Monday, January 7, 2013

The Healing Hands of Brigid's Crossing Cat Sanctuary

By Linda Cole

I remember “rescuing” my first cat when I was a child. I also remember learning the difference between a stray/lost cat, and a neighborhood outside cat with that first rescue. However, I didn't let that minor setback discourage me from rescuing cats that really needed saving when I got older. Millions of stray and feral cats spend each day trying to survive the best they can, living in the shadow of our busy lives, unnoticed by most people.

Brigid's Crossing Foundation (BCF) was founded in 2008 by Heather Burch. It's a unique nonprofit, holistic cat sanctuary and rescue in Naples, Florida, dedicated to making a difference in the lives of cats in their care. Awhile back, I shared a story with you about an unlikely friendship between a kitten and a wild crow. Lisa Fleming, author of the children's book “Cat & Crow, an Amazing Friendship,” volunteers at Brigid’s Crossing, and I had a chance to talk with her about this truly amazing cat sanctuary.

Cats living at the sanctuary are free to roam in the nature-oriented center. BCF is a no- kill rescue with a focus on rescuing and caring for homeless, sick and abandoned cats, giving them a second chance. The sanctuary even cares for cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is not the same as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), although they are in the same family of viruses.

Unfortunately, there's no real treatment for FIV. A cat can carry the virus for years before symptoms begin to appear. It's diagnosed through a blood test. I asked Lisa how infected cats are treated at the sanctuary. “It's completely holistic, with raw food and purified water served. Natural remedies are always chosen first before prescription. Through a healthy diet and nutrition, there has never been a cat at the sanctuary who went into full blown aids. Cats with FIV do not have to be euthanized; they can and do live a healthy life. Many shelters can’t spend the time or money to care for them with the proper nutrition they need, so they call Brigid's Crossing. Cats do not give or receive the virus from humans, only other cats. The FIV's do get adopted and find their forever families.” You can lessen the chances of your cat being infected with FIV or FeLV by keeping her inside.

“Brigid's Crossing's motto is ‘Healing the Circle of Life.’ They care about all life, and helping the cats that have been abandoned, abused, blind, deaf, feral, stray and surrendered. We receive many calls from other shelters to take their cats that are not considered to be adoptable. With loving hands and hearts, they are healed, transformed and adopted. Heather has been treating FIV cats for years, and so they too, are welcomed, and live in separate houses outside the property, with their own cat care staff specially trained in their treatment program,” Lisa said.

The BCF vision statement says they “work to promote peace, harmony and well being with ourselves, the earth and its inhabitants.” One way they do this is by teaching about the path of service. Lisa explained it this way, “The interconnectedness of people, animals and the earth ties in with their motto, ‘Healing the Circle of Life.’ When a human helps heal an animal, they in turn are healed, they are giving back to society by making a difference in a life. We are all connected. That path of service to provide a better life for an innocent animal is profound.”

Another statement on their website caught my eye: “When you donate funds, volunteer or adopt an animal from us, you support a greater concept of respect and humane treatment of animals. You also support an ongoing study and practice of balance and unity between the earth, the animals, the people, and the world at large.” I asked Lisa if she could explain why that is important. “It's all about giving of yourself, from your heart to help the animals heal both emotionally and physically. Everything that is healed touches something else. Every time someone donates, we in turn are able to help another cat. One balances out the other. When a feral or stray cat learns to trust human hands and is then adopted to a family of their own, the organization is better able to move forward and quickly rescue another life,” she said.

The Brigid’s Crossing cat sanctuary sits on six acres of land and includes four houses, which are installed with shutters, generators and stocked with food, water, and flashlights in preparation for any hurricanes that may threaten the property, and volunteers stay overnight to make sure the feline residents are safe. The property is secured with a six foot fence that allows cats to wander around inside and outside the houses. “It is a peaceful place where abused, abandoned, blind, feral, and surrendered cats live in harmony.” Caretakers live in one of the homes so someone is always at the sanctuary.

CANIDAE is proud to help Brigid's Crossing with their mission, by donating some of their premium-quality FELIDAE cat food. For more information about Brigid's Crossing, including how to make a donation or sponsor a cat, please visit their website or Facebook page. You can also find Lisa Fleming’s Cat and Crow Facebook page here.

Top photo by Pascal
Bottom photo by Jennifer Loring

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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