At MCLife Phoenix, we have a commitment to highlighting local businesses and organizations around town that can enrich your life as a resident in our Phoenix Communities. Today, we’re talking about cats.
We LOVE pets. Big or small, dog or cat. And we know that you do too! Check out Kitty City at Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, a sanctuary to provide a safe place for kitty cats in need
Recently, we got the chance to talk to Celeste Johnson, the Manager at Kitty City, about the organization and why it’s one of the best sanctuaries in the Phoenix area. Read on for more!
How did Kitty City at Wildhorse evolve into the safe and peaceful sanctuary it is today?
Kitty City is part of Wildhorse that has been operating for about 25 years. When the founder first bought the property there were 62 kitties on the property. She and a vet intern caught and spayed/neutered all of the kitties. For several years they were free roaming and then eventually a caged sanctuary was built around the original house where the founder lives today. Five years ago a new sanctuary was built on the property and at that time all of the kitties were brought into the new sanctuary. Kitty City operates like a family. There are no free roaming cats on property, except, a neighbor cat who has taken up residence.
When did you first get yourself involved?
Ten years ago I was informed by a neighbor that the kitties who lived in my backyard were going to be rounded up by another neighbor and released into the desert. I took care of a few kitties for years in my backyard and never had any trouble with the neighbors until that point. I didn’t know what to do. I contacted a friend for help who knew the founder, Kim Meagher, of Wildhorse. My friend told Kim about my situation and Kim told her that I could bring my kitties to join hers at the Ranch. Kim built a fenced in area adjacent to the one she already had at that time around her house for just my kitties. My husband and I started to bring our kitties over after 3 days. It was an incredible feeling to see that all my babies were eventually safe. (Cats are my babies even though they may be 15 years old.)
They say it takes a village, who is actively committed to the care of the kitty’s on a day to day basis?
Our village is comprised of volunteers who come in twice a day to care for the needs of our kitties. We also have a few volunteers who come in during the day to take care of the special needs some of our kitties have. Some of those special needs are physical, medical, social, and emotional and need assurance we care about them and love them. Several volunteers are not able to come to Kitty City to take a daily shift because of physical issues, but, they are just as much a part of the care of kitties. They foster, do administrative duties and one volunteer helps people who call for help with their kitties.
Can you share one of the sanctuary kitty’s rescue stories?
Beau, known as Beau Beau, was in a shelter that was closing. They couldn’t get someone interested in adopting him because he is like a grumpy old man and peed everywhere. We heard he was going to be euthanized. We decided he must come to our family in Kitty City. Yes, he pees in quite a few places on a regular basis, but, we love him anyway. He has had an operation due to a tumor and can only use one eye. He is so much happier since the procedure.
Houdini, known as Dini, was given her name because she was very hard to catch. She lived with her sister and mother outside of a business. The business was going to relocate and 2 employees did not know what to do with her. They had been taking care of her for quite a while. Dini’s mother was killed in front of her and her sister disappeared. She is very shy but observes everything that goes on from her little hiding spots.
ET and Stitch came to our facility because their owner was dying of cancer. They were 15 and 16 when they came and are now 17 and 18. ET is the mother of Stitch. I thought they would be so afraid. ET is quiet, but, Stitch has taken over. Mustard, who was the boss, has been replaced by Stitch as the boss. At least she tries to be each day. She is only 5 pounds, but, a power house.
Each of our babies has a story and circumstance that took them out of what they thought was a safe situation. We have tried to help them in their adjustment to our family of volunteers and kitties. We want them to live in the assurance of safety, security, and a healthy emotional and physical life.
Sometimes the stories of our kitties involve being adopted. We have a protocol for inquiries like the rest of the animals at Wildhorse.
What do you believe Kitty City is doing for the local community?
The kitties share Wildhorse with equines (mules, burros, mustangs, etc.) a turkey, and a peacock. Wildhorse is dedicated to inform people of the need for rescues for animals in need of a home. The kitties are a viable part of the education that we provide to the community about abuse and the widespread need for people to adopt animals and donate to those organizations who are truly no-kill facilities. We do tours, have open houses and special events, community service opportunities for educators, schools, classes, rehab centers, businesses, etc. Wildhorse receives phone calls from the public who need help with their animals or placement. We can’t take in all the animals we hear about, but, we try to direct them to the right resources or help them work out their situation. We try to contact everyone who calls us.
I think we are also a great example of a no-kill shelter. We go beyond that statement when a kitty joins the Kitty City family. The minute a kitty arrives at our facility we do not ask anything from them. We find out their physical needs and then get busy working on the physical needs as well as the emotional. The kitty’s can take all the time they want to adjust. We feel every kitty adds something to the family and they can be with us forever just as they are.
When I give tours or have a group of people on our property doing community service; I spend part of the time explaining why each of our babies are here and their stories. The great part of this is that they get to spend some hands on time in our sanctuary with the kitties or groom some equines. The kitties are great ambassadors of what love and care can do in an animal’s life.
Is there anything the sanctuary would do differently?
At this time we are looking at different ways to reconfigure the living and recreational areas. We don’t ever want to say we have arrived at a perfect environment because we want to be open to change that will be beneficial to our kitty family. We want healthy, happy kitties who can age gracefully.
Where do you envision the sanctuary to be in the next few years?
Our sanctuary will remain the same size as the years go by. We have no more room to change the size of our facility. We are always looking at the environment of our sanctuary to make sure the kitties are comfortable and have a place to play. I can see that evolving from time to time. We have to stay at the population of 28 to 30. We do not have room for kittens; but, I can see that we will eventually be able to bring in a few younger ones as some of our kitties leave us. I would love to see us have more foster homes.
At this time we have evolved into a sanctuary with most of our babies being over the age of 10. Our medical expenses are a big concern for us because so many are on medication. This is very challenging to myself as the manager. I would like to be able to have a volunteer vet tech who could be with us for awhile.
Why would one choose to donate their time, energy and money into the running and care of Kitty City and all the kitty’s?
Our foremost reason is the kitty’s themselves. It is so incredible to me to see the volunteers fall in love with our babies and are always checking on them to make sure they are healthy and happy. I am very big on communication. I like email and text reports from our volunteers as they complete their shift. They tell me their concerns about health issues, funny stories, send pictures, and anything they think I should know or want to share with others.
Kitty City is a place where you see changed lives. We have kitties come to us who are scared and feel alone. Right away they have humans and other kitties to share their lives with. The kitties can be themselves and we love them even if they hiss, hide, pee on things, or won’t go in a carrier easily.
It is a time to rejoice when we can all of a sudden pet a kitty who used to run from us!
Rescuing and caring for animals in need is very therapeutic. The stories our volunteers will tell you about the difference being in Kitty City makes in their lives is very special to me. It is kind of a haven for many. Some of our volunteers can’t have cats in their home; but, they can come and make a difference in the life of a kitty in our sanctuary. That is truly what goes on every day. Where else can you go where Beau will change your hairdo, Kitten Caboodle will hang on to your shoe, Stitch will tell you all her woes while you are feeding her, Celeste (Celeste kitty) head butts you, Pickles jumps across your head, and ET rides around on your back.
How can people help out Kitty City?
Like us on our Kitty City Facebook Fan Page:
Contribute through our Kitty City Donations Page:
So if you’re a cat lover, looking to hang out with a few adorable cats — make sure you head over to Kitty City! Just be aware that Kitty City is not staffed to accommodate visitors 24 hours per day. Please visit them during their public events, which are posted in the events section on their Facebook FanPage. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment!
Check back for more local businesses and organizations that can help make your life better.