Interview with Ed Denton of Kitty City NM Cat Rescue

| March 20, 2011 | 18 Comments

My name is Ed Denton and I was born here in Alamogordo NM, and have lived most of my life right here. It is a fairly small town with a population of about 35,000. I am married to Kathleen Denton who is also a Director of Kitty City, and we have four children that are now grown and out on their own. We live in a pretty large home and have one dog and 8 cats that are all rescued cats.

Kitty City NM

What exactly is Kitty City NM?

How is it different than another type of shelter? Kitty City is the location of our shelter for cats, we added the nm on our web address as there are already so many kitty city’s out on the web.  The name of our non-profit is the KATO Foundation which was started by Harold Bruckner. Harold moved to Texas and wanted to keep the rescue here so we took it over early August 2008. I had a decision to make from the beginning on how to create our shelter. Should we make a traditional type shelter where the animals live in small cages  for viewing which is safer as far as contagious diseases for the cats, or to make a free roaming shelter where the cats all live together and are free to go inside or out but at the same time be safe from predators. We decided that even though the risk health wise is greater having the cats living together in a free roaming cattery we could not have a rescue where cats live in extended time in a small cage. We are also a no kill so our cats live out their lives with their friends here or they go home to a forever loving indoor home. That is their only two options here at Kitty City
 
Where are you located?

Our shelter is about 6 miles north of Alamogordo, NM  at 56 Danley Ranch Rd
 
How did you come up with the idea?

Kitty City NM

Kitty City NM

To be honest I only had 2 weeks to put up the first building which is 240 sq ft with 400 sq ft of outdoor play areas. I had no time to come up with a plan or idea I just had to get the building up as Harold was bringing us 25 cats that came with the rescue. We were doing drywall and painting after the cats had moved in! We had an artist from Ruidoso NM paint the inside of the first building. It features, the Longwhisker saloon where you can get any type milk beverage you want….skim milk….whole milk….even cheese chasers. Across from the saloon is Mrs. Kitty’s Bordello, and the second room is the bunkhouse where most all of the kitty’s take their afternoon naps and sleep at night. Later from the advice of our vet we built an intake building where our new arrivals stay and receive their vaccinations, and recover from spays and neuters and get their snap testing done. Once we are sure they are healthy and safe they can go to the main cattery. We are actually a pretty small shelter compared to many but we are very efficient in the way we are set up and the way we operate.
 
How many cats have you saved since opening?

Kitty City NM Weathervane

Kitty City NM Weathervane

Hmmm. Well we just had adoption number 574 last week, and at last count 120 cats at Kitty City. We have spayed/neutered, vaccinated and relocated about 75 feral cats. That is 769 cats.
When you think that each female cat could potentially have 2 litters of kittens per year. Let’s say all 769 of these cats were still on the streets and are still alive and half the 769 were female then they would have had over 3000 kittens this year. So it is easy to see that the rescue, and spaying or neutering of even one cat can be very important.
 
How many kitties do you have at the rescue now?

I have not counted in a few weeks but I think we are somewhere between 110 and 120 cats right now.  No kittens right now but kitten season will be here soon and we will start growing in numbers.
 
Do you ever get Ragdoll cats?

Blue Bicolor Ragdoll Cat Adopted by Ed Denton

Leah - Blue Bicolor Ragdoll Cat Adopted by Ed Denton

I have had one that I know for sure was a Ragdoll. She had been declawed by her previous owner and although she was about the most beautiful cat I have ever seen she was aggressive to cats and afraid of people. I see this behavior more often in declawed cats.

Were you able to adopt her out?

Yes I adopted her.  Her name is Leah.

Do you ever take in owner surrender kitties or do you only rescue cats from non kill shelters?

We have in the past but need to make new rules, as I do not feel that it is ethical for someone to take their 15+ yr old cat that they have had since it was a kitten to a shelter for the final chapter in the kitty’s life just because it is now having a few medical issues and vet bills. We have had a couple of these and it is not what we are about. My heart goes out to those cats that are in high kill shelters and are being put on the euthanasia list, they have no tomorrow unless I can help them. Even though I can’t save them all, I think about them every day and it hurts to think of them being destroyed.
 
