(Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Rescuing Cats, Helping People

If you’re a cat, The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation in Oyster Bay is one of the best places you could possibly be.
The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation house is a sanctuary for homeless cats that are primarily rescued from shelters and animal control. The house features outdoor and enclosed runs and patios and a home-like atmosphere where the cats live uncaged (unless illness necessitates temporary caging.)
Much of the house’s furniture is designed by Square Paws, which specializes in made-to-order cat towers. The vision of the house is to serve as a living museum, and to look as if the house was owned and occupied by solely the cats themselves.

Resident cats hang out inside the house’s kitchen, designed by Square Paws.
(Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Around the house you’ll also find paintings by artist Amy Payne dedicated to feline residents throughout the years.
There is a caretaker who lives on the premises and an on-site veterinarian checks each cat on a regular basis.
All of the cats are vaccinated, tested, sterilized and microchipped. And new cats are quarantined for 30 days before being introduced to the resident cats.
Patricia Happie Ladew was a painter, sculptor and writer who loved animals. And because she had a heart for the strays, she formed the “Oyster Bay Cat Foundation, Inc.” in 1975, a non-profit organization expressly created to address the problem of homeless cats on Long Island.
“For the next 27 years, Pat devoted a generous amount of her time, creative energy and resources to the work of her foundation,” the foundation’s website stated. “After her death in 2002, the foundation was formally renamed the ‘Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Inc.’”
Dr. Susan Whittred, a veterinarian who serves at the foundation’s executive director, said she had worked as a secretary for Ladew’s attorney, Elliot L. Hoffman back in the 1980s.
“He was allergic to cats,” Dr. Whittred said. “He said, there are two people who make my eyes water, you and Pat Ladew. I want you to meet.”

Resident cats, weather permitting and during the daytime, have access to the
enclosed cat patio, giving them plenty of opportunities to play and have fresh air.
(Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Ladew, at the time, had been looking for someone to leave her foundation to.
“It didn’t look like this at the time,” Dr. Whittred said. “We met and became friends, and that’s what she did. She left it in the will for me to take care of it.”
Today, the foundation is a happy place for Dr. Whittred and many others. All the volunteers, Dr.Whittred added, are extremely dedicated.
“They all love cats,” Dr. Whittred said of the volunteers. “I think almost all of them have adopted a cat from us. They just love the mission, and they love helping the cats. And they do this [stand at the] Oyster Bay Market once a month. They did a blanket workshop. They do all kinds of things.”
And while 80-plus cats are housed by the foundation, the volunteers and staff get to know each cat, which allows for a great matching process between adopters and adoptees.
Over the years, the foundation has grown “leaps and bounds.” Renovations and a new clinic has led to an increase in adoptions and comprehensive care for the feline residents, including through a program called “Have a Heart,” which provides echocardiograms for cats adopted with existing heart murmurs.
On June 24, the foundation held an event called “Senior Prom,” with a goal of uniting senior people and senior cats, as part of the Seniors for Seniors program. As part of the program, approved senior citizens who are 65 years or older who adopt a senior cat 8 years or older will have reasonable future medical expenses covered by the foundation. And there’s no risk, as the foundation will take the cat back at any time. The first “Senior Prom” was held in 2018.
The event featured a prom-like atmosphere, and seniors who adopt senior cats received a gift basket full of goodies. Adopters of cats of all ages received a gift bag with toys for their new cat. A black cat named Sammy was the prom king, and Noelle, who has a brown and white pattern, was the prom queen. She was adopted.
Both the cat and the person benefit from the adoption. The cat gets a forever home, and, according to a study from the American Animal Hospital Association, seniors with pets tend to have better physical health and mental well-being.

The “Senior Prom” was held on June 24.
(Photo courtesy the Patricia H. Ladew

“We get emails from [the adopters], phone calls from them telling us ‘thank you so much,’” Dr. Whittred said. “One of them told us that her doctor said the cat was really good for her. He noticed a big difference. It’s been really amazing, the companionship.”
The Seniors for Seniors program is funded in part by a donation from Jordan Salvit, who co-founded the cat toy and treat subscription box company called KitNipBox.
“We have always been partners with Ladew and after I sold the business, I wanted to give back to the community in a meaningful way,” Salvit said. “Senior cats are some of the first cats on the list to be euthanized because their medical expenses are so high or people are not comfortable adopting. [The Seniors for Seniors] is a program Susan had started, but she was afraid to push into it because of the unknown with the expenses.”
And with Salvit reflecting on his close relationship with his grandparents, as well as the benefits taking care of a pet can have on seniors, Salvit believed a donation towards the program was a “no-brainer.” Besides, cats are his favorite animal. He has three cats, all of which are adopted from the foundation.
“I made the donation about a year ago and the program has just been exploding,” Salvit said. “Susan’s done a really great job expanding the program… Every single time there’s another senior adopted, it’s amazing to watch the senior human and how excited they are to have a companion in their house.”
To inquire about cat adoptions, tours of the facility, donating or volunteering, visit

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