Friends of Cats bring people and furry friends together at second Cinco de Meow event

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Just up exit 23 off Interstate 8 and tucked into a slightly discreet but expansive collection of buildings is Friends of Cats, a cat rescue that has been in business since 1929. It’s been in a few different locations before calling El Cajon home. With nine employees, countless volunteers and cats of all kinds, Friends of Cats isn’t just a place for cat lovers. It’s a well organized non-profit that runs on necessity, compassion, and lots of optimism.

Just up exit 23 off Interstate 8 and tucked into a slightly discreet but expansive collection of buildings is Friends of Cats, a cat rescue that has been in business since 1929. It’s been in a few different locations before calling El Cajon home. With nine employees, countless volunteers and cats of all kinds, Friends of Cats isn’t just a place for cat lovers. It’s a well organized non-profit that runs on necessity, compassion, and lots of optimism.

For the second year in a row, Friends of Cats has honored the connection between people and their furry friends with an event called Cinco de Meow on May 3 by combining an adoption event with a party featuring a Mexican buffet, cat boutique and shelter tours, with animal lover and rescue advocate Coe Lewis from 101.5 KGB at the helm.

To say that there are cats of all kinds at FoC doesn’t go far enough. About 250 cats live on the sprawled but connected property off Lake Jennings Park Road, where “lifetime care” cats with feline AIDS, leukemia, diabetes, thyroid or behavioral issues are separated in their Cozy Cottage from kittens and the other cats who are healthy. Many cats come to FoC by way of owner relinquishment—when an owner moves, or can no longer care for their animal, FoC takes them in.

“With lifetime care, the owners can opt to designate them adoptable. Most of them want the cats to stay here because they know how they’ll be cared for,” said shelter manager Janet Bianchini, standing in front of bales of bulk-purchased kitty litter so big, they put a forklift out of commission.

Frugality is imperative for any shelter. Volunteers are invaluable in this capacity, helping daily operations and contributing to the overall success of non-profits like FoC. Luckily, there are plenty of people who love spending time with cats and, according to Bianchini, bring in Costco rotisserie chicken and cans of tuna to feed to the cats as they enjoy the benefit of their company.

Those people who give to the shelter in volunteer hours, board representation, donations or air time, like Lewis does, allow the staff help more cats, because the cats keep coming in.

“I’m really partial to [Friends of Cats] because it’s such a modest, humble shelter. What I love about this place is, the staff has been here a really long time so you know they care about the establishment, and that they do the long term care for people who may go into a home, or have passed on. Just to have that ability to know that your animal will be loved and taken care of, forever,” said Lewis, who owns a total of ten cats.

Some of those cats she inherited from KGB listeners who have passed on, two of them are rescues from FoC.

“It would be two hundred if I was allowed!” said Lewis, laughing. “There’s nothing like loving an animal back to life and to trust, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Eight cats were adopted at the Cinco de Meow event. That’s eight happier homes and room for eight more cats at the shelter. This is considered a good day for FoC. “It’s all for the critters, what can you say?” Lewis exclaimed in her rallying, radio voice.

To learn more about Friends of Cats, visit www.friendsofcats.org.

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