Uptown Catz answers need in community

(If you want to help or adopt a cat, visit the shelter at 176 Randolph St. It is open 8-11 a.m. seven days a week. Do not call Ripley Power and Light.)

Uptown Catz, a rescue group for homeless cats and kittens, was founded by Jane Ashe, a retired air traffic controller who moved back to Ripley with her husband, Jim, to be near her mother.

They, like many people, just can’t look away when a kitten is homeless or a cat needs care.

Terry Kissell Sr., director of Lauderdale County Animal Control, reached out to Jane, who was known as an animal rescue advocate, when he was approached by a homeless woman who had 14 stray cats in her car. Animal Control, which mostly handles stray dogs, doesn’t have the facilities to take care of cats.

Jane took the 14 cats, had them spayed and neutered. When Terry called Jane again about more cats needing rescue, she realized there was a huge need to rescue cats, and Uptown Cats just developed from there. Uptown Cats is a part of Gemini Pet Rescue and Transport, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that also includes Downtown Dogz, a dog rescue group.

The Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce named Uptown Catz the 2023 Organization of the Year.

Jim is the organization’s president, Jane is vice president, Pam Worley is secretary, and Christy Daily is treasurer and an adoption coordinator. 

On any day, Uptown Catz has about 150 cats and kittens in a building it owns and another 50 cats in foster homes throughout the community.

Few homeless cats are adopted locally. The organization runs a 24/7 cat transport as it works with others to adopt their cats and kittens.

With so many free kittens available, people don’t usually choose to pay the organization’s $100 adoption fee, said Pam, who volunteers daily. “Our cats, however, are already spayed and neutered and have their shots.”

The cats have their own personalities and many have special needs. Louie, for instance, is blind. Sally is diabetic. Some of the volunteers’ favorites are the “eye kitties,” Irene, Watson and Holmes. 

“We think that when we come in the morning, they’ve had a big party overnight,” Pam said. “They’re just adorable.”

You can help Uptown Catz …

Donate money. Downtown Catz spends about $12,000 a month to feed, vet, house and transport the cats and kittens to their new homes. Its only funding is $2,000 once a year from Lauderdale County and $2,500 once a year from the City of Ripley. The rest comes from donations and monthly fundraisers. Donations can be sent to 176 Randolph St., Ripley, Tenn. 38063; or by: PayPal: @Uptowncatz, Venmo: Jane-Ashe, or Cash App: $Uptowncatz.

Donate time. The organization, which runs on about 10 main volunteers, can always use more help.

Foster. Give a pet a home until it finds its “forever” home.

Adopt. The shelter, at 176 Randolph St., is open 8-11 a.m. seven days a week. Cost to adopt a cat: $100. Fee includes shots, spaying and neutering.

If you own a pet, make sure it is spayed or neutered.