The Nine Lives Foundation is out of lives and over 200 cats are in dire need of help.
The 11-year-old nonprofit animal shelter is being booted from its current home in Redwood City. The rescue organization recently made headlines with the rescue of Smurf, a kitten that had been dyed purple, abused as a chew toy for a larger animal, and then abandoned.
According to its website, the Nine Lives Foundation rescues cats and kittens that are at risk at high-kill shelters or don’t have homes. The shelter has operated out of a 5,000-square-foot building at 3016 Rolison Road for nearly eight years, but that changed in January.
"The owner of the property died, and his children want to use the space for something else and no longer want the shelter there," said volunteer Lori Brief Chavez. "I understand they are not going to sell the property."
With the shelter closing shop by June 30, staff members have now been tasked with finding homes for the estimated 250 cats that live there. If they can't find permanent homes for the felines, volunteers are hoping to find enough foster parents to care for the cats until a new shelter can open.
The cats need to be out of the Redwood City shelter by May 31 so staff has enough time to clean the property and take down all the cages, which Chavez described as a "pretty big undertaking."
Board member Carol Scola stressed that the Nine Lives Foundation can no longer take in any more cats.
"We are looking to place as many cats as possible in suitable homes," she said. "All cats will be placed when the end to May comes. No cat will be euthanized."
People involved with the Nine Lives Foundation have a number of commercial real estate agents looking for another building — which they hope will span 3,000 square feet — but they’ve had no luck so far.
With a one percent vacancy rate for commercial property in Redwood City, it has been tough to find a new home, Scola said, adding, “One of the big issues is people don't want animals in their space.”
Regardless, though, the shelter's leaders are not fighting the lease termination. The building, which offers sub-par plumbing, has been "unacceptable" since the animal shelter moved in, according to Scola.
"It was just one big shell of a warehouse, with no ventilation, no heating, no anything," she said. "We made it work for us, but we are looking to find a building that is best suited for our special cats – one that has ventilation or air conditioning, heating and overall suitability for our needs."
As the hunt for a new location continues, the Nine Lives Foundation's founder Dr. Monica Rudiger plans to open a spay and neuter clinic and Nine Lives retail store.
The funds from both will keep the animal shelter "from going black while we search for a new home," Scola said.
For her part, Chavez admitted that she is "devastated" about the closing of the shelter as are other supporters and volunteers. She is worried about the fate of the cats – especially since it is kitten season, she said.
The cats may be euthanized at other shelters or abandoned without the sanctuary where they were fed, and received medical care and, perhaps most importantly, love, Chavez said.
"You know the story of Smurf but there have been so many terrible stories – blind kittens left under cars starving, mite infested cats, cats attacked by raccoons, kittens left for dead in boxes or a car that was going to be demolished," she recalled. "The horrific stories go on and on. Where will they go now?"
For more information, visit www.ninelivesfoundation.org or call (650) 368-1365.