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Puffy Paws wants RV to make hotel room for cats

Puffy Paws Kitty Haven co-owner Rick Kingston nuz­zles one of his kit­ties at the Haven.

Rick Kingston is hop­ing some­one will donate a used Recre­ational Vehi­cle to help his more-than-100 cats.

Kingston and his wife have been run­ning Puffy Paws Kitty Haven out of their home on Lake­view Lane for years. More than 100 cats reside in the no-kill shel­ter, which was reg­is­tered and licensed with the Florida Depart­ment Of Agri­cul­ture & Con­sumer Ser­vices in 2006 and granted 501c3 (non-profit, tax-deductible) sta­tus in March.

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Puffy Paws Kitty Haven’s dona­tion cen­ter is next to Wal­mart in Engle­wood. Co-owner Rick Kingston awaits his next customer.

Kingston has adopted out 125 cats from his home  since early 2007, but in Novem­ber he was dealt a major set­back: a Sara­sota County code enforce­ment offi­cer showed up at the door to inform him that he was in vio­la­tion of a code for­bid­ding home-based busi­nesses in his area.

So the fam­ily has been tak­ing cats to Port Char­lotte so they could attract the atten­tion of  PetS­mart shop­pers and maybe get new homes. That didn’t work out.

The cost was pro­hib­i­tive,” Kingston said, refer­ring to the amount of gas and the time it took to ferry cats back and forth. “We took down 10, three got adopted out and the rest are cage-stressed.”

So Kingston has a new idea: an RV to func­tion as “their own lit­tle hotel room.” His brother-in-law, Ray Guil­foyle, will remodel it into a mobile adop­tion cen­ter that could sit out­side the haven’s dona­tion cen­ter, or it could travel to major events in town, such as Pio­neer Days.

All he needs is some­one to donate a well-running RV to the Haven. They will get at least a $4,000 tax deduc­tion in return, a fig­ure Kingston came up with from study­ing craigslist.

It could be small, it could be big,” he said. “But it needs to run.”

Kingston said his cats had a dif­fi­cult time adapt­ing to being caged at PetS­mart, as they run free in his house.

Puffy Paws is a bed and break­fast for cats,” he said.

His wife, Chrissy,  spends most of her time look­ing after the ani­mals, sleep­ing in small incre­ments at night so she can get up and med­icate the kit­ties who need it.  The 2000-square-foot home is divided into sep­a­rate areas, includ­ing a room devoted to those made into pari­ahs by the other cats.

There are no cages at the Haven.

We just don’t believe in cages,” he said.

He said his cats devel­oped phys­i­cal symp­toms exhibit­ing their dis­com­fort from being caged, rang­ing from falling-out fur to upper res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems from a weak­ened immune system.

Even so, he is now tak­ing one cat at a time to the Lov­ing Care Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal, where there is a cage avail­able to show­case adopt­able cats. He can’t show them at his dona­tion cen­ter, which most peo­ple call a thrift store, and he can’t show them at the Haven because of zon­ing. Lov­ing Care is a much shorter trip than the Port Char­lotte PetS­mart, which is eas­ier on the cat and the Kitty Haven co-owners.

An RV would help.

At Puffy Paws Kitty Haven we impro­vise, adapt and over­come,” Kingston said. “Since we can’t have open houses, I think this is the best idea to get the cats forever-homes.”

To con­tact the Kingstons, call 941−623−8904. For more infor­ma­tion about the haven, go to http://puffypawskittyhaven.com/index.html

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