R.E.A.L. Cruzan Cats
Rescue. Educate. Adopt. Love.
Total Cats & Kittens Adopted
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Our TNVR Program
Our primary objective is to rescue cats in need. St. Croix is a tropical island, so the breeding season never ends. With our TVNR (Trap Vaccinate Neuter Return) program, we aim to control the overpopulation on the island, while taking in adoptable cats and kittens and working with no-kill shelters and rescue groups on the mainland to find loving forever homes.
In 2022, seeing an increased need on island for additional spay/neuter on the island, we started our own pop-up spay/neuter clinic and have a truly fantastic team of vets, vet techs, and volunteers to trap, spay/neuter, treat for injuries and illnesses, and help with recovery both at our clinic and in foster homes before and after surgery. In 2023, the vets formed their own official clinic which is now open to the public for low cost spay/neuter, STX Vets. In exactly 1 year since forming this partnership with Drs. Michelle Mehalick and Laura Bailey, and in 38 pop-up surgery days, we reached 1000 animals spayed and neutered!
Since boosting our TNVR program in 2022, we have prevented over 2 billion homeless cats from being born on St. Croix by 2030. The impact over every single spay and neuter is IMMENSE! Help us do more by donating or signing up to volunteer today!
Rescue. Educate. Adopt. Love.
Food for Ferals
St. Croix Cat Sanctuary
We recently acquired a 5-acre property in Christiansted and began making plans to build a major cat sanctuary. This means a much needed safe haven for potentially hundreds of homeless cats on island. The goal of Phase 1 is simply creating a clean and safe habitat for approximately 100 cats. This means landscaping, constructing fences, building feeding stations and shelters, and creating the medical infrastructure to keep the cats healthy. These cats are in the nearby Altoona Lagoon and need to be moved as soon as possible to enable and protect the re-introduction of the critically endangered St. Croix Ground Lizard - by moving large colonies of cats into this controlled environment, we will be able to both keep them healthy and potentially find them homes while protecting wildlife on the island.
Landscaping will be done mindfully in consultation with the USVI Department of Planning & Natural Resources division of Fish and Wildlife and St. George Village Botanical Garden. By carefully planning the enclosure, we will be able to protect native birds from the cats. Fencing the upper portion of the property will require approximately 1730 linear feet of 10-foot high coated welded steel fencing on bent steel posts (to keep cats in) and metal flashing around the base (to keep endangered reptiles out.) Feeding Stations and Shelters for feral cats will ensure proper nourishment and give cats shelter from the sun and rain. The first ~100 cats will come from nearby overcrowded colonies: they'll be moved to the Sanctuary after being combo tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV), microchipped, and spayed/neuteredas needed. This will give us the basis of an ongoing database to keep track of all of the cats and keep them up to date with flea preventatives and vaccines.
Additionally, we will build safe enclosures for FeLV+ cats so they can live happy lives and be cared for, without any risk to the rest of the cats. Intake areas will be constructed to screen new animals and triage senior and at-risk kitties who need extra medical attention. We are partnering with the veterinary teams at STX Vets, St. Croix Animal Welfare Center, Progressive Veterinary Hospital and Sugar Mill Veterinary Center.
This is an ambitious undertaking, one that will fundamentally change the feline situation on the island. But it's just the beginning of what we'd like to do. Looking forward to Phases 2 & 3, we hope to build a Residence for a caretaker and volunteers and a Visitor Center. The property as a whole will be accessible and multi-use: the upper Sanctuary itself will welcome visitors and potential adopters, while the lower Seaside and Lagoon will be open to the public, to be used for fishing, hiking and enjoying nature, with facilities for a small fish stand where local fisherman can sell their daily catch, and boardwalks through the mangroves for the public to enjoy nature walks around the sanctuary. The Seaside and Lagoon are currently used daily by locals, and we will not restrict access to the public in the lower portion of the property, but rather make that portion of the property more accessible. Cat5 Builders, LLC will be helping us with planning and building, donating labor and materials at cost to help us with the actual physical construction.
We estimate the cost of Phase 1 - obtaining permits, clearing the land, cat fencing, bringing water and electricity into the property, and building feeding structures and shelter for the cats throughout the property - to be approximately $115,000. In our first year of operation of the sanctuary, we estimate the direct cost of care for the cats to be approximately $30,000 for food, water filtration, combo testing, vaccination, preventatives, spay/neuter when necessary and microchipping. On top of that we estimate about $15,000 in miscellaneous veterinary costs and medications. In total our goal is to raise $160,000 to establish the sanctuary and support these cats through the first year of operation.
Aside from raising funds, we plan to start a "Voluntourism" program to bring volunteers - everyone from cat lovers, carpenters, welders, landscapers, veterinary students and veterinarians - to St. Croix to help build and operate the Sanctuary. To make this program successful, REAL Cruzan Cats will solicit St. Croix homeowners to donate a 7-day, 6-night stay at their home, condo or villa, as a charitable donation that will directly support the programs of the Sanctuary. The Volunteers will be responsible for getting to St. Croix, but in addition to housing, REAL Cruzan Cats will also engage other local companies such as rental car agencies, restaurants, sightseeing and sporting activities, etc. to offer special deals and discounts to volunteers. These donations will be used to offset costs and allow REAL Cruzan Cats to generate more proceeds that will be used to cover operational costs.
What People Say?
Because they have an amazing foster care program, kittens and cats come to you with confidence. They integrate so easily. Often they get along with other animals because they are fostered in diverse homes. I love this org.
We adopted a healthy, smart, well-adjusted kitten from REAL Cruzan Cats. The process was easy and they were very professional. He’s a year and a half old now and is a joy.
Real Cruzan Cats is totally awesome! I cant thank them enough for saving Mingo & bringing us together. They did an amazing job fostering her & teaching her to be a kitten & showing her how to trust & love people, and made the adoption process easy & quickly answered my questions. Thanks so much!
Co-founder & President
Christine is an animal lover and multimedia artist. She enjoys hiking with her dog Margot, macro photoraphy, and composing music.
Lana loves dogs and cats, and is the USVI Realtor of the Year with USVI Sotheby's.
Marcia is a retired bookkeeper and lives in North Carolina. She loves to paint in her spare time!
Foster / Social Media Designer
Dr. Michelle Mehalick is our superstar vet who probably holds a national (world?) record for fastest spay/neuter surgeries, while making tiny incisions that heal flawlessly! She joined our team in 2022, though she has been our vet since 2015. She also does relief work around the US, using her superpower to spay and neuter as many cats as she gets her hands on!
Dr. Laura Bailey
Dr. Stacia Jung
Dr. Ariel Baumann
Dr. Kasey Canton
Dr. Kevin Fallon
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