“Catman” steps out to help his feline friends

When I first heard about the Catman2 Cat Sanctuary, I was surprised to hear it was a no-kill, non-profit cat shelter. So I planned a visit to investigate this animal anomaly. As I approached the green building, I wasn’t really stunned at the overwhelming cat paraphernalia decorating the building, the cars, the mailbox, and the trailer sitting nearby. I wasn’t surprised by the tall fence surrounding the entire property. I wasn’t even slightly shocked when I met the kind and gentle Dr. Harold Sims, who came to greet me at the door. However, when I stepped inside the door of the shelter, I encountered the unexpected.Dr. Sims, better known as the Catman, asked me to quickly shut the door to keep the loose cats from running outside. Loose cats? I asked. The Catman explained that he allows some of the even-tempered cats to run loose in the house, and the living room is one of the favorite hang-out spots. The free-roaming cats were just one of many mold-breaking surprises that awaited me that day.The Catman then invited me to accompany him on a tour of the facility and described each room and practice in detail. The shelter has three large rooms that accommodate15 to 20 cats each, he said. The rooms have viewing windows so visitors can observe the cats. Attached to each room is a cat-accessible porch. The Catman explained that the porches were important for the cats to get fresh air. I chuckled that I don’t even get as great a view from my windows at home. Each room is equipped with air conditioning and heating units to keep the cats comfortable, and ozone filters freshen the air and trap cat dander. Spills and accidents are cleaned up immediately to keep the surfaces clean and germ-free. The staff also takes special care to keep the cats clean, vaccinated, and healthy from the time they arrive until they are adopted. Over 1,800 cats have been adopted from the shelter since 1996. About 60 cats can be housed at a time, although currently the shelter is voluntarily holding over their limit. When the Catman takes in another cat, he places them in an isolated cage until he can have the cat examined by the veterinarian. The vet will vaccinate for rabies and distemper; the cats are given Feline Leukemia vaccines at the shelter. When the Catman is confident he or she will be at ease at the shelter, the cat is then allowed to reside in one of the rooms.Aware that I was surprised at the warm nature of the facility, the Catman explained that they opted for the environment of a home instead of the unwelcoming atmosphere of the typical shelter to benefit both the cats and people that visit. “Stress for humans is the same kind of stress for cats. If they’re locked up in cages all day, and they hear barking dogs and get tossed around by out-of control kids, the cats won’t be as healthy, or friendly,” the Catman said. The home-like feel of the shelter is also inviting to prospective adopters. People planning on adopting a cat feel more comfortable with their decision when they can see the cat interacting with other cats, and when they themselves can play with the felines. The tour ended as we wound around the building, stepping over litter boxes and lounging cats, until we returned to the front of the house. When I asked how WCU students can help, the Catman advised me that because students cannot have pets in the dorm and most apartments, do not try to adopt. Instead, students are encouraged to volunteer at the shelter during the day, or they can hold food or fund-raisers to donate to the shelter. For more information on how you can help the Catman and his cats, email him at KySims@aol.com, or call (828) 293-0982. You may not be able to adopt, but your time and love are great contributions.