Friday, July 24, 2020

HART of Maine provides comfort and care to cats awaiting adoption

Addison is a 3-year-old female domestic cat available for
adoption at the HART Adoption Center & Shelter for cats.
By Elizabeth Richards

Since 1997, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) of Maine has placed about 10,000 cats in adoptive homes, averaging about 500 adoptions per year. 

HART of Maine is a feline only shelter located in Cumberland and Operations Director Andy Hanna said their main goals are to provide medical care and comfort and a healthy place for cats to live temporarily until an adoptive home is found.

The HART of Maine shelter got its start on Long Island, New York, Hanna said. A woman there had taken in about 100 feral cats, and in 1997, she moved all of those cats to a renovated barn in Cumberland and started HART of Maine right down the road from where the current shelter stands.
At that time, the shelter was entirely run by volunteers.  In 2004, those volunteers pulled together resources and funding to build the building located at 302 Range Road, Hanna said. 

The shelter is still primarily run by volunteers, with only two paid staff members, the Operations Director and the Medical Manager. 

Hanna said the shelter takes in cats surrendered by their owners and helps rescue operations both in Maine and out of state whose areas are overpopulated find those cats homes as well. The shelter has space for 85 to 100 cats, and kittens live in foster homes, rather than at the shelter.

“Their immune systems won’t support them living here and exposing them to all of the things that happen in the shelter would be really detrimental,” Hanna said.
At the current time, HART of Maine has 168 cats, with about half in the shelter and the other half in foster homes.

The need for foster homes is currently met, Hanna said, but they are working to create long term medical care foster homes, which would provide a home environment while HART of Maine provided the mediation and medical care.  The hope, Hanna said, is that getting these cats out of the shelter environment will allow their conditions to improve, which will help them become more adoptable.

The biggest need that the shelter has, Hanna said, is monetary donations. Because they do not have town or county contracts, all funding comes from donations from individuals, foundations, or businesses. 

Physical donations are also welcome and there is a link to their Amazon Wish List on their website, where people can purchase needed items for the shelter.

Canned food is always a big need, Hanna said, and donations can also be dropped off on the shelter porch. Details about what they are able to accept during the COVID pandemic are on the website.

Donations they receive that can’t be used in the shelter are passed along to rescue partners in the state who may not have the same outreach capabilities as HART of Maine.
“It’s really nice to be able to give to those folks as well,” Hanna said.
Two other unique ways to support the shelter include their Sponsorship program, where for $15 per month or $150 annually, a person can sponsor a cat at the shelter, and the Cars for Kitties vehicle donation program.  HART of Maine is a 501©3 non-profit corporation, so donations are tax deductible.

The shelter can always use volunteers as well, especially those interested in transporting cats to medical appointments.  Currently, there are a couple of days when cleaners are needed, and some other volunteer administrative tasks, Hanna said.  All volunteer needs can be found on the website.

Those looking to adopt a cat can visit the website to look at available cats and complete the online application.  Currently, adoptions are by appointment only because of social distancing restrictions.

“They have to have an appointment. We will turn folks away if they don’t have one,” Hanna said.

Anyone coming for an adoption appointment should be ready to take a cat home with them, he said.

The fees to adopt are $160 for kittens up to 6 months old; $95 for young adults from 6 months up to 5 years old; $80 for adults ages 5 to 10 years; $50 for seniors ages 10 to 15 and for special needs adults; and a donation for seniors ages 15 years and older. The adoption fee is non-refundable.

According to Hanna, supporting the shelter by following their social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram and helping let others know about them is also appreciated. 

For more information about the HART of Maine shelter and other different ways to help, visit <

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