All throughout the seaside community of Santa Cruz, Calif, hundreds of formerly homeless cats are living fairytale lives after being saved from euthanasia by the volunteers of Project Purr. They’re so happy, healthy, relaxed and well cared for that you’d never guess that lifesaving rescue efforts gave them such incredible new lives.
“We spring shelter cats that are considered unadoptable – we give them a get-out-of-jail-free card,” says Lynne Achterberg, co-founder of Project Purr.
Giving Cats a Second Chance
All across the country, feral cats – also known as “community cats” – who are taken to shelters are often automatically put on the euthanasia list due to their shyness and fear of humans.
Project Purr works diligently to find people and locations that want these cats, like family-run Lindencroft Farm, where the five rescued cats they’ve adopted from Project Purr provide all-natural rodent control, as well as entertainment. “All the crew are ardent ‘kitty watchers.’ We love seeing them romping through the beds and playing hide-and-pounce under the row cover,” says Linda Butler, co-owner of the organic farm.
Achterberg and fellow Project Purr volunteers place the rescued cats at locations that will best suit their personalities. Once spay/neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped to indicate that they’re sterilized community cats, Project Purr places them in large, custom-built acclimation hutches at their new outdoor homes. After three weeks, the felines recognize the location as home and are released to roam freely on the property.
Bu often, something surprising happens in that transition period. Once in their acclimation hutches, which are outfitted with cozy bedding, a place to hide, food, water, toys and a litterbox, the cats start coming out of their shells. “It takes time and love, but over and over again we see these kitties bloom,” Achterberg says.
A Happy New Life
Some of the cats have traded in their cold metal cages at the shelter for stunning homes among cathedrals of giant redwoods on private estates nestled in Santa Cruz’s majestic, enchanted forests. Other rescue cats are revered as living sculptures in peaceful gardens and horse ranches. No matter where they end up, they are all loved and cared for by people who sometimes go to incredible lengths to make the cats feel welcome and comfortable.
“My idea was to convert the backyard into a sanctuary for the cats,” says John Pianavilla, a cat-loving contractor who cares for two Project Purr rescues. He constructed tunnels for them to crawl though, a catnip garden, shelters and even a kitty version of the Golden Gate Bridge. “It’s hard to believe these guys were once unwanted. They love it here, and I’m glad they do,” laughs John while petting one of the cats, who is appropriately named Cinder. Now, how’s that for a Cinderella story?