Friend to felines

Photo By SAGE LEEHEY

Tina Cook, a Sun Valley resident, has a passion for animal rescue and has created her own small shelter at her home. She has been rescuing animals since she was 10 years old, when she brought home her first dog, which she had found shot.

Tell me about what you do with the cats in your neighborhood.

About 10 years ago, my husband and I saw cats coming out of a garbage can. Come to find out, a lady let her cats go and never had them fixed. They formed a colony of feral cats, so I started feeding them. Now, I have camouflaged feeding stations at three different stations on our street. Within that first year, I found out about Community Cats, which is a trap and release program. They fix them for free. … We’ve fixed over 200. We bring them to the Humane Society. They have certain days where Community Cats does the trap and release, usually Mondays and Sundays. I keep them overnight because they’re really groggy, and then I release them. I don’t always release them, though, if they are kittens or if they’re injured, in the hopes to adopt them out. I’ve probably adopted out, myself, at least 100 cats and kittens.

Why did you decide to do this?

I’m passionate about animal rescue. Someday I want to have an animal sanctuary with acres of land. I’m the crazy lady who stops for dogs in the middle of the street. We’ve even a cut a little hole so the cats can sleep under the house for shelter. I’m very big on being a voice for animals.

How many cats do you call your own?

Honestly, probably about 30. They’re mostly feral. Most of them were babies we had the intention of adopting out. We’ll adopt all of the litter out but one, and then five years go by, and you still have them. Or one cat we acquired because a lady at my dad’s senior apartment had died, and the cat was left at the apartment for a month alone. Her family didn’t want it, and it was traumatized. She’s been with us for four years. We’ve been trying to find her a home, but she needs a special home. I do stuff like that sometimes, but mostly it’s the cats at the end of the street.

What about dogs?

If I catch them, I try to find their home. One of our dogs my husband found in the middle of the street. We placed an ad and found her home. The people lived in an apartment with no yard and five dogs. We fell in love with her, so we offered to take her. He loved her so much that he gave her to us. He cried when he gave me his dog, but we promised we would take good care of her. It’s been four years. Dogs are actually my favorite, but I don’t rescue them as much as I would like to.

How do you pay for this?

The lady who owns the Cozy Cattery—the other half of her business is the Feline Rescue of Northern Nevada—supplies food to feral colonies that help her. I get her cleaning supplies for her sanctuary. If they need monetary donations, I try to get that. During the holidays, I help put barrels in all of the Walmarts in town, just like you see for the food bank. She supplies the food because it gets donated to her, and I’m not a nonprofit. I do the litter and everything else, cat toys and everything.

How does your family feel?

One day my husband will be OK with it, and the next day, he gets angry. My daughters did better when they were younger. Now, it’s just my one daughter because my stepdaughter has moved out. I think my daughter knows it’s my passion, but I’m sure if she could have me do something different, she probably would. I love it, though. We built an addition onto the house. It was supposed to be the game room with a pool table, which we had in it once. It started with a small cage in there, and before we knew it, we had taken everything out of the room … It’s like my own little sanctuary. They have everything they can possibly want in there, and if they get sick they go to the vet.