"Shhhh! These ferals will be hard to catch if we make too much noise," whispers House of Mews founder Elaine Harvey. She's inside a room-sized cage with five white and grey-striped full-grown cats.
Harvey quietly reaches for one kitty, but he hisses and bats at her with an outstretched paw, claws at the ready. She waits a moment for the cat to calm down and then tries again. But the cat latches onto the cage, shimmying quickly under a shelf and out of Harvey's reach. The other cats react the same way, creating a fluffy cat tornado as they dart in circles.
Harvey's trying to catch the ferals and the more domesticated kitties inside the House of Mews' old building at 944 South Cooper, so they can be moved across the street to their new home inside the former Dylan Blue store.
After Harvey's previous landlords, Laurence Bloch and James Raspberry, told her they had other plans for her space, she was forced to find a new home for her 11-year-old cat-rescue business. The former House of Mews building at the corner of Cooper and Young, along with the vacated junk/antique shop next door, will be transformed into new retail space: Burke's Book Store.
"Revid Management said they had the perfect spot across the street. It was only about 1,000 square feet, and the back room was so small," says Harvey. "But everything else was either too expensive or it was in a place where we wouldn't be seen."
The original space was about 2,800 square feet, so Harvey was forced to adopt out as many cats as possible. In mid-January, the House of Mews had about 175 cats. At the time of the move last week, there were 68 left. "I won't deal with any more than that," says Harvey. "I don't want people to be inundated with cats."
On February 24th, about 25 volunteers showed up to help Harvey move cages and other furnishings out of the old store. Then, on March 1st, volunteers Kelly Chumley and Amanda Smith assisted Harvey in loading cats into carriers and taking them, three at a time, across the street.
Catching some of them wasn't easy. Harvey took to tossing towels over some of the cats, then scooping them up gently and loading them into crates. Chumley seemed to have a special talent for coaxing ferals. "She's like the Cat Whisperer," says Smith, as she watches Chumley easily catching the feral that gave Harvey such a hard time.