By Shaun Bishop
Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 10/31/2009 12:26:49 AM PDT
Updated: 10/31/2009 12:26:49 AM PDT
A struggling cat shelter in Redwood City got another life and will remain open at least six more months after receiving a flood of donations since September, its founder said Friday.
"I've been actually amazed at the response," said veterinarian Monica Thompson.
Faced with having to close or downsize just a couple months ago, the 5-year-old Nine Lives Foundation shelter has pulled in thousands of dollars since Thompson sent 1,500 letters to past donors, clinic customers and adoptive families asking for help.
Thompson realized that the cost of running the shelter — which rescues and finds homes for cats that would otherwise be euthanized at other shelters — had become too much for her to support with money from her separate low-cost veterinary clinic. Declining donations in the recession compounded the problem.
But Thompson's direct appeal to supporters and a Daily News article about the shelter's troubles drew enough donations for the shelter to continue providing a haven for almost 200 cats.
"I think the article reached people that had never heard of us," Thompson said. "We got letters from people all over the Bay Area. I got flowers from somebody I didn't know. It was great."
While the exact figures are still being tallied, Thompson said the shelter has received more than $20,000 in individual donations since September. More significantly, revenue from monthly pledges has gone up from about $1,600 per month to around $6,000, which helps cover the shelter's operating costs, she said.
She also organized a "Coins for Cats" fundraiser during this month in which kids designed their own containers to collect donations for the shelter. Thompson held a fundraising party at the shelter Friday night to collect the coin containers and to celebrate the generosity of the donors.
With the influx of cash, Thompson said the shelter should remain solvent for at least another six months. Thompson said the shelter — a warehouse on a frontage road along Highway 101 — currently costs about $30,000 per month to operate, including salaries for four full-time staff members, $5,000 monthly rent, and $1,000 monthly for utilities, food and kitty litter.
In September, the shelter temporarily stopped rescuing cats in an effort to shrink the population in case it was forced to close, but has since resumed taking in new "death row kitties" from other shelters.
"We are still reaching out to shelters and doing our best to help the most desperate cats," Thompson said, "but we're still trying to work on the population that we have."
She's trying to cut costs by using fewer paid workers and relying more on donations of food and kitty litter. She says she hopes the generosity of her supporters will continue.
"We still need monthly donations, we still need volunteers," she said. "We still need all the same things."
For information, call 650-368-1365 or visit www.ninelivesfoundation.org.