Can people from outside NM adopt your kitties?  If they come to Kitty City for the adoption?

Kitty City NM Van

Kitty City NM Van

So far we have adopted about ten cats out of state. We do have a rule that if the adoption does not work out the adopted cat must be returned to Kitty City even if that means the adopter has to purchase an airline ticket for the cat. Eight of these adopters had not met their cat until it arrived at their airport. All have been good adoptions. I always spend much more time talking to folks who are out of state about what kind of personality they want in a cat, what their home is like, what other animals they have, how many children they have, and how old their children are. I will only ship out the most outgoing, sociable cats that I have at the shelter.

Do you think what you’re doing could be replicated in other states and also be possible to do with dogs?

Of course I do with cats and I hope it already is. I am not sure how well it would work with dogs to have so many together as I have not worked with dogs at the level we are working with cats so I can’t give a good answer about dogs.
 
How do you figure out where to place a kitty? In other words are there certain parameters a kitty must meet to be put in a certain room at the shelter?

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

There are some very serious feline contagious diseases. We do not know the history of many of the cats we take in so there is a risk of them bringing in a disease and a risk of them contracting  Upper Respiratory Infection’s from cats that may be carriers  in the cattery. Since our cats free roam and live together it is important that each new intake cat gets vaccinated, and checked for parasites and any other issues that need care. We quarantine them until we know that they have built up immunity to URI’s, and they have been snap tested, cleared of the dangerous feline diseases, and spayed or neutered if needed.
All of this takes about 6 weeks, and at that time if the cat is healthy we put the cat into Kitty City. At this time we have three separate areas and have split up the population between the three areas.
 
What if a cat doesn’t get along with the other cats?

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

If we have a cat that insists on always stalking other cats and trying to bully them, we will separate them. We have two cats out of 120 that are like this. Occasionally there are small skirmishes that are not serious, but more of a pecking order, and it is not necessary in my opinion to separate them when this happens, as it is almost always temporary.  When we intake a cat that has not been around other cats the are so stressed that it is necessary to  put the new cat in a large crate with its own water, food, and litter, inside the cattery where the cat is exposed to all the other cats but is safe within the crate. Usually within three to four days the new cat is calm and does fine.

How can someone in NM or outside of NM help Kitty City?

If there is someone who wants to help but can not adopt, and can not volunteer because of the distance from Kitty City, Donations are a good way to show support. We are not funded by any government agencies, and have not yet been awarded any grants so donations are important. We have a donation page on our website that has our wish list of items we use the most of at the shelter. Monetary donations on our website help with our vet bills. Those who want to sponsor a cat, are able to go to our sponsor page and help out with the cost of some of our long term residents that have FIVor feline Leukemia. We will soon have RV hookups for those who travel and do volunteer work. We really need help with grant writing.

Is your adoption process different than a kill shelter?  Are they more stringent?

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

Yes. Potential adopters are able to come in the cattery and sit in a room with fourty cats and pet every one and get to know the personality of the cats, instead of viewing the cats in small cages. Our contract is called the third degree. We want to know what the folks who adopt are like. We do not adopt to people who allow their cats to go outside, or to those who plan on de-clawing their cat. Adopters must live in an area that has a local vet and a local animal control that adopts animals out. Adopters under 21 can only adopt after an interview with a kitty city agent. 
 
How many volunteers do you have?

Right now about twenty volunteers are signed up to work but almost all of these are married, have jobs and children so they are limited on the time they can volunteer. We rarely have more than one volunteer show up at the same time. We could use about three times the number of volunteers that we currently have.
 
I noticed on Must Love Cats that you’ve creatively come up with “wanted” signs to advertise your cats – can you tell me more about that and why you think it works?

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

Kitty City NM Wanted Poster

When we started we decided to go western theme and name all the cats western names. When we started naming some of them outlaw names I had purchased a nice camera and was learning how to use photoshop. I don’t know how or why I did it but I thought I would do a wanted poster of one of our cats with an outlaw name. Everyone thought it was awesome so I just continued trying to improve on them, and went from posters to cage cards that I have been laminating and attaching to the cages at our adopt-a-thons and in the Stagecoach adoption center. I have made lots of different styles, the one on the right is the one I use on all the cage cards now. Since the Must Love Cats program aired I have had folks email me and ask to use the wanted posters at their rescue also. I think it is great and I would love for them to use the template with their cat photos on the posters if it helps them adopt more cats.  
   
