By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Adrianna and Aleksandra adopted Abby from PAWS Cat City in 2011. She was seven years old at the time, a shy cat who had been in PAWS’ care for long enough to feign a lack of interest in people who came to visit. But the couple saw through Abby’s shyness to her mellow temperament, which they thought would be a great match for first-time cat parent Aleksandra. I recently sat down with Adrianna to talk about Abby’s life since her adoption.


What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
I am very passionate about no-kill shelters, and I would never purchase a pet—another living being; there are so many cats that need homes.

What brought you to PAWS?
PAWS does a really good job with the adoption process in terms of caring for the cats, helping people find the right cat and making sure that the cats are adoptable. I also liked all the information on their website about the adoption process and finding the right cat.


What was it that most attracted you to Abby?
True love? Love at first sight? I specifically wanted to adopt a black cat and an adult cat, because black cats are more likely to stay in shelters longer simply because they don’t stand out as much as other colors. When I saw Abby in the shelter I noticed that she was kind of hanging off to the side and she wasn’t very visible, but since I was looking for a black cat I noticed her.

How was your journey home and settling in together?
She was amazing! She went into her carrier with absolutely no problem, and the staff at PAWS were very nice and helpful. When she got home she came out with her tail up, all curious and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. My sister was there to help me with the introduction to her feline housemate, Pedro, and separating them into two rooms at the beginning. I think being well educated about how to properly introduce cats helped a lot.


How would you describe Abby’s personality?
She is a fluffy marshmallow of love. She’s given me so much happiness and she has the most wonderful purr. She’s just a mellow cat and likes hanging out, sitting in her cat tree and watching the birds. She’s very gentle and sweet, and she’s definitely smarter than Pedro. I’ve trained her to sit up and beg for treats.

How has Abby changed your life?
She’s made me a more loving and contented person. She reminds me about what’s important in life and how to be open-hearted ... and of the importance of taking naps. The companionship she gives me is so deeply wonderful because I have a chronic illness that sometimes makes it difficult to even get out of bed. She’s like a little medicine cat. She can make me smile no matter what’s going on.


A lot of people worry about adopting older cats because of a concern about health problems or that they won’t have much time together. Has Abby faced any major health issues?
She did have a bout of pancreatitis, but that resolved quickly. She has arthritis, but that’s well managed. As far as adopting an older cat, indoor cats can live to be 20 or older, so if you’re adopting a 10-year-old cat, you’ve got 10 years together.

What do you think is the best thing about adopting an adult cat?
I wanted an adult cat because you know more about their personality and health and they don’t require as much energy as a kitten. All the hard work has already been done—they’ve learned how to use the litter box, how to interact with people, and so on.


What advice do you have for people considering adopting a cat?
Be aware that it is a long-term commitment. It’s like having a child: You need to make sure you can afford it and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to get cat-friendly housing, and that you have time to spend with your cat. People have the misconception that cats are aloof, but they really do need a lot of companionship. I also think it’s important to consider a cat-only vet because cats are much calmer in this environment and the staff are experts in feline medicine.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

You may or not be aware that there are four species of hummingbird found in Washington in the summer: Rufous, Calliope, Anna’s and the occasional Black-chinned. In the winter it’s a different story: Although most of the hummingbirds in North America migrate to a warmer climate in the winter, we have a year-round hummingbird resident right here in Washington.

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The Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird in Washington that not only breeds here but also spends its entire winter with us. However, this was not always the case. Anna’s Hummingbirds once bred only in Baja and in Southern California. Due to the planting of exotic flowering trees, their exploitation of hummingbird feeders and their ability to withstand low temperatures, they have expanded their breeding range and now also winter as far north as Juneau, Alaska. They are now the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast and frequent patients at PAWS Wildlife Center.

