Region's cat shelters seek feline-loving volunteers

By Janice Steinhagen- Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Aug. 12, 2013
Residents of the Forgotten Angels Sanctuary in Griswold await their 'forever homes.' Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Residents of the Forgotten Angels Sanctuary in Griswold await their 'forever homes.' Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Homeless cats are enough of a problem in the region that the Griswold/Lisbon area is home to no fewer than three independent cat shelters. And while not all cats housed in these shelters are destined for “forever homes” – some have health or behavior problems, others are feral by nature – they all need loving humans to attend to their medical, sanitary and social needs for the time being.

All three local facilities – Forgotten Angels Sanctuary and Kitty Harbor in Griswold and Compassion for Cats in Lisbon – are filled to capacity and not accepting cats or kittens. They do, however, gladly accept donations of cat food, litter, treats, toys, bedding and cleaning supplies, and welcome cat-loving volunteers with open arms.

Cathy Ordiway runs Forgotten Angels Sanctuary, which serves as home to 35 full-grown cats. She said that she’d be grateful for volunteers willing to help with daily clean-up, everything from scooping cat litter to brushing hair off the bedding pads to sweeping the floor. Her facility allows cats to wander between an enclosed porch and several snug rooms. “The cats are free-roaming – there are no cages. They have central air conditioning and a deck they can access,” she said. But they can’t venture into the surrounding woods.

When a Girl Scout troop from Lisbon descended on Forgotten Angels last week to deliver cat supplies they had collected, the girls spent some time socializing with the cats. Petting, brushing and interaction make cats friendlier and easier to place for adoption. Even for less-social cats, grooming and medical needs require getting comfortable with people.

While irresponsible pet owners who don’t have their animals spayed or neutered help grow the population of homeless pets, Ordiway said that other factors also contribute. Often, she said, “people go into a nursing home or pass away” and their pets become homeless. “That’s not something you contemplate when you take on a pet,” she said.

“We’re maxed out… we’ve got a lot of really super nice cats,” said Carrie Nylen of Compassion for Cats of New London County. “People have a hard time picking one out. We’re really careful about where they go to.”

James Breen of Norwich found a perfect match – two of them, in fact - at Compassion for Cats. Sibling kittens Gideon and Liliana “were in exceptional condition” when he and his fiancée, Rebecca, visited the shelter. He said Nylen “didn’t want to split them up and finally, once we saw them in a pair, we couldn’t do that either. We were kind of hooked right away, they way the feel in your arms – they kind of melt like a marshmallow.” The pair is now learning to get along with Breen’s older cat, Loki.

Breen said that while he and Rebecca also visited pet shops, obtaining a kitten from that source “feels a little impersonal. We prefer to work with someone who knows what’s going on.” He said that they were given the kittens’ complete medical records, and that Nylen was careful to ask for personal references from them as well. “We felt very comfortable that [our kittens] were so happy and so well cared for, and we didn’t feel anything was pushed at us,” he said. “It’s more than just a transaction, it’s a choice.”

Forgotten Angels Sanctuary can be reached at or by phone at 860-389-8931. The shelter’s website is

To volunteer for Compassion for Cats, contact Nylen at 860-886-5085 or at Its mailing address is P.O. Box  336, Taftville, CT 6380.

Kitty Harbor can be reached at 860-376-9062 and its e-mail is According to the website, volunteers willing to do data entry are also helpful.

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