ST. PAULS — In her wildest dreams, Alana Miller never thought she’d have 95 children to take care of. But she does, and every one of them has special needs that require special attention — the most important is love.
“This is far and away more than I ever expected when I got started 10 years ago,” Miller said. “But there are all my babies.”
Miller operates the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary in St. Pauls. Of the 95 cats in residence there, a large majority are blind, while some are there because they have feline leukemia or feline immune deficiency. All have been or would be slated for euthanizing because of their afflictions without Miller’s intevention.
Prior to opening the facility in 2005, Miller worked at The Haven on Hoke County and adopted three blind cats.
“After a while, I figured it was time to do this right,” she said. “Taking care of those three blind cats, I just felt that’s what I should be doing with more of them.”
On Saturday last weekend, the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary held its monthly open house with a special visitor — Jackson Galaxy, star of the Animal Planet television show “My Cat From Hell” who is also known as Cat Daddy, was there along with Kate Benjamin to promote their new book titled “Catify to Satisfy” and because the facility was the recent winner of the Catification Contest.
“I really love this facility,” Galaxy said. “They’ve done a wonderful job here, and the cats all seem so happy.”
Galaxy attracted a huge crowd, but the stars of the day were the cats. Visitors were able to wander the two cat buildings and enter the cat kennels to interact with all of the cats.
“These cats are all so cute,” said Sami Drake, 12, of Hope Mills.
“I wish we could take one home,” said Jamie Sperry, 12, of Hope Mills.
That sentiment was a popular one Saturday, but Miller said adopting the cats isn’t possible.
“We are a lifetime care facility,” she said. “These cats have been through a lot of really bad times, and they deserve a forever place. This is it.”
Although adoptions aren’t possible, Miller said the facility does encourage folks to sponsor any of the cats they choose. She said it costs $228 per cat each month for care, and the monthly sponsorship fee is $30. Many of the cats have multiple sponsors and a complete list and photos of the cats can be found on the facility’s website at www.blindcatrescue.org.
One of the sponsors traveled all the way from the Chicago suburb of Beecher. She is one of the sponsors for “Popcorn,” a pure white cat.
“I was here two years ago and wanted to come back to see the kitties again,” said Doreen Fraser. “It’s the very best thing to put a smile on your face.”
The facility is a referral site for veterinarians, animal hospitals and individuals who come across blind or diseased cats that have been disposed of along the roadside. There are cats from all over the country at the St. Pauls facility, as well as one cat from as far away as Kuwait. Three of the current feline residents are from Bladen County.
One of the facility’s employees, Kittie Howard, has been a supervisor for nearly 4 years.
“I like the fact that this is such an amazing place for these sweet cats,” she said. “Our boss (Miller) works her heart and soul to keep these cats safe. It’s such a rewarding job.”
In addition to sponsors for the cats, Miller said the facility is always looking for additional volunteers to help — from cleaning the kennels to playing with the cats.
The Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, located at 74 Prairie Lane, is open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Volunteers are welcome anytime after 8 a.m. For information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.