Jessica Barbazon has a special place in her heart for cats. Raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York, she remembers searching for kittens in the hay barn.
“I always loved those cats,” she recalls. “Growing up, I learned how to appreciate and properly care for cats.”
Her goal now is to share that appreciation and expertise with others. Walking through her Ocala home, Jessica’s love for all things cat is evident. Her feline décor includes wall hangings, pictures, door stops, and statues. Cat condos are scattered throughout, providing her four indoor cats with plenty of space for play and relaxation.
As the founder of Feline Estate, a cat-rescue-turned-cat-sanctuary, Jessica is especially fond of cats that need a little extra TLC. That’s why she goes out of her way to educate people on how to better understand cats, their needs, and their behavior. She even wrote a book on the topic.
Justice For Cats: Caring For Your Cat & Starting A Shelter is Jessica’s way of sharing her experiences with others. She hopes not only to encourage people to be better pet owners, but to also raise awareness of the homeless pet problem.
“Our homeless pet population is fixable,” she says. “One cat being sterilized can literally prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of unwanted kittens from being born. I really want America to be a no-kill nation. We kill over four million pets a year.”
And Jessica should know. She’s seen it firsthand. As a former rescue operator, Jessica watched people relinquish their cats for a variety of reasons, from allergies and moving to behavioral issues like clawing and spraying. And those were the owners who cared enough for their pets to seek out a rescue. Other cats aren’t as fortunate.
“Justice For Cats was a labor of love for me,” she says. “I want to make a difference and really help cats. If people are having issues with their cat, it should be answered in my book.”
Jessica insists that with proper advice and counseling, the vast majority of problems owners experience with their cats can be easily remedied. Justice For Cats covers an array of topics, including scratching, litter box training, moving with a cat, cat adoptions, introducing cats to other pets, and even setting up your own cat rescue facility—right down to an explanation of the necessary paperwork and a detailing of the day-to-day operations.
Jessica admits that running a cat rescue isn’t easy. An organized person, she shows off many legal-sized notepads filled with important information about each cat she rescued. Eating habits, immunizations, health issues, and medications were just a few of the things Jessica religiously kept notes on.
Today, Feline Estate is a cat sanctuary rather than a cat rescue for a reason. At one point, Jessica was receiving 20 to 30 calls a day from people asking if she would take their cats in, and eventually, the stress and demand got to be too much. She now has 20 cats in her permanent care, many that found their way to the facility when former owners no longer needed or wanted them. Other cats just happened to luckily cross paths with Jessica.
“If I see a cat in need, I have to help,” she says. “I can’t just turn my back on an animal. Over the years I’ve personally rescued close to 600 cats. I’m just one person, though. If people who read my book take away a better understanding on how and why they should help cats, then I’ve achieved my goal. We can all become active and do something positive for our feline friends.”
Want To Know More?
Check out Jessica’s book Justice For Cats: Caring For Your Cat & Starting A Shelter, available in paperback and hardcover at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. The book can also be ordered through most bookstores.
The Homeless Pet Problem
The number of strays cats and dogs in the U.S. is impossible to know, but the estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
6–8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.
Only 10 percent of animals received by shelters have been spayed/neutered.
3–4 million cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year.
3–4 million cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year.
Source: The Humane Society of the United States; American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals