Rescue Cats Rock buys N. Fort Myers 'forever home' after donors rally to save its 79 cats

Charles Runnells
Fort Myers News-Press

Tammy Nemec and her 79 rescue cats finally have their “forever home.” And they owe it all to Southwest Florida’s animal lovers.

“I can’t believe how generous people were,” Nemec says, tears welling in her eyes as she stands in the kitchen of her new mobile home. “I can’t believe they love the cats as much as I do!”

Just two months ago, Nemec worried she and her beloved cats would end up homeless. Her landlord was selling the tiny North Fort Myers house where Nemec runs her nonprofit Rescue Cats Rock, and they had to move out by Jan. 31.

More:Founder of Rescue Cats Rock feeds breakfast to her 83 cats

Rescue Cats Rock founder Tammy Nemec waves from the porch of the new mobile home she'll share with her rescued cats. She bought the North Fort Myers home last week.

But then, after The News-Press published two stories on the situation, people rallied and started donating money.

By last week, Rescue Cats Rock had raised a whopping $35,000 through two GoFundMe pages and other donations. One anonymous donor showed up at Nemec’s front door with a $3,000 check.

The result: Nemec used every penny for a down payment Friday on the $102,000 mobile home and its nearly 1 acre of property on Scarecrow Road in North Fort Myers.

She’s already got a name for their new place: “Purr-A-Dise.”

“My cats finally have a home!” Nemec says. “They don’t have to worry anymore.”

The original story:83 cats and nowhere to go: North Fort Myers charity Rescue Cats Rock could be homeless Jan. 1

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

She admits she never could have done it on her own. She barely makes ends meet with her disability check of $771 a month (she broke her neck and back in a car accident when she was 21, she says). So it’s donors and volunteers who keep her beloved charity and its approximately 79 cats going.

“My heart is so full,” she says. “I’m still crying a lot. I’m crying a lot because I’m so grateful.”

Now Nemec and a team of volunteers are busy preparing the small two-bedroom, two bathroom mobile home for the move. Within about a week, every single cat is expected to be living there.

Rescue Cats Rock vice president Christy Stone says it’s a relief. Just two weeks ago, she and other board members were making emergency plans to shelter the cats if Nemec — the cats' live-in, full-time caretaker — became homeless.

Now the cats have a permanent home, and Nemec never has to worry about a landlord kicking them out again.

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

“Oh my God, we are over-the-moon excited!” Stone says. “This is such a dream come true."

There’s still a lot of work to do, though. They have to install two reverse-osmosis systems to make the mobile home’s sulfur-scented water safer and more palatable. They need at least two more storage sheds to put litter and other supplies. And then there’s building an all-new enclosed patio for the cats (aka “the catio”) so they can move freely between the mobile home and the patio.

That’s why they’ve started another GoFundMe to help pay for all those expenses and more. People can donate by visiting https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/rescue-cats-rock-purradise.

“I don’t want people to stop helping us,” Nemec says. “We have a long way to go.”

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

Nemec started Rescue Cats Rock 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.

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Now that she and her cats have a permanent home, Nemec has big dreams for Rescue Cats Rock. The .88-acre piece of property enables her to add more buildings, as needed, to house cats until they can get adopted or — if that doesn't happen — let them live out the rest of their lives there. And she also wants to establish a trust so that the charity can continue long after she’s gone.

“It’s not my house,” she insists. “It’s the cats’. … This is their house.”

Nemec says she’s already becoming acquainted with her new neighbors and she loves that there are dogs, goats and even a crowing rooster nearby. The mobile home is situated far from any major roads, and she says it’s nice and quiet.

Tammy Nemec prepares breakfast for her rescue cats at her home in North Fort Myers on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.

“It's so peaceful and beautiful,” she says. “It really is a slice of paradise on Earth for the cats. It really is.”

She says she owes it all to The News-Press and the people who rallied after those articles ran. She couldn’t have done it any other way.

Nemec considers what she does to be mission from God: To take care of cats and try to find them new homes. And thanks to Southwest Florida's generosity, she can keep doing that for years to come.

“I get the gift of being able to be here with them,” she says. “I love these animals more than life itself. And I want to make sure everybody knows how grateful I am.”

To learn more about Rescue Cats Rock, call 440-4073, email to myrescuecatsrock@gmail.com 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.