Joe Fonseca spent 20 years feeding the feral cats who gathered in the parking lot outside of his office. But when Joe decided to retire, things quickly went downhill: until he came up with a plan. Now his cats are safe and loved, and Joe is giving back to the rescue who made it possible.
After Joe’s retirement, he still drove daily from Vallejo to Napa to feed his colony. Unfortunately, a nearby apartment complex owner confronted him about the cats. We all know what that means: the cats needed a new home, and Joe was determined to find a FOREVER home for his beloved cats.
None of the shelters in the area were able to help. Shelters want loving, friendly cats. Although Joe had gotten some of the cats to trust him, they were still a long way from being adoption-ready. Things started looking up when Joe called St. Helena’s We Care Animal Rescue, a no-kill sanctuary where feral cats can live out their lives in safety in a larger community.
Joe was able to capture all 20 cats in his feral colony and is repaying the rescue by making repairs he noticed were needed. We Care is on a tight budget and were unable to contract to repair and replace broken fixtures, so Joe did it for them in his own time. He even built an area for the sick cats so they could have access to the outer compound and get some fresh air.
His next project was building cat furniture for We Care fundraisers. Joe built beds using old drawers, wooden wine cases, and suitcases. Anything he thought would make a comfy cat bed, Joe knew how to make it. Soon Joe’s wife joined in, where together they created ceramic garden stones with funny cat pictures embedded in them. He has a workshop at home where he does his building, then sells his work at the shelter’s fundraisers. All of the money raised goes back to the organization.
Since Joe is so attached to his former colony, he still visits them as often as possible and views his volunteering as a way to repay We Care for helping him and offering the cats a forever home. This kind man, who says he was once a dog person, is now all about the cats.
Thank you, Joe. It’s difficult to leave behind a colony you’ve been caring for, and you’ve shown that just because a person retires from an area with a feral family that depends on them, there are ways to ensure the cats left behind are cared for.
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