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Helping people by helping their pets.

The Cat Connection

From rescuing stray and abandoned cats to finding them loving homes through fostering and adoption to controlling the local feral cat population, the work of The Cat Connection has been led by passionate volunteers since 2000. Star Market has supported the work of this nonprofit through its GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program.

Tell us about The Cat Connection.

Founded in 2000, The Cat Connection provides a safe, loving home for every cat in need. Our primary mission is to rescue abandoned, abused, unwanted, stray, neglected and injured cats and facilitate their adoption into responsible permanent homes. We’ve been doing this work for over 20 years, and it started as just a trap-neuter-return (TNR) for cats in the area.

Our primary mission is to rescue abandoned, abused, unwanted, stray, neglected and injured cats and facilitate their adoption into responsible permanent homes.

When we started trapping cats, they would be spayed or neutered, given their shots or whatever medical care they needed and then returned to their colonies. But we started getting cats who couldn’t be returned or were super friendly and probably shouldn’t be returned to the wild. That’s when we started saying we needed to try to get some of these cats adopted. And the adoption portion of our rescue grew from there.

What services do you provide to the community?

We achieve our goals through three primary activities: our adoption foster program, the TNR program to manage the feral cat population for unsocialized outdoor cats that typically live in colonies, and community support and education programs. One of these programs, called CatNAPS, provides financial assistance for spay/neuter surgery and community education about the importance of spaying or neutering your pet.

Keeping the stray cat population under control is something we are very proud of accomplishing. We’ve substantially reduced the homeless cat population in Waltham, MA.

The Cat Connection is a general resource for people in our community. Many people call to say that they need to surrender their cat or that they saw a stray cat, and they ask us if we can come and get it. We will, of course, take as many cats as we can into our care.

What sets you apart from other nonprofit organizations in your community?

Most nonprofits work directly with people, but we help people by helping their pets. Your pet really is a part of your family.

Most of the large animal rescue organizations in our area handle many types of animals, which means they sometimes cannot take in animals with intensive needs. We are small but specialize in cats, allowing us to take in cats with underlying medical problems and many cats with special needs.

Most nonprofits work directly with people, but we help people by helping their pets.

We are unique because we’re not only taking care of cats who get in trouble, but we’re also heavily involved in prevention through our spay-neuter program, behavior intervention program, and our collaboration with Pawsitive Pantry, the regional pet food assistance program. The Cat Connection is proud to keep cats from winding up on the streets.

Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.

Recently we were able to help a woman through our CatNAPS program. This woman was taking care of her daughter’s cat. This cat is very special to her because she had just lost her daughter, and the cat was the only part of her she had left. Taking care of the cat was a way to still have a piece of her daughter with her to take care of, especially during the isolation of the pandemic.

While the cat was important, she was also not spayed and would go into heat regularly. When a cat is in heat, they are very disruptive, restless and noisy, and their changing behaviors can be very stressful. This cat was keeping her up all night. The woman wasn’t sure what to do. She couldn’t get rid of her late daughter’s cat, but she couldn’t afford to get the beloved cat spayed. Through The Cat Connection’s CatNAPS program, we were able to provide her with the funds needed to get her adored cat spayed.    

The cat was able to stay with her loving owner. They’re both still together, happy and healthy. We are so grateful to be able to facilitate happy endings with caring families.

What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?

I’m most proud of the fact that we have gotten the feral cat population in Waltham, MA, reduced by 70% since 2008. This is quite an achievement for a happy and healthy cat population.

What do you want people to know about The Cat Connection?

We help people by helping their pets. I want the public to know that The Cat Connection serves a fundamental, essential purpose in the community. We view ourselves as a vital community pillar and rely on donors and volunteers 100% to make that happen. The whole organization (with the exception of one employee, the shelter director) is volunteer-based.

How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Star Market GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program?

The funds from the Star Market GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program go towards veterinary expenses. Since the pandemic hit, veterinary care has been complicated to get; there’s a shortage of providers. The cost of animal care has also exploded. And we take in a lot of cats that may need complicated medical care. For example, we had a cat with a congenital brain malformation that may need costly surgery. (He was recently adopted!) We also had a kitten who had surgery to amputate his clubbed foot. So that’s been one of our biggest challenges, getting vet appointments and paying for vet appointments. The Star Market GIVE BACK Reusable Bag Program helps pay for these costly appointments

Is there anything you’d like to add?

The Cat Connection has a shelter in Brighton, MA. It’s been open for a year and is still very new. We would love for people to check us out and schedule a tour of the shelter to see what we do and how they can get involved. If people are interested, they can also reach us through our website at

Anne Thessen served as President of The Cat Connection from 2016-2022.

Published February, 2023.