In September 2003, due to the neglect and abandonment of several hundred free-roaming cats residing at a former shelter in Sarasota, Florida, five concerned citizens stepped up to rescue the felines in distress. The founders rented a small warehouse in which the cats would temporarily reside until future legal custody could be determined. Their original mission was to provide a safe haven for the cats and give a voice to those that had none.
Relocation of the cats was an amazing display of local unity and cooperation. The founders of Cat Depot, volunteers, and local animal organizations joined forces with Sarasota Animal Services to transfer the cats to their temporary quarters, a 2500-square-foot facility. Needing a name to identify their location, they called it “Cat Depot.” Over the course of the next few months, each cat was examined, treated, and documented by the county’s veterinarian. In total, 262 cats survived.
Many of the rescued animals needed rehabilitation, which was provided over the next five months by Cat Depot personnel. Until custody legalities could be determined, however, no adoptions were possible. Meanwhile, Cat Depot covered the expense of caring for the daily welfare of the rehabilitating felines.
Finally, in February of 2004, a Sarasota County judge awarded Cat Depot legal custody of the 262 remaining felines.
Due to the overwhelming number of calls Cat Depot began receiving; it soon became apparent that there was a need for another feline shelter in Sarasota. The founders were faced with the pivotal decision of whether to find homes for the rescued cats and close Cat Depot’s doors, or become a long-term adoption facility and a valuable resource to the community. They chose the latter.
Two years of planning and extensive research led to the development of one of the most creative and innovative ‘green’ adoption centers in the nation. A unique air filtration system was installed for the free roaming indoor/outdoor suites, and custom furniture was designed to assist both the cats’ comfort and support their adoptability.
An 800 sq. foot education and activity center was added in the fall of 2010, and a surgery center opened in the spring of 2011.
Cat Depot houses over 125 cats and kittens on any day. Cat Depot moved into its 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the art facility on 17th Street, Sarasota, in October 2009.
Grand Opening January 2010
(left to right) Co-Founders Garo Partoyan and Bev Meadows, Co-Founders Ken Slavin and Linda Slavin, Executive Director Shelley Thayer, Operations Manager Marilyn Warner, Project and Volunteer Manager Lynn Rasys