Sometimes Louise feels like a cat magnet. “No matter where I was living, a cat would show up at my door.”
Even when she was on vacation, chances were pretty good that a local cat would stop by for a meal and some good old fashioned lovin’. So much so, in fact, that when she found out there was a cat colony near the resort where she was staying in Myrtle Beach, that became her favorite vacation spot. “I made daily trips to the colony to make sure they had fresh food and water. A baggie of dry cat food was a staple in my glove compartment.”
Louise’s compassion for felines of all shapes and sizes and regions started when she was at the tender age of seven, living in Washington, D.C. She and her father were walking to the store when they spotted a grey female kitten on the street corner. A deal was struck; if the kitten was still there when they were headed back home, Louise’s father said she could keep it.
“Fate was on my side and I scooped the kitten up on the way back home and my love affair with felines began. I named her Smokey and she was a faithful companion for 14 years.” As so many of our volunteers have experienced over their years as pet parents, the eventual loss of Smokey seemed overwhelming, if not entirely insurmountable to Louise. “Until”, that is, “a friend came to my rescue with another kitten…” And so began a long line of cat accumulations in Louise’s household. Mitzi. Callie. Mittens. Pumpkin. Laddie. Lucky. “I learned that a new cat never replaces an old cat,” explains Louise. “It merely expands the size of your heart.”
While living in Pasadena, Maryland in 2009, Louise’s devotion to cats jumped to a new level. “A local outdoor female cat decided to have her kittens in my garage. This was a new and totally awesome experience for me and started my foster and adoption activities. Resources just fell into place and I was able to foster and adopt out about 30 cats.”
She called the garage “Kitty City” and it became something of a Disneyland of sorts for cats. “Keeping any of the cats was a deal breaker and in the summer of 2010 two rescues from different litters were left. After fostering the two, I fell in love with them and adopted them as my own.” (Zoey and Quinn are now seven years old.)
In the spring of 2013, after surviving kidney cancer, Louise and her husband decided to get a change of scenery. They bought a home in The Villages and became snowbirds. (The cats travel back and forth with them in a large kennel in their SUV.) At the beginning of last year, kitty kismet struck again when Louise attended the grand opening of our Catty Shack. ”I knew without a doubt this is where I wanted to volunteer and make a difference.”
And we’re so grateful that she did! As retired dental hygienist, Louise boasts two great skills- cleaning and organization- that come in oh so very handy at our shelter. Taking a page from one of Mother Teresa’s famous quotes, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love”, Louise works hard to provide the care needed for our adoptable cats, and tells us that our facility has brought her an “uncontainable joy.” Aw shucks! The Catty Shack is her happy place. “Sharing my passion with the staff and other volunteers is an experience I hope to continue for years. Attending the special events gives you the opportunity to get to know some remarkable people who set the bar high for volunteers.”
And when she’s not helping out at our shelter, Louise enjoys line dancing, water aerobics, subbing at Petco, golfing, watching professional football, and, no surprise here, the Cat Crazy Villagers Club. And, of course, spending time with her own cats.