Neglected felines find friends in nonprofit

bmorem@thetribunenews.com  January 5, 2012 

The last time I diagrammed the Morem household animal menagerie, Buster, the 13-year-old lemon beagle, had died and The Lovely Sharita and I had concerns that our 13-year-old pug, Bailey, was going to die of a broken heart with the passing of her lifelong boy-toy.

Well, that scenario hasn’t happened. With Buster’s passing, our 15-year-old cat, Meowcifer, stepped up to the proverbial plate and became fast friends with Bailey. So fast, in fact, they sniff each other; brazenly filch food (Meowcifer is the real culprit when it comes to high-grading Bailey’s chow); and they sleep together — whether in the morning sun or on our bed.

I bring these glad tidings for a couple of reasons. First, Bill Murray’s line from 1984’s “Ghostbusters” — “Dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria” — hasn’t played out, at least for us.

Second, fully acknowledging that cats can be seen as prickly little customers with haughty attitudes that dither between boredom and disdain, I’d like to relate a feel-good story about 24 cats and kittens that were recently rescued.

The story, according to my friend Cathy Enns, founder of the nonprofit Paws Cause, began several years ago when neighbors of a decrepit house in Paso Robles became alarmed about the treatment — or lack thereof — of the aforementioned brood of cats.

“For many years,” according to Enns, “neighbors living near the home had felt concerned, frustrated and, in the words of a retired woman next door, even ‘horrified and frightened’ over the condition of the house and the goings on at all hours.

“The property sported piles of paint cans, plumbing fixtures and tools, abandoned furniture, nonfunctional vehicles, stacks of tires and mountains of just plain junk. And cats, lots of cats.”

It was kind of a mystery to neighbors as to what was going on in the home. Although they knew an adult son and his mother lived in the house, they seemed to have no income, no food, no phone and no transportation.

“They often asked those living nearby for help, and neighbors took to feeding the cats and looking after their health,” Enns explained.

In early December, “The neighbors told us the problems at the house were going from bad to worse,” said Enns, “but although we felt a distinct sense of urgency, we devised a strategy to rescue the cats over a period of a few weeks.” The mother and son cooperated.

“The plan included evaluating the animals in terms of general health and personality,” Enns explained. Then, each cat would be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and taken to a foster home or shelter in preparation for adoption.

Woods Humane Society and the Cal Poly Cat Program helped. Neighbors also adopted several of the cats.

Then something the neighbors both feared and hoped for, came to pass: Both the son and mother left town, leaving the rest of the cats to fend for themselves, Enns said. Enns and her Paws Cause partner, Jennifer Toscano, met at the house just before New Year’s Eve to rescue the remaining handful of cats.

“Today,” said Enns, “all the felines have been rounded up and have received the medical services each one needed. Some have found forever homes already; some are still living with foster families.”

Without question, the cats that Paws Cause, Woods Humane Society and the Cal Poly Cat Program helped would have lived short, miserable lives, scrounging on the streets as feral predators, procreating at will.

Paws Cause is stepping up to do what it can to alleviate that pain and suffering and has helped some 240 cats find homes this year.

If you want to learn more about the organization, go to www.northcountypawscause.org.

Bill Morem can be reached at bmorem@thetribunenews.com or at 781-7852.

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