Harvey lives on the counter at the Newburgh SCATS Cat & Kitten Adoption Center & Thrift Store in the Town of Newburgh, but he often sits at the door to see who’s coming and going.
“He’s our watch cat,” said SCATS President Lil Demskie. “He thinks he’s the boss.”
But there’s not much to watch these days, with the store closed. Volunteers come in the morning to clean and feed Harvey, his girlfriend Sassy and the other, adoptable cats living there.
Demskie doesn’t make it to the shop until late afternoon, after she and her husband, Larry, have finished feeding about 40 cats in 10 feral cat colonies in the Town of Newburgh.
The shop averaged sales of about $200 to $300 a week before it closed in March after being deemed non-essential. That income paid for the food and care of its felines.
The store’s rent is being paid from an inheritance Demskie received in 2015 after helping the benefactor with some feral cats three years prior. But with no store sales and fewer donations, that inheritance is dwindling.
“I have some regular donors that send me a check every month,” she said, “but since the place isn’t open, very few people are bringing in food.”
On top of caring for the shop cats and feeding the colonies, Demskie is currently bottle-feeding a two-week old kitten, every two hours, who was found in a stack of pallets. This could be the first of many.
It’s kitten season, and Demskie doesn’t know what will be left on her doorstep in the coming months. Will people abandon more kittens? Will she have enough food? When can her shop re-open?
Demskie first wants people to consider adopting adult cats.
“Everyone who comes here wants a kitten,” she said. “I think you can bond so much better with an adult cat. Even in shelters, the adults, they all sit there. I like an old cat better than dealing with the kittens. Adopt a lap cat instead of a curtain climber.”
As for Harvey, he only likes Sassy and kittens. He shares a bed with her, and she cleans him.
The shop is quiet these days, but Harvey still stands guard.
“I can’t see this going on too much longer, I really can’t,” said Demskie.
Newburgh SCATS is one of the many shelters and rescues in the area that would benefit from your $3 donation (see challenge below). It also needs donations of Meow Mix dry food, Purina dry adult and kitten chow and Friskies canned food but will take other brands. Donations can be mailed to Newburgh SCATS, P.O. Box 10443, Newburgh, NY 12552; firstname.lastname@example.org. Food donations only can be dropped off at the thrift store at 154 North Plank Road, Route 32 in the Town of Newburgh 1-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. They are not accepting thrift store donations at this time.