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Naples Cat Alliance offers felines of all stripes for adoption in Tamiami Crossings

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Stepping into the shelter run by the Naples Cat Alliance, you open the door carefully, and step over, between and through cats, some of the dozens lounging on the floor, reclining on numerous shelves, or coming up to rub against the leg of a visitor. The commercial space in Golden Gate, formerly a veterinarian’s office, contains well over a hundred cats – and one intrepid dog.

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Bitsy, the Papillon and Cavalier King Charles spaniel mix – at least that’s their best guess, said Naples Cat Alliance (NCA) president Megan Sorbara, has her own Facebook page, and is barely larger than the cats who overwhelmingly outnumber her.

“Bitsy is good for the cats. She helps socialize them to being around dogs, and that makes them more adoptable,” said Sorbara. Wednesday evening, Bitsy hurried up to make the acquaintance of a litter of kittens that had just been delivered from one of the traps NCA puts out to pick up feral or abandoned cats.

“We do mostly street rescues, as opposed to owner surrenders,” said Sorbara, giving some human interaction to a series of the shelter’s residents in between her myriad other chores. “We’re a no-kill shelter, and some of these cats have been with us for years.”

Cats who do not get adopted can live out their lives at the NCA shelter, although some seemingly difficult cases have been taken home by humans willing to extend the extra love they need. One of these is Sorbara, who has a cat at home “with a bullet in him.”

Amazingly, all the cats at the shelter seem to coexist peacefully, with no quarreling, hissing or growling – no catfights at all – during a recent visit. This probably has a lot to do with the plentiful food supply for all the cats, with many amicably sharing an oversized plate of food.

“We go through over 100 cans of food, and 22 lbs. of dry food, a day,” said Sorbara. They also do at least 12 loads of laundry, and change numerous litter boxes each day, using equine pelletized bedding made for horse stables, that they buy in 40-lb. sacks.

There are so many cats, it can be overwhelming, and that was an issue with people looking to adopt, said Sorbara. So cats are offered for adoption at PetSmart, in the Tamiami Crossings shopping center at the corner of U.S. 41 and Collier Boulevard.

Here, there are only four to eight cats at one time, and glass-lined viewing cages where the store’s patrons can take a good look at them.

“We’re the closest adoption center once you come over the bridge from Marco Island,” said volunteer Susie Mehas. A former president of the Humane Society of Naples, she decided she could do more for cats in need by working with NCA.

The 14,910-sq. ft. PetSmart store is happy to work with NCA, said Dan, one of the PetSmart managers, and has space for the cats to have plenty of room, and even a little privacy. It’s a win-win; cats get adopted, and having them there brings people into the store. Once they take home a cat or two, the pet owners will likely be back repeatedly for food, litter, toys and supplies.

NCA also displays cats and kittens for adoption inside the PetSmart at Coconut Point in Estero, while the Marco-based For the Love of Cats offers cats at the store’s location on Pine Ridge Road in Naples.

Both NCA and For the Love of Cats are active in the TNR, or trap, neuter and release program, working with the county to help limit the number of feral cats giving birth in the wild. All cats offered for adoption have been spayed or neutered, have all their shots, and are free of illness or parasites.

Naples Cat Alliance is a 501(c)3 registered charity, and is an all-volunteer group. With many of the organization’s seasonal volunteers returning to northern homes, as the tourist season ends just as the “kitten season” heats up, NCA has many opportunities for volunteers to handle a variety of tasks, with time slots to accommodate any schedule.

To support the NCA, volunteer or learn more, go online to naplescatalliance.org, email info@naplescatalliance.org, or call 424-835-1523.


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