
• At Petsmart during adoption times by MC/VISA, check, or cash
• Through Paypal (use your own account, our Facebook page, or go to challengershouse.petfinder.com)


Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/challengershouseofficial and share with your friends – This is where we post adoption news, fundraisers/events, and general information. It’s a public page so you shouldn’t need to sign up for a Facebook account in order to see it. Thanks to Lisa McDowell for maintaining the site and to Teresa Franks, Robyn Anderson, Ashley Marini, and others for providing photos and videos.

Shelter hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11-5 by appointment only. Closed Sunday, Monday and holidays.

Petsmart (University Drive) adoption hours: Tuesdays and Thursday 6-8:00pm; Saturday 11-4.

We value your support and hope you have a great Christmas and holiday season. Feel free to share this letter with your friends, coworkers, and family.


Sherry Carleton and Susan Burlingame, Co-founders


Here are a couple of other ways to help Challenger’s House:

* Shop Rescue Jewels on Etsy between now and Monday (November 30th) evening, note Challenger’s House in the comments section of your purchase, and 25% of your purchase will go to Challenger’s House.

* As you’re doing your Holiday shopping on Amazon, shop through Amazon Smile, to benefit Challenger’s House. If you haven’t already, go to this link and search for and select “Challenger’s House”. It does NOT change your cost for shopping on Amazon, but it DOES send a charitable donation Challenger’s House. Each time you log on to Amazon in the future, it will then likely ask you or remind you, to switch to the Amazon Smile link as your starting point.


Outtakes from the Stefan turkey-hat pics earlier this week.

“I’m a turkey!”


::smug contemplation::


2014: 148 people* emailed, commented, messaged, and smoke signaled me to let me know that JETHRO TULL IS NOT A ONE-HIT WONDER BAND.
2013: How do you like it NOW, Jake?!
2012: “This holiday season, it is very important to keep your teeth flossed. I like to use this hanging stringy-rope thing which hangs here all handy like.”
2011: Sugarbutt put up a leg to block the snuggle…
2010: No entry.
2009: “I will kick your fuzzy gray butt.”
2008: I hope they don’t forget me.
2007: No entry.
2006: “The stinkin’ little kittens are GONE! Woohoo!!!”
2005: No entry.



11-28-15 — 15 Comments

  1. I’m glad you suggested Amazon Smile, you beat me to it. I just changed mine to Challenger’s House about 2 months ago. ( I was supporting my local SPCA, but figured my donations would go further there in Alabama). I finally just put a button on my tool bar to go to smile.amazon I have to remember to go there, because I don’t get there by following a link in an email or search results. I think there is an extension for Firefox (maybe Chrome?) that should automatically convert any amazon link to smile.amazon but I never got it to work.

    • I also set it so that the Amazon bookmark on my bookmark bar is set to Amazon Smile – on the rare occasion that I type the amazon.com url directly in, Amazon will remind me, most times, that I meant to go to Amazon Smile. Which is really nice of them, I think!

  2. Robyn, you made me fall off my chair laughing at today’s “Previously.” I think I was probably one of the Jethro Tull fans who let you know how wrong you were! 😀

    And, thanks for the Amazon Smile info. I changed my charity to Challenger’s House for now.

    • And our Jethro Tull thanks you for clearing up the confusion. He often hums “Bungle in the Jungle” as he leaps his 17 pound body into my ferns!

      • OMG, you have a cat named Jethro Tull? One of the many reasons I love their music is that lead singer Ian Anderson loves cats, and many of their songs (as well as his solo work) mention or are about cats.

        • Bonnie’s Jethro Tull is actually the kitten Jethro Tull mentioned in last year’s post – she and Marc adopted Jethro Tull and Thunderclap Newman, who made the journey to Oregon via plane (and a wonderful friend of Challenger’s House who happened to be heading home from Alabama at just the right time) to get to them. 🙂

  3. Robyn, thank you for posting this! It’s always hard for organizations to ask for money, but it’s good for us readers to know when help is needed.

    Besides my local spay/neuter clinic, I tend to support organizations that bring kitty joy into my life. Tinykittens in British Columbia is one organization, with live streaming kittens from birth to adoption. You are one of the other main sites I consider a “must read” each day. I love the way you write and the photos of the cats and kittens are amazing.

    I consider the joy I get from your posts something worth paying for! I’ve made a donation to Challengers House. I challenge everyone who reads this to make a donation – large or small, it will all add up!

    I’m so glad you are doing better physically. And while I look forward to kittens…take care of yourself and your crew first.

    My seven furry freeloaders approve this message…given how hard it has been to write around furry bodies wanting petting. 🙂

  4. Lovely reminder of all that Challenger’s House does, and its volunteers. I made a small donation. Thanks Robyn.

  5. Kalynnda’s challenge (above) and especially her saying “I consider the joy I get from your posts something worth paying for!” prompted me to do some calculations. I thought, “Surely getting Robyn’s posts almost every single day is worth at least 5 cents per day, so what does that come to for a year?” I was surprised — just $18.25. Since there aren’t L&H posts every single day, rounding down to $15 seemed fair.

    So I add to Kalynnda’s challenge by suggesting that everyone who agrees with her consider making a minimum $15 donation.

    Just fyi, I did some further calculations and discovered that dividing a $100 donation by the approximate number of posts in a year would result in about 30 cents per post. Still a really good deal, I think. Certainly the laughs, the community, what I’ve learned here and, on a lot of days, having something to look forward to is worth way more than 30 cents! I’m heading over to make my donation now…

  6. Have you considered a service like Patreon to help defray costs? Readers can choose a level they want to support and it’s a steady stream. It might be worth looking into.

    Off to make a donation now…