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Homeless Cat Project needs help to continue work

Date: 1/25/2013

By Lori Szepelak

WESTFIELD — From abandoned to abused cats, Denise Sinico, founder of the Westfield Homeless Cat Project, has seen it all since 2006.

During a recent late afternoon interview with Reminder Publications in her garage that has been transformed into a well-appointed shelter for felines, Sinico counts her blessings for all of the "wonderful and dedicated" volunteers who support the organization.

"I couldn't oversee this project without them," she said.

At any one time, Sinico has at least 20 cats in spacious cages waiting for homes, as well as 20 cats that are in foster care. Since the cat project's inception, close to 4,000 cats have been placed in permanent homes.

"All cats are free to good homes and all have been vetted," she added.

Each Saturday Sinico and friends open the shelter for area residents to see which cats are available for adoption. Before anyone can take a cat home, however, an application must be completed which is reviewed by a volunteer. All applicants must be at least 21 years of age with proper identification required.

To oversee an operation of this magnitude takes a lot of volunteers and fundraising efforts, and area residents can help out now by donating household items for a tag sale planned Feb. 22 to 24 at the Moose Lodge on Washington Street. Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

"The public loves our tag sale because of the great bargains," Sinico said.

Tag sale items of any variety are needed with the exception of large furniture.

"In addition to donating items, we still need volunteers to help manage the sales event," she added.

Last year Sinico raised approximately $2,000 from the tag sale and is hopeful she can exceed that amount in February. In addition, 2013 calendars will be available for $10 that feature photographs and descriptions of felines that have been adopted through the years.

Sinico is also hopeful this year she will be able to spruce up the shelter's surroundings by painting the ceiling a sky blue and have the walls brightly painted with scenes of wilderness paths.

Since Sinico also spends approximately $400 each week on cat food, persons visiting the tag sale may also drop off dry or canned cat food.

"Every donation is greatly appreciated," she said.

On the afternoon of Jan. 14, "Cherokee" was engrossed in playing with string with volunteer Paul Burt who spends countless hours each week tending to the needs of the felines and the shelter, while "Stormy," who survived Super Storm Sandy, waited for his turn. Potential adoptees also include "Pretty Boy Floyd," who was left behind by his owners when they moved, "Junior," who was left abandoned in an apartment for two weeks with no food, and "Brother," who ended up in the shelter when his owner passed away. "Blizzard," who recently had a tumor removed from its ear, is also available for adoption, as well as "Brady," whose owner has been diagnosed with cancer and cannot take care of him.

"Each cat has a different situation," Sinico said.

For more information on the Westfield Homeless Cat Project, a no-kill shelter, e-mail Sinico at or call 568-6964. Tag sale items can be dropped off at her home at 1124 East Mountain Road.

"Please help us continue to make the difference in the lives of the homeless, abandoned, and abused cats," Sinico said.