Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Visit To Tabby's Place Cat Sanctuary

Long before I was a cat blogger, I was a fan of Tabby's Place. The one-of-a-kind cat sanctuary started as an idea in 1999 by Founder & Executive Director, Jonathan Rosenberg, and has gone on to become an outstanding facility, known worldwide for its dedication to providing "refuge for cats in hopeless situations."

After he and his wife found out that their beloved cat, Tabby, was diagnosed with untreatable cancer, Rosenberg reevaluated his priorities, and decided to switch careers. He quit his job, and committed his time and resources to building Tabby's Place as a way to make a difference, and to help honor the memory of Tabby, who passed away on September 15, 1999, only 4 months after his diagnosis.

(Click images to enlarge)

The facility, located in Ringoes, NJ, opened in 2003, and since then has welcomed 1,000 cats through its doors. In fact, the 1,000th Tabby's Place resident, Twix, an FIV+ beauty queen, entered the sanctuary just under two months ago, and has been stealing hearts ever since. (mine included!)

The purpose of Tabby's Place is three-fold: It's an adoption center, where over 900 cats have been adopted out to loving homes, a hospital (there's a modest on-site medical facility that can handle procedures such as spay and neuter, etc.), and a hospice that provides care, and a warm loving environment for chronically or terminally ill cats to live out their lives in comfort.

I know it's one thing to read about these things, but when you visit the sanctuary, you know it's all true. It's a magical place for cats and cat lovers alike, where the unconditional love, devotion, and respect given to all of the cats, regardless of their age, or medical condition, is evident.

My new friend, Natalie!

When I found out I was nominated for Best Social Integration Blog at the 2011 Petties Pet Blog Awards, it seemed to me that Tabby's Place would be the perfect recipient of the $1,000 prize donation, if I should win. Of course, it would be a "professional" honor for me to bring home the award, but especially after visiting again today, I can say it would be a much greater personal honor to be able to give back to these very deserving cats, many of whom might not be alive today, if not for this extraordinary facility and the wonderful staff and volunteers who run it.

Tabby's Place is unique not only in that it's a cats only, cage-free sanctuary, but as I mentioned earlier, that is was created with the sole purpose of being a "refuge for cats in hopeless situations."

What that means is, cats that find themselves at Tabby's Place are primarily rescued from high-kill shelters and certain euthanasia. They also don't just come from New Jersey, they come from all over the United States, and the world. In fact, I was shocked to learn that the furthest rescue was three cats, Kimiko, Miyagi, and Pikachu, who were flown in all the way from Okinawa, Japan!

Generally, the only cats in cages are kittens (who are allowed out on supervised romps), cats who are in quarantine for a short period after they arrive at the sanctuary, and cats recovering from medical procedures in the veterinary clinic. The rest of the 100 residents (they're almost ALWAYS at maximum capacity), are each delegated to their own suites, based on their various needs and medical conditions.

Hanging out with Mistletoe in the FIV+ suite

Today I got to spend time in Suite B, which is for the healthy, generally "normal" cats, as well as the FIV+ suite. There's also a room for overweight kitties, and of course, take a walk in the front lobby or any of the office areas, and you're sure to encounter a cat or two (or six) lounging about.

Another cool feature of the sanctuary is that there's "tunnels" within the suites that lead to outdoor solariums, where cats can safely catch cool breezes, and watch butterflies and birds in the garden. I mean, what cat wouldn't want "window whiffies"?? (And as a person, the scent of the wafting lavender, in full bloom right now, was absolutely heavenly!)

Cherny's Garden

During today's visit, I also met with Development Director, Angela Townsend, the nicest, most warm and friendly person you could ever hope to meet. Angela speaks so passionately about Tabby's Place, and all of its residents that you can't help but be inspired, and want to help the cause.

Townsend has been at Tabby's Place for four years now, and tells me she always knew she wanted to work with animals, but put the thought aside when she felt called by the church and attended seminary. Little did she know that the sanctuary she was really being called to was a little different than what she had in mind, but the perfect fit for her, nonetheless.

