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Briarcliff Cat Squad Aims To Get Strays into Homes

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Ever since she began feeding a stray cat who came regularly to her porch seven years ago, Deborah Pangle has grown increasingly involved with cats, and she’s now trying to open a facility where stray cats can become socialized before they are adopted.

“If people just begin to start to feed a cat on the outside on a semi-regular basis, they will begin to have the experiences that I’ve had,” Pangle said. “On Christmas day in the snow I was out feeding cats. You jump in your car to drive to them and all of a sudden they run out and they greet you and there’s this bond. It’s just extraordinary.”

Pangle, who lives in Briarcliff, met three other stray cat feeders in Briarcliff through what Pangle calls “the fabulous divine cat energy of the universe.”

Together they recently formed “The Cat Squad,” an organization that aims to be able to take care of about 20 stray cats in a living room-type environment while they are being socialized.

“Our motto is ‘Getting stray cats from the street to the couch,’” Pangle said.

The Cat Squad is planning to hold their first fundraiser/tag sale on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Stop n’ Shop parking lot in the Arcadian shopping center in Ossining.

There will be used items and baked goods for sale, and The Cat Squad women will show people their Facebook site with photos and information about cats that are up for adoption. To highlight the connection of cats to Halloween, The Cat Squad will be giving away Halloween treats for kids, and there will be a dance performance to Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller” at 2:15 p.m. by the Sleepy Hollow Dance Theater Group.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and it’ll attract attention,” Pangle said.

The other members of The Cat Squad aside from Pangle are Annette Bellingham, a Con Edison employee who takes care of a colony of cats outside of Con Ed, Sandra Kantor, who takes care of another Briarcliff cat colony, and Suzanne Davis, who has taken stray cats into her home.

“We were frustrated because we’re really limited as to how many cats we can help because of the lack of a facility, so we decided to start our group to get some interest and raise some money for a small facility,” Pangle said.

The Cat Squad’s policy is to first work with cats on the outside. Cats are spayed or neutered and given immunization shots, and they are provided with little huts for shelter, special heaters and straw to keep them warm, and regular feedings. If a cat seems healthy and socialized enough for adoption, the women take pictures of them and begin to promote them to people. The cats may be adopted while they are still living outside, or they may be first brought into Pangle’s home for further socialization.

Though some animal experts say that stray cats past a certain age can not be socialized enough for adoption, Pangle disagrees.

“It’s certainly something that I’ve read about, but it just has not been my experience, nor has it been the experience of other women who have rescued cats,” she said. “My feeling is that there is a small percentage that can’t be socialized but I have a couple that live in my house that were two and three years old when they came in, and they’re fine.”

Pangle currently lives with five formerly stray cats.

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