750 Annas Hummingbird fledgling PAWS Campus

Anna’s Hummingbirds are medium-sized stocky hummingbirds that are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat are also covered in iridescent reddish-pink feathers. They have a wing span of 4.7 inches and weigh between three and six grams. They are extremely territorial and will fight off other hummingbirds that come too close. They build nests made of plant down and spider webs and lay two eggs between January and April. They feed on nectar from flowering plants, but their ability to exploit both nectar and insects is the reason they are able to breed earlier in the year than other hummingbirds.

750 Annas Hummingbird nest with nestlings

You may be wondering how such a small bird is able to survive the bitter cold days and nights of Washington winters, particularly since the Ana’s Hummingbird’s normal body temperature is 107 degrees. On very cold nights, hummingbirds have the ability to go into a shortened state of inactivity called torpor. During this time they reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate to conserve energy—they have the ability to reduce their body temperature to 48 degrees. When the outside temperature warms up again they become active within a few minutes.

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During the winter, when we receive Anna’s Hummingbirds at PAWS Wildlife Center, much of the time it is because they were coming out of torpor when someone found them. In this state they are not able to fly away like they normally do.

We received a patient on January 31 for this reason. He was found sitting on a trash can unable to fly. The finder brought him to us in fear that he was injured or sick. After a few minutes sitting on a heating pad and a few sips of special hummingbird nectar, he was revived and flying around our exam room beautifully. Because he was not injured, he was returned promptly to his territory later that afternoon.

750 Humminbird release jan 31a

by Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

2015 was full of its ups and downs throughout the year, but the end marked some important milestones for wildlife conservation.

Here we touch on just a few important discoveries and legislative changes in the fields of wildlife management and conservation in Washington State that took place in 2015.

Fisher reintroduction to the Cascades

Right here in Washington, a species that has been absent from the Cascade Mountains for 70 years was recently reintroduced to this vast mountain range. Between December 2015 and February 2017, 80 Fishers will be translocated from Canada to the Cascades and released in hopes they will successfully repopulate the area; the first release took place on December 3.

Can't see this video? Watch it on Conservation Northwest's YouTube channel.

Fishers were trapped and poisoned to extinction in Washington by the mid-1900s and are currently listed as endangered within the state. There are high hopes this reintroduction will be successful as a similar reintroduction program restored Fishers to the Olympic Peninsula. Starting in 2008, 90 Fishers were reintroduced there over a three-year time span and are now successfully reproducing and dispersing across the peninsula. This reintroduction is a start to restore the biodiversity of the Cascades helping to balance the ecosystem and improve its health.

Washington bans transfer of ivory and other products from endangered species

Steve Oberholtze of the US Fish & Wildlife Service assembles ivory tusks on a tower for display before crushing. Photo by Ivy Allen / USFWS

Another win for Washington happened last November, when voters passed the Washington Animal Trafficking Initiative 1401 with more than 1 million votes. This bill prohibits the purchase, sale and distribution of 10 endangered species groups and their parts including elephant ivory, tiger, lion, leopard and pangolin parts, as well as sea turtle eggs and shark fins, in the state. This is the first ever comprehensive state ban on the commerce of endangered species in the United States. There is hope this will set a precedent for others states.

New wolf pack documented in Washington

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed a new wolf pack in Washington. The Loup Loup pack was found near Twisp and Omak in Okanogan County in December. This brings the total number of wolf packs in Washington to a minimum of 17.

Biologists have been snow-tracking the pack to confirm the number of wolves within it and have tracked up to six so far. They plan on monitoring the pack throughout the winter and getting a collar on one of the wolves in the summer of 2016 to monitor the pack’s movements.

The confirmation of a new pack is a good sign that the current wolf population is naturally re-establishing itself. A new count will be conducted this spring.

Hopefully these trends will continue on in 2016, furthering conservation of our natural world and the wildlife species who live in it.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Here at PAWS Wildlife Center, we are ringing in the New Year with some new and even rare patients. Since January 1, we have received just over 10 patients. Some unfortunately had injuries too extensive for us to treat including patient number seven, a Coyote who had been struck by a car and sustained a spinal fracture, and patient number six, a Pine Siskin who flew into a window.

