Volunteer of the Year 2017 – Judi McEachen

Judi can take the smallest lives in her hands with love and confidence, and feed them every two hours with a bottle or even a dropper if need be. The joy in her voice when asked if she can take another singleton or litter of five says it all. That situation arises with little or no notice. Orphaned newborns are not planned, and Judi can scramble at the drop of a hat. PZF once took a thin mom-cat producing little milk with seven starving babies that needed a bottle. Judi didn’t hesitate when faced with that group. Mom had a respiratory infection, and nearly all needed antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids over time. Everyone survived, and volunteers ultimately adopted five of the kittens. Judi fostered five tiny babies rescued from a dumpster, their eyes closed from infection. They also survived: beautiful outgoing cats now, four of which have become her permanent family members due to continuing medical needs. They love to help her raise the kittens that have followed them.

Judi is able to devote her time and home in good part due to her wonderful husband, Bob. Bob feigns reluctance, saying, “Again?” and yet we see him in many of the kitten photos from their home. He is her encouragement in dark times, and a source of humor otherwise. Judi has cheerfully made house calls to people learning bottle-feeding, and given many PZF volunteers lessons in her home. Babies are not all equally adept at taking a bottle, nor are they all strong enough to endure the added challenge of being orphaned. To foster is to lay your heart bare to potential pain with every baby you take. The survival rate of Judi’s often-compromised bottle babies is amazing, owing to her intuition and fierce dedication to each one. Her grace and strength in the face of loss is equally admirable. We honor Judi for her skill, bravery and love. Since 2015, Judi has fostered 68 kittens for PZF.