Two cats rescued from Thailand are waiting for a home

— Photo from Diane Graham
Two “sister” cats, rescued from Thailand, are now at Happy Cat Rescue in Guilderland, waiting for a home.

GUILDERLAND — Diane Graham has loved cats all her life — “I’ve always been a cat person,” she says — but she took her love of felines to a new level this week when she helped to rescue a pair of cats from Thailand.

The two Thai cats are now awaiting adoption at Happy Cat Rescue in Guilderland.

“I was so excited we could save them from death, I had to give them a kiss when they arrived,” said Marcia Scott, the founder of Happy Cat Rescue, which she runs from her Meadowdale Road home.

“And it’s important to bring light to the meat trade,” said Graham.

Graham, of Latham, first became involved with Scott’s shelter when she went into a pet store a few years ago with an adoption event going on. “I just wanted to help,” she said.

She’s also active with Perfect Pets, which transports both cats and dogs from Georgia.

“They run free there without spay/neuter programs,” she said. “They select dogs from the killing floor.”

Graham said she usually has six cats of her own. “My daughter’s room is now the cat room,” she said, since her daughter, Claudia, has grown and gone. “I bottle-feed cats that don’t have mothers.”

“We affectionately call ourselves ‘foster failures,’” Graham said, if she or another “foster parent” for an animal ends up keeping it for a pet.

That happened to her with two Maine Coon cats, Anastasia and Ella, who now belong to Claudia. Graham also kept a Corgi that gets along with her cats, she said.

Last week, her 16-year-old cat, Karma, died of kidney disease. Graham had rescued Karma when “someone threw her out at a trailer park in South Troy after her owner died,” she said. “I gave her the last two years of her life.”

Through Facebook, Graham became concerned about dogs and cats that are eaten in other countries.

“Tamara Johnston caught my eye,” she said, explaining that Johnston, originally from Australia, went to Thailand to teach English. Johnston eventually settled in Songkhla in southern Thailand, where she set up an animal rescue center in her home. She founded Thai Street Paws Rescue in 2012.

“Tamara’s one of my people I follow,” said Graham. “She contacted me because she had three dogs booked on a flight.” 

Johnston had an Australian friend who was going to escort the dogs on a flight from Thailand to Moscow and then on to New York City. “It’s cheaper than having them in a hold by themselves,” Graham said.

“Tamara came upon the cats in a restaurant; they were scrawny,” said Graham. “She took them, had them vetted, and had them at her home, the rescue. She said, ‘I can get them on this flight if we can find a foster.’”

Graham had a friend in New York, active in TNR, which she explains means trap, neuter, release for cats who live on the street.

“He cross-posted for me,” said Graham., explaining she hadn’t wanted to ask Marcia Scott who was already “overwhelmed” with cats in need.

“But Marcia saw the post and said, ‘I’ll take them.’ Marcia said, ‘That’s real rescue. I usually take cats because someone has an allergy.’”

 “Marcia never says ‘no,’” said Graham.

So, last Friday night, Graham and her daughter, Claudia Derico, drove to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

The flight was due at JFK at 11:15 p.m. “It’s become very bureaucratic,” said Graham of the paperwork to transport animal. “You have to have a broker. We paid someone $350 for three dogs and two cats … We had to wait over two hours for the paperwork to be faxed.”

At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Graham and her daughter were finally able to leave with their Thai charges. “They were all so patient and loving,” she said of the animals.

The next morning, one dog was back at the airport to fly to Florida, and two dogs were traveling by road to Canada. “They’re all in their homes now,” said Graham on Tuesday.

Johsnton’s friend, after her grueling flight, with a three-hour layover in Moscow, was off for her first look at America, which will include a visit to Niagara Falls, said Graham.

Graham and the two Thai cats stayed with Derico, who works in New York City as a nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The calico cat is named Annabelle and the Siamese mix is named Ally.

“They were calling them sisters,” said Graham, which she said is possible, explaining, “A lot of street cats get pregnant by more than one cat.”

“They’re very attached to each other,” said Graham, and need to be adopted together.

“My daughter and I call this our first international rescue,” said Graham.

More international rescues may be on the horizon. Graham reported, “My daughter asked me, ‘Do you think we could go to Thailand and help Tamara?’”


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