Story & Photos By Claire Sheridan
The renovations are mostly complete, and the doors are open! At 50 years old, the Hermitage is the oldest cat shelter and sanctuary in the area, if not in all of the southwestern US. Beginning last February, the old building, which had been the Sanctuary’s home since it opened, was razed to make way for their gorgeous new digs. The new space has been designed with a keen eye for details; it is both aesthetically appealing and highly functional for the organization’s needs.
Cats are separated by age and health status. Those with FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukemia virus) are kept in separate enclosures, all of which have indoor and outdoor access. There is a room specially reserved for the geriatric cats, the oldest of whom, Juliet, is 20 years old.
There is an impressive veterinary suite in the new facility, complete with radiology equipment and the equipment to perform laser therapy. The Hermitage also does spay and neuter surgery for their feline residents inhouse. There is a separate area where cats who suffer from highly contagious illnesses like ringworm can be kept in quarantine to avoid infecting the general population of the shelter.
In 2017, the Hermitage took in 816 cats, and they adopted out 667. The facility’s maximum capacity is 188 cats, as they keep to a standard of 25 square feet per feline resident, which is higher than the required standard of 18 square feet per cat. With all of the changes in the goings on at the Hermitage in 2018, they have set their goal at an intake of 700 cats, and they hope to achieve 600 adoptions.
The organization is currently in the midst of a capital campaign to finish the building’s landscaping. They are selling commemorative brick pavers that are placed into their garden sidewalk. Like many nonprofit organizations, the Hermitage is always in need of donations. High on the list of their needs are volunteers and monetary contributions. Additionally, you can search for the Hermitage’s wish list of items available on Amazon.com. One specialty item is not on that list, and they could really use your help to procure it: Lantus SoloStar Insulin 100units/mL. This medicine is used for treating diabetic cats, and a single box costs $700.
Karen Baden began working at The Hermitage Cat Shelter and Sanctuary in May of 2017 and took over the agency’s new role of Executive Director in January 2018. Baden, who hails from North Philadelphia, is a former Military Police officer with a background in Human Resources Management and Computer Information Systems. She came to the Hermitage after working for 3 years with the YMCA of Southern Arizona, where she served as the Development Director, and “loved raising funds for children and programs.” Prior to working at The Y, Baden spent 10 years working in various capacities and states for the Red Cross. She said that she, “loves working for a cause; it makes getting up in the morning worthwhile.”
Of the Hermitage, Baden said, “I love it here. I come to work every day and I don’t want to leave. This is my family; we are a tightly bonded group of coworkers… I have never worked with such a dedicated, passionate and compassionate group of people. When we lose a cat, we feel it to the core. It really shakes us. These are family, not unloved animals.”
For those folks looking to get their kitty fix while getting some excellent exercise, the Hermitage offers Cat Yoga classes on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of every month. The program was so popular, all 15 available spaces sold out so quickly, that they decided to add an additional class. You can sign up to take the class on their website, where you will find information about yoga and the many other programs offered at the shelter.
Among those many programs, for parents of cat-loving kids, there is a Kid’s Club program offered the first Saturday of each month from 10AM-12PM. Parents drop off their kids to learn about cats, have a snack, and do fun activities like arts and crafts. The program is open to children ages 6 to 12.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Kitten Shower, happening this June. Over 70 kittens are projected to be available for adoption at specially discounted prices. In the past, the event has drawn over 200 people, and it is recommended that anyone seeking to adopt a kitten that day get pre-approved prior to ensure that they can take home their chosen furry companion that day.
There are always new and exciting things going on at the Hermitage—grab your kids or your yoga mats and get ready to find the furry feline of your dreams.
Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter 5278 E 21st St Tucson, AZ 85711 (520) 571-7839 https://hermitagecatshelter.org/
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm