Pet Tips 'n' Tales©

One Kitten Inspires Thousands of Good Deeds!

Courtesy Photo©
Bob and Kathy Rude cuddle a "few" of the cats at their "began by accident" cat sanctuary.  Their kind act of rescuing a litter of kittens led to thousands of good deeds.


"Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink," wrote Samuel Coleridge in his poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

But for Kathy and Bob Rude who run Rude Ranch, a "no kill' cat sanctuary in Maryland, it is more like a tidal wave, "Cats, cats, every where, why aren't folks neutering and spaying? We are drowning in homeless pets."

The Rudes know what they are talking about.  Since 1997 they have rehomed 3,000 cats and assisted in 15,000 spay/neuters to help dam the flood of homeless pets by opening a pet sanctuary, Rude Ranch, on a former Hare Krishna Temple site. Rude Ranch encompasses 5600 square feet on 5-½ acres, and presently houses two left over religious alters, 108 cats and seven dogs.

Why is a Maryland cat sanctuary featured in Oregon newspaper considering all of our homeless cats? Because Maxx, a "Tips 'n' Tales" reader in Pennsylvania emailed, "Rude Ranch's cats are so special that I drove 4 hours, one way, to adopt one."  Curious, a quick look at Rude Ranch's website revealed secrets to creating happy cats!

They cater to cats. Rude Ranch's cat playland is designed with the fussiest of felines in mind. Amenities include floor-to-ceiling scratching posts, ceiling-high pathways, and sleeping shelves which are cleverly-built steps climbing up the walls; bright-colored cubbies line the walls for cat-napping.

"Our inspiration is from Bob Walker's book, "The Cats' House," said Kathy.  "His concepts match our cats as our furballs always want the top spot on their cat trees.  So we gave them what they wanted - LOTS of top spots!"

A carpenter arrived and began building; cat runs, poles, ramps, and shelves evolved like the famous Winchester Mystery House's mazes.

"We screwed wood blocks into the ceiling and floor, then linked them with a length of 4-inch PVC pipe. For sturdy climbing poles, we joined the wood and PVC pipe together with swag bolts, 3/4'' thick and 10" long.  We wrapped the climbing poles with nylon nautical rope; it's strong and easy to clean.  Our cats love chasing laser lights up the poles. Colorful ceiling pathways run between the climbing poles. Everything is designed for creature comfort, mental health and exercise. No one individual cat is spoiled at our home -- they all are!"

Kathy's useful tip while creating the cat's play gyms, "When wrapping 800 feet of nylon rope around a climbing pole, don't walk around the pole to wrap it-you might as well have five martinis instead because your ability to walk straight afterwards will be about the same, and you won't have blisters from the rope.  

One piece of plywood, cut creatively, becomes a sleeping cubby for at least 6 cats; more when you count the roof-dwellers.

"For both the cats' and our, safety," said Kathy, "we used low VOC paint. And to easily wash off mishaps and urp-ups we applied 4 coats of sealer. Here is a tip: Don't let a troop of 9-year-old girl scouts "help" paint.  It took us weeks to clean up the drips!

We also put in an aquarium with shelf seating to function as a kitty TV. They love it! However, we didn't count on one cat who CONSTANTLY takes the filter apart then drags charcoal and algae all over the room.

We've hung outside bird feeders for the cats entertainment and a girl scout working on a badge built wildlife feeders.

Forget installing child safety latches on cabinet doors. The cats figured out how to work them so we gave in and turned the cabinets into cat beds.  
If we are ever crazy enough to move," laughs Kathy, "we can easily unassemble everything."

"We've had people ordered by the court do community service with us. One time we lucked out and a veterinarian student did her service with us.  She was a Godsend.

We streamline things like listing medicine on index cards. Occasionally, we feel overwhelmed like we've been hit by a bus from exhaustion, but we chose this life to make a difference," said Kathy. "Our work is not just about rescuing, it includes teaching animal care and the importance of neutering/spaying pets."

"We open 25 cans of cat food for each meal, go through 100 pounds of dry food a week, and 10,000 pounds of cat litter a year," adds Bob.

Every time the stock market goes down, foreclosures go up, pet adoptions go down and the number of homeless cats increases. In this economic climate, donations to all shelters are down. "Please consider supporting the pet shelters in your area," encourages Kathy.

MEWS FLASH! After I learned about Rude Ranch, I contacted Animal Planet's Must Love Cats about featuring them. Sit tight on your paws - their show and mine both air next year!


The Rudes book, The Best Little Cat House in Maryland is an extremely humerous take on how a working couple with caring hearts who find a few homeless kitties ends up appearing on CNN news surrounded by dozens of cats!  The Rudes's book mentions how thrilled they were to solve the "mouse mystery" and still wonder why mice would want to move into a cat sanctuary?  The cats hope it happens again! Book proceeds go towards Animal Rescue 
If you are experiencing foreclose or job loss, don't abandon your pets. Contact your animal shelter. Let us help you and your pets," advises Janetta Overholser, president of The Humane Society of Cottage Grove. "And those with jobs, please help us help with donations to carry on our work."

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