“Great oaks from little acorns grow.” ~ old English proverb

From our founder:

Many years ago, a dear friend told me about a local no-kill cat shelter. She had made arrangements with the shelter to care for any cats she owned at the time of her death and, long before anyone heard of pet trusts, made provision in her will for this purpose. I thought this was a wonderful thing to do. I had a special kitty at home of my own and realized I did not have any plan in place to make sure he was cared for, should my husband and I predecease him. I guess I just assumed a friend or relative would step in and do it. I had no idea at that time how wrong this assumption turns out to be for many people who love their cats dearly, nor the sad consequences for the majority of these cats. I decided to look into the no-kill shelter my friend told me about. It was a wonderful place filled with all kinds of cats. Though the people I met there seemed genuinely concerned about the cats in their care, I immediately knew it would not be a good fit for my own cat.

Why? Rescue groups do the vital work of saving abandoned, abused and homeless cats and kittens. My spoiled cat was none of these. Let’s face it. He was old, did not like other cats, and was quite unpleasant with strangers. I adored him, but I couldn’t imagine anyone choosing to adopt him over the numerous friendly, younger cats in that shelter. The thought of him terrified in a crowded shelter or being caged and handled by strangers, for the rest of his life was upsetting for me. I also knew first-hand how poorly many of the cats like him did in a shelter environment. For the first time, I was a little less critical of people who would choose euthanasia for their cat if they were no longer able to care for it. Though it was not what I wanted for my own cat, I liked the rescue work being done at that shelter and decided to volunteer. Over the next few years of being involved with that shelter, the question of what would happen to my own cat if my husband and I were no longer living, was still not resolved. I also became aware of another problem faced by cat owners who were too ill to continue to care for their pet and had no trusted friend or family willing to take on the responsibility.

The sad reality of virtually all no-kill shelters is that they are at capacity on any given day, forcing them to turn away more cats than they would like, especially the older less adoptable ones. This leaves open intake (kill) shelters the only other option besides letting one’s cat out on the street to fend for itself or having the family vet euthanize it before its time. It just seemed wrong.These were the responsible cat owners who would never give up their cat voluntarily. However no one asks for cancer or other serious health problems that take away one’s independence. Shouldn’t they be the first ones to help? I thought so, but if your mission is all about saving cat lives, it doesn’t matter why a cat is homeless. The shelters are full because irresponsible people don’t spay or neuter their pets. They are full because too many people do not value their pets as family members and think they are expendable. As far as I was concerned, the only good excuse for abandoning one’s cat, was dying! Even then, no one should have to face the end of their lives burdened with the guilt of abandoning their cat at the city pound or leaving it with family who couldn’t care less about it. Time and again, I’d ask myself, “Why isn’t there a special kind of shelter designed to help humans just as much as their cats in these special situations?” “Why isn’t there some place more like a home than a shelter, designed for the needs of cats that were more like orphans rather than unwanted?” Finally, one day I asked, “Why not?”

My little cat that started this whole train of thought, had passed away long before, but I had new cats and still had not planned for them. I owed it to them to take care of this most important matter and if I could not find the right place for them, I would create one. Of course it was not easy and I have much respect for anyone who throws their hat in the ring for a cause they are passionate about. It took help, money and time…lots of time. By early 2013, we were ready to make it official and formed a nonprofit corporation called “Hearts That Purr Feline Guardians”. Along the way I believed that if I only saved one feline it would be worth it. Well, it started with two. Our first rescue kitties, named Sam and Sal, came to us after their 99 year-old owner died. Their inspirational story can be found here. Little by little, as we continue to grow and positively affect the lives of cats and the humans who have loved them very much, we’re reminded each day of the need to help so many more. By focusing our rescue efforts on this select group of felines and doing it well, we hope to compliment what other rescue groups in our community do.

I hope our success in this endeavor inspires others to start niche rescues like ours and make a difference towards the ultimate goal of no more homeless cats. If you believe as I do, that our cats bring joy and companionship into our lives and we owe them a lifetime of loving care that does not end with our life, help us in our mission. Consider donating, volunteering, becoming either a short-term or long-term foster parent or adopting a new cat from us. Even if you cannot do any of these things, you can still help by spreading the word about our work. Never miss an opportunity to remind others of the importance of planning for the continued care of all your companion animals should something unfortunate happen to you.

Jeanmarie Schiller-McGinnis,
Founder and President