One day, Dave King shared his lunch with a cat, and nothing’s been the same since then. It started 18 years ago when he moved his wood pallet company to a warehouse in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Dave wasn’t surprised about the multiple cat colonies in the industrial park, given its waterfront location. What he didn’t expect was how quickly the cats would change his life.
The Cat Man of Curtis Bay
When a black and white cat approached him at lunchtime he did what came naturally–gave her part of his sandwich. They started having lunch together every day. Then one day, she brought her litter of kittens to meet him.
Dave knew he had to help, so he socialized the litter and found them all homes. But his first cat friend, who he called “Mama,” remained. In short order, she brought him another litter, and another — and Dave realized he had to figure out a new plan.
He learned about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and bought some traps. He began providing the local cats with food and shelter in his warehouse. When he had the money, he would trap and neuter a handful at a time. The cats thrived living and playing in the warehouse, turning the rafters into their catwalks. They had shelter, regular meals, vet care, and Dave’s companionship.
Over the years, Dave’s business fluctuated with economic downturns, and there were times he wasn’t able to afford the ongoing TNR and veterinary care that the colony required.
Dave reached out to For All Animals for help.
For five years now, the nonprofit has assisted Dave with TNR and spay/neuter costs, fostering and adopting kittens, and medical bills for cats and kittens who need emergency care.
Life went on as usual for Dave and the cats until December 2018.
Devastating news came in that Dave’s business’ landlord was pushing him out and nearly doubling rent — he would be evicted on the 31st. Panic set in. The remaining cats (roughly 40) aren’t candidates for adoption, but they’ve relied on Dave for food and shelter their whole lives. Leaving them would be like abandoning them, and he isn’t willing to do that.
Working round-the-clock to keep his business running and the cats safe, Dave has managed to secure an adjacent property. It’s an empty lot with no building to shelter the cats, but it’s a start. Dave has only ever asked for help when the cats’ well-being depended on it. Now their lives are on the line. For All Animals is helping Dave share his story and asking for help to keep the cats safe.
For now, Dave is able to run his pallet business from the lot. Sadly, the cats have been evicted from the warehouse that’s been their only home.
Without it, they’re vulnerable to predators. It’s now almost impossible for Dave to manage the cats’ different medical needs like special diets and antibiotics. For All Animals is helping provide shelter—including purchasing and outfitting a 10 foot x 20 foot shed.
Thanks to a compassionate business owner, the shed was secured at a 30% discount. It isn’t a permanent home, but it’s an emergency shelter complete with windows and vents for circulation. Dave even got it hooked up to electricity. This way he could make sure the cats stayed warm and safe when the polar vortex brought plummeting temperatures to the region.
The inside of the shed was designed with the cats in mind. They painted it with high gloss paint, so it is easier to clean. The space is being divided into quadrants to provide emergency shelter for as many cats as possible. This will allow four colonies to all have their own safe territories for shelter. To maximize square footage and provide stimulation, the shed’s vertical space is being fitted with shelves for climbing and a loft. Four cat doors and escape routes are also being installed. For extra safety measures, each quadrant has an entrance and emergency exit. The small nonprofit is doing the best it can to make the shelter a reality while Dave works on a long term plan for the cats.
Dave’s nearly 60 now. He’s always worked hard, lived humbly, and done what he felt was right.
When Mama walked into his life almost 20 years ago, he just did what came naturally. Because he loved the cats, he gave them what they needed. For all these years Dave has been giving all he can – he wouldn’t ask for help if he didn’t need it.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP, MICROCHIP YOUR PETS & SPAY AND NEUTER!