SAINT ALBANS, Maine — Having as many as 100 cats in your care sounds overwhelming, but an organization in St. Albans has it down to a science.
Spirits Place opened in 2016, but owner Lee Palmer, has been caring for cats for more than 40 years. The former chicken barn houses feral and community cats, as well as shelters homeless, abandoned or abused cats in preparation for adoption. According to Palmer, spay and neuter isn't enough. She believes that a town's cat population problem starts out as a people problem.
"It's a 'Band-Aid' to a bigger problem," Palmer said. "Yes, it's important and more power to all the groups that do it, but I've found at this point of the journey if we're not educating, empowering and elevating to take responsibility there's no point."
Palmer has a conversation with every person who brings a cat to Spirits Place. If she and other volunteers are going to put in the work to care for the cats, she wants to make sure people do the work at home to avoid another drop off.
"Here at Spirits Place, we like to help people who want to help themselves," Palmer said. "We are not a free ride to dump your problem on. One of our main questions is, 'what are you going to do to solve your own problem?'"
Each cat costs around $125 to care for and there are currently around 100 cats in Palmer's care. If a cat is adoptable, the goal is to find them the perfect forever home.
"At the end of the day you say did what I do today make a difference and the cats are a vehicle to empower people. That's what I get out of it," Palmer said.
Spirits Place is getting ready to kick off its summer camp program where kids help volunteer to take care of the cats. Palmer has found that community outreach, like a summer camp, helps to reduce over population of cats through education.