Ocean City Today

Fundraising effort underway for cat sanctuary in Berlin

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 30, 2017
Photo by: Katie Tabeling Kathy Slaughter, her daughter Leanna Slaughter and Joe Foltz, work at the relocated OC Pet Spa on Sinepuxent Road in Berlin, while Kathy Slaughter fundraises to transform a chicken coop into Safe Harbor Sanctuary for the county’s feral cats.

(Dec. 1, 2017) Town Cats and OC Pet Spa are raising money to build Worcester County’s first cat sanctuary that would provide felines room to roam.

Both entities are hosting a quarter auction on Dec. 9 to raise money to renovate a chicken house on a Berlin back road into Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary, a home for feral cats that are no longer maintained by the community.

“Cats like that don’t have a safe place to be turned loose. There’s some [cats] that have been dumped or in high-traffic areas like Ocean City. Those usually get picked up and euthanized,” said Safe Harbor founder Kathy Slaughter. “It’s unfortunate, because they’re euthanized without an opportunity to see if they’re not feral [and can be adopted] or if they’re someone’s pet. They might be just scared.”

Slaughter, who owns OC Pet Spa, is a board member of Town Cats, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing and tending to the feral cat population. Slaughter frequently showcased adoptable cats at her grooming business when it was in West Ocean City. Last year, she facilitated roughly 200 adoptions.

Last month, Slaughter moved her business to a three-acre property on Sinepuxent Road. Her dream is to convert the 280-foot-long chicken house that came with the property to a multi-purpose cat shelter.

Safe Harbor Cat Sanctuary should be able to house 300 cats.

“Everyone wants kittens, but we really don’t have space for the ferals,” Slaughter said. “The hope is that we can make sure they’re safe and vaccinated, and we can adopt them out to people that need barn cats for farms. Maybe we could even do an exchange – we’ll give them our friendly cats for their feral cats, just to keep the number [of ferals] down.”

The structure will also include a connection to a 400-square-foot enclosed yard so cats can enjoy the outdoors. Slaughter envisions building an adoption center in the middle of the structure, as well as a hospital area. At one end of the sanctuary, she hopes to create an informal cat café with benches and coffee vending machines.

Safe Harbor Sanctuary will also be open for other organizations, like Coalition of Cats and the Humane Society, to house their felines.

But right now, Slaughter is focused on basic renovations.

“It’s a big project. The chicken house was not used very long and it’s sound structurally, other than the parts of the roof that was damaged in Sandy,” she said.

The sanctuary will need 20 pieces of tin for the roof, concrete for the floor, fencing and electrical heating. Slaughter estimates the entire project will cost $180,000.

“As I get items donated, the price comes down. I’ve had an electrician donate his time and $1,000 of his material, and that really brought the big cost down,” she said. “But concrete is really hard to get donated, so that’s the bulk of the expense.”

Proceeds from the Christmas Quarter Auction will go to purchase $15,000 worth of concrete and fencing. Guests at the event can buy a paddle for $5, two for $8 or three for $10. Items up for auction include wine, gift baskets for pets and humans, and gift cards from Rice House, Pit and Pub and other shops.

The Christmas Quarter Auction will be held on Dec. 9 at the Ocean Pines Community Center from 5-9 p.m.

To donate directly to Safe Harbor Sanctuary, go to www.gofundme.com/free-roaming-cat-village.

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