Helping Furry Friends in Need
Since I wrote about Rehoboth sisters Eleanor and Esther Menz and their volunteer work with feral cats a while ago, Eleanor wrote to inform me that they are now volunteering in Rehoboth through Project Spay Inc. in their “trap, neuter and return” (TNR) program. Project Spay Inc. is a charitable, non-profit group based in Swansea but its volunteers work with feral cats in several towns in our area, including Rehoboth. This group also fosters cats and kittens and tries to find homes for as many of their cats as they can.
Previously our local TNR program had been part of the work of Rehoboth Animal Advocates (RAA), but this volunteer group is now concentrating its time and energy on setting up a volunteer helper program at the Rehoboth Animal Shelter. (See below for more about this program.)
At Eleanor’s suggestion, I visited Donna Castle at her South Rehoboth home to see the “kitty nursery” she has set up for rescued cats who have just given birth. Donna is also a volunteer with Project Spay. The day I was there in April, there were two “moms and babies” in spotlessly clean and roomy enclosures on Donna’s sunporch. One litter was only a day old and the other cute little critters were a couple of weeks old.
Donna has two rescued cats who have become indoor pets, a big guy named Cody and a handicapped female named Precious. On the sunporch were a few more large cat enclosures awaiting “the spring rush” when cats really start having kittens.
It all started when she found six kittens under her porch a few years ago, Donna recalled. She caught four and found good homes for them through an ad in The Reporter. When it happened again the next year (and she again found homes through advertising), she knew it was time to do something.
She talked to another Donna, Donna Arruda of Swansea, in 2015 about turning the Castles’ spacious sunroom into a nursery for rescued cats and their kittens. She said her husband Tom wasn’t too crazy about the idea at first but soon came around to it. Donna added that she has a couple of wonderful friends who help with the cats too.
Looking out at the beautiful herb garden behind the Castles’ sunporch, Donna reflected on the sad time in her life when she lost a premature son. The Castles have a son Jeff, who lives in Rhode Island, and two teenage grandchildren, Dylan and Hailey. (It was Dylan who found the tabby now called Precious.) She talked about how adopting homeless cats has really helped some of the families she has worked with cope with a tragic loss in their own lives. Donna still gets Mother’s Day cards from some of these folks.
Donna Castle referred to her colleague Donna Arruda as “a saint who never turns cats away, even those with medical needs”. She says that Project Spay also tries to help adopting families with veterinary medical expenses if possible. “All of us are volunteers and it’s all done from the heart since it ends up costing us all money for things we pay for ourselves. But when the need is greatest, the money seems to appear. I have met such wonderful people. I love what I do.”
Donna explained that Project Spay has requirements for those who adopt. The cats must remain indoor cats and any kittens too young to be neutered must be brought back later for the procedure. Donna’s sister Patricia Lima in Berkley is also involved with Project Spay. “She does the vet checks and works with the families who take the cats. We have a very low rehoming rate,” Donna said. “When we do need to find a new home for a cat, it’s usually a success.”
Project Spay holds occasional fundraising activities, such as a May 4 breakfast at the American Legion Post 303, 73 Ocean Grove Ave. in Swansea, and is always happy to accept donations. To find out more about adopting cats or to learn more about Project Spay’s TNR program, you can call 508-496-6839 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is https://projectspayrescue.com.
And if you would like to be a part of the volunteer program at the Rehoboth Animal Shelter, you can email rehobothanimaladvocatesMA@gmail.com or get in touch with them through their Facebook page or by calling Karen Frenier at 774-991-1942. Karen says that as May 1, the RAA volunteers will be at the shelter from 2-4 p.m. on Mon., Tues., Wed. and Friday.