How did Must Love Cats find out about you? Do you know?  Did you like the song that John Fulton made up for you on the show?

Must Love Cats

I was first contacted by Julie Creswell, who said she had seen the wanted posters on our website. They debated for some time whether to come out as we were not quite as large of a shelter as they wanted to film. We were at about 85 cats when she first called but well over 100 when they got here, and have been at about 120 ever since. I am a musician also and I like all the songs John does on Must Love Cats, especially the theme song. He is quite talented. 
 
Thank you for all that you do to seriously reduce the growing pet population and more so for making sure kitties have happy homes.

You are welcome. Sometimes it does not seem like we are making any progress. I did just check and we have adopted out 574 cats now and we are coming close to three years in the rescue now. We are still learning but my hope and prayer is that we are able to continue doing this for years to come and that we continue to grow and find new, better and unique ways to find more homes for cats. We want to save as many as we possibly can.

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Category: Ragdoll Rescue

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About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

Comments (18)

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  1. Lisa Barrett says:

    Wonderful, inspiring interview – thank you!

  2. Awesome story – and what an amazing set up! You’ve done incredible for three years. I personally love the Western Theme – since I am owned by Apache, Amigo, Lakoda, Morgan and Willow – plus prairie dogs Dallas & Houston.

    Do you ever allow out of state adoptions? Flying on Continental Pets, new family paying the fees?

    I love that the adoption contracts are the Third Degree! I created one for Save A Sato Foundation – which they never had. The one I did is also Third Degree – and even worse because of the lack of enforced pet laws in Puerto Rico.

    Do you have a Fan Page on Facebook?

    Jen another fabulous find!

    • Jenny says:

      Donna – my fault, should have included that in the post – will make that change now – but here it is – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/KITTY-CITY-NM/103979586312936

    • Jenny says:

      Donna – I graduated from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico holds a piece of my heart was another reason I was attracted to this rescue in particular – but it was also WAY COOL what they were doing!

    • Ed Denton says:

      Having a theme, and trying to have special names for the kitty’s (like the special names you gave your kitty’s and dogs) is very important. Last year there was a Bonnie and Clyde type shootout in our town that left 5 cats with no owners. We took all the cats in at Kitty City and I named them “Bonnie”, “Clyde”, “John Dillinger”, “Bugsy Malone”, etc. All of the cats adopted out in about 2 weeks. Other shelters here do not even bother to give the kitty’s any type of name. Yes i do adopt out of state if I am sure it will be a good adoption….i think i answered that question in the interview 😉

      • That is awesome! Not the shootout – the names and adoptions?

        I must have missed that answer so I apologize? I linked one of the girls on my Facebook Page – and with my friends you never know who will fall in love? Two of my cats are from San Juan – and Willow flew as a kitten into Newark on Continental Pets. I’ve helped adopt several from there, and we’ve flown them to Canada, Wisconsin and Boston.

        I think you guys are awesome

  3. Melody says:

    This is an interesting rescue center, very different! I really like the wanted ads, I think it works because it puts a smile on your face for some reason. I hope they get more volunteers soon!

  4. Michelle says:

    Similar to Best Friends Animal Society’s set-up for a wide variety of animals, including cats and, yes, dogs. Separated according to needs and temperament. I’ve always loved them but was just on their Facebook page and saw a contest promoting the pledge to never buy another animal with lots of negative comments about breeders of animals. As a Ragdoll breeder, I am still a strong advocate of assisting in the proper placement of existing pets in need of a home as well as reducing the overall number and have pledged to donate a portion of each kitten sale in order to do so. I’ve always enjoyed the positive messages Best Friends created and was very disappointed by their apparent lack of recognition of the research into feline health that the cat fancy helps to support. I believe I may have found another shelter deserving of support!

    Jenny, your interviews are great. Thanks!

    • Michele,

      There are breeders, and then there are breeders? I think Best Friends biggest target is Puppy Mills which is something we are all against?

