Many people have asked us how The Tenth Life was started. We, Jerry and Marsha, started The Tenth Life in November 1984. We had volunteered with another organization for about five years when we saw the need to start a no-kill cat facility in this area. We dreamed of an organization with a full-time veterinarian and health care facility to provide all of the medical needs for the cats in-house. We looked for land to purchase to build a facility,but realized that it was too late in the year to be able to build a new building. We began looking for old farmhouses to refurbish, but the amount of work needed to bring the houses up to the level we required was too involved. When we found the current location advertised in the newspaper, we fell in love with the property while traveling up the driveway. The setting was beautiful. The brick ranch house was located on seven acres of land that would provide room for expansion if we needed to do so in the future. As we looked through the house, the owner was trying to tell us about the property, but we were too busy deciding how many cats could live in each room! We knew when we left that this was the home for The Tenth Life. We went back again to look at the house a few days later so we could determine the amount to offer for the property and the contingencies we wanted to address in the offer. Our offer was accepted and The Tenth Life was born.
We took possession of the property in November 1984 and began the work of repainting all of the walls with oil-based paint which the veterinarians told us would be easier to clean and healthier for the cats. We also divided the basement into rooms with wooden studs and chicken wire so the cats could see out of their rooms and into the rest of the basement. We bought new furniture and carpeting from a wholesaler and furnished each room as it would have been in a regular house. The preparation was finished the week after Thanksgiving, and we began moving cats into their new home. When we started we had thirty cats that we had housed in a separate building on our property at home and fifty-one cats that we had been boarding at our veterinarian’s office. The eighty-one cats were moved in with only seven cats to a room. They all looked so happy when they were settled into their rooms.
We soon set out to establish suppliers for the every day requirements: food, litter, cages, litter boxes, food and water bowls, etc. These suppliers have changed over the years, but the cats (and dogs) are still provided with the best food we can provide (Hills Science Diet). Further, we use premium cat litters to give the cats the best we can and to minimize the harm to the rest of the facility from litter dust. We learned over the years that litter dust kills furnaces and air-conditioners when you have the number of cats and litter boxes we need for the comfort of the cats.
After that, with the help of a local veterinarian, we were able to establish a relationship with a wholesale supplier of medicines and high-end expendables for the cats. Having the proper medicines available at all times is essential when housing large numbers of cats and kittens. If you detect and treat a malady early, it prevents the spread of that disease to the other occupants of the facility. All of the veterinarians we have used over the years have always assured that we have the proper medicines available in the quantities we need to make sure that diseases would not spread if treated in a timely manner.
We then incorporated in the State of Ohio as The Tenth Life, Incorporated (dba The Tenth Life) and soon after received our tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. This allowed us to accept charitable donations which provide a tax benefit to the donor. It also allowed us to purchase supplies and equipment for the cats without having to pay sales tax. It is amazing how much that adds up to over a full year. That way, the cats have even more money to be spent on them for their care and welfare.
From that humble beginning, we have grown to where we are today. The year 1998 saw the payoff of the mortgage. In 1999, we completed our health care facility and hired Dr. Jennie as our veterinarian. Our dream had finally been realized. The health care facility is a totally operational facility with surgery, x-ray, and blood-work capability, with the advanced technology of a surgical laser and an ultrasound. With the completion of this facility, the cats never again needed to leave The Tenth Life, and often their rooms, for medical care. There was an open house for the health care facility in December 1999, and we began using the facility in January 2000 with Dr. Jennie working part time with us. In July 2001, Dr. Jennie became full-time with The Tenth Life. In June 2002 the addition of a new building to house cats was begun. The building fund drive raised about $85,000 of the construction cost, which was slightly over $100,000. The remainder had to be paid from operating funds. The fall of 2002 brought the completion of the new building with eleven rooms to house the cats that had been living in the basement. Each room has ceramic floors, a skylight, from two to four large windows, and resin furniture with plenty of soft bedding for their comfort. In October the cats were moved into the eleven rooms and out of the basement. The new building offered bright, well ventilated rooms where the cats seemed so happy.
In September 2004, we were approached by an elderly gentleman who needed a home for his sixty (really seventy-eight) cats, as he could no longer properly care for them. He offered to fund much of the cost of a new building if we would care for his cats for the rest of their lives. With his contribution and another from a man who had thirty cats that he needed a home for, we decided to build another new building. Construction started immediately and was finished by December. The cats from these two men and those who had been living in the original house were moved into their new surroundings in January 2005. This new building, with twelve rooms, is much like the first one with large windows, skylights, ceramic tile on the floors and walls and resin furniture with bedding for the comfort of the cats. Most of the cost of this building was provided by these two men and donations to the building fund. The remainder was paid from the operating funds.
After that building was completed, we immediately began renovating the house for the feline leukemia and feline AIDS positive cats. We painted walls, installed new vinyl flooring, fluorescent lighting, doors, and new woodwork. The leukemia cats were moved into the huge living room, and the feline AIDS cats were given two large bedrooms with a door between them. They were thrilled with their new rooms and large windows. In March of 2005, we had an open house to allow visitors to view the new building and the renovated house.
All the buildings have new windows, which allow for excellent ventilation (fresh air changes). Additionally, all buildings have electric heat and central air-conditioning.
Next, we remodeled the dogs’ area with paneling, a drop ceiling, and built a half wall to form an entrance way through the breezeway for visitors. At the same time the dogs’ outside play area was more than tripled in size. This completed all of the construction and remodeling of The Tenth Life facility. All of the buildings are connected and have intercoms to make communication from one building to another possible.
Today the facility houses over five hundred cats in four buildings. There are also three dogs in residence. Jerry and Marsha have established a trust that will allow the continuation of The Tenth Life even after they are gone. In twenty-six years, The Tenth Life has grown from a two-person operation to an organization with over sixty volunteers to provide all care (except medical) for the over 450 cats and three dogs, a full-time veterinarian, a fully equipped health care facility, and four buildings to house cats in a home environment until they are adopted. Thousands of cats have found loving homes as a result of coming to The Tenth Life for shelter, love, medical attention, and a tenth life. Thank you for making all of this possible and allowing us to realize our dream of helping stray, homeless, or unwanted cats. The hard work of many volunteers and your donations has made all of this possible. Your continued support will allow us to help even more cats find the home of their dreams and help reduce the over-population problem.