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For the Love of Cats has a history of coming up with catchy, unique fundraisers. For years, the group put on the “Hair Ball,” still one of the most succinct and hilarious gala names in Marco's history.

This year it continued the tradition with its "Puss in Boots" fundraiser; for two months, the group collected shoes, primarily used but in good condition, For the Love of Cats co-founder Jan Rich explained, although it also ended up with many brand-new footwear items.

“We have 107 bags of shoes, with 25 pairs per bag" for a total of 2,675 pairs of shoes, she said. The garage-ful of shoes will be picked up by For the Love of Cats’ partner group, which uses them to help entrepreneurs in developing countries establish micro-businesses.

So the effort raised $1,000 to help the cats of Marco Island and Collier County, and will provide stock for shoe stalls in countries such as Haiti and Guatemala.

“They give them the first bag free, and then the merchants can buy additional shoes at a fraction of the cost,” said Jim Rich, Jan’s husband and fellow co-founder of For the Love of Cats. “One woman in Haiti has her whole family working in the shoe stall.”

Jan said there was an additional two-fold benefit.

“We’re helping people clean out their closets,” she said. “Every woman wants room for more shoes," which in turn may end up in a future shoe drive. “We’re helping drive the economy."

Funds raised support veterinary care, maintenance of the shelter’s feline population and the organization’s TNR program.

Since its inception in 2002, For the Love of Cats has made a significant dent in Marco Island’s population of feral and abandoned cats. It's been helped by the rebounding economy, which has meant fewer families lose the homes where they were able to keep a cat, and its own TNR, or “trap, neuter and release”, program for feral cat populations, which now works in conjunction with the county government.

“They legalized TNR as long as there are no complaints. Domestic Animal Services (DAS) sends the calls to us,” when feral cat colonies are found, Jim said. For the Love of Cats has to “feed, fund and fix” the cats, who then have their ears notched before they are returned to their home territory unable to further increase the population of strays.

“We’ve saved thousands of lives already,” he said. “Otherwise, the county would euthanize all the ferals.”

In 2015, the group fixed, vaccinated and ear-notched 64 feral and free-roaming cats in Collier County, and it has a crew of volunteers who feed them regularly, keeping them from feasting on the local population of birds and small animals.

The next upcoming fundraiser by For the Love of Cats keeps up its tradition of snappy names; the “Glamour Puss” cat photography and calendar project kicks off April 1, with every cat photo received appearing in the calendar, and some lucky felines featured as the “cat of the month.”

Additional programs include “Help ’Em, Keep ’Em” which provides emergency veterinary services to low income families, and “Seniors for Seniors,” which pairs older people with less demanding and peripatetic older cats.

To learn more, view the live shelter cam or help the work of For the Love of Cats, a 501(c)3 organization, call 239-642-8674 or go online to fortheloveofcatsfl.com.

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