Despite what cats may think, they are not gods. They are just as prone to getting ill or injured as the rest of us. It is not a shame if you don’t wish to adopt a sick or disabled cat, but it is a shame when such cats can’t live somewhere nice, instead of being caged indefinitely, or worse. Fortunately, Mandan has a place where unadoptable cats can retire in comfort, with every amenity they’re able to enjoy. That place is Kitty City.
Kitty City is the creation of Alison Smith and her husband Steve, devoted hosts to many animals in need. Their Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue gives quarters to little equines who have found themselves in dire straits. They recently made local news when they took in Wanda, a blind pig who had been abandoned when her former owners moved, and who is now a fat, happy creature. With her reputation for rescuing animals, Alison began receiving requests to take in unwanted cats, especially ones whose health conditions precluded them from adoption. Never one to turn down a furry guest, Alison got to work converting a paddock into outdoor feline lounging areas that she calls “catios,” prepared some rooms, and started housing hard-luck kitties.
“We take in as many cats in need as possible, but cats with disabilities or FIV are our focus,” said Alison. “We do our best to accommodate every cat according their condition. Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia, or ‘wobbly cat syndrome,’ get their own padded areas so they don’t hurt themselves when they fall. They’re still wonderful climbers, so we set up cat trees outside for them in the spring. The blind cats share company with the sighted ones, and enjoy everything they do except for watching the birds outside the window. For them we never rearrange the furniture — they quickly learn where everything is, and prefer it to stay that way. FIV-positive cats have their own area, with chairs mounted on the wall, holes cut into the closet doors, and anything else they could want.
“Many of our cats have been saved from freezing to death, a great danger to strays in North Dakota. We were called to help one, Cookie, who was found frozen to the ground on a raw winter day. Another, Cupid, still had icicles on him after three hours in front of a space heater. His four month recovery was followed closely on our Facebook page, and a lot of people were moved by his progress. Now Cookie and Cupid are at Kitty City, where they can enjoy their best lives.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of volunteers who come to play with the cats. Many of them are struggling with their own problems, like anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD. They love Kitty City because it’s calming, and because it’s inspirational to see happy cats who are getting along in spite of their disabilities. Our cats often wind up helping people more than the other way around — I believe that’s their purpose.”
For the most part, a cat who checks into Kitty City has found their forever home. While people with good intentions do genuinely want to adopt a blind, deaf, or three legged kitty, the return rate for cats with disabilities is just too high, and moving around a lot is stressful even for a healthy cat. A Kitty City kitty wouldn’t want to leave so cozy a place anyway. There they are perfectly taken care of, with fresh air and birdwatching in the summer time, heaters to toast their bellies by in the winter, and every imaginable kind of posh bed to snooze on when it occurs to them to.
Kitty City’s mission does great good for cats and people alike in the Bismarck-Mandan area. If you would like to help Alison and Steve on their mission, then you may donate at hhhmhr.org, facebook.com/hhhmhr, or by mailing to PO Box 4125, Bismarck, ND 58502.
By David Scheller