By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- He may be small, but three-month old Silver is a frisky feline fighter.
The gray, silver and white kitten hasn't had the easiest of life so far, dealing with various illnesses that have left him a little smaller than his peers, but he is growing up and catching up, said Barbara Eakins.
Silver is one of about 50 cats that will be available for adoption once The Cat's Meow Rescue and Adoption Center in Vero Beach opens, said Ms. Eakins, founder and operator of the nonprofit, no-kill cat shelter.
The shelter should be open any day now, and already the cat housing is already full, she said.
Back in March, Ms. Eakins began the process for opening her own no-kill shelter in the south part of the county. It took some time to get through the red tape, and a lot of greenbacks to get the project constructed, but the county permissions have finally been given to open the facility.
"I have always, even as a kid, brought in stray cats," Ms. Eakins said.
"I've always had a soft spot for cats. I've taken them in as young as one day old to full grown and kept them with me for years," she said.
Ms. Eakins has previously volunteered and fostered cats for HALO Rescue, a nonprofit, no-kill shelter in Sebastian, but recently, she thought she wanted to do more and provide a cat rescue in the southern portion of the county.
"I'm trying to do what I can in my own little way to rescue and make new homes for these cats, but my goal is to try to find a way to stop this madness of all these kittens showing up because people don't spay and neuter," Ms. Eakins said.
The cats available for adoption will all be spayed or neutered.
Some cats will receive higher priority to be accepted into the facility. Pregnant cats, then kittens, then adolescent cats and finally "senior" cats will be considered in that order, Ms. Eakins said.
"I am not set up to handle feral cats," she said.
Ms. Eakins hopes to be able to find homes for the cats that come into the shelter quickly, so more cats can come in, so older cats, which traditionally are more difficult to adopt out, will have a lower priority.
"It's not that they aren't perfectly good cats, but people unfortunately don't see that," Ms. Eakins said.
Ms. Eakins has spent a large portion of her retirement savings to pay to start the shelter, but that will need to change.
"I'm hoping to find some other types of funding to keep this place open, because my account is running out," she said.
Financial donations, as well as donations of cat food, cat litter, or other cat toys are welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Ms. Eakins said her loyal group of volunteers that are currently fostering the cats that will be brought into the shelter are lifesavers and all of them are eager to see the shelter open.
"We're all very excited," she said.
Cat shelter hours have not yet been set.
The Cat's Meow Rescue and Adoption Center is located in the Meadows Country Square at 126 43rd Ave., Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 562-3439 or (772) 562-2287.