The Alexandria-based no kill animal shelter King Street Cats has a lot to purr about in 2013. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the all-volunteer organization that services kitty lovers throughout the region.
“A decade ago we could not have imagined that we would now find ourselves in a special facility on Dove Street in Alexandria rescuing over 350 cats and kittens per year,” said Vivian Bacon, board president of King Street Cats, in an emailed statement. “We could not do this work without the support of the local community, including many dedicated people who volunteer their time to caring for our cats until they find forever homes.”
Since doors opened in 2003, King Street Cats has rescued moe than 2,500 cats from D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and from as far afield as St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In terms of numbers, 2012 was the best year so far for King Street Cats, which placed 273 cats in homes and rescued a 82 felines.
“If you give them money, 100 percent goes directly to the cats, a dollar donation is well spent,” said Chris Dionigi, an auxiliary police officer with Arlington County who picked up his feline friend Buddy at King Street Cats. “It is amazing the number of feral and free-ranging cats in parks; they are not getting care, they’re breeding more and eating birds. King Street Cats is dealing with a serious but not recognized problem.”
According to Melissa Murphy, a principal volunteer with King Street Cats, feral and street cats are often easily rehabilitated with medicine, food, and love. “There are abused cats on the streets in D.C., but when they receive care and don’t have to forage they are so happy,” said Murphy.
Rehabilitation programs at King Street Cats vary on a case-by-case basis. When major medical care is needed, such as when cats have respiratory problems, broken pelvises or amputated limbs, a foster system is used that provides one-on-one care following surgery. Not all rehabilitation programs focus on physical maladies however, as the hardest cases involve depression in cats.
“The hardest part is when cats are given up from homes,” said Murphy. “When cats have lived in a home for 10 plus years, and suddenly find themselves in a shelter, they become depressed, stop eating, and they crash.”
King Street Cats highlights such cases with an annual “What About Me?” campaign, which focuses on finding homes for elderly felines. March through September is kitty season, when cats breed in greater numbers, and is one of the most important times of the year for the shelter.
Although King Street Cats is a no kill shelter, capacity is limited and space is only available when cats find new and permanent homes.