Cat Sanctuary

by Elisa Black-Taylor

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Good morning readers. I need both your opinion and your advice on my cat sanctuary.

One of my Facebook friends sent me a message insinuating it's unfair of me not to adopt all of these rescues out. That they each "deserve a home of their own". So I decided to write on this and explain my feelings.

This has really upset me.

First of all I want to define the meaning of sanctuary. Encarta describes it as "a place or area of land where wildlife is protected from predators and from being destroyed or hunted by human beings" and "a safe place."

Well, perhaps not a true sanctuary as I don't have a veterinarian stationed on my property. But I do work with a local vet when one of the cats is sick. Here's a page to click on to find what a true sanctuary involves. It downloads as a Microsoft Word document.

I may or may not have a "real" sanctuary. Some of the criteria I do have when reading over the cat sanctuary standards list are:

*A separate area for sick animals.
*A place to hide if I have guests.
*Photos provided to show how the animals are cared for
*I work with a local vet when animals are sick
*A clean atmosphere for the cat
*Educating the public about cat issues (I've published OVER 120 articles on cat issues since January of 2010)
*My daughter and I are both certified first responders trained in American Red Cross CPR and basic first aid. My certification is more recent and must be updated each year.
*30 years experience in caring for cats.
*Animals are not allowed to reproduce.
*Animals are up to date on vaccines.
*Complete medical records are kept on each cat.
*Cats are exposed to natural sunlight as much as possible.
*Cats are kept in a temperature appropriate environment. Warm in winter and cool in summer.
*My home is of the size and design to maintain both the physical and psychological welfare of the cats.

leaders of a cat group or colony
Gizzy, Furby and Lola are in charge. Photos: Elisa.

So call my home a sanctuary or call me just increasing the number of cats I have.

I have 15 resident cats. Thirteen of these were pulled from the euthanasia list. I'd fully intended to save a few cat lives and then adopt them out as soon as possible. I hate it if I let down those who paid the sponsorship for the cats I have. I just thought I was doing the right thing at the time.

The problem is my daughter and I fell in love with all of them. We had to nurse many of them back to health and came close to losing several due to URI's. Our vet had six rescues on antibiotics at the same time.

My first rescue of the MandyLane gang upset me in that the shelter didn't think them important enough to have names. Gizzy was basically unadoptable because of her attitude. Misty, Sheela, Shirley, Jethro and Lily were at the top of the euthanasia list when I pulled them. Shirley and Sheela's litter mates were killed for lack of a rescue. I even talked my friend Debra into rescuing under my name and now she's a big supporter of taking in just one more cat to save a life.

My plan now is to simply provide a good and safe home with me and my daughter for most of these cats. That's why I tell people I have a sanctuary now instead of a rescue.

Am I just a mother refusing to let go of her children?

Another concern is whether my cats would be put outside and left to fend for themselves. Or turned into a shelter when a family tired of it. There are just too many concerns I'd have to lay to rest before adopting any of them out. With us they know unconditional love. Gizzy is even accepted for being the house bully.

I really hate to question myself on this. I feel between my daughter Laura and I we provide a safe, comfortable, happy environment for the cats. One of us is with them almost all of the time. They're well fed and well loved.

I keep everyone up to date on the condition of my cats through articles written here and pictures uploaded to Furby the Cat. I believe in showing that my cats do not live in dirty surroundings or live in cages. There are actually places out there who do this. Yes, my cats have my daughter and I, both trained as servants. They're even held for naps and sleep with us at night.

Mandy and Cassie are due to be spayed next week. Jasper and Sammy will be done before they're old enough to start spraying. My other males were done before rescue, either by the shelter or by the previous owner. I really hate to use that term as cats aren't property. I'm being a responsible cat lady and not contributing to an already overpopulated cat world.

I await your opinion readers. I already know I'm keeping my cats. I just need a little reassuring. Am I being selfish? I believe we're doing what's best for the cats. What do all of my friends here think? Should I put all of them up for adoption or do you feel they're better off with my daughter and I?

Do I have a sanctuary or am I just "keeping cats?" I need to know how to classify my love of these cats.

In closing I'd like to say I don't mean any disrespect to those who run legitimate sanctuaries. I totally admire you.


1. Encarta

Cat Sanctuary to Home Page

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Cat Sanctuary

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Apr 01, 2011
by: Michael

I love the way that lots of your cats sleep close together and wash each other. There seems to be a real sense of harmony.

