Abandoned but not forgotten

Cat sanctuary founder provides permanent home for forsaken felines

By: Aurora Sain, Reporter

View the original article in The Auburn Journal

Finding homes for abandoned cats has become one woman’s full-time, unpaid job.

Shirley Hartford, founder of Friends Forever, A Cat Sanctuary, has devoted her life to cats for the last 10 years.

“The kitties that come here will live out their lives if they have no place to go,” Hartford said.

The sanctuary is no-kill, no-cage and 100 percent survived by donations and their thrift store, The Cat’s Meow.

At any given time, the Nevada Street organization houses 75 to 140 cats depending on the season.

The sanctuary is open five days a week to the public, but someone is at the shelter daily to care for the animals.

The sanctuary uses Companion Veterinary Clinic for all of their medical needs, which more often than not is a lot.

“It’s odd to not have at least one cat at the vet,” Hartford said.Last summer the sanctuary took in 140 kittens and it wasn’t unusual to see a $6,000 to $8,000 month bill.

The volunteers help with the weekly washing of litter boxes and the care of the 14 separate rooms of cats.

They also have an isolationroom for cats who may need some space to get better or for newcomers.

Most recently, Friends Forever took in three cats and had no where to put them so they ended up living in the bathroom for a few days.

Friends Forever strives to have at least one adoption a day. In December they adopted out 50 cats.

“For every cat that gets adopted, there’s room for another one,” Hartford said.

Sometimes cats are able to be reunited with their owners because of a microchip, but more frequently, the strays are never reunited or are left behind.

“It’s very sad. Who leaves a cat behind?” said Hartford. “They think they can just live on their own.”

The shelter is always looking for monetary donations and volunteers.

There are five different volunteer positions including adoption counselor,foster care, workinghe thrift shop and cat socialization.

Hartford has about 60 active volunteers, but she consistency is a big problem.

She is also looking for someone to run the social media accounts and help with the online presence.

Volunteers can be 14-years-old or older, any younger and the person must be accompanied by an adult.