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The Teal Cat Project

By Julia Williams

As a cat lover, I have my fair share of kitty figurines on display in my home and garden. Mine are adorable or I wouldn’t keep them. However, there have been times I’ve spied one in a thrift shop and thought, What were they thinking when they made this ugly thing? It never occurred to me that the tacky ceramic figurines I saw could actually be transformed into a cool-looking cat, and that they could then be sold to kitty lovers like me to help cat rescue groups all across the United States. Thankfully, someone else did have the ability to envision a way to not only give those outdated tchotchkes a much needed makeover, but to use the funds raised to support various cat charities in America. That someone is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who founded The Teal Cat Project a few years ago.

The Teal Cat Project takes vintage ceramic kitty statues, paints them a beautiful teal color and gives each “newly born” cat a numbered tag for authenticity. The kitties are then ready for adoption by cat lovers, who scoop them up so fast that each “litter” (between 100 to 150 cats) is sold out in just a few days! The teal cats come in three sizes and sell for $25 to $35. The Teal Cat Project also recently started selling T-shirts.

The Teal Cat Project is a win-win for cat lovers and cat rescue groups alike. Cat lovers get a unique collectible, and cat rescue groups get help with their Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs aimed at controlling feral cat population growth. Each Teal Cat campaign supports a different TNR group in a new city, so the money raised can help feral kitties all across America.  The Teal Cat Project is also planning to branch out to other animals (think bunny and doggie tchotchkes!) who will each have their own special color and cause.

I caught up with The Teal Cat Project’s founder recently, to learn a little more about this unique charity. (If you want to get one of the kitties from the next litter, follow them on Facebook!).

How and why did you decide on the color teal for the cat makeovers?

Isa Chandra Moskowitz: I just liked the color and it felt like something that would look great in homes. As it turns out, teal is also the color of National Feral Cat Day, so it worked out well.

How many litters have there been so far? 

There have been five, supporting 5 different cities: NYC, Bethseda MD, San Francisco, Portland OR and Omaha NE.

Each litter has sold out in a matter of a few days. Does that surprise you?

It surprised me at first! I thought it would take a month or so to sell out. But it was an immediate success.

How long does it take to paint a litter? 

It takes 5 days to paint. The first two days are priming, and then painting. And finally, the kitties need touch ups.

Do you wait until you’ve collected them all, or paint in stages?

Generally we wait until there are enough for a litter. After that we number and tag the kitties and get them ready for shipping.

Are you looking for a specific type of cat figurines?

Yes, we have a few requirements which can be found on our website. Basically, we want to make sure these are ceramic kitties (not resin, wood, plastic or glass) that are vintage but aren't worth any money. Please don’t visit your local 99 cents store to get a load of cats. Part of the project is to use the kitties that are already out there in the world, not to create more.

What is your favorite memory since starting the Teal Cat Project?

There have been so many rewarding moments. I suppose if I had to pick one, it's when The San Francisco SPCA sent us photos of the traps that Teal Cat funded. It's great to see the real results of our work! (You can read about it here: “Your Teal Cat Dollars at Work”).

What do you hope for the future of the Teal Cat Project?  

I just hope that we can keep going and raising money. I know that someday we'll have to come up with other ways to raise money, and I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. But for now, we'll keep doing what we're doing because it seems to be working.

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