I don't expect all of them to get on all of the time but a lot do, which is impressive.

I think it is down to a very calm environment or cat and animal friendly environment.

Mar 29, 2011
My role
by: Elisa

My role is to provide for the cats I have now. I've saved all I can save. If good homes come open to a few of them that's ok too. I'm about to begin an ebook on my rescues. Half of the book will be written by me and half will be written from my rescues point of view. I cannot imagine caring for more than 20. But that's a good thing that I know my limit.

Mar 29, 2011
Defining the Rescue Role
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Anonymous, That was a very insightful take on cat rescue. It also poses some very real questions, such as 'Do I stop rescuing now because I've reached the limit I can handle?' or 'I love them all so much, but is it fair to the other cats out there needing a rescue?' or 'What would happen if I get sick or die - what would happen to these beautiful animals?' and other soul-searching questions. I applaud you and your wife for the work you have done thus far.

Our local shelter used to be a horrific place many years ago. It was a high-kill "pound" - if an animal was found, cat or dog, and no one claimed it, it was killed within days. They attempted to do adoptions, but mostly they killed the animals.

Fast forward to the new Animal Control Officer and a bunch of concerned residents. The ACO decided it was pointless to kill healthy animals and got permission from the city to create a shelter. Concerned citizens worked with the ACO to renovate the old "pound" and created a 100% no-kill/100% all volunteer shelter. We keep our residents until they get adopted. The only time an animal is put down (case-by-case basis) is if it's terminally ill, in severe pain that cannot be relieved, has a contagious disease or is a threat to people (vicious dogs who cannot be rehabilitated).

With fundraisers, visits with furkids to the local PetCo each Saturday, local sponsors, etc. we were able to adopt out over 200 animals last year. Prior to the shelter, most of those 200 animals would've been killed.

We are truly blessed and I know that Elisa will do what she does best - take care of her kitty charges and no doubt, will continue to define her role in these precious babies' lives. Bless you all for everything you do for the animals.

Mar 29, 2011
Defining your rescue role
by: Anonymous

Hi There,

Perhaps it may help if I share my own struggles in deciding what is best for my cats.

My wife and I rescued our first cat about eight years ago. She was found under our car, and we eventually earned her trust and made her our cat.

A year later, we adopted two kittens. Three days later, a mother cat showed up on our doorstep with four kittens. She became our first outdoor cat and her kits eventually went off to seek their fortunes.

Suddenly, we began to notice how many cats were roaming our neighborhood. We befriended as many as we could. Some became indoor cats, others chose to live outside our house. It was at this point we began to seek homes for some of these cats, and we made our first adoptions.

By our forth year of working with cats, it seemed that every cat in the neighborhood knew where to come for food and shelter, and perhaps a chance at a home. We managed to either bring them in to our house, adopt them out, or provide them with food and shelter outside. We also mounted a spay/neuter campaign and managed to all the cats done, both inside and out.

It was during this time that we too began to really fall in love with some of the cats that shared our home. Some of them were either too old, to injured, or too sick to ever get a home, and others we just could not part with. We granted these cats "Residential" status.

By our fifth year, we were heavy into cat rescue. We opened a thrift store and adoption center for cats, and worked with the public to get cats adopted into homes.

As our reputation grew, we had over 50 cats in our home at one time. We knew that this was too many, and we either had to refuse to take cats in or speed up our adoptions. We lost several cats to FIP, an incurable often fatal disease that happens in places where there are too many cats close together. In the end, we adopted out, cared for, or worked with over 200 cats.

What we discovered was that we had not defined what our role in rescue would be. Some people rescue as many cats as they can handle, then they stop. Other people want to continue rescuing, so they have an active adoption program in place. Other people form a non-profit so they can help many more cats than they could on their own. Still others get involved in the no-kill movement or work to fix the shelter system in their area. We wanted to do it all, and we simply could not.

My point here is that you must define your role in rescue. If you are happy to keep the cats you have, that's OK. But if you want to continue rescuing, you must have an adoption program in place. Yes, there are no guarantees. I still worry over and pray for every cat I ever adopted out. You do the best you can, and you have to trust God to do the rest.

It's very normal to not know what your role is going to be when you get in to rescue, but search your heart. The Lord has a role for you, just as He does for me and every other rescuer. You will eventually find your calling. God bless you.

