In 2004, I had the pleasure of taking a vacation trip to Gold Beach, Oregon, some 300 miles north of my doorstep. It is a very scenic area, a photographer’s paradise to be sure.
While in Gold Beach, I was encouraged to visit the North Jetty and see and/or photograph the cat condos there. I did just that and got on the Internet later to get some background on the feline settlement. This article is the result. My family cat, shown here taunting the family bird, has never visited the Gold Beach Cat Condos nor is she likely to.
The following is from a story by Gloria Morris, a freelance writer and photographer who has been published in national, regional, and local publications. A native Oregonian, she lives in Portland.
“The North Jetty Cats Plus program was born in December 1992, after Ursula Elliott noticed many feral cats among the jetty rocks in Gold Beach. People were feeding the pitiful animals, and Ursula joined them. Janis Heuser and her family wanted to do something for the community instead of exchanging gifts that Christmas. Janis and Ursula each gave $100 to start the fund. Jeanne Snook, already active in feeding, also contributed $100. The Plus Program was up and running.
The first houses and feeding stations were constructed by Charles Heuser, Don Snook, and Lee Elliott after their wives joined forces to withstand the high winds at the North Jetty. Experienced as an Animal Health Technician, Janis worked with the spay/neuter and medical treatments. Dr. Eldon Rivers was their first veterinarian, and when he moved, Town and Country Animal Clinic’s Dr. Laurie Johnson and Dr. John Jacobson took over.
Many other residents through the years have helped with feeding, and also with rescuing from trash bins, empty houses, and burlap sacks of kittens thrown off the bridge or into the ocean. The cost of the program is paid for by gifts of food, donations, and an annual silent auction.
“This venture involves many people with generous loving hearts which helps to counteract some of the cruel situations to which people expose their pets,” says Charles Heuser.
Known as “The Cat Lady” from North Bend to Crescent City, Ursula Elliott nurses kitties back to health so they can be adopted. Almost 3,000 animals have been helped by the Cats Plus Program. “The cats are screened for leukemia,” Ursula says. “Adults may be spayed or neutered. Kittens receive baby shots, and are nurtured until they complete their adult shots. They are then adopted out. The medical charges are formidable. Town and Country Animal Clinic maintains a special account for the North Jetty cats.”
Proud of the program, the Gold Beach community supports it enthusiastically. McKay’s Market gives them a big discount on food. Town and Country Animal Clinic does, as well. Many people contribute time for the daily feeding of the 15 resident cats. Several other communities have used the Plus Program as a model. The North Jetty Cats even received a card from Socks in the White House.
Getting there: Traveling north on Hwy 101, turn left on the north side of the bridge onto Wedderburn Loop. Head west a quarter mile, then turn left onto the jetty and look for about twelve doll-size houses. Traveling south on Hwy 101, turn right before the bridge.”
I highly recommend a visit to Gold Beach. I can’t wait to get back there myself.