A feral's paradise with lots of old chairs to sit on and cat posts to climb Right now, she has 27. But if the call went out to save four more ferals, my friend Mary Anne Miller wouldn’t blink. She’d just jump in the car and go rescue them. A view of paradise before the cats settled in Miller is one of those selfless persons who prefers serving rather than being served. And serving has its price. “We live simply. Clothes are mainly thrift store. And traveling is a rare occurrence. I mean what pet sitter in her right mind would agree to care for 27 cats, two horses and two German Shepherds?” she asks, laughing. Besides, leaving puddies who’ve been abandoned or traumatized doesn’t feel right, says Miller. “They’ve been through so much already.” "Has anyone seen my orange ball? I lost it somewhere?" To accommodate the cats, Miller took a blueprint she designed in her head and her hubby made it a reality in the form of a built-from-scratch (sorry) enclosure designed to please. She describes it: “There are two tunnels that lead from the dining room window to the cats’ outside enclosure. The tunnels consist of two seven-foot irrigation culverts extended above the ground a few feet. The enclosure measures 35 x 18. Inside, there are trees, ramps, elevated posts and jumping platforms, a feeding platform, water fountains, three large kiddy pools turned into kitty litter boxes, cat condos, and tunnels. It’s a veritable paradise where the ferals find the freedom they instinctively crave, the exercise they need, and warm beds when the weather turns nippy.” Introducing new babies to paradise So what cat organization does Miller belong to? None, actually. “We’re just two people who care about ferals, because many people don’t. They see these cats as disposable nuisances. We make sure they have a chance.” That chance comes on adoption days, when Miller tries to find loving homes for the ferals. Still, adoptive families must live up to her strict standards. “I’m relentless in my questioning. No declawing; the outside world is strictly off limits, and spaying and neutering kittens is imperative. If we can’t find a suitable home, the cats stay here with us.” Miller says she also reserves the right to re-claim any adopted cat or kitten she feels is in danger of neglect. "I'm in the introduction cage. MaryAnne rescued me from an old barn. I don't know it now but I'll be rehomed soon." Learning to live with the losses, and the cruelties these cats encounter, are two downsides to her work. But the plusses outweigh the minuses. “People ask me how I manage,” Miller says. “I just do. After years of living among ferals, I’ve learned to break down the barriers and bond with each one. And to me, that’s better than winning the lottery.” "Hi, I'm Matuse, and this is Sierra. We're hanging out in paradise, and life couldn't be better. In her (ha) spare time, Miller celebrates cats in cyberspace. Go visit her on her website www.felinexpress.com.
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