It is not often, after age 40, to experience unbridled joy. Such a moment is worth noting.
This joyful instance occurred during a visit to the when I held three kittens in my arms all at once. I felt their tiny hearts beating against my chest; their small fluffy bodies were incredibly warm.
As Pat Cotton (BCC, VP) handed them to me one after another – much to my surprise – I laughed out loud. A tiny calico, wiry tiger and long haired orange –all soft bellied and calm – didn't seem to mind my titterings as I tried not to drop them!
These kittens were new to the shelter and not yet fixed or named. Rob, my photographer, couldn't help cracking a big grin as I balanced these warm, somewhat limp bundles of sweet smelling fur in my two hands while he tried getting them to look at the camera. And though I couldn't stop smiling at the affect these cuddle bugs had on me, I was here for a purpose: Specifically to meet the folks who run BCC and take its mission seriously – tackling feline overpopulation, controlling and tending cat colonies, being a community partner and bringing people and cats together. I gave the kittens back and sat down to chat with Mary Mellows the current BCC President.
BCC was founded in 1997 by a group of Branford residents concerned with the astonishing number of stray and feral cats and kittens in town. They provide food, shelter and care for homeless, abandoned and feral cats. For many years they worked out of their homes, fostering and placing cats and tending the feral colonies.
I met Mary at BCC's new location on Rt. 80 in North Branford where they've been since last February. This bright and clean, windowed storefront was humming with activity—cats playing, volunteers bustling, contractors painting. They are still settling into the space, remaking each cat room with a theme and overall creating a welcoming atmosphere for cats and visitors. If you want to volunteer or adopt, this is a nice environment to be in.
Mary discussed why cats and kittens end up here and provided some jaw dropping stats. Before BCC, starving cats roamed through town eating out of dumpsters and continually procreating. Two cats can produce a colony of up to 70 cats within two years. An unspayed cat, her unneutered mate, and their offspring can reproduce up to 11,000 cats within five years! Thanks to BCC and its dedicated volunteers, many Branford and shoreline cat colonies are under control. But they must be vigilant or it could quickly get out of hand.
Opening the shelter is a giant step for BCC and has eliminated some stresses while creating others. Running a shelter is a huge responsibility and full time endeavor. Mary and the BCC board need to insure the organization doesn't falter and now have to think about paying rent and utilities. So fundraising is vital. Yet the new space allows them to house up to 70 or so cats—they currently have 44 up for adoption. And people looking to adopt now have a place to come to see the cats.
Another benefit to having a storefront: they’ve doubled their volunteer base. Strong community ties and support made securing this space possible. Through a generous partnership with Dr. Fischbach, a vet who owns the building and veterinary practice next store, BCC is able to keep costs down.
Unfortunately, they are anticipating a banner kitten season. Unseasonably warm weather will trigger an early mating season for the cats they haven’t been able to trap and neuter. So they are trying to spay as many ferals as possible to keep the litter count down.
Even as they’ve consolidated their operation under one roof, they still feed the colonies twice daily. Feral cats are never brought to the shelter; they are happy being outside and don’t understand the concept of doors or windows. Mary clarified some big misconceptions about ferals. “They are not dangerous and will not attack you. And if fed in a controlled manner will not attract wild animals. It is not their fault they were abandoned and became wild but the result of human neglect.” So they need our care and attention.
Looking for a joyful or meaningful experience? Just want to help cats feral or domesticated? I strongly encourage a visit to BCC. Adopt, donate (money or time), fundraise, feed or clean. Hold a purring cat or warm kitten, help out, do some good, feel joy and spread love!
Your community will be the better for it (and so will you!)
Branford Compassion Club Feline Rescue & Adoption Center, 2037 Foxon Road (Rt. 80), N. Branford, CT 203-483-MEOW
Open Saturday 11 am to 3pm.
Listed below are currently the most urgent items needed.
- Wet Cat Food (meat or fish as first ingredients)
- Dry Cat Food (meat or fish as first ingredients)
- Cat Treats
- Kitty Litter
- Litter Boxes
- Cleaning Supplies (Clorox Spray, Clorox Wipes, Paper Towels, Dish Soap, etc.)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Garbage Bags
- Frontline Flea Control
- Gift Certificates (All Pets Club, Wal-Mart, Petco, PetSmart, supermarkets in the area, etc. -places where the items above can be purchased.)
Follow Lisa Maloney on Twitter @LMMaloney48.
Hamden Patch Blogger is Protector of animals, avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast, free lance writer, former disco queen. Want to blog for Patch? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org