TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa nonprofit StreetCats is celebrating a significant anniversary this year.
The organization, celebrating 25 years, started in 1997 with one woman's love of cats.
"I would say I've always been a cat lady," says StreetCats President Kathy Balsiger.
"Too many cats and dogs, of course, have to be taken to the shelter and euthanized. So if we could help people with that problem and start a rescue group of forever homes for kitties, that's what our mission was."
The organization provides a safe place for cats ages eight months-to-8 years.
"It's for people that have to give up their cats for whatever reason, and also people who find cats on the street and can tell they're homeless," Balsiger says.
Feline Specialties Veterinary Hospital ensures the cats are healthy, and then they're taken here until they're adopted. The cats stay as long as it takes. None of the cats are euthanized.
StreetCats runs entirely off donations, including the money funding it and the workforce behind it.
"We've always been a volunteer organization. There's never been a paid person," Balsinger says.
Right now, 70 volunteers keep the nonprofit running — like the Geary family who is here so much, they have a nickname.
"The Tuesday family," says Jennifer Geary.
That's because they come every Tuesday and have for five years. They started volunteering as part of a 4H project. The assignment ended, but they haven't quit.
"Some cats come in and are not used to human contact. The more likely they are to be socialized, the more likely they are to be adopted, so we are happy to do that," Geary says.
The Geary family even adopted one of the StreetCats. The cat, named Beckham, is now part of the family.
"He's definitely made himself at home."
The StreetCats home is a 900-square-foot building. There's a Pet Boutique up front and several rooms for the cats to play, pounce and hide in the back freely.
StreetCats can hold up to 11 cats. All the cats you'll find here are adoptable except for Beamer — he's the shop cat. Medical problems keep him here. However, a wall of photos shows the many faces placed in forever homes this year alone.
"Usually, by the end of the year, this board is full and running over," says Balsiger.
StreetCats used to hold yearly fundraisers like My Furry Valentine, but that stopped when the pandemic began. Right now, the non-profit could use some help.
"It's just the people donating that's what kept us going," says Balsiger.
That includes the dedicated volunteers behind it, like Balsiger, whose pet project has turned into a true labor of love.
"As long as I can get around and everything's well, I will do this. It's a passion; that's what it is. It's a passion," says Balsiger.
StreetCats is located near 61st and Sheridan in Tulsa, behind Charlie's Chicken. For more on adopting, volunteering, or donating, click here.