Sandy refugees 
purr into town, need new homes

Val Mazrin, the president of CLAWS of Grand Junction holds Rockstar, one of nine cats from New York and New Jersey rescued after Hurrucane Sandy.

There’s Jack, Cookie, Tiger and Whiz.

In total, nine cats that were found abandoned, injured or disoriented after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Eastern Seaboard last month recently have found their way to Grand Junction.

The irony of the saying that cats have nine lives isn’t lost on Val Marzin, the president of the nonprofit cat rescue organization, CLAWS. She’s hopeful that local residents will find a place in their homes and their hearts to adopt one of the nine felines that are new to town.

“We can help keep them happy and healthy until they are adopted,” Marzin said at the group’s shelter, which is surprisingly serene and clean even though more than 100 cats lounge or play on every possible surface.

CLAWS, Cat’s League and Assistance of the Western Slope, is a nonprofit guaranteed adoption facility. The agency was asked by the Best Friends Animal Society if it could take on any of the hundreds of cats that were found in the storm’s wake. A semitrailer filled with pets in cages was driven to Denver. From there, Denver resident Renee Brown drove nine cats to Grand Junction. CLAWS has worked to spay and neuter the animals and provided health checks. While some of the cats seemed visibly traumatized by the ordeal, not to mention the cross-country driving, most appear to be settling in.

For example, paperwork for Whiz, a black, domestic short hair, says the cat is fearful and aggressive. That couldn’t have been the same cat, purring and pushing up against his cage Wednesday at the CLAWS shelter. “Oh and he’s verrryyy handsome,” Marzin cooed, giving him a little scratch.

East Coast animal services groups took in hundreds of cats and dogs after the storm. Some had been abandoned by families who were homeless. Others were separated from families in the chaos. Some cats may have been living under New Jersey’s boardwalks, she said.

If the cats didn’t find homes on the East Coast, it’s likely they would have been euthanized, Marzin said.

While CLAWS has opened its doors to cats in need from Hurricane Sandy, the gesture is not unlike what the group does every day, with its mission to give unwanted cats a home. Along with Grand Rivers Humane, CLAWS has helped increase the live release rate for cats brought into Mesa County Animal Services.

“If they’re old or sick, we nurse them back to health and try to find them homes,” Marzin said. “Some people don’t like black cats or elderly cats. We don’t discriminate.”


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