Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty
Few private citizens can claim awareness of the growing pet population like Robin Johnson can. Johnson owns and operates Vilardo Printing at 326 Connecticut Street and since she took over the business in 2001, she has started rescuing stray and abandoned cats. For Johnson, it started out as one cat, but then it became two, then four, and well, as Johnson puts it, â€śyou know how it goes. There were always cats around the city and when you take in one cat, you always have a gazillion more.â€ť
Johnson herself cares for 13 cats. She bought the building her company is in and since that there was no landlord to answer to, she houses 9 of the cats there and cares for 4 cats that remain outdoors. Johnson has taken pity on these animals and makes sure that they have food. When she adopts one, she takes it to the veterinarian, makes sure it is free of disease, feeds it, and has it spayed or neutered.
â€śA lot of these cats that are abandoned or strays, they need a lot of veterinary care,â€ť says Johnson. Johnson said that she has spent a lot of money on the cats â€“ including veterinary bills, items and medicines to rid the cats of fleas, and the constant need for food. She also keeps track of which cats need more attention. â€śThere are at least 5 cats outside that need to be neutered,â€ť Johnson says.
For these cats, Johnson wants to spay or neuter them through a catch and release program. The biggest problem she faces is the money to do it, and thatâ€™s where her fundraiser â€śCity Kittiesâ€ť comes in. After brainstorming for a long time of what she could do and exhausting various avenues, she decided to try and raise the money herself. She will be holding a fundraiser to raise money and awareness this Sunday, August 31st at Nietzscheâ€™s on Allen Street.
â€śI know I needed a lot of help, financially, to get these cats spayed and neutered. Thatâ€™s what all this money is going to go for. Everybody has more cats that they can handle,â€ť says Johnson. Johnson has been in contact and received help from animal organizations here in Buffalo. By printing Buffalo Companion Animal Networkâ€™s cookbook and Ten Lives Shelterâ€™s calendars, she has managed to defer the cost for care of some of the cats and has even saved some cats that way, but even these organizations are feeling the strain of too many animals.
Johnson says with the economy doing poorly, more people are abandoning their animals with the thought that the animals will fend for themselves. Johnson is always finding new cats and trying to find them homes, but if she canâ€™t find them a good home, sheâ€™ll keep them rather than abandon them or have them euthanized. â€śA lot of times, ones that I have been helping, I have found houses for. This last one, sheâ€™s been outside for two years and this was her third pregnancy,â€ť says Johnson.
The most recent cat she took in had 4 kittens â€“ and believe it or not â€“ Johnson has managed to find a home for each of them. However, since cats can have three litters in a season, Johnson doesnâ€™t want to see this same cat become a mother again and bring more cats into a world not prepared to care for them properly. Though this is just a fundraiser to raise money and awareness about this growing problem, Johnson has hopes that maybe one day â€śCity Kittiesâ€ť could become a not-for-profit dedicated to helping the cats of Buffalo.
For now, sheâ€™ll just be glad to handle as many cats as she is able and try her best to find the money to help the ones she canâ€™t. The fundraiser will run from 4 until 8 PM. There will be snacks, an auction, and a 50/50. Admission is $5 or $3 with a cat food donation. There will also be live music featuring Noa Bursie who was recently named the best solo musician for 2008 by Buffalo Spree Magazine. There will be several other musicians playing in support of this cause as well at Nietzscheâ€™s this Sunday.