      I think the good breeders worry about congenital issues, and bloodlines. They don’t over breed, and the animals are treated as beloved family. The sad thing is the others create the issues for the breeders who care?

      I’ve only had one purebred – an abby who passed at 19 1/2. I remember the Vet telling me he hoped I didn’t have health issues with him – because they were known for many. Maxie was the healthiest cat we ever had, and I credit his breeder for being so caring.

      Paws Up to you for being one of the caring, and for donating part of each kitten sale to a shelter. Wish there were a LOT more like you!

      • Michelle says:

        Donna & Morgan,

        I appreciate your comment as I later felt guilty for going “off topic” somewhat, but I suppose there is some relevancy in the general discussion of animal welfare. I’m sure you’re right that Best Friends main objection is the existence of puppy and kitten mills, or any animal produced specifically for profit. And that is something to which I am also opposed. I guess that just didn’t fit on the t-shirt they’re giving away…. However, many–if not most– adoption advocates feel as if they are in opposition of consciously allowing animals to reproduce. I understand because I used to be one and would still be had it not been for my discovery and fascination of the Ragdoll! Prior to our current endeavor, I’d never considered buying a cat or a dog because, honestly, I didn’t see much difference among the breeds I found appealing and those who managed to find me through the years. Though I think Ragdolls are beautiful, it’s their thought-processes, temperamants, and personalities that appeal most to me. This aspect and exposure to other breeds at shows has caused me to appreciate other breeds’ unique qualities, though I’m still VERY partial. 😉 It would be my wish that those who are breeders would do so on a small and responsible scale. My recent realization is that there is an increasing number of Ragdoll/domestic crosses showing up. I find that extremely concerning and will continue to try and determine the reasons behind that. Certainly breeders that allow their kittens to leave without being spayed are contributing but I suspect there are also other factors to be identified.

        We have both been fortunate to have a long-term relationship with a wonderful feline; I lost my DSH blue tabby at the age of 19 1/2 also. Your vet’s comment about your Aby being prone to congenital defects is interesting. In my research about the Ragdoll breed, I came across a statement (unfortunately, I have no idea where) that explained that train of thought and it corresponds with my previous statement about breeders who do genetic research that can ultimately benefit all domestic felines. The genetic markers for certain diseases that are discovered within a specific breed are not limited to that breed, have not all been found, and are also present in the generally untested domestic population. Furthermore, they may not indicate an early death but are more of a prediction of HOW the animal may ultimately die, therefore allowing for appropriate supplementation or a dietary adjustment to hopefully prevent or manage the disease. The difference is that, within a limited gene pool, the mutations are likely to occur at a higher rate.

        Now, back to Ed’s work at Kitty City…I am eternally grateful to him, and those like him, who are providing wonderful care for creatures who are in need in such a natural and responsible way.

        • Michelle says:

          Almost forgot but neutering the boys is equally important! 😉

          • Loved your comments – and I agree on spay neutering. Maxie was neutered because when he became of age and decided to spray – it was the testicles or the cat that was leaving? Since he wasn’t leaving – the testicles lost?

            I think the more genetic research done – and careful breeding – removes many of the genetic issues. Look at the difference in the German Shepherds after they began having hip displasia? Careful breeding cut way down on it.

            I sure hope they don’t start Designer Breeding Cats like they do dogs. It’s insane – and ultimately they are mutts? Go to a rescue and find a dog instead?

  5. Michelle says:

    Donna & Morgan,

    Aside from the spraying issue, IF a cat will be outside unsupervised–which, of course, isn’t as safe for the cat–they will reproduce. We’ve been fortunate so far and none of our Ragdolls have sprayed, even though they all live together. Birth control proved to be a challenge on our first attempt but I think maybe we’ve accomplished that goal now.

    Unfortunately some cat breeders (a term I still have a hard time using when referring to myself) are breeding Designer Cats. I feel as you do about them but then feel hypocritical for doing so since the only difference is that the Ragdoll is now recognized as an “official” breed by the registries so that their pedigrees are tracked but the breed started in pretty much the same way as the Labradoodles and whatever else people have come up with. I guess the question there is whether civilization needs more new breeds and, since we have Ragdolls, I tend to think we can stop now. 😉

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