Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

The ASPCA estimates that there are 860,000 cats that are euthanized in United States shelters every year, many of whom are newborn kittens or unsocialized free-roaming cats. Saved by Zade, which originated in Eaton Rapids, is trying to lower those numbers with the work they do to trap, neuter, and return (TNR) cats in the mid-Michigan area.
Saved by Zade is a “kitty overpopulation liaison,” with the goal of stopping the reproduction cycle of these cats to reduce their suffering. It is a non-profit agency and is a donation-supported program run completely by volunteers.
Their targeted TNR programs have been shown to significantly reduce shelter intake and euthanasia rates.
Their original plan was to stop at two years, but they realized that was impossible, as their service was needed too much in the community.
“We just can’t turn away and ignore the plight of these cats,” said Alyssa Draper, Program Director of Saved by Zade. “I don’t know how we could quit doing this work after what we’ve seen.”
“If we can’t help, we try to give other resources that may,” said Draper. “There are a lot of resources in the area that do low-cost spay and neutering.”
Saved by Zade began in 2017. Zade’s Executive Director, Jody noticed numerous cats along the river. They were being fed by a local cat rescue, but Jody knew that they needed more “rescuing” than that. 120 cats were fixed that year from along the river.
All cats that come into Saved by Zade are quarantined and receive general vetting before being able to be around other cats, Draper explained, to ensure they maintain a healthy environment.
There is an adoption fee when a cat is adopted to help cover the cost of spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and a microchip.
“It takes a village” to operate a program like this,” Jody explained. They have approximately 150 active volunteers and about 40 foster homes. More foster homes are always needed. “We have the resources to take on more cats, but we need more foster homes to make it a reality,” Jody explained.
“I have a cat rescue here in town called Friends of the Old Mill Felines,” said Nancy Smith of Eaton Rapids, “and Saved by Zade has helped us cut way back on the number of cats we feed each day,” Smith added. “I can’t say enough good things about them, and I am very proud to work with them.”
With the kitten season approaching, foster homes are needed even more urgently. Foster homes serve to help transition cats from living on the streets to living in a permanent home. Foster parents are not responsible for medical care or any needed medications.
As a foster home, you need a space to quarantine the cat, such as a bathroom, bedroom, or basement; plus some extra time to devote to the project.
Each situation is different as far as the cats’ needs when they go to a foster home. Some cats need help with socialization, some need medications, some might have health issues to be dealt with.
“We’re absolutely making progress,” Jody said. “We have neutered 1900 cats in 12 counties.”
With no building of its own, Saved by Zade partners with Constellation Cat Café on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing. The Cat Café has rooms for “cat visits,” and also facilitates cat adoptions. They are currently creating an actual physical shelter just outside of Eaton Rapids.
“It’s not a hobby, but a lifestyle at our level,” Jody explained. Draper estimates she works approximately 30 to 40 hours at the rescue, while Jody estimates her time closer to 145 hours per week.
If you would like to help, contact Saved by Zade through their website at, by email at, or on Facebook at SavedByZade.
Editor’s note: Millions of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States, because there simply are not enough homes for them all.
By spaying and neutering just one female and one male cat, over 2,000 births of homeless kittens in just four years can be prevented.