Angela's tabby office-mate, Webster

When asked, Angela told me that money is the greatest need at Tabby's Place, and for that reason, I encourage anyone who can to consider making a donation, or sponsoring one of their special needs cats. Around 30% of the Tabby's Place population is special needs, and they rely almost entirely on individual donations. As you might imagine, the medical expenses for some of these cats can be astronomical. Once a cat is in Tabby's Place's care, they are a "Tabby's Place cat for life," and the staff will go to the "ends of the earth" to get whatever kind of medical treatment they need, whatever the cost, as long as it's in the best interest of the cat.

Angela also told me they can ALWAYS use wet cat food of any brand, and non-clumping cat litter, as they go through a staggering 3,000 pounds a month!

So what else can you do to help? I'm asking that every day from now until July 29th, you take a minute to visit and vote for Catsparella in the category of Best Social Integration Blog. You don't have to vote in the other categories (unless you want to), and you can vote a few times a day.

To help motivate you, over the next few weeks I will also be regularly featuring some of Tabby's Place special needs residents who stand to directly benefit from the $1,000 donation, so you can see just how your votes would be making a difference.

For more information on the sanctuary, on how to donate, on any of the cats pictured in this post, and more, please visit (Angela pens their amazing 'Felis Catus' blog, which is a must read!), and you can also follow their super Twitter page @TabbysPlace.

Thank you again to everyone for your support, and please remember to vote every day and spread the word!



Angela (from Tabby's Place) said...

Stephanie, I am in grateful tears. I am so moved by your words, and by your love for everykitty. It was a great joy meeting you today (and that goes double for Webster, Tanya, Mistletoe and especially Natalie).

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The Tabby's Place cats (and we humble human beans) are blessed to have you in our orbit.

Catsparella said...

Angela, now you are making me cry!! Thank you so much for your kind words, and for taking the time to meet with me today, introducing me to all the wonderful kitties, and answering my bazillion questions!

You are an angel for the amazing work you do. You put so much of your heart and soul into your job, and it's the most wonderful thing to see.

Thank you again, and I'm sure I will be seeing you again soon! But until then, I hope you enjoy your (much deserved) time off! :)

Julie Flanders said...

Hi Stephanie! I'm a huge fan of Tabby's Place as I have written about the sanctuary, but have never had the opportunity to visit as I live in Ohio. I really enjoyed getting this virtual tour!! Tabby's Place is so amazing, and I think it's fabulous that you are doing this. I will vote for you often!

It's great to discover your blog, I'm looking forward to reading more.

Catsparella said...

Hi Julie! Thank you so much for stopping by! Thank you for your vote, and for your support! I am looking forward to checking out your blog as well!

Sarah said...

Wow, this is amazing... you are SO much more than just a "cat lady" blogger. You deserve to win, and I hope you do-- for Tabby's Place! What a beautiful organization. I can't wait to read the features on the extra special residents.

Catsparella said...

@Sarah Thank you, you're the best!! I'm tearing up again! lol

Susan said...

Thank you so much for showing me Tabby's Place. It warms my heart to read of a place who really loves kitties and a staff who really do love their jobs/care so much about their residents. I hope that you win so that you can have the change to help out TP. I always enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work (I've been trying to vote for you each day, whenever I remember!!).

Catsparella said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for your kind words! I'm glad I was able to introduce you to Tabby's Place, and we are very happy to have your vote!!

Catsparella said...

@Aimee! lol! I'm not that they're all fat, but they're definitely all happy!

Cat Wisdom 101 said...

Good choice for the Pettie Award shelter. I blogged about Tabby's Place at my Boomer Muse blog in 2009.

Catsparella said...

Thanks, Layla! I'll definitely have to check out your post!

Your Daily Cute said...

I want to go visit!

The Island Cats said...

We love Tabby's Place! What a wonderful place!! We sure hope you win the Petite so Tabby's Place will win too!

Catsparella said...

@Dorian Yes, you need to!!

@The Island Cats Thanks, friends!! I hope so too!

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