Red-necked Grebe
This Red-Necked Grebe is currently in our care.

Others, however, are treatable and are currently in our care. Patient number eight is a Red-necked Grebe who was found on the beach in Edmonds unable to fly. Rarely seen at PAWS Wildlife Center, these birds spend their winters at sea and aren’t typically seen inshore. They do sometimes get blown in during winter storms, getting injured or too exhausted to fly in the process. Our patient is currently regaining his strength and mending his waterproofing.

Varied Thrush
This Varied Thrush is recovering from a scapular fracture.

Patient number nine is a Varied Thrush that hit a window. He is being treated for a scapular fracture and is under strict cage rest to give his wound a chance to heal properly.

Meanwhile, some patients held over from 2015 are ready for release and will be released back in to the wild this week:

Band-tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon 15-4185 was found in Brier dragging himself on the ground. When he arrived at PAWS, he had a misaligned beak, a wing droop, was falling over and was weak. After 22 days in our care he has been okayed for release this week.

The first week of 2016 has already been busy and included a few surprises. We are excited to see what and who the rest of 2016 brings us.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

2015 was one the busiest years we have had in the past five here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

With your help we treated over 4,200 patients this year (some are pictured below), almost 800 more than in 2014.

Wildlife blog collage

Several were patients we rarely see at the Wildlife Center including a Rough-legged Hawk, a Mule Deer, an American Dipper and two baby Mink. Others were common species including eight American Black Bears, over 1,000 baby birds, 15 Bald Eagles, and 16 Northern Flying Squirrels.

A special thank-you to over 300 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time in 2015 at PAWS Wildlife Center, feeding, transporting, caring for and cleaning up after our patients to ensure they have a healthy environment in which to grow and heal.

As we look back at 2015, we must also give thanks to people like you for continuing to support PAWS and our mission to be a champion for animals by helping all animals in need.

While you ring in the New Year, check out the video below to enjoy an inside look at some of our more memorable patients and their releases.

2015 Looking Back from PAWS on Vimeo.


Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We are still receiving animals daily who need medical attention. Most of them will return to the wild after just a short time in our care. We do, however, have several patients at PAWS Wildlife Center who will be spending the entire winter with us.

We have eight American Black Bear cubs in our care right now, each of whom came to us with their own story and from across the state of Washington.

We received our first bear cub on August 16 from Renton and our eighth on December 13 from Skykomish. All eight cubs were orphaned and found alone too young to survive on their own.

BLOG Black Bear 153200 08182015 JM

Thanks to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, each cub was captured and brought in to grow up at PAWS.

Currently seven of our bear patients are housed together while the eighth bear is waiting for her quarantine period to end before being introduced to the others. The bears spend their day wrestling and sleeping in a tub filled with straw when they aren’t exploring their enclosures for food.

BLOG 3 black bears

As these bears play and assert their dominance, they are learning very useful skills that will help them survive in the wild and better integrate back into the wild bear population when they are released next spring.

Another way to help bears prepare for the wild is to stimulate their instincts to search for food. To do this, our staff and volunteers develop enrichment items that can be filled with food and other treats that are later placed in their enclosures.

BLOG bear and christmas tree 2

A favorite enrichment item around the holidays is used Christmas trees. We typically hide food in among the branches of the trees, which are then hung in the bears' enclosures. The bears also like to use the trees for other natural behaviors such as rubbing and clawing. Other enrichment items include rotting logs (see video below), large branches, papier mache boxes, and fresh water pools.

By developing these useful skills here at PAWS, they will have a better chance of surviving on their own in the wild. Be sure to check back throughout the winter for photos and videos of our bear patients romping around and learning what it takes to be a wild black bear.

Black Bear Enrichment from PAWS on Vimeo


Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Melissa Moore, Education Programs Manager

750 KidDog1One of my favorite moments of any week here at PAWS is when I open an envelope return addressed from a local classroom.

