Just under two years ago Owen Collins and Elaine O’Brien, now rising in Crosshaven, founded ‘Our Cat and Kitten Home’, with the aim of reducing the number of wild and abandoned cats and kittens on the streets of Cork. Since then they have re-branded to become ‘Cat Haven’ and they have saved the lives of hundreds of animals, many of whom now live happily with new adopted families. The road to get here has not been easy to say the least. While starting off small, Owen and Elaine soon found themselves almost totally occupied by their rescue, while having their own day-to-day jobs to contend with as well. Each month they rack up vet and food bills which go into the thousands and until recently the only monetary help that they have received has solely been from local residents and those that had been aware of their Facebook page. Any remaining balances would come from their own pocket, meaning that for the best part of two years, they have dedicated their life to this cause.
Over the last year or so Cat Haven have been invited to UCC by the Animal Welfare Society and visited the college for the third time just a few weeks ago. “I’d heard about them before they became a charity from one of the committee members a few years ago”, says Chairperson Peter Prout. “We said that we’d do a bake sale for them and then they offered to come in with one or two of the cats. The committee then suggested that instead of bringing them to the bake sale, we actually make an entire event around them. We raised about €350 from the first visit and thought it was a great success and as a result we’ve invited them back since.”
Before Christmas, Cat Haven received an early present after they were eventually granted charity status after a long and arduous battle with the charity system. They are now able to officially advertise for donations and hopefully in the not-too distant future they will be receiving grant money. The rewards are now coming for all of the hard work over the past two years according to Owen Collins. “It’s intense. I mean we give our life to this. I had to give up one job and start with another company because it was just taking up so much of my time. Thankfully I’m now working with a buddy of mine and he is very understanding. Foster homes have been a big help to us and we’re so grateful to them for their continued support.”
This time around, UCC students managed to raise a fantastic total of €428 for Cat Haven, who as of time of writing have over 20 cats currently in their care. Speaking at the event, Peter Prout mentioned how admirable he thinks the work done by Owen, Elaine and the rest of their team is. “I think it’s just amazing work. They started from nothing and just decided to begin rescuing cats and kittens. It really is a grassroots level charity and they are just fantastic.” Owen and Elaine will most likely be welcomed back to UCC in the near future, along with their beautiful kittens of course. If people would like to know more about the work that Cat Haven does then they can check out their Facebook page. Owen and Elaine are eager to find potential foster carers who are animal lovers and are reliable.