by Diana Hockley
Recently Diana discovered a wonderful and very special cat sanctuary, the Odd Cat Sanctuary in Salem, Massachusetts. So she took some time to chat with it’s founder Tara Kay.
KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and total dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of the Odd Cat Sanctuary, and when did it come into being?
Tara: I feel like there are so many shelters and rescues available for normal, healthy, fluffy cats and kittens. I wanted to create a safe place for special cats and kittens that were handicapped and had issues that made them less adoptable. Cats that have accidents outside the box, aggression issues, diseased, feral, old, sick, handicapped, and abandoned. I started the rescue in 2015 and it became official in September of that year. I wanted to make a difference in cats’ lives; that’s what motivated me.
KRL: How did you personally get involved?
Tara: I founded the rescue, came up with the name and idea. I love cats and wanted a safe place for less desirable ones to go and still have a shot at a wonderful life.
KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house, a shed, or a purpose-built complex?
Tara: We currently only have our Petsmart adoption center, but we are looking to have our own place soon—we hope. We are foster-based all over Massachusetts now, which somewhat limits our intakes because of space.
KRL: How many cats can you accommodate, and do you get many kittens?
Tara: At times we have had upward 60 cats and kittens in foster: [it] just depends how many fosters we have at a given time. We get tons of kittens during kitten season, and local trappers are always offering us litters.
KRL: All rescues are special, but do you have a particular story about a rescue which might have been dramatic or outstanding in some way?
Tara: I would say that’s Jason. His number was up, and I saved him from being euthanized at a local shelter. He was four months old, had a broken jaw, and was semi-feral. He loved to eat and purr; however, he was a sick little boy. We noticed during one sedation event his injuries were much more severe than anyone originally thought. Jason also had a skull fracture on top of his severe broken jaw.
The cause was likely trauma/abuse. Even with all these issues, Jason purred and devoured his food every day. He needed about 10 surgeries with TOCS, costing $10,000 in total, [was] with us over six months, including sewing his jaw shut for a month in the hope it would heal the fracture. During two different surgeries, two different doctors said (while Jason was under anesthesia) “The kindest thing you could do is let him go, his injuries are pretty severe, and we don’t know if he can recover.” I listened to Jason instead, thinking about his constant purring and loving his daily meals, and said I want to move forward and try with him. I felt if his personality ever declined, or his zest for life then I would agree with the vets. Good thing I listened to my own intuition. Jason’s jaw never healed properly from being wired shut, however it healed enough so he could eat dry food and treats and be a normal cat! He has since grown into a gorgeous cat and has been adopted. His jaw is still disfigured aesthetically, but he’s a happy, playful, loving, sweet guy. Never give up on an animal if they haven’t given up on themselves!
KRL: Are you a registered charity for rescue or tax exemption purposes?
Tara: We are with the state of Massachusetts and an approved charity.
KRL: Do the local authorities support you?
Tara: We have a lot of support from around the world and are trying currently to create more of a presence locally. Doing interviews like this help get the word out! Thank you so much for your time and willingness to speak to us.
KRL: How does the local community regard your activities and are they supportive in adoption and/or monetary terms?
Tara: We do have a lot of local volunteers who help at Petsmart taking care of our cats. We are trying to grow our presence locally, though, and the ones who know who we are have been supportive!
KRL: Do you have many volunteers and how do you recruit them?
Tara: We do have a bunch of wonderful volunteers currently. We mostly post on our Facebook page and ask. That has worked so far!
KRL: Rescues depend on donations from the public. Do you charge a small fee for your animals when they are adopted? And do you have PayPal and credit card facilities?
Tara: We do have an adoption fee per cat and we do have PayPal! We do not have credit card abilities, but we would like this option in the future.
KRL: How hard is it to get your precious charges adopted? Do you have any agreement with local pet shops to adopt out of their premises?
Tara: We have a decent success rate in adopting out our cats, and we have a little bit of a following on social media, so that helps. We don’t work with any local pet shops. We have our adoption center out of Petsmart Danvers that’s helpful as well.
KRL: What are the special challenges to rescuing Odd Cats?
Tara: Finding an understanding person or family who love our special handicapped cats as much as we do. For the most part we have had success doing this, though they require more care [and] rehab, and are more costly, needing more surgeries than an average rescue cat. They also need more time to adjust, as they have all been through a lot.
KRL: How many animals do you think you have saved so far, and do you ever get feral cats handed in?
Tara: We have saved about 3,000 cats and kittens since 2015. Yes, we get ferals quite often. We love feral cats!
KRL: Wow that’s amazing! Have you any fundraising or adoption events coming up, and would you like to give the details?
Tara: We always try to do some sort of fundraiser when possible. Two are going on right now. We are planning a day with flatbreads in Salem, MA, and we also have a fundraiser on Facebook to get our own facility.
KRL: Do local vet surgeries help in any way?
Tara: They do! We work with a couple of local clinics that provide a generous discount to help us financially care for our cats.
KRL: Does the nearest ASPCA or shelter send cats to you and do they help if they can?
Tara: They have not sent us any cats and have not helped us thus far. Out of state shelters across the country have reached out and asked for our help though.
KRL: What are your most urgent needs right now and how can people help?
Tara: Sharing our available cats! Volunteering at Petsmart, Danvers location, working on the back end processing our applications, joining our fundraising teams! Getting the word out about The Odd Cat Sanctuary.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add to this?
Tara: Thank you so much for your time to listen about us & help spread the word. It means so much!
KRL: What are your website URL, FB, Twitter, email and phone number?
Tara: Phone: +1 (978) 979-0063?
Donation link: www.facebook.com/TheOddCatSanctuary/posts/1239990219466976
KRL: What is the mission statement for your rescue?
Tara: We exist to help save special needs, handicapped, feral, old, sick, diseased, and abandoned cats. We are an approved, all-volunteer Massachusetts charity, that relies on donations. We love cats!
You can check out more animal rescue & pet related articles in our Pet Perspective section.