There are days when it would be easy to lose faith in humanity if you let yourself. And then there are days when you meet someone quietly doing the work of angels and you realize how much good there really is in the world. The day I visited NEADY Cats, a no-kill cats-only shelter in Sterling, Massachusetts was one of those days.
I became connected with NEADY Cats in the roundabout way that great connections always seem to be made. A neighbor’s aunt, who’d adopted two special felines from the shelter some years ago, and who continues to make regular donations, included a Monster Cheese Wedge in her donations one day. Several shelter cats took an immediate interest in the box and volunteer Judy Henry was ready with a camera. Judy is an amateur photographer and her outstanding skills with a Nikon keep the shelter’s Facebook audience well entertained. She was kind enough to track me down to share some photos of the resident cats enjoying the Cheese Wedge and an immediate bond was formed.
My husband, Chris, and I dropped by on a recent Tuesday, bearing cases of Fancy Feast and a Mega Milk Carton to donate to the collection. We wanted to meet the humans and cats we’d only gotten to know through email and Facebook in person.
What we found was a beautiful, home-like shelter where the cats roam cage-free, amidst toys and cat trees and furniture to cozy up on, and where volunteers cuddle and play with the cats all day long. There are several, including a new feline mother (a ginger with 5 pretty ginger kittens) and a cat recovering from a visit to the veterinarian, who are afforded the privacy of their own cage, but most wander about, mewing and interacting with visitors.
There are several cats, some with disabilities and others with personality quirks that make them harder to place, who’ve called the shelter home for most of their lives. They are welcome to spend the rest of their days here, and that seems to be fine with both the cats and Judy and her many volunteer cohorts.
NEADY Cats has been providing shelter to cats for more than 30 years. It was founded as an offshoot of NEADS, the oldest training center for service dogs in the nation. Puppies in training need to be exposed to many of the different sights and sounds they will encounter in their role as service animals, including cats. NEADS kept a few rescue cats around campus who earned their keep by training the dogs. A few cats turned into more than a few, and pretty soon NEADY Cats was born.
For anyone looking to contribute to an organization that is changing the world for the good, you need look no further than NEADY Cats. Please consider donating, or, if you’re local, volunteering. Visit Neady Cats at www.neadycats.org.
Dawn LaFontaine is a lifelong animal lover who always seems to have a little pet hair in her keyboard. Her blog, Kitty Contemplations, helps cat guardians better understand and care for the special beings they share their lives and homes with. Her cat-products business, Cat in the Box, sells beautiful, well-made, and award-winning products that she designed to meet the biological needs of cats.