“It took forever to catch her. After 15 kittens, we were so happy we finally caught the ringleader that I cried. She is like a mama to all the other cats.”
Elizabeth, who lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, isn’t letting the distance or her age (68) slow her down. Elizabeth and her daughter Lee drive across the bridge twice a day, seven days a week, to check on the cat colony located near their workplace.
It all began with some kittens that were likely dumped roadside. Two of Lee’s friends each adopted a kitten. The rest grew up and multiplied into a colony of about 30 cats. That was four years ago. The mother and daughter team worked hard to spay and neuter and reduced the colony to 20. They have assisted other caretakers to trap and spay/neuter their cats as well.
“All the cats are fixed and ear-tipped now except for two males. Alley Cat Advocates caught four of them, and we got the rest. Those males are hard to catch!” laughed Elizabeth.
Over a four-year period, they were able to reduce a colony of 30+ cats to about 20 through a Trap-Neuter-Return process recommended by Alley Cat Advocates.
The cats live in seven houses made from sturdy plastic bins. Each house has straw inside and is wrapped with insulation. It’s in a busy but hidden traffic area, and Elizabeth and Lee keep it raked, weeds pulled, and trash picked up.
Elizabeth explained she grew up with cats, dogs and many other animals. She currently has six cats at home, three of which have chronic medical conditions. If one of the cats in the colony needs medical attention, they take it to a nearby animal hospital and pay for its medical bills, just as they would care for their own pets. They also clean ears and comb for fleas, whatever is needed to keep them healthy.
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I preach spay and neuter all the time. I’ve had people say to me, ‘Can I bring my (community) cat and you get it fixed for me?’ I say, ‘No, it’s your responsibility.’ But we could not have done this without the help of Alley Cat Advocates. I don’t know what would have happened to them otherwise. Not everyone loves cats.”
Elizabeth’s favorite time of day is when they pull up to feed the guys. “They all come running up the path to greet us. They know the sound of our car and know it’s feeding time. It’s a nice feeling.”
“If I ever win the lottery, I would build them a great place to live. And go live with them.”
Scruffy, Cheeto, Tiny (who weighs nearly 21 pounds) and her brother Tank, Bootsie, Ozzie, Paris, and their friends have a pretty good life, all in all.