WILLIAMSBURG — Catherine Lanning wasn’t always a cat person. It was only after working with Heritage Humane Society that her eyes were opened to the feline world.
After working with the cat population at the shelter for years, Lanning eventually started her own rescue.
Boots, the cat who started it all, was surrendered to a local shelter after the owners couldn’t care for him any longer. Lanning stepped in and brought him to her home. That’s when Purrhaps It’s Serendipity was born.
A local nonprofit, the rescue is run out of Lanning’s house. As a one-woman show, Lanning cares for over 30 cats and 17 litter boxes every day.
Many of the cats in her rescue are special needs. Some require special diets. She also has cats with diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer. According to Lanning, cats with these types of issues are often harder to adopt.
“It’s harder to adopt them out, but they are safe, loved, and cared for by me until I find them the perfect home. It’s a different kind of family that can deal with that special kind of animal because it can easily become a financial issue,” Lanning said.
Each day, Lanning wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to care for the cats in her home. After feeding, medicating, and scooping litter boxes, she heads to work as a licensed veterinary tech at Williamsburg Veterinary Clinic. When she returns home after work, it’s more feeding, medicating, and scooping litter boxes.
“There are so many cats out there that need help. I know that I can’t save them all, but I can do what I can to help and that’s so important to me. Having my own rescue is a dream,” Lanning said.
When potential adopters seek out the rescue, Lanning puts them through a vetting process. All her cats’ adoption fees are $130, but each cat is vaccinated, sent home with up-to-date bloodwork and an adoption notebook with answers to many cat parent questions.
Lanning stays in contact with many of her adoptive families. She said she always enjoys seeing photos of cats enjoying their new homes, but she also always wants to be a resource and advocate for those animals who were in her care.
“Listen to us when we tell you how to acclimate these animals so that it’s a good adjustment and you don’t have problems. But if you do have problems, reach out and talk to the rescue or your vet. We are there to help you,” Lanning says.
With a rescue of her size, she’s often in need of donations to keep it running as efficiently as it can. Monetary donations are helpful, but Lanning also gladly accepts blankets, towels, food, toys, and litter.
According to Lanning, adopting an animal for a family should take lots of research, patience, and planning. Following that, however, the goal is not to give up on the animal once it’s in a new home.
“It’s just like taking a foster child in. New animals don’t know you, they have to get used to things, it can take months for a cat to become comfortable depending on where it is in its life. You have to have so much patience because the reward of being loved by an animal is one of the best gifts in the world,” Lanning said.
While the rescue adopts out many of its felines, Lanning also uses her charity as a sanctuary for cats. Many of the cats in her care are feral or unsocialized. Those cats have a place to call home throughout their lives with Purrhaps It’s Serendipity.
Lanning wants to find all her cats homes, but until then, she is happy to be taking care of them.
“I always say that any cat is adoptable to the right person and the right situation. If someone came to me and said ‘I really love this cat and I know that I want it for life’ I would love for them to have their own human and own place. But the bottom line is the fit has to be right for both the human and the animal,” Lanning says.
To learn more about Purrhaps It’s Serendipity, see all the adoptable cats, and make a donation, visit purrhapsrescue.com.