I am one of three educators at PAWS fortunate enough to be able to visit classrooms full of students, work with scouts in badge programs, and give tours of PAWS to small groups of children. Not only do we have the opportunity to share PAWS’ message of kindness and compassion towards animals with local youth, but the students also share their energy and passion for animals with us.

PAWS offers unique programs for different age groups and interests. However, we also offer one special program, Kids Who Care, that is six hours long and delivered over the span of six visits.

In the first few Kids Who Care classes, we discuss responsible care of companion animals, including microchipping pets and spaying or neutering. We even address difficult topics like puppy mills. A student favorite is a board game called Happy Cat, Sad Cat, through which they learn why keeping a companion cat indoors is better for the cat and for wildlife.

In the fourth and fifth class visits, the topic switches to wildlife and the students get to handle real skulls and feathers, among other biofacts. They use student-sized field guides and learn about how wild animals become injured.


The students write in their Kids Who Care Journal after each class, answering questions, writing opinion pieces, and making up stories about animals. It is truly an interdisciplinary class that reaches students on many levels.

750 KidThanksLast fall I presented Kids Who Care to a group of fourth graders at a Snohomish County elementary school. At my second visit, upon seeing me in their classroom as they came in from recess, two girls ran excitedly to me and gave me hugs! I was charmed by the fact that they were pleased to see me and were not bound by the “correctness” of a formal greeting that we adults usually are.

When I look at the thank-you cards and notes we receive from students after their Kids Who Care class is over, I can feel how they have connected to the subject matter, and it makes every day better.


Are you a parent or teacher? Learn more about our humane education programs here.
Do you want to help animals? Find out some simple things you can do every day.
Need some help with your homework? Visit our Homework Help page for answers to questions about our shelter, pets, and wildlife.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Do you love birds? Have you ever wanted to help bird researchers but you weren’t sure how you could?

Pacific Wren, PAWS Campus 040412 KM

Well now’s your chance. The annual Christmas Bird Count runs from December 15 through January 5. For the last 115 years, citizen scientists like yourself have conducted a bird census across the western hemisphere. The data from this important census helps researchers better understand how our bird populations are doing and how their populations are being affected by our changing world. Data from this census has already been used in more than 200 peer-reviewed articles.

Varied Thrush, PAWS Campus 020713 KM-21

The Christmas Bird Count started on Christmas Day in 1900 when scientists were starting to become concerned about declining bird populations. Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed a Christmas bird census that would count birds during the holiday season rather than the traditional side hunt -- a competition in which teams of hunters went into the woods with rifles to kill birds and small game -- which was conducted each Christmas.

Christmas bird count-world map
Image courtesy of Audubon

What started out as 27 birders conducting 25 surveys from Toronto to Pacific Grove, CA has turned into 72,000 bird enthusiasts conducting surveys in over 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere.

Participation is free and bird lovers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate. Each count takes place in an established 15-mile-wide circle on one day between December 15 and January 5 and is organized by a count compiler. Volunteers follow a specified route in that area, counting every bird they see or hear.

Christmas bird count-WA map
Image courtesy of Audubon

If helping from home is more your speed, you can do so if your home is within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle. From Bellingham south to Olympia there are 19 survey circles, including two in the San Juan Islands and several others on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’ve made prior arrangements with the count compiler in charge of your area, you can report birds that visit your backyard habitat or feeder.

To get involved, register your email address on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website and they will send you links and information on how to choose your census circle and how to sign up.

For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, check out these websites:

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

There is no arguing that winter is upon us here in Washington. The last week has been filled with frosty mornings and cold temperatures. We find comfort on these days with a cup of coffee, sitting by a fire, or wrapping up in a blanket.

But how does wildlife deal with these dropping temperatures?

750 px Dark-eyed Junco  KM

Many wildlife species migrate out of our area for a warmer climate where food is more plentiful, while others move in a vertical migration, descending from high-elevation summering grounds to lower wintering grounds with less snow and more food.

