The end of this month marks a year since Catmandu, a cat adoption center and sanctuary, has opened its doors in Carson City.
“We made it,” exclaimed owner Linda Buchanan with a little fist pump. “That’s a big deal.”
When Buchanan’s husband died three years ago, she was devastated.
“I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life,” she said. “A reason to keep living, honestly.”
At the same time, she was trying to help find a home for a stray cat she had been feeding, but couldn’t find any resources. It gave her an idea.
“Somebody needed to do something, and I’m somebody,” she concluded.
While she had spent a lifetime rescuing animals in her personal life, she decided to do it on a larger scale.
She collected the little pension her husband had left and set about to create Catmandu from a run-down home on Brown Street.
“I just gambled it all on starting this place,” she said. “I left it up to God and the universe to provide.”
A year later, the home has been renovated. Although no one actually lives there, it’s set up with an office in front, a living room, kitchen and several bedrooms. In almost every chair, you can find a cat curled up. One in the middle of the sofa.
Quilts are folded up on top of dressers and inside closets where cats find a soft spot to rest. Shelves are fair game as well.
Windows open up to a small ledge enclosed with chicken wire.
“They love their catios,” Buchanan explained. “They can bask in the sun.”
Right now, there are 36 cats living in the house. They have had up to 67. For the most part, the felines roam freely. But there’s a feral cat room where the wild ones stay until they’re gentle enough to coexist peacefully. New cats stay in a cage for the first couple of days to adjust, and some get sent there for a brief time out.
“If you’ve got to be a homeless cat, this is the place to be it,” Buchanan pointed out.
The homey environment also makes the cats more prepared to move into a new home. So far, 120 have been adopted out.
“We’ve been really successful,” Buchanan said.
With the success, she said, comes a greater need for volunteers. Help is needed with cleaning litter boxes, socializing with the cats and especially working in the office, she said.
Cat-themed knickknacks are also available through a small consignment shop.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Buchanan said.
Cats have come in after the deaths of their owners, some have been abandoned and some have even been left alone when their owners were arrested.
“They’ve all got names and stories and personalities,” Buchanan said. “We really treat all of our cats with a lot of respect. They’re unique individuals and we try to honor that in them.”
That includes her own three cats which often accompany her to work, where they are forced to share her affection.
“They’re not delighted with it,” she said, “but they manage.”
And the little stray that started it all?
“I found him a home,” Buchanan reported. “With me.”
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org