At Work in the Cathouse

Mark Tomsuden cuddles a friendly grey and black striped cat up for adoption on the outside patio section of Tigger’s Playhouse.

Mark Tomsuden cuddles a friendly grey and black striped cat up for adoption on the outside patio section of Tigger’s Playhouse.

WINNSBORO (Nov. 11, 2016) – When retiree Mark Tomsuden relocated to Winnsboro from chilly Vermont last January, he was itching to find meaningful volunteer work in the community. Driving around town, he noticed the Fairfield County Animal Adoption Center. As a longtime animal advocate and self-described jack of all trades, Tomsuden thought he might be a good fit for the Center.

“I just stopped in and asked if they needed volunteers. They said, ‘Sure!’ I signed up and showed up the next day,” Tomsuden said. “Somebody was already (volunteering with) the dogs, so I said ‘All right, I can go do the cats.’ They showed me what to do, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

eyes-webWhat Tomsuden ‘does’ is the dirty work in the Center’s Cat House, a stand-alone cottage called Tigger’s Playhouse that provides a unique indoor-outdoor environment for the cats. Inside, the walls are lined with roomy cages for the smallest kittens and adult cats that are recovering from surgery. Outside, a screened-in porch with giant food bowls and multi-leveled platforms allows the older cats to enjoy the fresh air and play to their heart’s content.

Tomsuden spends weekday mornings chasing meowing balls of fur and cleaning out cages. When The Voice visited Tomsuden at the Cat House, he was diligently cleaning litter boxes and trying to catch an elusive grey kitten who liked to hide under the cage platforms.

kittens-web“I go in and clean their cages and litter boxes every day,” Tomsuden explained. “Then I put everything back in the cage – a nice towel, and then put their food and water on that and put their clean litter box back in. And then I put the kitten back in and go on to the next cage.”

The Cat House currently houses about ten adult cats and fifteen kittens in need of good homes, Administrative Assistant for the Adoption Center Angie Glisson told The Voice. When asked if he has a favorite cat at the Center, Tomsuden laughed and said he likes them all, that he couldn’t pick just one.

“Unfortunately, we adopt more dogs than cats and kittens at the Center,” Glisson said.

Tomsuden’s job is more than housecleaning. He also does what he can to improve the cats’ and kittens’ desirability for adoption.

tabby-web“I try to socialize with all of them,” Tomsuden said. “The kittens are strays, or somebody brought them in and found them someplace, so they’re kind of skittish and scared. I try to pick them up and pet them and get them used to having some human contact, so if someone does adopt them they aren’t going to take off on them.”

Tomsuden said he has always had a fondness for animals and previously worked as a dairy farmer and raised livestock. Growing up, he said, he had both cats and dogs running around his home. As a dairy farmer, he had as many farm cats as he had cows to milk.

“It gives me a feeling of being needed, of satisfaction that I’m doing something with myself,” Tomsuden said. “I think that’s my favorite part. I take pride in whatever work I do, so I like to keep [the Cat House] as spotless and healthy as I can,” he said as he scratched an all-white cat behind its ears.

The Center is very lucky to have someone like Tomsuden who comes in and is eager to get started, Glisson said. “I see him every day. He’s ready to help with whatever we need doing [in the Cat House].”

black-and-white-webWhile the Center is funded through the Fairfield County government, Glisson said donations of supplies such cat and dog collars of all sizes, blue Dawn dish detergent and cat and dog food – both dry and wet – are always needed and appreciated. Anyone wishing to volunteer their time to work with the animals or to adopt a dog or cat can call 803-815-0805. The Center also posts pictures and updates on of their animals at facebook.com/FCAAC.