by Jill Forman
When Jennifer Thompson was 10 years old, she got her first cat, Cassie. Cassie was loved for 19 years, and now she lives on in Cassie’s Cats.
Fast forward a few years to 2006, a friend of Thompson’s found an abandoned litter of kittens and brought them to her. “I had no idea what to do! I did a lot of Googling and gave myself a crash course on caring for orphaned newborn kittens. I raised those kittens successfully and got all four adopted out.” Since then she has fostered almost 50 cats and kittens, 15 so far in 2020.
She incorporated Cassie’s Cats in January of this year. It is a nonprofit 501©3 with the mission of finding safe, permanent, loving homes for cats and kittens.
She has an ambitious dream to accomplish this. “Cassie’s Cats will be a lounge and adoption center in Ventura. The idea of “cat cafes” is catching on in this country as spaces for people to come relax and hang out with cats. Giving cats a space that is more like a normal home environment helps them relax and allows their real personalities to emerge. This will also allow prospective adopters to get to know the cats and visit with them in a comfortable environment.”
Thompson, 49, has lived in Ventura almost 15 years. She has been a teacher and a college counselor. “My whole life has been spent in ‘helping’ professions and having meaningful work in my life is important. Saving cats and kittens fits right in.”
A diagnosis of breast cancer in 2014 “… was a transformative experience in so many ways and I think it helped give me the courage to create the life I wanted for myself and make changes instead of always playing it safe.”
Currently she is building a support base to raise awareness and funds. She uses social media to publicize photos of fosters, fundraisers, and updates.
Including merchandise. “We have all kinds of handmade items in our online shop – toys for cats, note cards featuring original watercolor paintings, cat-themed jewelry, and masks made with whimsical cat print fabrics! My mom has even been helping from afar, sewing dozens of masks for us to use in our fundraisers. We’re selling t-shirts and sweatshirts too in a variety of designs on the fundraising site Bonfire.com. The response to all of these fundraisers has been fantastic so far! We are so heartened by the support our community is already showing for our organization.”