get closer to my heart - farmers' cats and their humans
Changing the attitude of farmers towards their cats and arouse their awareness of the mutual positive power of the cat–human bond
old farm cat, found on the road close to the farm - the owners refused to take care of him any more
farm kitten, hurt after having been abandoned
sick farm cat in my clinic, brought there by someone else, as the owners refused taking her to a Vet
cat close to a farm, owners also refused to take her to a Vet
the old sick farm cat - longing for human attention
some of our clients enjoying animal assisted therapy with cats
a lot of happiness given by a cat to this client. All of our clients really appreciate our free offer to spend some time with our cats (and dogs).
the lady in the wheel chair is one of our clients, who see us regularly to be with our pets and enjoy their attention. This old, sick farm cat demonstrates, how people can benefit from their bond to these kind of animals - this is going to lead to a new attitude towards cats in the rural regions.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Yes, I’m eligible
Yes, I’m 18 years old or older
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
3342 Opponitz, Strubb 19, Austria
Where are you making a difference?
Austria, Lower Austria - south - western region
Website or social media url(s)
Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
It was not really a certain "Aha" moment, but a lot of more than 20 years' experiience as a Vet in the countryside of Lower Austria, only working with small animals. It did not take very long to find out, that there is a big difference - in the attitude of people towards their pets - between dogs and cats. Especially farmers' cats are only regarded to keep mice away and sometimes being a toy for children. They are not regarded as precious creatures for whom people are not willing to spend any money. . So I decided to found an association to foster medical care and neutering for cats one the one side - and additionally I decided to offer animals assisted interventions with cats to demonstrate, that they are able to enrich people's lives.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
There are several facts about farmers’ cats, which I would like to change sustainably:
1. Farmers' cats are not neutered and have lots of unwanted kitten
2. They are nourished by milk (and mice), rarely they get appropriate food
3. Medical care is not provided, most of these cats have never been treated against parasites, so they very often show flea and mites.
4. Farmers usually keep their cats outside the houses - poor human- animal bond
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
There are two simultaneosly constantly offered activities:
1. Improvement of the living conditions of farm cats by offering neutering of cats, medical care and guidance of the farmer to very low prices by our association. We encourage farmers to have their cats neutered and treated against parasites and as costs are their main reason of refusing this care we cover them mostly. In addition we inform and support them about good practice of keeping cats, including how to feed them correctly and to prevent diseases. Farmers usually are very interested and appreciate this kind of assistance - as long as they don't have high costs. So we advertise in social media, on our website and by distributing folders our offers of low cost neuterings and other medical interventions.
2. offers of animals assisted interventions with cats in our home: 5 cats are there to be visited by people who need special care, mostly young traumatized and socially disadvantaged children. Also farmers' kids can make the experience of the positive impacts of interactions with cats. By the way they learn, how to care of cats and they discover that this means a huge enrichment of their lives.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
the innovation of this project ist that it is targetting at a special group of petowners - the farmers - whose cats represent a high number of animals, who are able to contribute much more to their peoples lives than catching mice. These cats might enhance the well-being of humans as much as all pets can do - as long as people allow them to approach their lives. Our method is not to criticize the farmers and complain about their lack of responsibiliy for their cats, but to support them by reducing the costs for medical treatment and to demonstrate how they could improve their own lives as well as the lives of their cats, too. It is a new attempt to bring farmers and cats closer together for the benefit of both.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
Our project should help to promote awareness of responsibility and empathy for other living beings. Respect for the needs of each individual is also the basis for peaceful coexistence between people, characterised by tolerance and appreciation. This issue is particularly important in rural areas, where developments in this direction are going more slowly than in the cities. We want to help farmers to learn to appreciate their cats, which in turn should also increase the awareness of the needs of other people.
Farm cats are an enormous resource of pets, who live quite close to humans but they are not regarded as pets by their owners. By the change of this attitude and the arouse of a new awareness of this group of people concerning their cats, much more people will be able to enrich their lives. My plan is to continue and not to give up convincing people of all the positive outcomes of pet - human interactions. And not only talking to the people but giving them concrete offers of support is accepted very well and appreceated a lot.
So our project is considered to be a contribution to the human - pet bond in particular, but also to the general attitude towards living beings.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
In the year 2003 I gave questionnaires to the cat owners who visited my clinic in order to find out the difference between the living conditions of farm cats and others. The results encouraged me to found a project to support farmers and to influence their attitude towards their cats. New questionnaires show, that a certain success can be seen, although it cannot easily be measured. But the demand for our offers is rising.
undoubtedly it is a long way to follow and its success is not visible to people, who are not concerned with this topic. But I can realize, how much the compliance of farmers to care for their cats as well as their bond to them has increased. Our offers of low price neutering for cats is accepted more and more and after having their cats neutered farmers take better care of them and begin to consider them as individuals and to let them lovingly closer into their lives.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
The planned strategy can only be implemented gradually, but the desired impact is all the more sustainable.
Step 1: financial support for the farmers in castration and medical care of their cats.
Step 2: as soon as farmers see the benefits of these measures, continuous advice and support was provided to help them take responsibility of their animals.
Step 3: Farmers have learned to keep their cats in an appropriate way (medical care, appropriate feeding, neutering) and recognize the positive effects of a closer human-animal relationship.
Step 4: farmers allow cats living in their houses.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
The following stakeholders will benefit from these measures:
1. The cats: closer relationship with people, better care, higher appreciation
2. The farmers: all the positive effects of a good human-animal relationship
3. Feed industry: Cats will not only be fed by milk and mice, but they finally will get suitable cat food
4. Pharmaceutical companies: above all, parasite control and prophylaxis currently represent a major request in keeping farm cats
5. Veterinarians: additional income from the treatment of farm cats
6. NGOs of animal welfare: there will be less cats to care for as soon as farmers start neutering their cats
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
In general, we finance the support for the castrations and medical treatment of farm cats through donations and membership fees for the association Humani.
We are working to continuously increase the number of members and donors in order to be able to support even more farmers.
The more our project becomes known, the more members and donors are willing to support us.
We work for this through social media (especially facebook), but also locally by distributing information folders and word of mouth.
Networking with other associations is also one of our measures.
In particular, our animal-assisted interventions (voluntarely done 2-3 times aweek) for clients of various social organisations help to recruit donors and sponsors.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
I am the chairwoman of the association Humani, the veterinarian to advise the farmers how to keep cats and specialist for animal assisted therapy. That's why most of the duties of this project have to be done by me. So depending on demand it varies from full time to part -time occupation.
But I never could be successful without the support of my team, consisting of some young ladies, who are working for our fund raising, social networking and PR as well as in animal assisted activities.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
In this case I would expand the project to farmers of other rural regions - the situation is the same everywhere - and so we could reach a very sustainable and wide effect on the keeping of cats by farmers and their attitude towards these animals.
We could support much more farmers' cats by neutering and medical treatment and subsequently step by step reach a new level of appreceation of the rural cats by their owners.
The further goal is, thats farmers want their cats to live with them in their houses in order to benefit from this close human - pet bond, as we know it in general. The more farmers we can support and bring closer to their cats by changing their attidute towards these pets, the greater will be the change.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
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