A Visit to a Very Special Cat Sanctuary
In loving memory of Buckley
Yesterday was an emotional day for me. I went to the open house for Casey’s House, a private rescue group in Bluemont, VA. Cindy Ingram, the founder of Casey’s House, rescued my precious little Buckley from a farm in southwestern Virginia, where she and about twenty other cats were kept in marginal living conditions. Buckley passed away last Thanksgiving weekend. While I had been supporting Casey’s House for many years, I had never actually seen the facility. When I met Buckley, she was already living at the animal hospital I managed at the time. (You will get to know Buckley and her story in my upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”).
Casey’s House is named after Cindy’s beloved tabby cat, who came to live with her when she was fifteen years old. At first Cindy refused her entrance to her house, as she already had two cats and two dogs at the time. Casey, however, was not a cat to take no for an answer. Casey’s “home” at the time was a colony of some fifty cats, and she was probably getting tired of either not getting to her food on time, or eating off of filthy dishes. Every evening, Casey would be waiting on Cindy’s porch, obviously hungry, so Cindy would feed her. Slowly, but surely, Casey became a part of Cindy’s family. Eventually, four of her feline colony friends came to join Casey. Says Cindy: “Casey taught me to reach beyond my self-imposed limits, and her house is the dream that now has become a reality”.
In addition to providing a safe haven for older cats, Casey’s House also promotes Trap-Neuter-Return. Through this program, feral cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped. Cats that are friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into loving homes. Healthy feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes. Casey’s House spayed and neutered more than 200 cats in 2008, making a significant contribution to controlling the overpopulation problem.
I was impressed with the wonderful environment Cindy created for the cats. There are very few cages, most of the cats live in a large open room, filled with carpeted ramps, cat climbing towers, and lots of soft pillows and blankets for them to sleep on. New rescues and those with potential health conditions are kept in separate areas until they’ve been checked out by a veterinarian. What was really amazing to me was how peaceful the energy in that large room felt. All the cats seemed to get along, there was no hissing, posturing, or fighting. Cindy said in all the years she’s done this work, she’s only had one incident with two cats fighting. Casey’s House truly is a safe haven for cats in need.
I left missing Buckley even more than I usually do. The visit definitely brought on a renewed wave of grief for me. But I also left feeling good about living in a world where there are people like Cindy, who care so much and do so much for cats in need.
Like all non-profit organizations, especially those helping animals, Casey’s House is struggling in these tough economic times. If you have a favorite shelter or rescue group that you support, please consider making a donation to them – they need your help now more than ever. And if you don’t already support a shelter, perhaps you’ll consider making a donation to Casey’s House in Buckley’s memory. Cindy and the cats at Casey’s House will thank you.