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North Port pet portraitist Nancy Colby travels with her adopted special-needs cats Bowtie and Courage to art shows around Florida, where she raises funds for Cat Depot and educates people about the joys of adopting animals that need a little extra care.

“A special-needs cat might need food for digestive issues, insulin for diabetes. Right now I have two little blind girls; and I’ve had blind and deaf cats.”

“Bowtie came from a hoarding environment and lost an ear, tail and most of his teeth. Now he has a wardrobe of 80 different bowties. Courage is a blind ragdoll [cat]. They go with me to art shows, where I have a booth with my paintings and a box for donations to Cat Depot. When people see them and say ‘Oooh,’ I say, ‘No, don’t look away, they’re fine, and they have a wonderful life.’”

“It all started with my cat, Mighty Lou, who was deaf and had diabetes and neuropathy. I adopted him through Cat Depot. He was known as the Caped Crusader because he wore capes everywhere. I started a fund at Cat Depot called ‘Friends Like Me’; when he died several large memorial gifts came in, and we also auctioned his capes off. Now Bowtie and Courage are carrying on his legacy.”

“I love it when people realize, ‘Wow, this cat does get a life, it doesn’t have to be done away with.’”

To learn more or donate, go to catdepot.org.

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