Story and photos by Belle Crawford
Few people discover a cause that touches them so deeply they have no choice but devote their lives to it. For Mary Floyd, it’s rescuing cats from kill shelters.
Floyd began working for Madison County Animal Shelter after her beloved cat, Pearl, died in 2000. “I was heart broken,” she says, “and wanted to spend some time with the cats in the shelter. But after a short time I realized the animals were being euthanized to make space for more animals. I had to do something to help.”
Eventually, Floyd began taking some of the animals from the shelter to an animal adoption day event at Earth Fare in Asheville’s Westgate Shopping Center. “Many of the animals I took to Earth Fare were adopted,” she says. “So, I did it every week for 14 years.”
In 2004, Floyd decided to start a nonprofit that would allow her to run animal adoptions from her home. Today, Mary Paws Adoptions houses rescued cats in Floyd’s Kitten Cottage, a barn-like building on the homestead she shares with her husband, Clark, in Madison County.
“Our property is completely off the grid,” she says. “It’s safer for animals because there are no cars nearby, so they aren’t likely to get hit. We use a gas-powered generator for electricity when we need it and have wood stoves for heat, so the environment is perfectly compatible with what I do with animals. It’s only inconvenient at times when I have to use a flashlight in order to check on the animals at night. But that’s no big deal really.”
Mary Paws Adoptions is both a nonprofit and a ministry. “I match up cats in need with people who will benefit from an animal’s companionship, so it’s a service to both,” says Floyd, who uses a screening process when finding homes for her rescues. “I want to make sure the animals are going to be safe wherever they go, so I ask questions about people’s past experiences with cats and their knowledge of taking care of animals.”
Floyd can have up to 40 or 50 cats in her Kitten Cottage during the high season in the summer and fall. “Cats can live well into their teens, and some live as long as 20 years,” she says. “Kittens always go quickly, but it’s more difficult to find homes for older cats.”
Mary Paws has helped reduce the number of euthanized animals in Madison County, but controlling the issue takes a community effort. “One thing I’d like for people to know is how important it is to have their animals spayed and neutered,” Floyd says. “There are too many unwanted animals coming into the world this way, and it’s largely a preventable problem.”
Mary Paws Cat Adoptions is located in Madison County. It is a 501c3 charitable organization and any cash donation you make to Mary Paws is tax deductible. For more information, visit marypaws.com or call 828.622.3248