In 1983, a stray tabby cat wandered into the life of Jonathan Rosenberg, the CTO of an internet startup, CNET. “Tabby” eventually turned Jonathan into a cat lover. In 1999, Tabby was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which sent Jonathan and his wife, Sharon, reeling. They resolved to devote their lives to the care of cats. Jonathan left his lucrative position and poured his resources and passion into founding a haven for cats in hopeless situations.
Opened in 2003 in Ringoes, New Jersey, Tabby’s Place is committed to cats in the most desperate circumstances. It welcomes eleventh-hour cats without regard to age, temperament or most medical needs, making the sanctuary a haven for cats who could not have found safety and love elsewhere. Simply stated, Tabby’s Place embraces those cats that “nobody else wants.”
Tabby’s Place provides cats with first-rate medical care, a cage-free haven designed around their needs and the hope of adoption into a forever home. In over 15 years of operation, Tabby’s Place has rescued 2,800 cats from hopeless situations, with most finding adoptive homes. These adoptions have included triumphant happy endings for even the most classically “unadoptable” cats, among them paraplegics, elderly kitties, diabetics, incontinent cats, felines with severe neurological disabilities and cats with a history of inappropriate litter box use. Any cats not adopted have a home for life at Tabby’s Place, where they are cherished by the staff and over 200 active volunteers.
For Tabby’s Place, the past few years have been successful in terms of increasing outreach to the community. In 2015, it established Paws to Read, a program that invited community youth to read to the cats. This is beneficial both for the kitties who get young human socialization and for the children who may otherwise be reluctant to read out loud in front of peers or adults. In 2018, it began Aged to Purrfection, a volunteer-run program that unites social kitties with loving seniors. Devoted Tabby’s Place volunteers transport special kitties to a senior living or specialty care facility for a visit. The Aged to Purrfection cats are exceptional felines, selected for the program on the basis of their gentleness with people, their confidence and their knack for delivering joy.
Through targeted Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) work, Tabby’s Place is also able to assist many more cats than can be housed at the sanctuary. By spaying, neutering and arranging quality long-term care for free-roaming cats, it helps to mitigate the increase of the homeless cat population while ensuring a good quality of life for local strays. In addition to neutering and healing adult strays, it also rescues and rehomes orphaned kittens, helping to reduce the cycle of feline overpopulation. In large thanks to this TNR work, Tabby’s Place has increased the total annual number of cats it assists from an average of 130 to over 350 during the past four years.
One of the many success stories to come out of Tabby’s Place is Jude, who is currently thriving into a healthy “teenager” against all odds. Jude is the tiniest tuxedo to enter Tabby’s Place. Jude is a romping, rambunctious kitten with a purr twice her size despite having a frightening diagnosis. There’s a reason this kitten was named after the patron saint of impossible causes. Jude has a life-threatening congenital condition called hydrocephalus (literally, “water on the brain”), a buildup of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. This creates pressure, causing a large, dome-shaped head; eyes that point outward and downward; and, in some cases, seizures. Jude is in the fight of her life, and Tabby’s Place enlisted a world-class neurologist to help determine her course of treatment.
This little girl’s joy has been tragically punctuated by seizures, so she is being treated with medication to help prevent them, as well as rescue drugs for lengthy or cluster seizures (seizures in rapid succession). As Jude grows, it’s likely she will require additional medications, possibly including diuretics and steroids. Ultimately, Jude may benefit from surgical placement of a shunt, to siphon excess fluid from her brain and drain it to another area of her body where it will not cause harm.
This is an awful lot for such a tiny girl to face, but Jude is an extraordinary kitten, with queen-sized confidence and the heart of a lion. Jude will grow up in the loving care of a permanent foster home. A Tabby’s Place staff member and her family will provide Jude with the daily affection and adoration she deserves — and the close monitoring she needs — while Tabby’s Place will fund and provide Jude’s extensive veterinary needs. Tiny Jude’s future is uncertain, but this much is clear: She’ll never know a moment without love.
That’s why Jude is also currently the “poster kitty” for the Linda Fund Matching Challenge, the largest Tabby’s Place annual fundraiser. During this brief period, donors can have their gifts matched, and all donations go to the emergency and specialty care of the neediest kitties, like little Jude. You can make a donation to the Linda Fund Matching Challenge on the Tabby’s Place website. To learn more and support little Jude, you can make a donation here and keep up with Jude’s journey here.