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How one special kitty is helping hundreds of others.

The Joe Willie Project supports special needs catsA generous cat lover has enabled us to provide even more second chances for hundreds of special kitties through the largest financial gift from a living donor in our history.

Former Marin resident Mark M. Glickman was inspired by his cat, Joe Willie, who had significant medical needs when Mr. Glickman adopted him 25 years ago. In the years since, Mr. Glickman has been a top supporter of Marin Humane.

“The Joe Willie Project” funds medical, behavioral, and placement help at an unprecedented level to promote the adoption of senior kitties and other cats with special needs. These cats often languish for months at the shelter and are viewed as unadoptable by many prospective adopters. The Joe Willie Project is changing that.

“One of the toughest aspects of caring for animals in a shelter is the amount of time it takes a kitty with medical or behavioral challenges to get adopted,” said Nancy McKenney, CEO and president of Marin Humane. “With this remarkable gift, Mark has challenged us to shift the paradigm and remove obstacles so these special cats are more readily adopted.”

The Joe Willie Project funds three important aspects of feline care and protection:

First, it provides pre-adoption medical assistance for senior cats or others with medical challenges that are either waitlisted until staff veterinarians have time to address their needs or, in some cases, put up for adoption “as-is.” Substantial funding allows us to seek assistance from private veterinarians to address health concerns and minimize the amount of time cats spend waiting to become available for adoption.

Kitty Corner - The Joe Willie Project

Architectural rendering of new kitty condos.

Mark M. Glickman - The Joe Willie Project

Second, the gift allows us to address behavioral challenges by having an additional part-time cat behavior specialist who can focus on issues that delay adoptions or result in a cat being returned to the shelter. The behavior specialist expands the capacity of our free cat hotline, in-home visits, adopter conferences, online resources, and more. The donation also paid for construction of five state-of-the-art “kitty condos” specially designed to reduce anxiety in a sometimes-stressful shelter environment.

Finally, The Joe Willie Project helps place “career cats” in safe, caring environments. Career cats are mid-spectrum cats that are not happy as house cats yet not independent enough to live on their own as feral cats. Working with Marin Friends of Ferals, we find adopters who provide basic shelter, food, and veterinary needs for cats in crawl spaces, out buildings, barns, or other protected areas. Marin Humane and Marin Friends of Ferals coordinate the placement and transition of these cats where they can practice all of their innate feline behaviors in a semi-protected environment.

According to Mr. Glickman, “Historically, cats have not been treated with the same level of respect, understanding, or attention as other animals. For decades, Marin Humane has been at the forefront of this issue, seeking to change those perceptions. I am hopeful that my gift will allow them to continue their work in new and innovative ways.”