by Harmony Fund Volunteer Laura Hearn[caption id="attachment_289" align="alignright" width="404"] Kris and Orange Cat[/caption]
The term ‘cat lady’ unnerves even the most devout animal lovers; its reference evoking images of feline-hoarding spinsters. But Auburn, Massachusetts native Kris King is redefining what it means to devote a life to saving cats.
Starving, injured, and frightened is often how Kris discovers her rescues. For the past four years, she’s invested her spare time and personal savings working with local animal shelters, caring for strays, and educating anyone who will listen about the importance of humane education and funded TNR (trap, neuter, and release) programs.
A Hero in Everyday Clothes
In a town just 40 minutes west of Boston, Kris starts each weekday while most of us are still fast asleep. At 4:30 a.m.she rises to care for her six cats (all rescues) and prepare food for the two feral cat colonies she cares for. Despite the significant danger of moving about the city before dawn, Kris quickly dresses and heads out to feed and check on the colonies before going into work. Often during her lunch break, she can be found getting abandoned friendly cats (cats that were once pets) into carriers and calling local shelters like Broken Tail Rescue trying to find placements for them, handing out flyers for a local TNR group called Spay Worcester, or humanely trapping feral cats. TNR continues to be the most effective and humane way of addressing the population problem, and its subsequent challenges.
Lost and Forgotten
Sadly, Kris has noticed more and more abandoned pets. “People just leave their cats in parking lots or near businesses and never come back. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “I see declawed cats with no way of defending themselves. When I find them, they’re terrified…desperate for food, shelter, love.
I often find little ones plagued with ear mites, broken bones, wounds, and other treatable illnesses. Many of them have suffered abuse. It’s not uncommon for kids in some pretty tough neighborhoods to throw things at them…or worse.
Since 2008, Kris has helped place more than 35 domestic cats in forever-homes, and she continues to care for 19 feral cats in two neighboring towns.
Going the Extra Step
“It’s not even about going the extra mile,” Kris explains. “It’s about going the extra small step. If you see a cat in distress or abandoned, if you cannot do anything directly, you can always call your local no-kill animal shelters and seek help for the cat. If you see some cats that are not friendly, but feral, try and see if any local agencies do TNR.
Kris is not only a rescuer, but also an advocate. In March, she presented research to the public school committee in the nearby city of Worcester on the benefits of humane education in public schools, modeled after similar programs in Maine and New York. The decision is still pending before the Standing Committee, however Kris is thrilled the local afterschool program, “This is Your City” will add a section about how to treat and deal with stray and abandoned animals.