Long Island, New York, USA is home to nearly 7.5 million people and 40 wild cat colonies with hundreds of stray and feral cats as of 2018.
Cats are responsible for up to four billion bird fatalities and 6.3-22.3 billion mammal deaths each year in the United States, according to a paper published in “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment” last year, and have led to the extinction of 63 species.
However, there is a lot of place for compassion and care in the solution to feral cats, stray cats, and animals in need. In his Long Island hometown, one bereaved father found himself unexpectedly answering the call.
Chris Arsenault had always liked cats, but after his 24-year-old son died tragically and unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident, he found solace and healing in caring for cats, and it rapidly turned into something quite remarkable.
Chris actually came across a colony of 30 ill cats and kittens after the terrible loss of his son, Eric. The little colony was living in the open air near his home.
The refuge now has a main shelter, as well as a large, open yard with custom-built fences to protect the cats from getting out. There are also several cat lounges equipped with heaters, air conditioners, and fountains!
Chris told The Dodo that the cat population has risen to 300, yet it isn’t overcrowded:
It’s so vast that even if a cat doesn’t like for other people’s companionship, he may occupy any area he wants.
The fact that they are comfortable and that everything is kept clean is the most important thing to me.
Arsenault says that in the early years of the sanctuary’s existence, he was caring for nearly 70 cats at a time. And the cats hail from a diverse range of origins. Some of them were adoptable, while others were classified as “semi-feral,” meaning they weren’t suitable for keeping as pets.
At the same time, because the cats were semi-feral, they couldn’t thrive on their own like a genuine feral colony because they relied on people for sustenance.
In addition, Arsenault stated:
The majority came in from the streets or were rescued from hoarding situations. Owner surrenders make up a small fraction of our animals, but they do happen.
Others were rescued from much more horrific situations, such as being used as bait in dogfighting rings. Despite their trauma, these kitties are given freedom at The Happy Cat Sanctuary. They are free to “roam, scratch, recline, and climb” in a safe place.
Additionally, according to their website:
All of the cats are neutered, have access to veterinary care, and are cleaned and loved on on a routine basis.
Surprisingly, two years ago, an unknown donor gave the sanctuary $200,000! Arsenault was able to extend his facilities to accommodate additional animals after going from caring for 70 cats to making major improvements. Renovations to make way for the now-expanding 300-strong population. The outdoor spaces include tree structures and hammocks for the cats, in addition to the amazing amenities described previously.
Arsenault now has numerous staff who assist with the maintenance of the cats, as well as a system in place to keep things going smoothly.
Arsenault comes at the facility every day at 7 or 8 a.m. Before going to breakfast, he cleans out the litter boxes and water dishes. Observing the cats, it is apparent that they are used to their regular routine. According to Arsenault:
When I come in the mornings, they are happy. We have a fantastic system in place, and everyone is really patient.
The refuge isn’t simply for being pampered and spoiled. A medical ward is also available to provide any sick or wounded cats with the extra space and attention they need to recover.
Arsenault said he’s taken in cats with all kinds of medical problems after several years in the cat rescue and rehabilitation “industry.” Some are as difficult as cats that have been poisoned or shot at by humans, while others have been hit by a car or have feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV.)
Arsenault, on the other hand, isn’t a cat person. While some cats may have a family waiting for them to reunite, many will find a home at his sanctuary:
When we take in a cat, I realize there’s a potential they’ll spend the rest of their lives with us… That is, nevertheless, totally fine.
Arsenault and Happpy Cat Sanctuary aren’t only doing that. In addition, he oversees a “trap-neuter-return” program. The initiative has already had a considerable impact on feral cat numbers in Suffolk County, New York, which is already overburdened. He stated, ”
When we get calls regarding kittens, I take them in and care for them until they are adopted. All of our adoptions are handled by All About Cats in Freeport.
Thousands of animals that required a free-range sanctuary existence have found a “safe haven” at Chris Arsenault’s sanctuary, and he has put hundreds upon hundreds of homeless kittens and cats into forever homes with the purr-fect families.
It’s well worth it if you care about animals. It’s very satisfying to watch the cats happy and healthy as they climb about on tree structures or sunbathe in the sun. That’s the way nature intended it to be. Nothing could be better than providing children with a decent life and a protected place.
– Arsenault, Chris
You can help Happy Cat Sanctuary by like and following them on Facebook and Instagram. You may also visit their website by clicking here.
Also, have a look at this fantastic video of the Happy Cat Sanctuary in action.
Read more at the Animal On World category.