Whether you’re looking to adopt a cat or shop for fine china, jewelry, collectibles, or gifts, you can visit Cape Atlantic Cats of Ocean City, N.J., and find both. Cape Atlantic Cats combines a cat rescue agency and resale boutique called Mew to You that features a variety of high-quality donated merchandise with proceeds benefiting felines.
Located in a former antique store at 959 Asbury Ave. in the heart of this acclaimed resort town, where the late actress Grace Kelly and her family long vacationed, the organization was founded in 2008 by local resident and animal lover Judy Cantin.
This registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which is staffed by volunteers, helps to save the lives of approximately 400 area cats and kittens each year through rescue, foster, trap-neuter-return, and adoption. The cats stay for as long as it takes to find them permanent homes. No cat is euthanized.
The cats are housed in two spacious, cheerful, windowed rooms within the store that include lots of cat toys and cat furniture. Many of them come from other shelters where they were on euthanasia lists, while others were abandoned or are ferals. Shoppers browsing through the store can check out the cat through the strategically placed windows.
“Everything in the resale shop is donated,” Judy said. “All proceeds go to spay/neutering, veterinary bills, food, litter, and everything we need for the cats and kittens available for adoption. And the cats and kittens are all on the premises.”
Judy, a former sales and marketing professional from Easton, Pennsylvania, became interested in cat rescue 22 years ago, when a pregnant feral showed up in the backyard of her home in Ocean City.
“At the time, I didn’t even know what a feral cat was,” she said. “She had her kittens under my house. So I called the Ocean City Humane Society to find out what to do.”
Judy fostered the kittens and adopted two of them. She still has one, Marilyn, who is now 21. She also became an active shelter volunteer. In 2007, Judy received a call from a local shelter staff member regarding a beautiful mom cat named Mandy who was about to be euthanized along with her four kittens because the shelter didn’t have enough space to house them. So Judy arranged to place them in a cage in the window of her friend’s antique store, and they all found loving homes.
As a result, Judy came up with the idea to open a resale shop dedicated to helping homeless cats and kittens. She initially rented a small Victorian home on Asbury Avenue, then moved into the current 2,000-square-foot space about a year later.
“We needed to find a way to fund the spay/neutering and other programs,” she said. “People began donating things. We decided to only accept really nice items and collectibles.”
I have purchased many gifts at Mew to You, including cat-themed jewelry for friends and a silk cat-print scarf as a Mother’s Day gift for my mom. I also made a donation in honor of my cousin’s recent wedding. He and his new husband are animal lovers who requested that people donate to a charity of their choice as opposed to giving gifts. They greatly appreciated my gesture.
The shop has more than just cat-themed merchandise. You can find such items as sets of fine china and serving pieces including Lenox, crystal glassware, artwork, lamps, vintage bric-a-brac, books, jewelry, games, toys, furniture, and collectibles. Mew to You features an array of licensed Disney items. Most items are gently used, but you can also find brand new merchandise.
Aside from purchasing gifts from Mew to You, I also adopted my cat, Lily, from Cape Atlantic Cats when she was 10 weeks old. (She went on to become a kitty supermodel.) Judy and the staff take a personal approach to adopting out cats. She called me a few days after I took Lily home to check on her. I also was able to take Lily back to the agency for her full series of kitten shots, which are administered by a volunteer vet tech.
Also, instead of spaying and neutering kittens at a very young age, the agency allows people who adopt the kittens to bring them back when they are at a more appropriate age for the procedure. Judy arranges for them to be transported to and from a vet. This is included in the $75 adoption fee. Judy remembers each and every cat and kitten that comes through the door, by name.
If you are a cat lover and you visit Ocean City, N.J., stop by Cape Atlantic Cats and Mew to You.
Read more about cat rescue on Catster:
About the author: Alissa Wolf is an award-winning journalist and lifelong animal lover who lives near Atlantic City, N.J. with her cats, the dashingly handsome Murphy — the proud owner of a vast collection of bow ties — and Lily, an occasional feline fashion model. She writes about a variety of pet topics on her blog Critter Corner. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.