79 cats will lose their North Fort Myers home, but there's still hope for Rescue Cats Rock

Charles Runnells
Fort Myers News-Press

Time is running out for Tammy Nemec and her 79 rescue cats. In just four weeks, they’ll officially be homeless.

What happens next? Nemec isn’t sure, and she says that uncertainty has caused her plenty of stress and sleepless nights.

“I’m worried,” she says. “Everything is coming to a head. I’m physically sick to my stomach constantly because my nerves are shot, and I can’t make my brain stop thinking about this.”

Nemec runsthe nonprofit charity Rescue Cats Rock in her tiny North Fort Myers house, but they’ll all be forced to move soon. The house went up for sale Jan. 1, and Nemec's lease runs out Jan. 31.

Read more about Rescue Cats Rock:  83 cats and nowhere to go: North Fort Myers charity Rescue Cats Rock could be homeless soon

Tammy Nemec holds one of her rescue cats at her home in North Fort Myers on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.

Still, Nemec says she has faith in God and in the generosity of Southwest Florida’s cat lovers.

“I feel hopeful. I really do,” says Nemec, who’s the founder and president of Rescue Cats Rock. “We’re trying to do some good in this world for these animals that are out here suffering or are homeless.”

So far, the nonprofit has raised about $24,500 to buy a permanent home for Nemec and the cats she cares for every day, and they have their eye on a $102,000 mobile home on about 1 acre in North Fort Myers. They need $34,000 for a down payment, though, plus moving and start-up expenses, says Rescue Cats Rock vice president Christy Stone.

That’s why they started a new GoFundMe campaign to raise the last $15,000 they’ll need. An anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $7,500 of the money raised, Stone says, and they’ve already reached $2,685 of that amount.

“We’re extremely hopeful, and honestly, look what we’ve done in such a short time,” Stone says. “It’s amazing what we’ve raised and what the followers have done. They’ve been so generous.”

But even if they raise all that money today, buying a new home can take weeks or even months. So plans are being made to ensure Nemec and her rescue cats don’t end up on the street.

If they don’t have a place secured by Jan. 31, the nonprofit’s four board members will take in the cats and care for them themselves, Stone says.

“If it came to that —and we’re praying to God it won’t come to that — we’d divide the cats amongst us, temporarily, until we can get a place for Tammy,” Stone says. “She’s saying, ‘I’ll just live in my truck,’ but we wouldn’t let that happen.”

Still, things are looking better for Rescue Cats Rock than they did just two months ago. After The News-Press ran a story on the charity in November, donations started pouring in through its various GoFundMe campaigns. And then PetSmart started letting Nemec adopt cats out of its Pine Island Road store in Cape Coral.

So far, they’ve adopted about 14 cats from the store, and Nemec is there every weekday from 5 to 7 p.m. to try adopting out even more.

But despite the adoptions, Nemec has continued to take in special-needs cats at her North Fort Myers home. In November, she had about 83 cats crammed into the 1,080-square-foot house and its attached 700-square-foot patio built by volunteers (aka "the catio"). Two months later, she’s still at 79, although she says she's adopted out many cats since then.

It’s a mission of love, though. Nemec started the charity in 2015, and it officially became a nonprofit about one year ago. The goal: to save sick, injured or feral cats that might otherwise go un-adopted and euthanized.

Now Nemec and her board want to find a “forever home” for those cats — a permanent place of their own, where they won’t have a landlord who will kick them out again.

Owning a place is probably their only option, Nemec admits. It’ll be hard finding a landlord who’s OK with 79 cats. She got lucky before: Her current and previous landlords have been animal lovers.

The mobile home they're hoping to buy stands on a .88-acre piece of property that’s already been cleared and fenced in, Nemec says. The land gives Rescue Cats Rock plenty of room to expand, including adding on to the building or making an even bigger “catio” that would give cats room to move around.

“We have the ability to continue to grow and help animals,” Nemec says. “There’s endless possibility out there. … It’s a wonderful place for us.”

Nemec and Stone say they couldn’t do it without all the donors who have contributed to the cats.

“I’m beyond grateful,” Nemec says to those donors. “Please don’t stop. Please don’t stop helping us, because we really want to do really great things for these animals.

“We want to leave something behind so that when my time is over, these animals still have a home.”

To donate to the fundraising campaign on GoFundMe, visit bit.ly/36iGCVL. To learn more about Rescue Cats Rock, call 440-4073 or visit facebook.com/RescueCatsRock.org or rescuecatsrock.org.

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)

Tammy Nemec's rescue cats lounge on the "catio" at her home in North Fort Myers on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.