Dog.com presents Hometown Heroes
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At Dog.com, we celebrate those who give selflessly to animals in need. These Hometown Heroes can be found almost anywhere, and we want to share their stories. We simply need to know about them! You can nominate a Hometown Hero (or Heroes) who has touched your heart in the comments below by telling their story, posting a picture, or sharing a link to their cause.

Greetings from Catsbury Park

Introducing DJ — A DOG.com Hometown Hero


DOG.com: Did you always love cats this much?

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CP: No! I never really knew anything about cats until about four years ago. I never had animals growing up — my mother is allergic — and as a result I was "indifferent" towards cats through most of my childhood and early adult life. Then I worked in the music industry, and spent my 20s and a good part of my 30s traveling, so I never was around animals.

In 2013, I moved in with my girlfriend, and she had two cats — Moo and Cleo. It was amazing how fast I fell in love with them, and subsequently with cats in general. Soon I was cat-obsessed, and wanted to be around them all day, every day.

DOG.com: What motivated you to get so involved in the rescue world?

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CP: I worked in the music industry for about 15 years. I loved what I did, but I was ready for a new challenge. Because of my new love of cats, I started to learn everything I could about them — kittens, rescue programs, TNR (trap and release), feral cats. In 2015 I decided I wanted to pursue the idea of opening a cat café. Because I had never had a kitten before, and I wanted to start helping cats, I decided to try fostering while we looked for a space to open the café.

Based on our success finding homes for foster kittens, we quickly began taking in more to help out the over-crowded shelters during kitten season. In only three months, 40 rescue kittens were fostered, and then placed in loving homes. I never thought it would be so rewarding, or emotional. Because of this experience, I grew even more committed to doing all that I could to help rescue and care for cats.

“In only three months, 40 rescue kittens were fostered, and then placed in loving homes.”

DOG.com: What is your most memorable moment since you started this journey?

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CP: The successful adoption stories are what make it all worth it, and all the cats have left an imprint on me. While I am proud of all our adoptions, nothing moves me as much as the adoption of Marcy, the first hospice cat we took in at Catsbury Park. I met this 14-to-16-year-old senior at the Humane Society, and was told she had liver, kidney, and thyroid issues. Marcy was living in a cage and looked sad. Something about her eyes spoke to me, and I could see that she had a beautiful soul, so I inquired about bringing her to Catsbury to live out the short amount of her life that remained. The first few days with us she hid in the back room and slept most of the time, but by Day 3 she was venturing out to meet customers, and demonstrated how playful and sweet she was. She must have sensed how her life had changed for the better, and outside of a cage, outside the shelter, she blossomed.

Then this amazing human named Tracey walked in and saw her, she fell in love. She contacted us a few short days later to see if she could bring Marcy into her loving home to spend the rest of her life being cared for, and free. It gives me great joy to consider how much Marcy’s life changed in the span of a week, because of our work and the open hearts of awesome people like Tracey.

DOG.com: Tell us a about Catsbury Park. When did this idea pop up in your mind? How does it work? Can people visit?

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CP: Catsbury Park is a cat café, much like the cat cafés that have been popping up around the country over the past few years, and have been popular in Asia for a decade now. Simply put, you come in, get a tea or a coffee, and you can then go into our cat lounge and spend time with some wonderful rescue cats that are all available for adoption. When I was living in San Francisco a few years ago, I visited two cafés in the Bay Area. Once I found out that they did adoption I knew it was something that could be successful in my hometown of Asbury Park. I spent the next year or so visiting as many cat cafés as I could throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. This research, learning what worked and what I didn’t think was the best idea, allowed me to focus my vision on how Catsbury Park should be operated.

“She must have sensed how her life had changed for the better, and outside of a cage, outside the shelter, she blossomed.”

DOG.com: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own cat rescue?

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CP: The best advice I can give anyone is that if you are truly committed to helping with cat rescue, then jump in and start doing it. It might sound cliché, but if it’s something you want to get into, then you just have to start. The learning curve will be steep, and you should definitely ask people for help, but don’t let that deter you. First, consider becoming a volunteer at a shelter or rescue in your area, and that’s half the battle. Once you get your feet wet you will figure out what aspects suit you, what you are good at or like doing best. As many who work helping cats know, there will never be enough homes for all the cats that need them. So if you’re interested in getting involved in rescue, TNR, or any other idea or program that helps our furry friends, please do it.

DOG.com: What goals do you have set in place for Catsbury Park, and yourself in general, in regard to helping cats?

CP: Our main goal, as a non-profit corporation and a café, is to find homes for as many cats as possible. We have placed over 60 cats in the past year, 50 before the cafe even opened. I hope this number continues to grow, and that we can keep increasing our adoptions and providing rescue cats with the homes and lives they deserve. We want to continue to work with the community, and cat lovers everywhere, to expand our reach to help with awareness, education, and appreciation of cats. Opening the café this month was the first and most significant step towards this goal.

One additional area I would like to become more involved in is TNR. Asbury’s feral cat population has been managed over the years through the help of many dedicated individuals, but more can be done. Education about TNR is important to accomplishing the goals of reducing the feral cat population humanely. It is important to make sure accurate information is made available to the public and to policy-makers alike that explains what TNR is, how it helps, and why it is critical. I’d like to work with the town and encourage the implementation of a TNR ordinance to encourage residents to get more involved in this important effort.

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DOG.com: Where can people find out more about what you’re doing for needy cats?

CP: The easiest way to find out about what we are up to is through our website, catsburypark.com, or through one of our many social media accounts. But the best way is to stop by the café and say hello!

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 7/14/2019: 2:16:39 PM ET