Cat Sanctuary Plans Advance In Berlin

BERLIN – Plans are underway for a new sanctuary in Berlin that would provide feral cats with a safe place to roam.

Though construction is still in progress, Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary in Berlin will eventually be able to offer feral cats a safe place to live.

“I’m very committed,” Safe Harbor founder Kathy Slaughter said. “There are plenty of groups in the area who would benefit from having this type of facility in place.”

Slaughter, owner of OC Pet Spa, works with Town Cats, a local group dedicated to caring for feral and abandoned cats. She gave the organization space to feature adoptable cats in her West Ocean City shop and watched as they were able to find homes for more than 200 felines. She said it was touching watching people come in and interact with the homeless cats.

“Seeing the void that animal fills … animals just seem to fix a lot of things that are broken,” she said.

Aware of how committed the Town Cats volunteers were to the cause, Slaughter purchased a seven-acre property on Sinepuxent Road with the organization in mind. While she has moved her home and her business to the property, Slaughter has also dedicated a portion of it to Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary. An existing chicken house on the site will be converted so that it houses several rooms for cats. There will be areas for new cats, sick cats, adoptable cats and the like. There are also plans to build an outdoor enclosure so that the feral cats have room to roam.

“Feral cats, if they’re put in a tight environment, their stress level is high,” Slaughter said. “Our goal is to give them enough space that they feel like they’re free roaming.”

Slaughter plans to model the facility after Cat House on the Kings, a well-known California cat sanctuary.

“My plan is not to accept every cat,” she said, “but the cats that don’t have a safe place to go back to.”

Because the property won’t be able to sustain an endless amount of cats, Slaughter plans to partner with organizations like Town Cats and Community Cats Coalition. She says that when a group has a feral cat that needs a home, it can come to Safe Harbor and the group can take one of the sanctuary’s adoptable cats in exchange.

“It all just needs to fit together,” Slaughter said.

Susan Coleman, director of Community Cats Coalition, is excited about the possibilities a sanctuary will provide. She says groups like hers are simply inundated with calls regarding cats that need homes.

“It stretches everybody’s resources,” she said.

Coleman says not enough people realize that there are low cost spay and neuter options available to the public. While groups like Community Cats Coalition help cats in need get healthcare and find homes, there are feral cats that don’t have a safe place to go once they’re neutered and vaccinated.

“This place would provide a sanctuary for them to live out their lives,” she said.

She’s also hopeful Safe Harbor will provide opportunities to educate the public about cats and what groups like hers do. She said people could come and volunteer as well.

Slaughter agreed.

“Some people really love cats but can’t have any,” she said.

Slaughter says that while the sanctuary is not yet up and running she believes it has a lot of potential.

“I envision a lot happening,” she said. “We’re looking for extra help and volunteers to help us put it together.”

She’s also working to raise funds for the endeavor.  On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary Christmas Quarter Auction will be held at the Ocean Pines Community Center from 5-9 p.m. For more information on the sanctuary, visit Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary on Facebook or call 410-829-3240.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.