The Independent Cat Society is celebrating its 35th year as a Not for Profit, No-Kill Cat Shelter in Indiana. We were chartered in the State of Indiana in March, 1977. Through the years the ICS shelter has had many places it called home but we opened our door at our present location, corner of Route 6 and County Line Road in Westville, Indiana in the spring of 1991. The ICS continues to operate primarily by volunteers and a few part time employees. Financial support for the operation of the shelter and the care of the cats continues to be derived from membership dues, donations, pledges, fundraising and bequests.
A Brief History
This year, the Independent Cat Society is celebrating its 35th year of operation as a Not for Profit No-Kill Cat Shelter. This organization was first opened in 1977 by several cat lovers in Beverly Shores, Indiana who wanted to form a society which would be dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused cats, to give these cats the best affordable medical care, and to house those cats in a cage-less no-kill shelter until they could be adopted into good homes.
In March, 1977 the Independent Cat Society, Inc. was chartered in the State of Indiana. The name "Independent Cat Society" was chosen to indicate that this organization was not affiliated with any other local humane society or animal shelter.
During 1977 and 1978, all of our rescued cats were kept in, cared for, and adopted out of foster homes. The ICS opened its first shelter in June of 1979 at Harrison and Maple Streets in Michigan City in a small leased space. This shelter consisted of two rooms and housed approximately 35 cats and kittens. This shelter was operated strictly by volunteer help and was kept open with intensive fundraising and growing membership dues and donations, all of which was greatly helped by the excellent media coverage throughout Northwest Indiana the ICS was given.
In June 1979 a fire destroyed the building that housed the ICS and luckily a member of an ICS family who lived only blocks away was able, with the help of the fire personnel, to rescue all but two of the cats who had hidden in the smoke filled building and died of smoke inhalation. The rescued cats were then temporarily housed in a garage while word went out that foster homes were needed for these cats.
Late that same summer, the ICS leased an old cabin type motel on the outskirts of Michigan City and volunteers helped to repair and renovate these buildings. Thankfully, during this time, our membership grew and donations began pouring in due to the national media coverage the fire received and the motel buildings soon housed over 100 cats.
In December 1980, due to a dispute over finances, the ICS did not renew its lease on the motel and moved its operation to the top floor of the historic Pullman Building. Once again, a crew of hardworking volunteers spent many hours converting this space into cat quarters. As before, the shelter still depended totally on membership dues, donations, and fundraising events to exist. The ICS held two open houses a year, one in the spring and also in late November. A cat care committee was formed to maintain the health of the cats and kittens with the help of local veterinarians who donate their time and expertise.
But once again the ICS was forced to try and find new quarters for the cats when the Pullman Building was sold and the ICS was given only a month's notice that it would have to relocate. The heat was turn off in the building in October and a call went out via the local media for heaters and blankets. The shelter was inundated with warm blankets and space heaters by concerned animal lovers.
In November of 1986, a local bank president advised the ICS of some foreclosed property available in Pines Township and once again the shelter and cats were moved. Plans were made to remodel the large pole barn building located on the property but the zoning permits were not granted and the ICS was forced once again to vacate. So in April 1987, the cats were all once again placed in foster homes and in a large building located behind Arbor View Animal Hospital in Valparaiso. This location was to serve as a temporary shelter as a search began for more permanent quarters.
In 1989, the property on which the shelter is now located was found. Zoning hearings were held and zoning was approved and the property was purchased and construction began on a pole barn building. Again with volunteers doing all of the finishing touches on the interior the building was completed and the cats moved in during the spring of 1991.
Many changes have taken place since then. While the ICS continues to operate primarily by volunteers, part-time employees were hired for cleaning the shelter and for medicating and feeding the cats. Financial support for the operation for the shelter and the care of the cats continues to be derived from membership dues, donations, pledges, fundraising, and bequests In 1996 we began applying for and receiving a few grants. The ICS now holds many fundraisers throughout the year and attends many other events in hopes of not only helping to educate the public about humane care and treatment of their pets, but also to help us support our shelter.
The Sponsor A Cat program was also started, which helps to bring in much needed funds to help with the costs of running the shelter. The ICS continues to grow as do the number of cats and kittens we care for. With the continued support of its members, contributors, and the dedication of its volunteers, the ICS continues to strive for the best care it can give the cats and kittens that come to the shelter and to adopt them out into responsible caring families.
The ICS has added several programs to the ICS agenda since 1996, such as TNR (Trap Neuter and Release), wherein groups of trained volunteers trap unaltered cats, get them neutered and release them back into their natural environment. The TNR squad is overwhelmed with calls from all over the area to help with the unaltered community cat problems. This group of dedicated individuals also operates solely on the donations of supporters of this wonderful program.
We also have a foster parent program at the ICS wherein we try to locate good foster homes for some of our 'special needs' cats or kittens. These homes can be a permanent foster or a temporary foster home, depending on the situation. Good foster homes are always in demand and we are constantly seeking persons to help us with this program.
Another great program the ICS offers would be the Assisted Spay Neuter Voucher program. We have a few local veterinarians in the area who work with us and allow us to sell Assisted Spay Neuter Vouchers at a reduced cost to people in need. These vouchers can then be taken to the veterinarian on the voucher where their cat will receive the spay or neuter at a substantially lower cost. This program is designed to not only help the people who purchase the voucher, but also the cats who might otherwise not be spayed or neutered and therefore continue to produce many unwanted kittens over the years.
Room Moms/Parents have also been added to our agenda. These caring volunteers are responsible for at least one room of cats in our shelter. They come in as regularly as they can, spend time with the cats in their particular room getting to know them, help to socialize the cats for adoption, keep a watchful eye out for medical conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed, help clean the room and litter boxes, and just help the cats feel cared for until they can find a their forever home. Given the number of cats in our care we are always seeking people to help in this area. The more Room Parents we have the better care we can give our cats and kittens.
We Appreciate Your Support
The Independent Cat Society is an organization of caring and dedicated individuals. We are all there because we share one common goal, to give these cats the best care possible and to try and find them all their forever home. We could not continue to do this without the continued support and assistance from our supporters and members. Please help us to continue to do our mission to help as many cats and kittens as we possibly can by donating generously to our organization and come out and visit our shelter located at Route 6 and County Line Road in Westville and meet our wonderful cats and make one or two your own.
For further information regarding the Independent Cat Society, please check out our website, www.catsociety.org or contact our shelter (219) 785-4936. We thank you for your continued support.