Scott Person (Centre College class of 1993) and his wife Samantha operate The Cattery, a no-kill, cage-free cat shelter in the Hurricane Harvey-ravaged coastal city of Corpus Christi, Texas. And they have been busy since Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25 trying to protect and rescue as many animals as possible.
“When it was first forecasted to make landfall, Harvey was a Category 1 hurricane, so our plan was to shelter-in-place,” Person said. “Six hours later on Thursday it had been upgraded to a Category 4 storm, so we started initiating our evacuation procedures.
“But our long-established procedure had us going to a location that was also going to be impacted because of the size of the storm,” he said. “We started making calls and found a shelter in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area that could take the 124 cats in our facility. We used our mobile spay/neuter clinic, a 33-foot, custom-built surgery. We loaded them all up and began the 10-hour drive to north Texas.”
Corpus Christi was indeed impacted, but spared the brunt of the storm. Just before the hurricane made landfall it jumped about 20 miles north, so where the eye came in was closer to Rockport which sustained catastrophic damage. With their shelter intact and their animals safely evacuated, the Persons were on the move again.
“We started making calls to other organizations and groups with whom we have partnerships,” Person said. “Rockport has a shelter but no veterinary services, so the Cattery’s mobile surgery travels there every two weeks to provide surgical services for the public as well as the shelter. Knowing that Rockport was devastated, we reached out to them to let them know that we could take whatever cats they had, as well as any rescued cats from surrounding communities. So far we have taken in around 60 cats.”
When the Persons opened The Cattery in 2007, it was Corpus Christi’s first low-cost spay/neuter clinic. The couple saw a tremendous need for a program of this type in the city, as it is estimated that Corpus Christi has 50,000 free-roaming cats. They added the mobile surgery in 2015, and they estimate they have performed 25,000 free or low-cost surgeries on both dogs and cats, and found homes for more than 4,300 cats.
“We saw a desperate need for some sort of organization in this part of the country to be focused on this problem of overpopulation,” Person said, “and a lack of resources available to those in the community who are interested in helping with animal welfare.”
The adoptable cats housed at The Cattery are divided into separate rooms by age, and roam freely within the confines of the facility. There is also a feral cat program for animals that cannot be adopted out as pets. They are given medical treatment, then are transferred to a protected colony or, if they can be socialized somewhat, placed in a barn cat program. All animals that pass through The Cattery are spayed or neutered, treated for medical issues, microchipped, treated for fleas and ticks, and given rabies vaccinations.