Cat lovers of all ages gathered to support Courageous Cats, a rescue and adoption group that serves Long Island, at its Sip and See Fundraiser at Crossroads Farm in Malverne on Oct. 27. From live music to raffle prizes, residents celebrated with the group, and cuddled with cats.
“I’ve been so blessed with an amazing group of people,” said Maria Capozzi-Gross, the group’s founder and director. “From our board members to our volunteers, we’re lucky to have this kind of support. It’s unbelievable.”
A feral cat named Courageous that Capozzi-Gross met while working at an animal hospital in 1996 inspired her to start the nonprofit organization, now celebrating its 10-year anniversary. She brought Courageous home and spent a decade with him before he died of cancer in 2006. Then, Capozzi-Gross promised in his memory that other feral cats and kittens would have a chance to be loved.
“I know Courageous is looking down on us and he’s very happy,” she said. “He brought me all of these wonderful people, and we’d just like to pay it forward.”
“It really takes an army of volunteers,” said Pat Irizarry, a member of Courageous Cats. “We’ve tripled in size since we started, and we’ve worked with quality people with the same core belief that we can’t stand to see animals in distress.”
Kathy Lowe, a volunteer, said she enjoys working with the organization. “They take a lot of cats in, and they do a great job in taking care of them,” she said. “These cats are in need of homes, so hopefully we can continue to find them a safe place.”
Michael Davies, of Lynbrook, said he supports the group because of its trap and neuter program. “They’re great at placing the cats into homes locally,” Davies said, “and this event is just a nice way to bring everyone together. When you see the cats, that’s really what makes it worthwhile because you know that they’re all going to go to a good home, and it’s a great feeling to know that they will be off the street.”
Davies’s wife, Courtney, added that they have taken care of several cats over the last six months, and that organizations like Courageous Cats are needed. “I know that some people view stray cats as a nuisance,” Courtney said, “but if we can get the kittens fostered and adopted, then we can get control of loose kitties.”
Since the organization doesn’t have a headquarters, Capozzi-Gross said, volunteers usually take care of cats at their homes.
“They all have really big hearts,” she said. “None of our work would be possible if it wasn’t for them.”
In the future, she said, she hopes to provide a sanctuary for cats that don’t get adopted, and to give them a place to receive vaccinations. For more information, visit www.courageouscats.org.