AR-News: (SC) Feline fans help abandoned cats preserve their nine lives

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Mon Oct 27 07:37:49 EST 2003

Posted Monday, October 27, 2003 - 1:57 am

By Liv Osby
losby at

Pauline Tsai feeds an orphaned kitten. (Bart Boatwright/Staff) 


A tiny mewling kitten whose eyes hadn't yet opened was spied wandering alone 
in the grass through someone's back yard. 
An affectionate, sleek gray cat with injured tail and ear was plucked up from 
a shopping center parking lot on busy Laurens Road. 
Unlike thousands of other cats in the Upstate, these two were lucky — they 
found their way in recent weeks to Pauline Tsai, a Greenville animal lover who 
just happens to be launching a new group to rescue homeless cats. 
Called Catitude, Feline Advocates Inc., the all-volunteer not-for-profit 
group is taking a new approach, using foster parents, senior citizen outreach and 
other innovative techniques to place the cuddly critters in good homes while 
working to reduce the number of unwanted pets. 
"I've been wanting to do this my whole life," says Tsai, 37. "And I'm hoping 
people in the community will find (Catitude) a worthwhile cause." 
Estimates vary, but animal welfare groups agree that millions of pets are 
destroyed in the United States every year, cats more often than dogs, according 
to Tsai. 
"It's a significant problem," said Dr. Eddie Robinson, of Midlands Veterinary 
Practice in Columbia, who stresses the role of steriliza 
tion in reducing the number of homeless pets. 
"We highly recommend spaying and neutering," he said. "It's something that 
can't be overstated." 
With a network of volunteers, Tsai plans to provide veterinary care for the 
cats before placing them with caring foster families until they can be found 
loving homes through adoption fairs, the Internet or word of mouth. 
"We want the most realistic life for them, not in a cage but in a friendly 
home, so they can make that transition smoothly," she said. 
Among her foster parents, Tsai hopes to enlist senior citizens because "it 
makes them feel like they're making a difference." But she also wants to help 
older people keep their own pets by offering assistance with food and vet care, 
for example. 
The idea came to her during 14 years as an occupational therapist treating 
older patients. Many were widowed and lonely with shrinking circles of friends, 
she says. Because they couldn't drive, or get around very well, or hadn't 
enough money, they'd have to give up their last companion, often with devastating 
"The pet suffers and the person suffers," she says. "That's something that's 
impacting the quality of life for senior citizens." 
Tsai's own 75-year-old father, who lives in Florida, had to give up his 
beloved dog when health problems kept him from caring for it by himself. 
"He loved his dog dearly," she says. "He got quite depressed." 
Tsai also is committed to providing humane education in area schools to 
reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs by teaching responsible pet ownership. 
"Kids don't understand that when you get a puppy or kitten for Christmas and 
it gets to be older, you don't put the cat out and you don't tie a dog to the 
tree," she said. "I'm hoping that somehow will impact the number of animals 
who are surrendered." 
A bundle of energy, enthusiasm and compassion, Tsai, a New Jersey transplant, 
says her love of animals is genetic, as well as environmental. As a young 
boy, her father started a "Be Kind to Animals" club, she says. And after her 
parents' divorce, little Pauline quickly learned that pets were a rich source of 
unconditional love. 
Later, she says, she began advocating for other living creatures and 
volunteering for animal welfare groups, always with an eye on starting her own. After 
she moved to Greenville with her husband, Dr. Harold Tsai, and four children 
two years ago, she found herself a stay-at-home mom for the first time — a sure 
sign it was time to start a group. 
With 15 volunteers now, Tsai predicts she'll need at least 10 more to meet 
her first year goal of fostering and placing 50 cats. She'll take occasional 
volunteers and donations of food, supplies and money, too. 
As she feeds the tiny kitten formula from a syringe and cuddles the injured 
gray cat, who's purring contentedly on her lap, Tsai hopes Catitude will foster 
community action to help end the plight of homeless cats. 
"You're a better person if, instead of just sitting around and saying there's 
a problem, you're doing something about it," she says. "That's going to make 
the difference." 

I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast-offs of human 
society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. 
And I was angry. "God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do 
something?"  God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. "I have done 
something," He replied. "I created You." 
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