I have been meaning to write about this all week and am just now getting around to it. But it's worth the wait. Trust me.
On Monday, I accompanied S. to Thundering Paws. The reason for our visit was both happy and sad: Sad because S. has been forced to give up her long time companion, fat cat Oscar, but happy because she'd found a santuary to give him to. Though he is 13 (I think?) years old and in excellent health (and weighs at least 20 lbs I swear), Oscar has a bit of a spraying and peeing all over problem. More than a bit, actually. He does it all the time, all over. S. and T. have valiantly been putting up with this for years now, but since Baby Rutabaga is on the way and will likely be crawling around and eating things off the floor, Oscar had to find a new home. So, after much trial and tribulation, S. found Thundering Paws. A perfect fit!
But what I wanted to write about was what a complete trip this place was. For starters, it is W-A-Y out in the middle of nowhere, with a bumpy dirt road to ford and the whole works. Secondly, it's a house.
Yes, a house. A manufactured home that has been built on to some, if I am remembering correctly. But a house nonetheless, and a fairly average sized one.
And there are 67 cats, 2 dogs, and 4 rabbits there, along with one very compassionate human woman who is dedicating her life to taking care of all of these creatures.
When we first pulled into the driveway, we knew this must be the place not because of the sign, but because there were at least 12 economy sized gallon buckets of kitty litter stacked up out front. That was a pretty good tip-off that we were in the right neck of the woods.
Walking into what would I guess be the living room of the house was like entering another world. There were some regular living room pieces there--a couch, a small TV--but mostly there were cats. I'd say about 20 cats. All shapes and sizes. All friendly, playing with each other and rubbing up against us for loving, lounging in corners and on boxes, walking lazily about like they owned the place (which they obviously do). It was amazing. In an adjacent room (what would I think be the dining room), there was a large mesh cage with four giant rabbits in it.
Communal litterboxes (made out of Rubbermaid containers with holes cleverly cut in the lids, so the kitties can get in and out and have privacy, but there isn't unsightly litter all over the place) and food and water bowls were scattered about, but in general the place was very clean. Or at least as clean as you could possibly expect a living space with about 30 cats (there were another 10 or so back in other rooms) in it to be. It smelled, but it smelled, as S. pointed out, like a vet's office, more than anything else.
Where are the rest of the kitties, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. They're outside.
See, the "build-on" to this place is a giant screened porched. And on that screened porch are probably 40 cats. Some are ferile. Some are cuddly. Some are declawed, some still have claws. And they all live there together, like an outdoor kitty commune. It is so damn cool. And again, relatively clean. They still use litter boxes out there, and have communal food bowls and stuff. And they flirt/spat with the dogs, who are outside dogs and come up to the screen and bother them. It's like a normal situation, times 70 or so!
There were two really amazing things about Thundering Paws. The first is that the woman who runs it knows all the cats names and personalities. Even though there were at least six black cats who looked exactly alike to me, she knew them all and talked to them all. The second is how well the cats get along. They seemed so harmonious, all living there together. It just seemed really natural.
Anyway, I wanted to give a shout out to Thundering Paws and the amazing woman who runs it (I wish I could remember her name, but it's probably better not to use it here anyway). I think Oscar will be very happy there.