operation needs boost
PUNTA GORDA — Some 40 cats living in ramshackle conditions in a dilapidated local home, condemned by Charlotte County, are headed for new homes, thanks to the Venice Cat Coalition and its local branch, the Charlotte Cat Coalition.
But the orphaned cats — and the coalition — still need plenty of volunteer and financial help from the community to complete the transfers.
It’s almost a reprise of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats,” in which Old Deuteronomy chooses a cat from the Jellicle tribe to ascend to the Heaviside Layer to be born again into a new life.
But in this case, there are 40 cats looking longingly for new lives, and they are far from the bright lights of Broadway.
None of them may be quite so lyrically named as Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella or Bustopher Jones, but Loki, Lucky, Lickety Split and Little Rebel need the community’s help in providing them shelter, food and medicine in their transition from their former lives lived in deplorable conditions.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Charlotte County Animal Services called on the Venice Cat Coalition to remove cats from the dwelling. Some 24 have been placed in foster homes or with local shelters.
Since the owner of the Punta Gorda home is surrendering the cats voluntarily, the county does not intend to press charges, according to Theresa Foley, Venice Cat Coalition founder and executive director.
The coalition, Foley said, has secured a donated air-conditioned warehouse to temporarily house the remaining 16 felines waiting for adoption.
“I’m appealing,” she said, “to Charlotte County residents to step forward to help with donations and adoptions.”
Adoptions are cost-free, since the coalition provides funds for the cats’ care.
Actually, the 40 cats in this case are just the tip of the iceberg, according to coalition board members Janet Gould and Kathy Childress. The coalition, Childress said, cares for more than 1,000 stray cats a year, most of them either feral or abandoned.
“We are always looking for foster parents” to adopt the cats, she said.
Gould said the coalition runs a daily trap-neuter-return program — involving more than 100 cats this past month in Charlotte County alone — where the cats are captured, taken to a veterinarian to be spayed, and returned to their environment.
She said cooperation from local vets, who do the procedure free of charge, has been “wonderful,” although more are needed urgently.
Both stressed that the coalition has a strict no-kill policy, where no cats are euthanized, except if they are suffering.
They said financial donations are critically necessary to fund the organization’s activities. Since the coalition is a nonprofit, donations are tax-deductible. Also needed are products like cat food, litter, bedding materials and towels, and volunteers to transport, feed, groom and find homes for the cats.
A drop-off location for supplies and donations has been established at LaFrance Cleaners, 4435 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. Further information may be obtained by calling the coalition at 941-525-4568, or accessing its website at www.venicecatcoalition.com.