Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Cat-by-Cat Solution to Homeless Pets

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Cat-by-Cat Solution to Homeless Pets

Article excerpt

NOT many people can say they run a homeless shelter and an adoption agency in their own home.

Sheera Kahn can. Granted, her clients are the four-legged kind - feline, to be exact. The young Boston travel agent devotes much of her time rescuing and rehabilitating homeless cats and placing them with loving owners.

Ms. Kahn is a cat lover whose compassion seems to know no bounds. She also is representative of hundreds, maybe thousands of animal rescuers in communities across the United States and around the world. In their own way, they are helping the animal-control problem, something that costs the United States about $300 million a year.

For now Kahn is caring for 18 cats (five are hers) in her house, a "fixer-upper" in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. She spends about $100 on each cat, which can include veterinary bills and lots of turkey-and-giblet dinners. Last year, she successfully placed 43 cats - most of which probably would have been "put down" in a shelter.

Kahn sighs at the euphemism for euthanization. There are still so many unwanted litters and abandoned pets, she says. Animal agencies - especially if they receive government funding - should offer low-cost sterilization clinics, in her view.

But this is not a story about pet overpopulation. It's about how one person can make a difference. "If every person did something to better their community, better the world, " Kahn says, "we would be living in paradise."

A visitor to Kahn's house is greeted by Tommy, a spry white-and-black cat that was literally thrown out of a car window onto Kahn's lawn late one night.

Kahn's kitchen is filled with cat paraphernalia. A cat teapot, a cat clock, a Felix-the-cat cookie jar. Columns of cat food cans seem to multiply before your eyes in cabinets and in the pantry.

After making the dinner rounds, Kahn settles into a chair at the kitchen table, and spills a large pile of photos. "They all have their story," she says.

Each "story" begins with a name: Virginia, Pretty Boy, Mr. Fats, Monkey, Cocoa, Bootsy. Some of the stories begin, sadly, with abuse and abandonment. But almost all have happy endings. …

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