However, several species stay put and face the winter head on. Species who do this have adapted to survive the winter by changing their behavior and activity patterns to adjust to the changing temperatures and amount of available daylight.

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Many species that do not migrate go into a lower metabolic state that requires less energy for survival. Many mammalian species go into hibernation; their metabolism slows down and they rely on stored fat reserves to survive. Reptiles and amphibians go into a state known as brumation, which is their equivalent to mammalian hibernation. Other species go through periods of decreased activity called torpor, where they reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate. Hibernation, brumation and torpor help animals survive during periods of extreme temperatures or reduced food availability.

Fun Fact: Black-capped Chickadees go into regulated hypothermia in harsh winters. They can lower their body temperature by 12 to 15 degrees below their normal daytime temperature to conserve energy during freezing nights.

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Some species stay very active in the winter and have evolved adaptations to help them survive. Birds fluff their feathers up to make thicker insulation and eat more food to stay warm. Some weasels, rabbits, and foxes grow a white fur coat in the winter to help camouflage them better. Some animals hide under the snow, which acts as an insulator, keeping them warm during the worst of the cold weather. Others flock or huddle together for warmth, while some species actually have a natural antifreeze in their cells.

With all these cool adaptations, it’s no wonder you still see so many animals milling around in your backyard habitat even during the coldest of days.

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Currently at PAWS Wildlife Center we are caring for several species that are very active during the winter including a Coyote, a Northern Saw-whet Owl and a Bewick’s Wren. We are also caring for seven Black Bear cubs who will remain with us through the winter. Stayed tuned for updates on them over the next several months.


Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

A large construction project is underway on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass. The result of this project will be a six-lane highway that will increase the flow of traffic, making the road safer for people traveling in this corridor. 

But what about the animals that live in the area?

Black Bear 120790 release, 060513 KM-5-2

When planning for this project, several organizations including Conservation Northwest and the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) looked at the impacts this barrier has on the surrounding habitat and wildlife.

I-90 bisects the Cascades, inhibiting movement of wildlife in the area. Widening the highway would make it even harder for wild animals to find new mates and new habitat when environmental conditions change. With this in mind, one of WSDOT’s goals for the I-90 expansion project was to improve connectivity for wildlife.

WSDOT has included more than 20 crossing structures in their plan, including wildlife underpasses and the first wildlife bridges in Washington. These structures have been proven to work in other areas across the country and in Canada.

The first phase of this project consists of underpasses that will allow wildlife safe passage under the highway. They feature long stretches of raised highway and wildlife-sized culverts that are wide enough for larger mammals to pass through, as well as structures smaller animals can use for safe passage. They also allow streams and creeks to keep flowing, which helps amphibian and fish populations.


Blog underpass overpass
Wildlife undercrossing at Gold Creek courtesy of Conservation Northwest. Artist's rendering of wildlife overpass courtesy of Washington State DOT.


Phase 2, which began on June 9th, includes constructing the first ever wildlife bridges in Washington. These 150-foot-wide overpasses will allow safe passage for wildlife over I-90 and will be fully vegetated with native plants and shrubs to give animals the illusion that they never left the protection of the forest. WSDOT plans to build two of these bridges along the I-90 corridor and they are expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Agencies will be monitoring the effectiveness of these structures using remote cameras to determine how often and when they are being used. Some of the wildlife underpasses are already completed and being monitored. Check out some of the images on Conservation Northwest’s website.

Bobcat 122278, release, 051513 KM-9-Edit-2

This groundbreaking wildlife connectivity project will not only help improve the overall health of the wildlife in the Cascades but also help keep them off the interstate, improving the safety of wildlife and humans alike. We at PAWS Wildlife Center see firsthand the effects of road collations on animals: In the past five years we have received more than 500 patients who were hit by a vehicle, many of whom were too injured to be released back to the wild.

This project is a great start to making our roadways safer and keeping our wild habitats connected to ensure a healthy future for wildlife.

For more information about this project, check out these useful sites:


Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.