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November 24, 2010

Barn Cat Buddies

Diane Novak is an Angels of Assisi volunteer and Director of the Barn Cat Buddies program. She wears many hats, but the bottom line is that she is an advocate for cats, especially those that would be deemed unadoptable. Most of the cats she helps place would be put down in shelters because they are skittish and would not make good pets. Instead, Diane works tirelessly to find them homes in barns where they will be taken care of, and their less than social personalities are not a problem.

For more information on Barn Cat Buddies, click here.

The reason for today's post is to share a letter of appreciation we received about the program. A great big thank you to Diane for all her hard work ♥

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Trouble in Paradise

“ Promise me that when I die, you will take care of my cat”. Those words echoed in my mind as I heard the news that my grandfather had passed away. A mountain man who loved nature and all of its creatures, this was my grandfather's only request. I promised my grandfather that I would find a suitable home for this cat, and we even imagined a large farm with rolling hills and plenty of room for play and exploration, which my grandfather said would be perfect. How fortuitous that vision would be.

A stray, the cat had made quite a name for herself. Considered a nuisance, neighbors complained and the property manager even threatened to terminate my grandfather's lease if he continued to feed the stray, so my grandfather moved to a more remote unit and fed the animal at 4:00 each morning, for he could not bear for this animal to go hungry. He spent considerable time with this animal in the outdoors that they both loved, and the ravages of neglect and suffering were soon reversed with veterinarian care, love, and lots of patience.

The cat eventually ended up at the SPCA. My grandfather, who had been searching for days for the animal, officially adopted the cat and declared the stray off-limits to all concerned. My grandfather affectionately named the cat "Trouble", and Trouble was my grandfather's faithful companion for the remaining years of my grandfather's life.

I called around and learned that Angels of Assisi, the only no-kill organization in the area, had a "Barn Cat Buddies" group that places outdoor/feral cats near barns or warehouses - it sounded ideal. Diane, touched by the story of my grandfather and this stray, arranged for volunteers to leave food and water, and the first night, a volunteer named Ted left food, water and a sleeping box near my grandfather's unit. Diane also gave me the name and numbers of veterinarians, to whom my grandfather could have taken Trouble, so that I could obtain vaccination and sterilization records, which were necessary for placement. The cat was still waiting for my grandfather when it was found.

The dedication and commitment of this group eventually paid off, finding the most idyllic setting that was strikingly similar to the one that my grandfather and I had imagined: a large farm with acres of land and a heated area with food and water for feral/outdoor cats - a true paradise for a cat who had been through so much.

This story is deeply personal to me, because for years I have supported animal rights and rescue groups, and in the one moment that I desperately needed the help of such a group, I found this most amazing group of people, who came to the aid of a total stranger and a helpless animal. The help of this group made it easier to celebrate my grandfather's life, and his commitment to all of God's creatures.

A last wish honored, a promise fulfilled, and one very lucky girl named Trouble.

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