A Waltham-based cat rescue organization that serves Newton has proposed a new shelter in Waltham.
The Cat Connection, a cat rescue and adoption organization, has proposed taking over the former North Waltham Library branch next to the Kennedy Middle School as a shelter for rescued cats. Currently, the city does not have an animal shelter.
The group, which services Waltham, Newton, Belmont, Watertown, Brighton and Allston, says it needs the facility in order to resume rescuing cats, according to group officials.
The Cat Connection was forced to stop rescuing felines on Jan. 1 because it does not have enough foster homes or an adequate facility in which to rehabilitate cats.
“We have exhausted that as a resource,” the group said in an open letter on its website.
As a result, The Cat Connection is seeking support to take over the Waltham building as a permanent shelter where rescued cats could be rehabilitated as the group tries to find permanent homes for them, according to The Cat Connection Board President Eva Miller.
“There is a responsibility to take care of our cats because they are out there," Miller told Waltham Patch.
The Cat Connection is trying to generate more support for the idea but has faced some obstacles. Miller said every time she and other connection officials ask the city to use the site, they have received “the runaround.”
Mayor Jeanette McCarthy, in an email, said a zoning change would be necessary for the Cat Connection to use the space. Councilor George Darcy told Patch he plans to file a zoning change that would allow the Cat Connection to use the former library site. Currently, the site is zoned for industrial uses, Darcy said. Then, the city would have to put the library site out to bid.
The group has raised enough money to take over and operate the site and would not ask taxpayers to foot the bill.
“Money is not the real issue,” said The Cat Connection Board Member Gabrielle Cunningham.
As part of its effort, The Cat Connection is asking people to sign an online petition to show support for the plan. The group plans to turn the petition over to the City Council.
"We're trying to see if the people are really interested in a shelter," Miller said.
As As of Feb. 5, 480 people had signed the petition.
The Cat Connection officials stressed the need for a shelter saying if the issue is not addressed, the city could see a spike in the number of feral cats. As of Dec. 31, The Cat Connection had 175 cats in foster homes, according to Miller. Since January, the group has seen an uptick in cat adoptions but are also finding more abandoned felines, Miller said.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said.
Miller further sharpened her point saying currently Waltham Police and Newton Police cannot provide assistance to cats and refer residents to The Cat Connection.