Kayt Hester is an artist and cat lover who uses her artistic talents to help raise funds for local rescue groups in her area. Her artwork is created from bits of hand torn black masking tape and is quite unique and fascinating. Kayt also runs a pet supply store called Fussy Friends in Jersey City, NJ, where she gets to play with and help socialize the cats who are waiting for adoption from two local rescue groups. And in addition to all of that, Kayt also cares for feral cats!
A conversation with Kayt
How did you get involved in helping local cat rescues?
I am an artist with a pretty decent fan base here in Jersey City. I discovered that my cat art was popular and sold quickly. Knowing that my friends who run these local rescue groups will often spend their own money caring for their rescues, I thought I should do something to lend a hand. I started making cat pieces in which the funds of those sales go directly to the rescue groups. I usually have one big solo show once a year, and I will have an entire wall of fundraising pieces.
What has been the most successful for you for fundraising?
The cat/animal pieces usually tend to sell quickly because I keep them affordable and people love to know they are helping out the cats. Not everyone is in the position to feed or rescue, so they like to know they are helping out any way they can. I will have stickers and pins for one dollar each and people like that stuff. Small, affordable and safe pieces that people want to have in their homes or to give as a gift. Things geared towards animal lovers. Over the past five years, I have raised close to ten thousand dollars for the various rescue groups of Jersey City.
Have you tried anything regarding fundraising that hasn’t worked well?
Not really…I discovered what works well early on so I stick with that! I have seen other fundraising efforts that have photos of abused animals or that try to guilt you into giving money…I would never go that route. It turns me off personally, so I would never try it.
I also hear you have TNR’d some kitties. How did you get involved with Trap-Neuter-Return?
Yes! I moved in with my boyfriend five years ago and the backyard had a few feral cats. When Spring hit, we had way more than just a few!! I contacted my good friends who are TNR experts and they taught me how to properly trap a cat and then get them spayed / neutered. We got about 12!
Do you currently care for any community cats?
Yes, I have a colony in my backyard now and everyone is neutered. They each have their own houses filled with straw and even two electrically heated houses. I feed them all twice a day. I do my best to medicate them for fleas and worms in the summertime. The friendly cats are easy! The more shy cats are a challenge to medicate.
Will you describe what you do for the cats at the pet supply store?
We allow two local rescue groups to house a few of their adoptable cats at the store. (Companion Animal Trust and Hudson County Animal League) I clean their crates, feed them and scoop their boxes. If they are not shy, I let them out to run around the store and I make sure they get lots of exercise and socialization. If they are more shy or timid, I spend time with them, petting and sweet talking them to help get them comfortable and bring them out of their shell. I also talk them up to the customers and on social media. I let everyone know their funny traits and really try to get people to interact with the cats and connect with them. We have great success with adoptions from the store.
Do you have a favorite rescue organization or charity that you’d like to mention?
I have quite a few! Companion Animal Trust, Hudson County Animal League, PAD PAWS Rescue, Broome Animal Sanctuary, Not Lost JC. My favorite dog rescues are See Spot Rescued and Animal Lighthouse Rescue. Each of these groups does amazing and important work.
Do you have any pets at home?
I have two goofy cats who run my house. Harold and Pixie Doodle.
Anything else we should know about you?
I love dogs just as much as cats, but I have my hands full with all the cats so I can’t really have a dog at this point. Though I would love to!
A big thank you to Kayt for using her artistic talents to help raise funds for local animal rescue groups – and for caring for community cats! She’s obviously quite the cat lover. You can connect with Kayt and see her artwork at her website, Facebook and Instagram (@kayt_tape). For cat photos, connect with her other Instagram account (@k8balls_o_fire). The hashtag #coles_street_strays on Instagram will show all of the photos of Kayt’s ferals.
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