Katz 4 Keeps, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization located in Ponte Vedra Beach, was created for the rescue of abandoned and unwanted felines. The kittens and adult cats are sheltered and medically and physically cared for in preparation for adoption into “4-Ever Homes.”
Founder Mary Boushie began rescuing cats in 2003, soon after moving to Ponte Vedra Beach from Los Angeles. By 2005, she formed a more structured rescue operation and to date Katz 4 Keeps has rescued and placed over 400 cats and kittens. Most of the rescues have been adopted by individuals and families in Ponte Vedra Beach and Jacksonville Beach, but their cats come from across Jacksonville. Katz 4 Keeps does not “charge” an adoption fee; however, donations are appreciated, and necessary, to supplement operations.
Boushie has chosen to pursue this path in recognition of a profound need to help cats who are victims of our ‘disposable’ society. The cats she rescues come from all education and income levels and it is her belief that the perceived ‘cat population program’ isn’t the ‘fault’ of the cats; but instead the fault of people who don’t take responsibility to spay or neuter their pets. Katz 4 Keeps wants to be part of the solution.
The new facility located A1A North in Ponte Vedra Beach is limited in the number of cats they can handle at any given time. Currently they are capacity – relative to the number of volunteers working with Katz 4 Keeps. Boushie is actively seeking volunteers who would like to be a part of the Katz 4 Keeps program.
Who can volunteer?
* Katz 4 Keeps requires mature women, who tend to be disciplined when working independently. Volunteers are ‘teamed’ for efficiency and security.
* Volunteers need to be 17 years or older and willing to commit to a minimum of 1.5 hours each week.
* Volunteers can be high school students needing to earn community service hours.
Students 12-17 years old can be included in “The Luv ‘Em Up Bunch’, a cat-socializing organization where kids can visit and play with the cats and ALSO talk with visitors who may be interested in adopting one of the felines.
Kittens and cats come to Katz 4 Keeps from various sources: they’re found on the highway or local streets, in dumpsters at restaurants, grocery stores and apartment buildings; on hotel properties and the beach. They’re left in boxes at veterinary clinics, and they’re abandoned in apartments or houses when people leave. They’re rescued from abandoned cars or found under cars at convenience stores (where people drop them hoping someone will pick them up). Sometimes kittens are brought in because they may be very sick or injured, but . . .they’re always grateful than they can help them.
All the kittens and cats in the program are tested for feline AIDS and feline leukemia (not communicable to humans or canines, but communicable within the cat population, mainly through fighting). They are then tested and treated for intestinal parasites and fleas; given a bath, started on inoculations and either spayed (female) or neutered (male). It’s quite a process over several weeks, but very rewarding when Boushie watches a “forlorn,” or border-line “feral” cat or kitten with no expression, transform into a beautiful, happy and healthy adoptable cat. Several families return for a second (even third!) cat.
Katz 4 Keeps has a passionate team of volunteers, currently 30 women and men. They are responsible for cleaning the cats’ cages and interacting with the cats 24/7, 365 days a year. Realizing that cats respond positively to the love expressed by children, there is a program for children 12-17 years of age called the “Luv ‘Em Up Bunch”. Their responsibility includes holding and caressing the kittens and cats, encouraging them to play and interact with humans. Each child completes an application to enter the program, receive a 30-minute orientation and sign in when visiting the facility. The program has been accepted as an avenue for earning community service hours for various organizations.
Boushie states “Sometimes I can’t remember how all this started, and sometimes it’s a bit “daunting,” but in my heart I know I’m in the right place and doing the right thing. I have the support of a wonderful husband who respects what I have chosen to do at this stage of my life, and a wonderful team of volunteers who believe in our mission”.
To rescue abandoned and unwanted felines and medically, physically and emotionally rehabilitate them in preparation for their “4-ever homes.”