When Laura Winholt moved to Daufuskie Island in 2006, she was alarmed by the number of stray and feral cats present. Not only was it an unhealthy situation for the cats themselves, but these animals were causing a nuisance for businesses and homes in the area. With the help of Daufuskie volunteers, Laura successfully implemented a trap/spay&neuter/release program which dramatically decreased the number of feral kittens born on the island.
While this program was a major success, Laura and her volunteers felt as though their mission wasn’t quite complete. Feral cats on Daufuskie were still at risk, and their relocation efforts became challenging. With the support of the ASPCA and Daufuskie volunteers, the Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary was created. This fenced-in outdoor sanctuary is a half-acre plot of land on Winholt’s property, and it serves as a place for “at risk” cats to safely live with food, shelter, and care.
Over 70 cats call this sanctuary their happy home. Every morning and evening, volunteers arrive at the shelter to feed and water the animals, clean up the sanctuary, and give the felines much-needed love and affection.
When volunteers arrive at the sanctuary, they are always greeted by a handful of friendly cats waiting at the entrance. These kitties crave attention and appreciate it when volunteers take the extra minute to say hello! Other cats stay below the radar; still feral, they tend to hang out in the back of the sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the volunteers.
The sanctuary is a happy place, and its presence on the island has minimized the problem that feral cat populations once posed. What’s in the future for the Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary? Winholt hopes to eventually open up the shelter to the public as an interpretive walk. Not only will this provide education to visitors, but the cats will get some extra playtime with new people – something that they’re certainly looking forward to.