While work continues on renovations to the interior of its building at 11720 U.S. 19, Tampabay Cat Alliance held a soft opening Saturday with five cats in portable cages.
Grand opening festivities might come in the weeks ahead. West Pasco Chamber of Commerce plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony in June.
“I guess you could say that we are winging it,” Susan Ottati, the nonprofit group’s secretary, wrote in an email reply to inquiries. “At least we will be able to have some cats and if anyone wants to sit with them, they can take them into the meet-and-greet room.”
Once changes are done, the alliance will have a rescue and adoption cat shelter in Suites 21 and 22. Each of four large display enclosures will house two to three cats or kittens. The building also houses the Wow Meow consignment store.
The site, with 1,800 square feet, should be easy for many visitors to find on U.S. 19, a bit south of State Road 52, alliance leaders figure.
The alliance is opening several doors down from PAWS in the same strip shopping center, Ottati said. Pasco Animal Welfare Society has operated a low-cost spay and neuter clinic there for many years.
“We are always in need of help, especially now opening our shelter,” Ottati said. Sherwin-Williams donated paint for the building. The group is appealing for more donations and volunteers. Contributions of cat food, cat litter or money would be particularly appreciated.
To learn more about the Tampabay Cat Alliance, call (727) 859-2208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We also have our cats and kittens in the Petco of Port Richey,” Ottati said. “Almost every weekend we have some sort of event, whether it be an adoption event, a fundraiser or whenever we are invited to different activities.”
The founder of the group, Alison Buckley, has been working with cats and dogs for 30 years, helping outdoor strays and working on animal rights issues, according to the alliance website. She is always there to help any animal in need but is especially fond of cats.
In 2009, Buckley lost her home during the recession. She started the painful process of placing all of her rescued cats in new homes. She refused to send her cats to a shelter.
In the process, she met so many other cat lovers that she started the alliance in December 2010. By July 2011, the group had obtained nonprofit, tax-exempt status. Most of the cats up for adoption stayed in foster homes.
Buckley set strict adoption policies and screened applicants. The group completed nearly 200 adoptions within its first few years.
People forced by circumstances to give up a pet receive assurances from alliance leaders that their cat will never be taken to a shelter or animal services and will never be euthanized.