This week I would like to share with you The Odd Cat Sanctuary, a cat rescue that was founded in 2015 by Tara Kay. Based in Salem, the rescue stretches across the entire state of Massachusetts and into neighboring states through their foster network. Cynthia Gedick, Administrative Director (an entirely voluntary role) of The Odd Cat Sanctuary, says, “The rescue business is a huge network of kind, generous, selfless and caring souls; and without those willing to help, we would not be as busy as we are.”
The newly granted 501(c)3 organization has adopted out 35 cats in the past month and currently has 12 in foster care. Cynthia, who has been with the rescue for one month, shares with us more about The Odd Cat Sanctuary.
A Conversation with Cynthia
How did the rescue get its name?
Odd cats are our interest. They’re the least likely to be adopted, they’re usually on death row with no hope in sight, and they’re listed for free on Craigslist, where there is a good chance they will be taken by someone who does not have any interest in their well-being. Additionally, they’re the cats that are abandoned, neglected, or abused.
Why did you join (or start) the rescue?
Because our hearts are always for the underdog and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. The apathy and carelessness about cats is overwhelming, and it breaks my heart. However, in rescues, the old adage applies: where one person’s trash is another person’s absolute treasure – we see it often in cat adoptions, and the joy is worth every minute of our time.
Does your rescue have a shelter or is it foster based or both?
Foster based. Our dream is to win the lottery and purchase an old warehouse and renovate it for the kitties.
What is the hardest part about running a cat rescue?
The lack of funds. We are incredibly indebted to those people who have helped us reach our current monetary goals – the kindness is overwhelming and surreal.
What is the best part about running a cat rescue?
The rescue part, because we know they’re safe and that’s why we’re here.
What would you say is the most common misconception about running a rescue?
That we are funded by the State or government in some way. We have no funding source, but we have applied for grants through various industries; however the demand on granting is competitive and only proves the need for more funding by the states and/or government when only a few are selected to receive the grant.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a cat rescue?
Build a network first because the demand in regards to cats is huge.
In your experience, what has been the best way to collect donations for your rescue?
(e.g. word of mouth, Facebook posts, email blasts, etc.)
There are several ways that include all of what you’ve listed, but there are also grants through pet organizations, and other organizations that pride themselves on community giving; as well as event planning, and t-shirt selling. Creativity is a useful attribute in the non-profit industry.
Approximately how much money does it take to operate your rescue?
We have estimated about 25K annually, and that only covers medical expenses for the cats.
Do you partner with any other rescues?
We are hoping to create a Statewide network because that would help us with quarantine issues we may face.
Is your rescue currently looking for volunteers or foster parents?
We are always looking for volunteers, especially where fostering and transportation are concerned. We also require an application for our foster families for the safety of the cats.
Do you find that it’s hard to come by volunteers or fosters?
Yes, we often make a plea on Facebook because we’ve rescued more time-sensitive death row kitties with nowhere to house them; but all-in-all we have been provided with what we need. It would be ideal to have a list of willing families that we could appeal to as we need it; that would definitely allow for more rescues.
Have you ever adopted one of the cats that came through your rescue?
All of us ladies have a cat from our rescue. I am fostering a momma kitty and her four kittens, so it’s hard to watch them become more independent only to separate with them. Out of the litter I have adopted the CH kitty. She’s my favorite and I know she’s a great fit for our family; she’s really goofy and snuggly all at the same time.
Is there a rescued cat that stands out in your mind?
The death row cats all stand out to us girls. There’s nothing like rescuing a cat set to be terminated that same day. The appeal comes through with many a day at one location, and we really would like to save them all; but relying solely on donations makes it hard to do. No cat should be terminated due to abandonment; especially the older cats, it just breaks our hearts!
How many pets do you have at home?
I have four cats, well eight if you count the foster cats. The fosters include a momma and her four kittens that came to me emaciated and flea-ridden. Had the kittens not been treated, they would have died.
Do you separate the pets and fosters?
We have the fosters quarantined to a separate room. My cats are blissfully unaware that there is a family living in my daughter’s room on the lower floor.
And just for fun…
What’s the last movie you saw?
What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
I’m vegan, so my favorite is a coconut almond chocolate chip cookie… they’re better than you’d imagine. :)
Do you have any pet peeves?
Honestly, people who drive too fast with zero regard for anyone around them; and especially those who think wildlife are fair game! I cannot imagine the amount of wildlife that have died at the hands of those who just don’t care. I sometimes see the crosses on the side of the road where people have died, and I wonder how many crosses would be standing if they marked all the spots an animal died; it’s a silly concept to some, but to me it’s a sobering thought.
Do you have any hobbies or interests?
Running. I am a runner registered with the Running for Rescues organization. They have helped some of our rescues financially; they’re another incredible organization. (runningforrescues.org)
Did you have pets growing up?
Yes, always had dogs and a few cats here and there.
What is your spirit animal?
A White Tiger!
Do you have a favorite rescue organization or charity you’d like to give a shout out to?
Running for Rescues, Boston’s Forgotten Felines, and my local sanctuary Here Today Adopted Tomorrow… all great organizations.
You have two weeks off from work (rescuing included). What’s your ideal way of spending those two weeks?
We are a volunteering family, so we all have some interests on our off days; and we spend it at our local sanctuary, or on the computer making things easier for the girls at the Odd Cat to do what they do best. Also, our family plays dominos… we love the Mexican Train Domino game!
Anything else we should know about you or the rescue?
If we had enough money, we would save every cat and re-home them. Although it’s a lot of work, we seldom weigh the expense in what we do. We do it regardless of the expense because we don’t just benefit the cat, but the person who will adopt them as well.
Cats are especially important to the health and well-being of their owners, they are not disposable as some tend to reason; however just the opposite, for instance, my daughter has epilepsy and the cat that took ownership of her will soothe her with her purr. Although it sounds strange, my daughter’s cat is incredibly helpful to her and calms her more than anyone or anything. Cats are incredible.
A big thank you to Cynthia Gedick for taking the time to share with us The Odd Cat Sanctuary! Cats and kittens in Massachusetts are better off because of them. If you would like to support The Odd Cat Sanctuary, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for their PayPal link.
Connect with The Odd Cat Sanctuary via Facebook as well!
(Have a rescue you’d like us to feature? Contact Us to let us know!)