Jonathan and Sharon Rosenberg lost their beautiful boy, Tabby, to cancer in 1999. His passing brought Jonathan to his knees, prompting the corporate executive to question what he was doing with his life: “Was I really making a difference? How could I honor Tabby, who spent 15 years with us?”
Unsatisfied with the answers, Jonathan resigned from his highlevel position and dedicated his life to helping cats. By way of a broken heart came the vision of a sanctuary just for cats. In tribute to Tabby, Jonathan vowed that Tabby’s Place (tabbysplace. org) would provide the best quality of life possible for cats that would otherwise have no hope for the future.
“Go big, or go home”
Jonathan personally funded the construction of the first building and its start-up costs. His design for Tabby’s Place included a cage-free, open concept environment full of everything that delights the feline senses and satisfies a cat’s need for security. Outdoor enclosures offer cats a chance to nap in the warm sunlight; FIV+ cats are also housed in an open, controlled environment. No cat is ever sentenced to lie around in a cramped, cold cage. No cat is denied the companionship of other cats, or the feel of a human hand lightly brushing across his head.
A man whose motto is “go big, or go home”, Jonathan also added a fully staffed veterinary clinic and a hospice where compassionate palliative care is provided for terminal residents.
In 2003, after an intensive four years of construction, Tabby’s Place rolled out the red carpet for its first feline residents.
Special cats with special needs
The sanctuary’s mission is to rescue cats from desperate situations in which, based on their health, age or temperament, they would be considered unadoptable. These so-called unadoptable kitties are welcomed at Tabby’s Place and given the individual care and attention they need, regardless of the cost or level of care required.
One amazing example is Dot, a two-pound marvel with useless hind legs but plenty of front paw drive. She has the heart of a lion and a super-kitten fi recracker spirit. Born in a garage with a myriad of birth defects, including spina bifi da, tiny Dot’s future seemed uncertain at best. But a call to Tabby’s Place put her on the right path. She soon found herself surrounded by unconditional love and proper veterinary care. Dot’s future suddenly became as bright as her spirit, thanks to the medical staff and dedicated volunteers of “Team Dot”. Named for the dot on her bottom where her tail would have been, this lucky kitty is just one of many that Tabby’s Place has given hope to.
Tabby’s Place is dedicated to cats with special needs as well as chronic and terminal illnesses. But it was a regal feline named Bagheera who proved to the sanctuary’s team that nothing is impossible. In 2008, an encounter with a car left the large black cat paralyzed. When the call came, Jonathan was unsure if his sanctuary could manage the needs of a paralyzed cat. Could Tabby’s Place give Bagheera the quality of life he deserved? After careful consideration, Jonathan and his group stepped up to the challenge. Not only did Bagheera thrive, but he was also subsequently adopted into a loving new home.
Their success with Bagheera prompted Jonathan to help more paralyzed cats. These cats have included Tashi, the paraplegic boy who received hydrotherapy and a customized set of back wheels to help him get around. And Gabriella, the spunky kitty with severe cerebellar hypoplasia (wobbly cat syndrome) who not only gained a new lease on life at Tabby’s Place, but a fan club to boot.
To the ends of the earth
“I now know anything is possible”, says Jonathan. “When I care for each of our special needs cats, I feel like I am nurturing Tabby all over again.”
“At any given time, 30% of our cats have special needs”, adds Angela Townsend, the sanctuary’s development director. “We will go to the ends of the earth to ensure every cat receives the best treatment. Tabby’s Place is a place of healing and nurturing every day of the week.”
But Jonathan isn’t about to stop there. He has big plans to further expand the sanctuary. “Our long term vision is to construct three additional buildings on our eight acres so we are able to house 450 cats,” he says.
No cat is considered unadoptable and the drive to find permanent homes for all is ongoing. Since 2003, Tabby’s Place has taken in 1,200 cats and found homes for 950 of them –including Gabriella and Tashi, who were adopted together. “In the meantime,” says Angela, “they have a joyful life at Tabby’s Place, where they are doted on by over 100 volunteers and a staff who is smitten with each one.”