The Godfather of the “Meowfia”
Those of you who follow @catconworldwide know we love stories that illustrate how #realmenlovecats! One of our absolute faves is Jesse Woodard, proud cat dad to the eight member Meowfia cat family. Here he is at CatCon 2018:
How did your life as a cat dad start?
One day, I spotted four kittens and an adult pair outside my apartment under cars on a busy street in Long Beach, CA. I found homes for two of the kittens, and I decided to keep the other two. Soon after, I discovered the healing power of cats. From this point on, my life changed forever. The power of my cats’ love and affection have truly mended my soul, and I developed an overwhelming love for cats.
The Meowfia! Clockwise from top left: Cleopatra, Jigsaw, Ursula, GuWop, King, Zelda, Puzzle, Prince
That was just the beginning of your cat family — how did it grow to become The Meowfia?
Flash forward to 2014, I was faced with a difficult time finding a job after college. During a visit to a local pet store, I spotted a pair of feral kittens with ear tips, who were both rescued from Long Beach. I was immediately drawn to them and I decided to adopt them (GuWop and Ursula). Initially it was a struggle because they were not socialized, and it was clear they spent their first few months in a stressful environment. However, it didn’t take long for them to adjust and bond with my other two cats.
Zelda, Prince, King & Puzzle as kittens
My love for cats continued, and my family members would often rely on me to help them with rescued kittens. One day in 2016, a family member rescued a mother and four kittens from a barn at a horse racetrack that was infested with coyotes. I found a home for the mom, but I decided to keep the kittens (King, Zelda, Puzzle and Prince) because I absolutely fell in the love with them. They also developed such a wonderful bond with my other four cats. My cat family expanded to a total of 8 cats and that is why I decided to call my cats The Meowfia.
We heard that just because your home is full, that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped helping other cats in need. Can you tell us a little about that?
My rescue/TNR efforts began about four years ago. My girlfriend’s family owns a horse boarding business in Gardena, CA that houses over 120 horses. One day, we discovered a Siamese cat and her kittens hiding in a parking lot adjacent to the stables. At the time, I was not experienced in trapping/catching feral cats, and even with help of our family members, we were unable to catch them. Around the same time, we discovered a feral black cat hanging around the stables. Soon after, we began seeing black and white Siamese kittens roaming the stables. This was a huge concern because coyotes crawled the property at night, and many of the chickens were disappearing, so we had to act fast and catch them. It took a few days, but we managed to trap and find homes for each one of them.
Four months later, we trapped a second batch of kittens who looked identical to the first ones. We had no idea what to do with them because we adopted the previous batch of kittens to our friends and family members. One day while researching online, we discovered the Community Foster Program, which is administered by an all-volunteer organization called Kitten Rescue (Los Angeles). Kitten Rescue gives volunteers access to their partner veterinarians, and low/no cost medications, and lets volunteers use their adoption resources to find homes for cats and kittens that are found. Before they are put up for adoption, volunteers must get them spayed/neutered, tested for FeLV and FIV, dewormed, receive a flea treatment, and microchipped. Once they are ready for adoption, Kitten Rescue puts the pictures and bios of them on their website, and other adoption websites. We also discovered a Spay & Neuter Assistance Program through the Peter Zippi Memorial Fund, which provides assistance for spaying or neutering domestic and feral cats, dogs, and other animals. With the help of the two programs, we were able to find homes for all of the kittens in just a short period of time.
The female Siamese cat continued to have kittens on the property, and it seemed as if she was having a new litter every 4-6 months. This was really becoming a nightmare for us, but we continued to find homes for every single kitten we could catch. In late 2018, we were finally able to trap the feral male black cat (he was 17lbs!), and in early January 2019, we finally trapped the female Siamese cat. We TNR’d both of them, but we still have a lot of work to do because it turned out the female cat was pregnant! In total, we trapped and found wonderful homes for over 20 cats and kittens on the property, including three cats who were adopted to my extended family!
We first met you at CatCon– how many times have you been, and what are some of your favorite things about CatCon?
I went to CatCon in 2017 and 2018 with one of my favorite clients, Clarissa Cole. Clarissa is a proud mommy to six fuzzy felines! One of her lovely cats, Bea, is the Mother to my four youngest cats (King, Zelda, Puzzle, and Prince). Back in 2016, I fostered Bae and her four kittens who were all rescued from a local Horse Racetrack. I adopted the kittens and made them part of the Meowfia, but I needed to find a home for Bae, so I showed Clarissa a picture during one of my classes. The picture melted her heart, and Clarissa adopted her the next day!
I enjoy everything about CatCon; It truly is a cat lover’s dream! I really enjoy meeting people from the cat community, and because everyone is so welcoming. One of my favorite things to do is visit the CatCon Adoption Village because it really warms my heart and makes me smile to see cats find their forever home. I also enjoy visiting the booths because I love discovering new and cool cat products created by other cat enthusiasts. I can’t wait for this year’s CatCon!
Jigsaw, Cleopatra, GuWop & Ursula
What would you say to a cat dude who is a little shy about sharing his love of cats with the world?
I would tell him that he should just be himself and to fully express his love of cats with the world, even if it’s out of his comfort zone. The negative stigmas about cat owners are definitely fading away. Cat ownership by men is on the rise, and there are a ton of other cat dudes who also share the same passion and love of cats. Ownership is such a rewarding experience, and by embracing your love of cats, you can help save cats’ lives by encouraging others to find their own feline friend!
Will we see you at CatCon this year?
Absolutely! I am looking forward to attending CatCon on June 29 & 30, 2019 at the Pasadena Convention Center!
Thanks for that shoutout, Jesse!