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People Power: Out of the Trash Can, Into the Clinic

One dumpster-diving cat inspired Kandi Habeb to help thousands

The human population of Parkersburg, W.Va., has declined by nearly 5 percent in the last decade, partially because of plant shutdowns and other economic pressures. The community cat population has gone down at the same time, mostly because of Kandi Habeb.

  • Claudia is one of more than 2,250 cats Kandi Habeb’s feral cat group has helped so far, offering services from trap loads and caretaker education to spay/neuter. Ed Bays

Habeb, a retired office manager, and her husband were leaving a restaurant in the winter of 2004 when she spotted a cat jumping out of the dumpster carrying a chicken bone. “So, as my husband puts it, I ran home, got several cans of cat food, and back I went,” says Habeb. The next day she returned to feed the cat and found there were four kittens, too. “I knew there were feral cats,” Habeb says, “but I didn’t think we had that many around here. I was just appalled.”

Six months after her dumpster encounter, Habeb founded West Virginia’s first full-service trap-neuter-return service, the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program. Since then, the group has helped 2,253 cats, providing services from trap loans and caretaker education to spay/neuter.

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