Paws for a Moment by Bonny Corbeil

Cat Houses and Sanctuaries

Our last column explained the process of how ACC volunteers moved from public dumpster cat feeding — where homeless cats forged for food to survive — to the creation of feeding boxes. Soon enough, we were asking “How can we do this better?”

“Cat Sanctuaries” by Jeanne Piotrowicz
Jeanne Piotrowicz was the first ACC volunteer who showed us “how to do it better.” She created St. John’s first wonderful “Cat House and Sanctuary.”

The “coconut telegraph” buzzed about Jeanne’s cat station over in Concordia built six years ago. It was not until one actually saw it that a true appreciation could be felt! Jeanne and her husband built a large closed “cat house” approximately 4 feet x 3 feet with a galvanized roof (a true island model!); lattice covering all of the sides for air-flow; “cat openings” for access; and a side door for cleaning purposes. Jeannie even landscaped walking stones and sitting areas so that cat lovers could visit. Ropes and small toys hang for “cat play;” along with a number of bowls for water and food. A beautiful hand-made sign invites people in to see what wonderful animals cats really are!

Children have been seen inquisitive about this site; asking questions; watching with interest and fascination. St. John’s “feral cats” of the past, often viewed as sickly, diseased; hungry and afraid of humans had evolved into educational cat colonies of interest and respect because of daily feedings, kindness and a lot of Jeanne’s TLC.

Jeanne presently has 27 cats and regularly “trains” cats for adoption to “sit” on command and “shake a paw.” To date, her success in training them has helped find nine cats good homes.

A visit to Vie’s Chicken Shack at the East End demonstrates more of Jeanne’s creativity and love of cats. She worked closely with Vie in setting up another “Cat House” across the road away from the food area. There you can see a brightly painted Cat Station of cats dining along with a written menu including “Bananaquit Pie” and “Teriyaki Rat.” Vie feeds these homeless cats daily with food from our ACC, creating a win/win for all.

Jeanne’s creativity inspired me to show a stateside friend her wonderful station design. My friend immediately donated funds for supplies to “upgrade” our ACC station on Calabash Boom Road where her future house will be built.

Jeanne, thank you so much for putting into action the power of kindness! You have been wonderful in inspiring us all to “upgrade” our cat feeding stations with creativity. Be sure to check out these Cat Stations. With the mount of creativity and construction skills found on St. John, maybe you will be inspired to create even a better model?

Pirate Bill’s Problem-Solving Skills
While Jeanne was busy demonstrating and inspiring us with creative upscale “Cat Hous-ing” and sanctuaries, Pirate Bill was figuring out ways to minimize the loss of cat food from other critters. The newly enclosed structures kept out pigs, donkeys and most other animals but it was chickens that became our biggest challenge! There are many chickens still living in bushes. Once they find a cat station, they move their entire extended families in! Only Bill, through careful watching, came up with a solution. He cut strips of canvas to hang down below the cat “jump up” openings. These served as a “ladder” for the cats to enter and a “spook item” to discourage the chickens. Brilliant!
Then there were major problems with ants. Pirate Bill was able to figure that one out too. He placed old plastic food containers filled with water under each of the legs —  creating an impasse. Boston Gary and Pirate Bill have teamed up together to build new cat station designs for the past year. The ACC appreciates both your time and dedication and thank you both for your good work on behalf of our entire community! We welcome all volunteers who are willing to help “upgrade” our ACC cat houses.

There are numerous other dedicated volunteers who help our ACC’s “homeless cats.” Our next column will explore who they are and their daily commitments to this program.

ACC Take Note
Thank you Carlos and Maria DiBlasi and the entire Morgan’s Mango family for sponsoring “Halloween for the Animals” again this year. Your support of our ACC is greatly appreciated! Any other businesses who aspire to sponsor an event to “Help us care” are invited to contact us. Got an ACC questions or comment? Write me at [email protected]