Mar 29, 2011
I let a dog go
by: Elisa

I had a dog for 7 years when one day she ran away. It turned out a girl down the street had found her wandering in the road and took her for a bath and nail trimming. The girl was about 10 and looked at me and almost begged me if she could keep her. I let her have the dog because she would have more time to devote to her than I did at the time. I'll know if someone comes along that will be good to the cats. I've asked around for homes for Sammy, Lucky and Lily but no one has offered. I also have friends who have offered to take my cats in during an emergency.

Mar 29, 2011
by: Elisa

Furby is still the apple of my eye. He has dinner plate status and he always comes to say good morning to me even though he won't sleep with me. He never slept with me from the time he got well as a kitten. Furby loves having someone to play with. When he gets tired of it he goes to the dryer and sleeps in the bed there. He also likes the bookcase we cleaned off and turned into beds.

Its so hard now to pin him down for pictures. He stays too busy playing. He still hangs out with Lola more than any of them and Lucky is usually with them.

Don't worry about Furby. He's about to write that ebook he always talked about. I'm going to do half of the book on my rescues and the other half the cats will tell their versions of everything.

Mar 29, 2011
They are alive and happy because of you
by: Leah (England)

Elisa you've done a great job with these cats but I'm not going to lie to you because I would be a hypocrite if I did. When you first started rescuing I did feel sorry for Furby because he was the apple of your eye and I was worried about him feeling left out; I think he's he's an absolute darling you see?

In recent posts however I see that Furby seems to be having just as much fun as ever because he has lots of mates to play around with.

All I can say is that I do know how you feel because I always think with my fosters that no one will love or understand this cat the way I do. But you know something? Thats very rarely true because I've homed cats and kittens to some amazing people. I've kept in touch to see the cats thrive and be loved so very much. However there are no guarantees and I know this is what frightens you and I can totally understand that. I also know that if you found a home for one of your furbabies with a 100% guarantee that they would be loved forever you would let them go.

All I ask is if you do get the opportunity to let one or more of your babies go to a loving home please do so. My only fear is if your situation changes. I know that your cats want for nothing they all look so healthy and happy and no one could accuse you of hoarding because of their condition so I don't think you need worry on that score but just take care that you can always be in a position to care for them the way you do now.

We have 2 cats at the moment and we wanted to keep Brian one of our fosters because we loved him so much but we let him go to my best friend. We did this because she is financially stable, has a lovely home and he has everything he needs including a pooch who is now his bestest friend. We thought long and hard and we knew that financially it would be a strain and if our situation changed it would break my heart to rehome him at a later date.

So I'll finish with saying that I truly take my hat off to you and if you're confident you can always be in a position to take care of your babies then go for it! You and your daughter have hearts of Gold and those cats are so lucky to have you so take no notice of others and just be happy.

Mar 29, 2011
Loving animals is an unselfish act
by: Kathy Novelli

Elisa, I have all the faith in the world that your cats are some of the best cared for and most loved beings out there. That you are giving of yourself, your time, your money and your home so that these sweet cats have a warm, loving, well nourished and healthy home is a testament to your big heart. I have no idea who would ever question your intentions...I certainly understand. I began just as you have, with the intention of sending kittys on their way to new homes once tamed, cured, spayed/neutered, etc. What I found was so much uncertainty and many situations where cats were wanted only as outside "mousers;" cats who would NOT be fed or allowed indoors. Or, homes with far too many undisciplined children who were not taught or instructed how to carefully and gently play with and hold kittens/cats. Also, people who allowed cats outside which made made them subject to traffic, aggressive dogs, mean kids, etc. Or people who wanted the novelty of a "new kitten," only to become disenchated when that "cute little kitten" grew up.

I share your feelings that the risk and high percentage of potential bad results of adopting out have outweighed giving cats away easily. So, I DO HAVE A which is much like yours, kitties have outdoor catteries which are covered and fenced in so that predators and rabid bats, etc. cannot reach the cats but the cats can feel the breeze and filtered sunlight.

YOU ARE NOT BEING SELFISH!!! You are being realistic. It is a cruel world out there with NO and your daughter CAN and DO give guarantees...and your rescued cats are so much better off for having been found by you.

Bless you and let the naysayers take a leap!

