Norton Shores – Over nearly three decades, the 78-year-old Norton Shores resident has cared for hundreds of cats each year from her no-kill facility Cat Tales Rescue on Farr Road, where Austin rehabilitates injured and neglected kittens before helping to find them new homes through a partnership with Pet Smart.
It’s an often thankless service that relies on a lot of volunteer help and donations, but Austin’s dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Muskegon’s 100.9 FM presented Cat Tales with a check for $500 on November 1st to help support Austin’s work to help the furry felines that depend on her grace.
“I’ve had cats my entire adult life and all of them have been recues. I’m the happy owner of three kitties – Scrabble, Sonic and Cletus,” 100.9 FM’s mid-day, on-air personality Matt Hendricks said. “We’re so proud to help out Cat tales of Muskegon with this donation. Most rescues are all volunteer so any bit we can do to help out and raise awareness – I’m glad to be part of it!”
Austin was at the radio station’s studio on Friday to pick up a check and chat about what it means for her efforts. Each cat Austin takes in is cleaned and checked over, and most usually have to be fixed, she said.
Often times, cats are injured or sick when they arrive, and Cat Tales foots the bill for vet care until Austin can find them a home, all costs covered by donations. Austin said she’s currently caring for several dozen cats in her shelter-garage, but many are also homed with foster parents until she can find a permanent placement.
“I have people who can help take care of them until they’re well,” Austin said.
Every other week, Austin takes cats to Pet Smart for adoptions and personally interviews potential owners, then keeps in touch with many on Facebook.
“It’s important to me they get a good home,” she said, adding that she asks new owners not to declaw the cats, and to keep them inside. “We want to get them homes so we can take more.
“When people adopt them, they’re ready to go.”
The food and expenses at the shelter are covered entirely by the generosity of the community, through church fundraisers, garage sales and other events to raise money. Booyahs Bar & Grill, for example, held a poker run in September and donated the proceeds, Austin said.
The $500 from 100.9 FM, she said, will go toward wet and dry food, vet bills and other necessities.
“You can’t imagine how that boosts us,” said Austin, who is in her 27th year caring for the community’s neglected cats. “The good Lord’s been watching over us and we just make it.”
“It just seems thing work out for us.”
It seems to work out for the cats, too.
Over the decades, Austin has helped thousands to find a caring new home, a gratifying feeling that she said makes the hard work worthwhile.
“It makes me happy, that’s why I do it,” Austin said.