Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist
Latest posts by Darlene Pistocchi (see all)
For over 20 years, CatPals has been providing quality of life for the community cats living in managed colonies at Hollywood’s North Beach Park through Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR). Each cat is humanely trapped, tested for disease, sterilized and vaccinated.
However, due to a recent mandate issued by Broward County Parks, all cats must be removed by December 31, 2016, or the felines face certain death.
President Tracey Paige is reaching out for support.
“We need dedicated volunteers to continue to help us with daily feeding, as well as fundraising and outreach efforts.” But their biggest need is fosters, adopters and people with barns or stables that might like to have a ‘few spoiled cats’. “We try very hard to find homes for every adoptable cat and with the deadline looming, we are doubling our efforts.”
CatPals, staffed completely by volunteers, was started in 1994 when their TNR program was presented to the City of Hollywood and Broward County by founder, Cindy Martin, with the endorsement of Dr. James Dee of Hollywood Animal Hospital – who generously provided over 300 spay and neuters to get CatPals started.
“We have successfully reduced the original population of 300 cats down to 40,” affirmed Tracey. These cats remain along the 56 acres of North Beach Park. “They are all spay/neutered, fed and given fresh water daily along with lots of love.”
Where does all the food, love and attention come from?
“Many of Hollywood’s residents show their support by making contributions,” explained Tracey. “They thank us when they see us taking care of the cats and acknowledge the service we provide, not only to the cats but to the community (with respect to trap, spay and neuter).” Volunteers also provide the majority of the food.
Some of these local volunteers include: Walsh’s Pub, Minute Man Press, the Sun Sentinel, and Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. Pet Supermarket in Hollywood allows CatPals to create awareness about the cats and collect food donations each month at their location, and Rudy’s Pub and Restaurant in Hollywood allows CatPals to hold their biggest fundraiser each March – which includes dinner, drinks and ‘lots of fabulous’ raffle prizes.
Also chipping in are Dr. Bishop and his team at Broward Animal Hospital – offering reasonable fees and care for any medical needs. According to Tracey, not every vet can handle community cats. “There are cats that are better suited for barns and stables, as they will not adapt to indoor living. But, these cats are great and make the best pest control.”
One unfortunate statistic is the prevalence of black cats among the strays and unwanted. “The misconception or superstition surrounding black cats makes them seem more disposable,” explained Tracey. “Black cats make very special loving pets. I adopted one from the beach myself.”
The organization is ‘heartbroken’ that they need to remove the cats from their home on Hollywood Beach. “We would have liked nothing more than to have the remaining cats live out their lives where they have food, water, medical attention, and love,” said Tracey. Many of the cats are older and may not have the opportunity to finish out their lives in a peaceful existence.
Can you give one of these felines a home?
There is no adoption fee, although CatPals has a strict adoption policy with an application and home visit prior to the cat leaving the colony. This is to ensure a successful pairing, as there are too many sad endings for unwanted cats. “Within 3 days, the majority of cats dumped at the beach are killed trying to find their way back home, or are not accepted into an existing colony.”
If you can’t adopt, you might consider fostering, donating land or food (which the volunteers will happily arrange to pick-up), or monetary contributions for medical costs and getting the cats ready for adoption.
CatPals also has cat calendars on sale, as well as pet-themed jewelry, logoed t-shirts, catwatches and notecards designed by their youngest 13-year old volunteer.