By Nubia Rojas-Blas, 2010

Photograph ©Candace West, 2009

When people come in through the doors of Cats Exclusive, Inc. (CEI), their eyes are instantly drawn to the large hand made cage that takes up roughly a third of the lobby. The comments on the creativity of using closet shelving, the oohing and ahhing over the young kittens running around inside, are inevitably followed by "Are these all the cats you have?" The staff chuckles and leads them through a door, where visitors gasp in surprised delight. "As you can see, our adult cats are free roaming, so they are pretty much everywhere! I can tell you more about each one if you find one you like, and there's more through that door."

The adoption center can hold fifty to sixty cats and kittens at any given time. This center and the attached non-profit cat clinic are results of an ambitious Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) club. Founded in 1979 by Marge Jackson, CEI hosts an annual CFA cat show. Every year this show holds cat and kitten adoptions. In 1998 the goal of opening their own no-kill adoption storefront was realized. To date the organization has placed over 5,500 stray cats into loving homes.

Until they started the clinic, CEI was helping to spay and neuter about 1,000 cats a year. Since the clinic opened in 2007, they have been able to sterilize over 10,000 cats. Expanding on the original idea, they are now a full service veterinary clinic, able to provide such services as dental cleanings, vaccinations, microchipping, bloodwork, and more.

©Candan West 2009
©Candace West 2009
Inside Center (left) and Surgery Room (right)
Photographs ©Candace West, 2009

As a non-profit, CEI's main source of income is the public. In these tough economic times, staying open can be a struggle. "There are times when you have a bad week, and you end up with ten dollars left in the bank account." stated Richard Bilello, Corp. President of CEI, "Maintaining quality care is crucial. When our cats get sick, we want to do what we can to maintain their quality of life. Medicine isn't free. Its only with the help of those generous enough to give that we can keep going."

©Candace West 2009
Lisa D'Agostino with Cody
Photograph ©Candace West, 2009

Sitting in the clinic lobby, client Lisa D'Agostino holds her newest addition. "Cody," she says, "was found behind a Denny's restaurant." The kitten looks around as she continues, "I come here for all my cats." When asked why, she replies, "I've gone to other vets, it feels best here, there's a friendliness."

CEI is keeping an eye towards the future. Their newest goal is to establish a free-standing facility. The current location in Margate, Florida is rented and prevents them from receiving much needed grants. The objective is to take in a greater number of homeless cats and have an additional, separate wing, where canine companions can have a chance at affordable medical care.

There are many fund-raising events and opportunities to support CEI and all the work they do. Events range from cook outs and garage sales to dinner auctions and cruises. Direct monetary donations are by far the best way to support CEI. When they purchase supplies, the organization is exempt from taxes. When donors make cash donations they are 100% tax deductible as they are a federally approved, 501 (c)(3) organization.

For more information visit the Cats Exclusive web site. You can also find them on Facebook. If you would like to help, you can send donations to: Cats Exclusive, Inc. 6350 W. Atlantic Blvd. Margate, FL 33063


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