Gracie and Lilly

Gracie and Lily, two of a litter of seven, were born to a young mother whose first litter of kittens was only 16 weeks old when she had her second and ended up with a serious infection. (Catoosa News photo/Tamara Wolk)

Gracie and Lily made an 800-mile trip recently, from Catoosa County to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They’re settled now in a new home where they’re loved and pampered and have their own fuzzy little igloo.

But the two kittens’ lives could have easily turned out another way. They were born to a young mother who had litters of kittens too close together. Three of their five siblings died within a week of birth because their mama came down with a massive infection and was unable to tend her babies until she recovered.

While a couple many states away cared enough to make a 1,600-mile round trip to adopt Gracie and Lily, hundreds of kittens and puppies in Catoosa County are not so fortunate.

Not everyone who finds themselves with animals they don’t want is decent enough to find homes for them. The non-profit animal rescue group, Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care (CCAC), recently found two pet carriers crammed with seven cats of varying ages left by a roadside. Another rescuer found a grown male cat in a carrier that had been thrown into a drainage ditch. Abandoned animals are rescued in Catoosa County almost every day.

In 2015, CCAC found homes for 283 abandoned animals and transferred 502 to other rescues that found homes for them. The problem in the county is that serious.

But there’s also an easy solution, says Sara DeBerry, a volunteer with CCAC. "If every cat or dog owner were to have their pet spayed or neutered, there would be almost no problem. It’s a one-time thing you have to do and there’s help available if you have trouble affording it."

One of the missions of CCAC is to reach a 100-percent spay/neuter rate in the county. "We maintain a website, a Facebook page with over 9,000 likes, a hotline, and we do public events to raise awareness and let people know where they can find low-cost spay and neuter and help with their animals," says DeBerry. "It’s so much easier to have an animal fixed than to find yourself with a litter of kittens or puppies to care for and find homes for." Last year, CCAC provided spay/neuter for 371 cats and 92 dogs.

Gracie and Lily’s mother was fortunate to have an owner who, in the midst of her own trauma, took the time to call CCAC and ask them to take her cats and find homes for them. "We were happy to do it," says DeBerry. "That’s what we’re here for." The group had the cats checked by a vet for overall wellness and fixed when they were ready. When the mother cat fell ill, CCAC raised funds to pay her $600 vet bill.

"Spay/neuter is a win for everyone," says DeBerry, "for pet owners, the public, and for the cats and dogs that won’t end up abandoned, starving, and in danger on the streets."

To learn more about low-cost spay/neuter or if you need help or would like to help, you can contact CCAC through their web site,, through their Facebook page,, or through their hotline, 706-937-2287. CCAC is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, all-volunteer organization.