Paul Santell was walking home from the train station in New York City one night when he saw a stray cat sleeping on the street. He happened to have a can of cat food with him, so he gave it to the cat, and the following night when he came across the same cat, he did the same thing. Santell also fed a few more cats that had arrived, having no idea how deeply this tiny gesture would change his life.
In his heart, Santell has always had a soft place for cats, and after feeding a few on the street, he began to think of additional ways he might assist the animals. He had heard of trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, which help to decrease feral cat numbers, and thought it might be worthwhile to check into them more.
I took a free lesson at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ headquarters in Manhattan, then bought some traps and started repairing these fellas, and things really took off from there,” Santell told The Dodo.
In addition to his full-time employment, Paul now spends 30 hours a week to feeding, trapping, and rescuing feral and stray cats across the city, which he does in addition to his spare time. With more than 1,100 animals rescued over the course of three years, he has no intentions to quit any time in the foreseeable future.
“I do my nightly feeding rounds after midnight, and it is during these late hours that I am most likely to capture any newcomers to my colony,” Santell remarked. Weekends are reserved for checking out new colonies at the request of other members of the community to see if I can be of assistance to them.” ” I work hard to rescue kittens as frequently as I can in order to place them in permanent homes as soon as possible. “I work full-time and volunteer for rescue organizations on the side.”
He not only assists in feeding and trapping stray cats that are feral, but he also keeps an eye out for stray cats who are not feral and need help reconnecting with their permanent homes.
“Probably my favorite part is when I rescue an out-of-place, dirty, starving-looking cat that seems to have been a previous house cat,” Santell said. The thought that they were neglected and abandoned, and even violently ejected from their home and shut out for good, breaks my heart. So when I am able to rescue these cats, it is the nicest feeling in the world.”
After a while, Santell gained the nickname “Paul the Cat Guy,” and he set up Instagram and Facebook accounts so that people could reach out to him if they came across a stray or abandoned cat.
When it comes to rescue work, one of Santell’s most striking characteristics is his reluctance to give up hope. Whenever a cat tries to get away from him, he will continue to attempt to help it until he is successful in his endeavors. He has absolutely no intention of letting any of them to slip through the holes in his system.
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