Cimeron Morrissey, who was honored as Animal Planet’s Cat Hero of the Year in 2007, has two missions in life: to help cats, and to redefine the image of the Cat Lady. Cimeron owns no cat jewelry. She displays no kitty curios in her home.
“I don’t want to be labeled a crazy cat lady,” the San Mateo, California resident says. “There’s a negative connotation about people who rescue cats. People who help animals are not crazy. They’re compassionate.”
Cimeron know the fear of being stuck with the crazy cat lady title prevents some people from helping out. “Something like a horrible label shouldn’t stand in your way. I’m trying to change it.”
This not-crazy-cat-lady accidentally entered the world of cat rescue by way of kiteboarding. One spring day in 2004 Cimeron noticed kittens coming out of the rocks along a four-mile stretch of the Bay Trail in Foster City, California.
“It was like the boulders were alive,” she says.
Cimeron had never seen a feral cat before, nor even heard about them. She tried to pick up some of the kittens up to get fixed, but she quickly learned that didn’t work. With a major in sociology, Cimeron studied the cats from a sociological perspective. She conducted a kitty census and discovered 175 cats living among the rocks.
She began feeding them, and initiated Project Bay Cat. She recruited volunteers to help care for the ferals. One-by-one she caught the cats, had them altered and released them back into their territory, knowing that the numbers eventually would dwindle over time. She adopted kittens into loving homes. Cimeron implemented a public relations program, educating the people about the plight of the homeless cats.
Project Bay Cat is a collaborative effort with the Homeless Cat Network and the city of Foster City to humanely reduce the feral cat population along Foster City’s Bay Trail.
Her strategy worked. By 2011, the population of her feral colony had shrunk by 56%. At last count, only 84 cats lived along the trail. Cimeron has the census numbers to prove it.
She also began volunteering for the Homeless Cat Network, an all-volunteer organization, helping to improve the lives thousands of homeless cats and kittens in San Mateo through trap-neuter-return, adoption and managed feral colonies and to educate the public on humane ways to help cats in need.
While Cimeron would like to help every needy cat, she’s a realist. “It’s important to help the one in front of you. But I also had the obligation to help others all over the world.”
“Stop overlooking needy cats,” she says. “When you see one in need, do something. You can’t assume someone else will help. It’s our obligation to help others in need.”
Cimeron, who is a travel writer, decided to put her writing skills to work to help. Using Project Bay Cat as a vehicle, she assemble the Project Bay Cat Tool Book, a step-by-step guide to start a feral cat program. She also created the newsletter, Cat Tales, for Homeless Cat Network. She promotes humane ways to help cats through her articles, her Cat Fancy Magazine column (“Foster Focus”) and Best Friends Magazine. Even her articles in travel magazines incorporate tidbits about ferals.
Cimeron is an equal opportunity rescuer. Just as she helps the cat in front of her, throughout her worldwide travels, she has lent a hand to all kinds of needy animals. While covering an article in Indonesia for Islands Magazine, Cimeron fostered a macaque. In Thailand she cared for an orphaned baby elephant with a malformed back leg. On another trip Cimeron found a dolphin entangled in a fishing net. She cut the net away and freed the animal. And of course, she’s fostered cats, dogs and birds.
While Cimeron doesn’t don’t need personal recognition, she’s not above using her acclaim to help the cats.
“One of the cool outcomes of the Animal Planet award is it shows people you can help cats and not be a crazy cat person,” she says. “I try to inspire. If we can inspire people, it makes our lives richer. It’s a win-win. It makes people feel good about themselves and saves lives.”
Cimeron has asked herself, “Where can I make a difference? Is it fostering cats myself?” Her answer: Not really.
If she fosters four cats she helps four cats. But if she writes an article, she could inspire many people to foster four cats.
So until further notice this level-headed and perfectly sane cat lover will continue to not buy cat jewelry, but will use her influence to help feral and stray cats, not just in her own backyard, but all over the world.
Category: Featured Shelter Helper
About the Author (Author Profile)
communications. She also serves as vice president of the Cat Writer’s
Association. With 25 years of animal rescue under her collar, Dusty has
rescued or fostered over 1000 cats. She’s author of Kittens for Dummies
and Cat Wrangling Made Easy.
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