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© The
Patricia H Ladew
Foundation, 2004

Remembering Pat Ladew, a Mom for all Cats


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REMEMBERING PAT LADEW, A MOM FOR ALL CATSpat.jpg

Now that our renovations are nearly complete, we would like to take this time to remember our founder, Pat Ladew, who made this all possible.

Board member, Elliot Hoffman remembers, "Patricia Happie Ladew was a brilliantly creative painter, sculptor and writer who never met an animal she didn't love. Wherever Pat chose to live and work throughout her life, she managed to surround herself with her adored cats and dogs. For a while even an amazingly affectionate Ocelot named Max was one of Pat's best loved housemates. Her real favorites, however, the ones for whom she always kept a special place in her bottomless heart, were the strays. It was for them that she formed and funded 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.

After her death in 2002 the foundation was formally renamed, "The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Inc." Now, well into its fourth decade, The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Inc., true to Pat's mission, continues to provide Long Island's (and beyond) ownerless cats with love, medical care and housing, and is nearly finished with the installation of a sterilization facility and recovery room."

How it all began . . .

In the summer of 1973, about two dozen cats were left to starve on West Main Street, Oyster Bay, when the owner of a house moved abandoning the cats which had been living outdoors amid piles of debris and a derelict car for years. Left to fend for themselves, the cats were roaming the streets and even worse, reproducing. Kittens were found trapped and injured when motorists started up their cars, the animals having climbed in the engines to keep warm. Pat Ladew heard of the situation and began to come to the aid of the cats. On her first visit she discovered four newborn kittens and dubbed them Eenie, Meenie, Minie and Moe and took them home. They were apparently orphaned.* Pat saw to it that they were spayed and/or neutered, had all their shots and above all, a home.

But, when the soft pitter patter of feline feet grew to 164 (41 cats in all) Pat knew she just couldn't take any more in, but people kept leaving them on her doorstep.** At the risk of becoming "Ester the Cat Lady," (as Pat would say) Pat founded the Oyster Bay Cat House. Pat bought the house in 1975 and renovated it with the main objective being shelter for stray cats, a place where cats could be fixed and hopefully adopted. The cats were cared for by Jesse Sloan & Marge Norris and eventually, Kathy Ledesky who lived in the house. Local veterinarians donated their time assisting the house in any way that they could and the rest would run on donations from a sympathetic public and some of Pat's own money.

Pat left us in 2002 but trusted a few friends with her wishes. The house has been under a much needed renovation and has installed a spay/neuter suite to promoted TNR efforts with the Foundation offering low cost spay/neuter/vaccines for unowned feral/stray cats with the Foundation subsidizing the rest of the normal cost for these surgeries. Lynn Manno and JoAnn Studley see to the day to day care of the cats and myself and our Licensed Veterinary Technician, Andrea Castro take care of the medical end of things.

Our adoption program has grown with the advent of Petfinders and we now also have a program for senior citizens where they can adopt an older cat at a reduced rate and rest assured in the comfort that the Foundation will take the cat back if they have to undergo an extended stay in the hospital or nursing home. Many of our cats still cannot be adopted for one reason or another and those find love and any medical attention at the house through the help of our Sponsorship Program.

The Foundation is a member of The Mayor's Alliance of New York City and The Feral Cat Counsel, both of which were formed with the goal of working together with other non-profit rescue groups so that someday, there will be a home for every pet and there will be no more animals euthanized for lack of a home. Pat was an incredibly intuitive person and I'm sure I'll not meet anyone like her again. 30 years ago she could have only dreamed that there would be a coalition of groups working to achieve a goal that once seemed impossible to attain. I know today she's smiling down on us and, knowing Pat, probably orchestrating the whole thing!

Susan Whittred, DVM
Director of Veterinary Medicine
The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Inc.

*Taken from The Oyster Bay Guardian, Friday, July 20, 1973
**The Leader, January 23, 1975