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Editor’s note: This story was written Oct. 29, National Cat Day.
Michelle Corella and other volunteers at The Cat’s Meow Adoption Center have found homes for more than 500 cats and kittens since the facility opened in October 2014 at 2211 N. Mesquite St., a bit south of the intersection of Mesquite Street and east Madrid Avenue.
There are at least 50 cats and kittens on site, waiting to find their forever homes, Corella said. There are an additional 60 or so cats in foster care who also are looking to be adopted.
There are also opportunities to volunteer at the center, to foster cats and/or to donate to The Cat’s Meow. And Corella said help is needed now more than ever.
She said 2020 has been the most difficult year she has experienced in two decades as a community cat advocate and activist.
“I’ve never seen so many cats needing homes,” she said, adding that she often gets 10 or more calls a day, seven days a week, about unwanted cats and litters of kittens.
“It never gets better,” she said.
“The sheer volume of cats, and especially unwanted kittens, means the center must, unfortunately, turn away some felines in need of help,” Corella said. That’s especially true for adult cats, who don’t always get along with one other, unlike kittens who can live and play together.
Corella described three cats hoping to find permanent homes: “Charlie and Chaos are a pair of bonded brothers, about 18 months old. They are beautiful, sleek, black kitties who are loveable, playful and energetic. Tanzi is a sweet little tortoiseshell kitty, about 11 months old, who came to us with five little kittens. She nursed not only her own kittens, but several others who needed a mama. Now she needs a loving home of her own. Tanzi enjoys human attention, but also can keep herself entertained, playing with toys and running about.”
Finding good homes for cats is what The Cat’s Meow is all about, Corella said. But that is only part of the solution to a cat overpopulation problem that can only be effectively addressed by a communitywide spay-neuter program.
“We need a philosophical change in the community,” she said. “We need to do something other than hand off strays and unwanted cats and kittens to the shelter.”
The most important step would be for the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County to enact and provide at least partial funding for a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, Corella said, noting that a single adult female cat can begin having kittens at eight months and can have up to four liters of kittens a year.
A change in city ordinance is also needed to make it easier for people to manage colonies of community cats all over the city, she said. Without colony managers, TNR is not possible, Corella said. And, without TNR, the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley will never reach no-kill status.
“It’s an endless cycle until you get to the root of the problem,” she said. “I wish people could understand that and get behind it. The city’s investment in a TNR program “will only enrich our community,” Corella said. “Cats are part of the landscape.”
The Cat’s Meow is adhering to all COVID-19 safety protocols, she said, including limiting the number of visitors allowed inside the center at any one time. The center is usually open to visitors Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but it is a good idea to call ahead and make sure the center is open or to set an appointment to visit.
The Cat’s Meow charges $50 per adoption.
“It’s a real bargain,” Corella said, because the fee includes spay-neuter, all the necessary shots and the implanting of a microchip.
The center has about 20 volunteers who staff the property seven days a week, Corella said. But more volunteers would be welcome, and so would individuals or families who would like to provide temporary (foster) homes for one or more cats for a few days to a few weeks at a time.
Cash donations are also welcome. They allow The Cat’s Meow staff to buy the food and other supplies they need.
“We never say no to any donations,” Corella said.
Send donations to The Cat’s Meow, P.O. Box 3166, Las Cruces, N.M. 88003. Donate online at www.thecatsmeowlascruces.com.
Contact Corella at 575-640-0011, 575-639-3036 or email@example.com.