April 25, 2023
Cat lovers on the lookout for ways to help homeless animals can do so while perusing a cozy thrift shop that opened this month in Montgomery County. Yes, there are cats and kittens there. And yes, you can fall in love with them.
Feline Frenzy Thrift Shop & Adopt has taken over the space of a former pharmacy at 107 S. Main Street in North Wales. The nonprofit, which offers cat adoptions and takes in surrendered animals, accepts donations of gently worn clothing and other items that make for good thrifting — neat little framed paintings, trinkets, jewelry, candles and the gifts you feel guilty for never opening.
The shop is run by Maura Shuttleworth, who founded Feline Frenzy Cat Rescue in Perkiomenville last August.
"I was working for another rescue and they had ridiculous surrender fees," Shuttleworth said. "Like, even if you found a feral cat and you just wanted to be a good person and turn it in, it was $1,500."
When a dying man's family was looking for a new home for his cat, Shuttleworth couldn't stomach the idea of making a grieving family cover that cost. She started taking cats in on the side to help people who couldn't afford the surrender fees.
Eventually, the cats' independent streaks rubbed off on Shuttleworth and she quit the job to start her own rescue.
The Perkiomenville property, where Shuttleworth lives with her boyfriend, has a climate-controlled barn where the cats can live comfortably on two acres. Others are sheltered in the home the couple rents there.
But during the rescue's first few months, Shuttleworth found that the shelter was a bit out of the way for people who wanted to surrender or adopt cats. It was also difficult to foster close interactions between the cats and visitors, who are making important decisions about whether to take them home.
Space aside, it became painfully obvious why running a cat rescue is so hard.
"One cat can wipe you out," Shuttleworth said. "We took in a cat that needed to have his leg amputated and it was $2,500. I needed to think of a way to make more money, and I was like, well, I like thrift stores ..."
The space in North Wales operates as a call to action for the legions of obsessed cat people who need to channel their love into something positive for animals.
There is no set "surrender fee" for cats, but making the most generous possible donations goes hand-in-hand with giving up pets and supporting Feline Frenzy's care for the animals it accepts.
In the back of the new thrift store is a gated area where people can spend time with the cats. The minimum adoption donation for kittens is $145, which includes necessary vaccinations and getting the kitten fixed. The minimum for cats 1-5 years old is $90; for cats 6 and older, it's $45.
Since opening a few weeks ago, Shuttleworth has placed a number of cats in homes and gotten heaps of donations for the thrift shop, which has free coffee and a friendly, respectful etiquette around sharing time with the cats. The space in North Wales has made a big difference for bonding with the animals, compared to the barn.
"Here, they feel more comfortable and they're getting a lot more attention, so they're used to the interaction more," Shuttleworth said. "The cat's personality comes out and people can really get a feel for what kind of cat they are."
Shuttleworth is also running a schedule of events around the thrift store, including partnerships with yoga studios that will come to the shop for cat yoga on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Sometimes, she'll have food trucks out to partner on raising money for her mission. And she's running a summer camp for kids to learn about how to care for cats.
"There are people who are crazy about cats and they're very passionate about it," Shuttleworth said of the support she's gotten.
Feline Frenzy already has a full team of 35 volunteers. People interested in helping can keep an eye on the rescue's Facebook page for future updates and upcoming events, or just stop by to learn more.
"It's a very cute, walkable town," Shuttlesworth said of the location.
Donations for the thrift store can be made in a blue bin in the back of the property, where there's a small parking lot. Upholstered furniture is not accepted, but most other items that bring quality to the shop are welcome. A case by the register includes a mix of fine and costume jewelry. Items sold in the store are reasonably priced in order to keep the focus on helping cats, she said. Many customers choose to donate the change from their purchases.
On the cat side of things, Feline Frenzy's website has an adoption application form that can be filled out by people who want to claim a cat. Anyone surrendering cats must call Feline Frenzy in advance to arrange drop-off appointments.
"Don't just show up with five cats. Contact me. Make an appointment. Give me the backstory," Shuttleworth said.
Feline Frenzy is open to accepting feral cats that are trapped, including those that are pregnant and need to be fixed. There's a limit to what shelters can handle, but Feline Frenzy aims to help the broader network of rescues in the area cope with the volume of cats.
Most importantly, Feline Frenzy wants to give its transient cats a loving atmosphere.
"No kill, no cages. They'll never be in cages," Shuttleworth said.
The thrift shop is open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the exception of a 5 p.m. closing time on Sundays. Cash is encouraged, but cards and app payments are accepted. Psst-pssts are mandatory.