Cats, the famously popular musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, has the distinction of being the third-longest running show in Broadway history, spanning 19 years. If you travel 20 miles or so north from Broadway to Westwood, New Jersey you’ll find Lynn Cancro, owner of NJBIA member Caring About The Strays (C.A.T.S.), who has been working to find homes for abandoned, unwanted, neglected or abused companion animals since 1995 for a span of 20 years.
Lynn grew up in Jersey City above a bakery operated by her parents, who were both first generation immigrants from Germany and Prussia respectively. Due to Board of Health regulations, they were unable to have any pets. When she was old enough to move into the world on her own, she lived in an apartment complex and noticed a great number of pets were left behind by tenants. She started to care for a few of these cats but wanted to be able to help many more.
She decided to open a thrift store to raise funds to provide food, care and shelter to accommodate a much larger number of unwanted pets (mostly cats, but also dogs and occasionally other animals) and on March 29, 1995 she formally incorporated C.AT.S. as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Her efforts today are widespread and very, very successful. She works with the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital (FLAH) on an ongoing spay and neuter program (Trap-Neuter-Release) and when I say works, I mean it. For example, on April 21st of this year, with the support of her volunteers and the medical team at FLAH, they were able to alter 49 cats.
As her shop is mainly dedicated to administration and the sale of items donated to raise funds, the animals up for adoption are almost all with foster parents. She is a great believer in fostering pets and has an active roster of people serving in this capacity. Foster homes provide many benefits including reducing the amount of time an animal lives outside, unloved and unsafe; increasing adoptions by better preparing animals to become family members; and learning about the animal to provide the best possible home for them. C.A.T.S. covers all expenses for foster parents, including food, supplies, medical treatment and medicine.
When it comes time for adopting pets, C.A.T.S. is thorough in making sure those that adopt are not only able to provide the love and care needed, but more importantly, that they “match up” well with the pet they are going to adopt. This includes a visit to the foster parent, and, if there isn’t a natural bonding of the pet and the potential adopter, the adoption will not take place. This is a rare occurrence of course, but to Lynn giving each pet a loving future is always of paramount importance.
C.A.T.S. has more than 50 volunteers and a number of donors who help offset the cost of providing such care. It is expensive, so fundraising is always an important part of Lynn’s activities. She makes supporting the organization easy with so many options to do so. Beyond direct corporate support opportunities and specific fundraising events, individuals can lend their support by making a tax-deductible donation by check or using PayPal; donating and/or purchasing products donated to C.A.T.S. own “resale shop”; and purchasing products through a number of partner sites such as Amazonsmiles.com and iGive.com, for which a portion of the proceeds is donated when one designates C.A.T.S. as their charity of choice.
Lynn deserves recognition for what she’s accomplished over the past 20 years from taking in one stray cat from an apartment complex to the heights she has taken C.A.T.S. to today. While she will never be a Broadway star, she is a much brighter star to those who know her all across Northern New Jersey.
Caring About The Strays (C.A.T.S.) is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.