By David Aaro
For all you cat lovers out there, meet a Ponte Vedra resident who has helped rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for hundreds of felines, some abandoned as adults and others born to abandoned cats in the beach communities. Mary Boushie has owned Katz 4 Keeps, a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit organization in Ponte Vedra since 2008.
Boushie moved to The Plantation in Ponte Vedra in 2003 with her husband Raymond after working as an executive assistant for prominent companies in North Carolina, Virginia and Los Angeles. After working for 32 years, her husband gave her the gift of retirement in 1998 and as a result she was able to use her time to work towards her passion in life: helping cats in need.
- How did your love for cats start?
I’ve loved cats for as long as I can remember and it starts from my family. I’m from a family of 10 children and we are all animal lovers. My parents encouraged love for animals, as we had horses, cats and dogs on our property. While my sisters enjoyed spending time with the horses, I was always drawn to our cats.
- How did you turn that passion into Katz 4 Keeps?
I had done a little bit of small-scale rescue with my vet in Los Angeles, but it started when my husband and I moved to Ponte Vedra in 2003. One of the first things I did was join the cat committee in our community. Right off the bat I found a litter of six kittens, so I took four home and kept them in one of our guest bathrooms. In 2004 I spoke to our vet and found out I could house six cages with him. I ended up doing hundreds of adoptions all carried out through donations.
I didn’t know how long I would be able to keep doing this, but thankfully it never stopped. When the vet closed in 2010, there was a short period of being frantic and not knowing what I was going to do. Thankfully I have a great husband who reassured me and gave me the confidence to continue. After being turned down by countless landlords who didn’t like to hear the term shelter, I finally found the location we operate today, which has an animal-loving landlord.
- What do you like about Ponte Vedra?
I love everything about Ponte Vedra. The idea was to retire in a place near the ocean that gives easy access for my family to travel. It’s perfect for my husband who travels a lot for his job. In Ponte Vedra I love the close proximity to the ocean, and the friendliness of the community.
- What’s the most important thing in caring for a cat?
First, provide a loving environment. It’s also very important to make sure that cat gets medical care and proper nutrition. The cat should be a family member, never outdoors and always treated with respect.
- What’s a memorable experience you had taking care of a cat?
Katz 4 Keeps had a very special cat named Gordita. She was presented to us with a broken pelvis that could not be repaired after suffering abuse when living with her previous owners. When we got her she endeared herself to every volunteer and visitor that saw her. We all shared a unanimous opinion that she was both beautiful and funny. I had a special connection with her, especially when one day she let out a meow that sounded exactly like the word “momma” when I walked in. She passed in 2014, and we had a memorial service I’ll never forget. Gordita represented our mission in that we rescued, rehabilitated her both physically and emotionally and she found her forever home with us.
Visit www.katz4keeps.org to learn more about this organization and how you can help by donating or volunteering.
Photo courtesy Karen Tyrrell
Mary Boushie and friend.