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Nonprofit traps and neuters feral cats, rescues those that aren't feral
Pogo had to have a leg amputated after breaking it in a jump from an apartment near Garrisonville Road.
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BY EDIE GROSS
Cari Bartz always considered herself a "dog person."
Then she spotted some kittens running loose near Spotsylvania Towne Centre.
She borrowed a few traps from a local humane society, relocated more than 20 cats and kittens to a farm in Louisa and, pretty soon, she was running her own cat advocacy group.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, I love doing this,'" said Bartz, who founded the nonprofit Shadow Cat Advocates about eight years ago.
Unlike a traditional rescue group, Shadow Cat Advocates focuses primarily on trapping feral cats, neutering them and then releasing them back into their colonies.
But not every feline the organization encounters is feral. When volunteers find litters of kittens, they provide medical help and then try to adopt them into loving homes.
They also find plenty of gentle stray cats in need of families.
Pogo came to Bartz from an apartment complex off U.S. 1 near Garrisonville Road. A stray kitten, he got spooked while standing on a third-floor landing and jumped into the parking lot below, snapping his rear left leg in two.
He had to have the leg amputated, but Bartz said it hasn't slowed him down any.
"He's a little wild man," she said. "He's recovered quite nicely. We're just still looking for a home for him. He's as sweet as sweet can be. He just purrs and purrs the second you pet him."
Bartz found Rocky in a North Stafford neighborhood. The orange and white cat's back had been slashed open, probably in a fight with another animal. He endured three back surgeries to heal the wound and an infection, she said, but now, "he looks perfect."
"He's drop-dead beautiful," she said.
Word of her soft spot for cats has apparently gotten out. A few weeks ago, she walked onto her Stafford County porch to find a cat carrier with two Maine coon cats inside.
She was able to find a foster home for the sisters, who are about 18 months old. But surprises like that tax the few resources the small nonprofit has.
"That's never happened before, but I knew it would someday," Bartz said. "People are desperate right now and they're doing desperate things."
Shadow Cat Advocates has about 35 adult cats available for adoption right now and about 10 kittens, she said. The group operates on a shoestring budget, funded largely by donations from the public, the generosity of volunteers and the ever-shrinking Bartz family bank account.
"That's why I'm so financially bad off," she said. "It was started with my heart and not my head."
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428
For more information about volunteering with Shadow Cat Advocates, donating to the nonprofit or adopting a cat or kitten, visit shadowcatadvo cates.org or call 540/720-1042 or 571/408-9626.
The organization will also have a booth at the Hartwood Days Festival on Sept. 8 at Hartwood Presbyterian Church, 25 Hartwood Road.