Photo credit: Cat Depot/Laura Towle

Cats and kittens have not been roaming the Cat Depot shelter on 17th Street since April 2, when management decided to temporarily close its doors due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Instead, the nonprofit organization was able to quickly move the 69 cats and kittens in its care to foster homes, thanks to its network of some 100 foster “parents,” says communications director Claudia Harden. “They all have such large hearts.”  

Cat Depot began limited operations on March 15, sending out a notice that adoptions would be by appointment only. Through the end of March, 95 cats were adopted, a much higher rate than usual for that month, says Harden. “Our plea was answered. People wanted company at home now, we’re assuming,” she says.

Adoption applications are still being accepted over the phone (941-366-2404) so that when the shelter does reopen “they can come pick up their kitties,” says Harden. And the medical team is still intaking cats on as-needed basis, says Harden, responding to voicemail and email messages from elderly people who can no longer care for their kitties because they’ve fallen ill, from people who’ve found homeless cats, and from people who’ve lost their jobs and can’t provide for their “furry family members.” Typically, they get 20 to 35 such calls each week, depending on the season. That number has not increased since the coronavirus epidemic halted everyday activities.

The Cat Depot normally has 402 active volunteers who have donated at least 10 hours of service in the last six months. A consistent 160 or so are regular volunteers.

Altogether, Cat Depot facilitated the adoptions of 1,349 cats in 2019—16,085 since it was founded in 2003. These are cats that have been abandoned, abused or given up by their owners because they could no longer take care of them. More than 4,300 cats were given veterinary services in its public pet care clinic in 2019.

“If anyone needs a furry family member to hug on at night,” she says, “please give us a call.”

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