Mar 29, 2011
My thoughts
by: Ruth

So did this facebook 'friend' offer to give one of your rescue cats a good loving home then ?
Hmmm, I thought not !
You saved those cats from death row, naturally you don't wanmt to part with them and why should you as long as you can manage to look after them properly !
It sounds to me like you and Laura are doing a great job Elisa.
Tell that 'friend' to go to H**l, I would !
Our friend/neighbour Sylvia here has 15 rescue cats too, all were abused or abandoned and sometimes people say to her she should 'get rid' of some of them. It makes us mad, because who would take the trouble to care for them as Sylvia does ? She is in the same situation as you, she loves her cats and they love and trust her.
Take no notice of those who criticise you, your true friends know you are far from selfish.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 29, 2011
by: Lindy Fellober

So many people are quick to judge us for what they think we should be doing and what we shouldn't be doing. Go with your heart and these dear sweethearts are all doing well and are happy and I know when the furbabies are happy you are too. Don't let other people make you feel bad. There is always someone out to judge us in some way, thats for sure. God is looking after these babies I believe through you and your daughter so you just keep up the good work. For those out there who want to be so judgemental maybe you should look at the log in your own eye.

Mar 29, 2011
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Elisa, Please do not listen to any of the rubbish the 'jealous' people are spewing. Ruth had it right when she said all people do is bitch, bitch, bitch but never do anything themselves. Phooey on 'em!

Several of your articles have opened my eyes and I'm a better person for that. Thank you.

The only concern that should be addressed is the temptation to become a cat hoarder. In your case, as long as you are able to adequately provide for your 15 furry kids, you have nothing to worry about.

Qualifications listed for both you and your daughter are far superior than those of many shelters. If the authorities don't care how many cats you have, your cats are socialized, well-fed and fill your lives...well, my friend, I say GO FOR IT! Let the naysayers show what they're doing to combat overpopulation and finding suitable homes for cats. If they cannot, they can just go away.

Mar 29, 2011
by: Elizabeth Blackwell

You love them.. that is enough to say that you are their "MOTHER" in a sense of the word. Do not let other people discourage you from loving each one of them. GOD will bless you!

Mar 29, 2011
Give me a break!
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

You have saved the lives of 15 cats, more than most people could ever do or ever will do. The cats are beautiful, healthy and happy. Anyone can see the evidence of that. You also write articles that save lives. We have a carbon monoxide detector now because of one of your articles. You have also said you feel Lily would be happier as an only cat. Where are the people coming forward to adopt her?

I have seen this before also. Most people are sheep. (I say that with apologies to the sheep.) They only know how to follow along doing what everyone else does. When one person has an original idea or a little bit of initiative they just gang up on that person and criticize. I see it at church. Most people are not active in the church, but they sure complain about the ones who are actually doing things, whether it be community outreach, help for the poor, fundraising, fun activities-- or the music. As the musician I'm on the front lines of a lot of bitching. Five different churches in twenty years, same story every time. Bitch, bitch, bitch, but they don't join the choir or pitch in or get involved.

Don't let them get you down! Hear all those who admire and support the work you do. I'll bet you have more supporters than critics. We usually do, but we only hear the critics. Ignore the sheep. People who are true leaders in their own lives understand what you are doing and love it!

Mar 29, 2011
I know this
by: Michael

Hi Elisa. I don't know how the sponsorship works so I won't comment on that. I do know two things though.

I know you through working with you for about 2 years now and I know how you care for your cats.

And you are one heck of a cat caretaker. I doubt there is a person better qualified to care for cats in the USA.

Your cats are as content and as well fed as they can be. You have saved their lives.

You can't do more than that.

Which brings me to the conclusion that if the objective is to give these cats a good life rather than be killed then the objective has been soundly met.

Are you a cat sanctuary? Taking a common sense interpretation of the word, you most certainly do have a cat sanctuary and it is a bloody good one.

It is hard to see how it can be much better. You have saved the lives of these cats and given them a good life. What more can a cat sanctuary promise and deliver?

It probably goes beyond a cat sanctuary, actually. Your home is their home. It is a home for unwanted cats who become wanted. It doesn't get better for the cats.

2 thoughts on “Cat Sanctuary”

  1. I think you are doing just great. Don’t listen to people. There are many cats needing homes. You have a good safe home for them. I rescued 35 and will not adopt them out.


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