WILLIAMSBURG — Nicole Lorah and Jacob McCormick were working as part of the entertainment staff at Kings Dominion when they realized there was a feral cat problem, and while the couple no longer work at the park, their desire to rehabilitate and save the felines continues.
Lorah and McCormick are actively trying to control the feral cat population but are looking for help from the public as they attempt to become an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“My interests were in the welfare of the cats. These animals are not able to advocate for themselves,” Lorah said.
“We saw that the cats were in need of much more care than they were getting. After COVID closed the park for an extended period, any progress people had made previously slowed, and living conditions became much worse,” McCormick added.
As Lorah and McCormick have been going about their rescue, they have learned much about the importance of trap, neuter, return, or TNR. They have become strong advocates for TNR and also use the rescue to educate the public on what TNR really means.
TNR involves humanely trapping a cat, transporting the cat to a vet to be neutered or spayed, vaccinated, and ear-tipped, and then returned to its colony where it can live out its life.
Lorah and McCormick monitor each cat they take in to judge how successful a return to the colony would be. For the ferals that may not do well in the wild due to an illness or injury, they try to rehabilitate them and help them become indoor cats that can be adopted out.
“We recognize that most organizations would see any effort to socialize feral cats as futile or even unethical. We get it, we just don’t totally 100% agree — or disagree — if that makes sense. For example, this mama cat, who we call Silver, we’ll evaluate the situation, weigh the pros and cons, try to get a read on her temperament and personality, see if she tests positive for anything, and then make a decision from there. Our decisions regarding releasing or socializing are all tailored to each individual cat’s situation and needs, so definitely a case-by-case sort of deal,” Lorah said.
Each KD Kitty is fully vetted and up to date on vaccines. The rescue also uses the foster-to-adopt method to ensure that both the cat and possible owner are the right fit for each other.
The first step in KD Kitties’ official journey is becoming a nonprofit, and the couple has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the application process and filing fees with the state and IRS.
“We are so excited to take our small initiative to the next level, but we need help to do so. The money raised from this campaign will go directly to paying retainer fees and filing fees with the state of Virginia and the IRS. The whole process is expected to take about four months, so the sooner we can start, the sooner ‘KD Kitties Rescue and Sanctuary’ becomes a real, fully operational, nonprofit,” their GoFundMe page says.
Driving from Williamsburg to Kings Dominion many times a month, Lorah and McCormick continue to work with the cat colony. The two remain in constant contact with their eyes and ears at the park.
“We’re grateful to have help from people still working at that park, and we check in with them often. They alert us when a cat is sick or injured so that we can trap the cat and take it to the vet. This happened recently with a cat who had lost one of her front teeth. We were able to trap her the next day, get her to the vet, and then release her back to her home at the park within the week. Without the people who feed and care for these cats daily, we’d never be able to do what we do. They are our eyes, and we are very grateful to them for their efforts. Our main goal in starting KD Kitties was to try and unite everyone’s efforts in order to create the greatest amount of positive change for the cats, and I’d like to believe we’ve done just that,” Lorah said.
As both are first-timers at rescue, they know they have a lot to learn.
“We also recognize we’re still new to cat rescue and TNR, and we are constantly trying to learn and grow our knowledge and we are open to changing how we do things accordingly as we gain further insight and experience into the world of cat rescuing,” Lorah said.