Nashville Woman Gives Cats a Forever Home (Even If It's With Her)
ANTIOCH, TENNESEE —
Kim Dolan’s first feline rescue arrived at her door emaciated, its fur full of fleas and an abscess on its face.
She named him Mouse. She took him to the vet, got him healed and posted flyers in case he was lost. A neighbor claimed him; he went home, though she worried about his care.
“He comes back here every few months,” says Kim. “I think it’s because he wants to say ‘thank you, for loving me, when someone else wouldn’t.” Since then, Kim has helped many more cats at her home outside of Nashville in need of TLC.
Kim runs Angel Wings Pet Care for work, caring for people’s pets. She runs Angel Wings Cat Rescue on her own. Donations and adoption fees help her efforts. This year, she’s taken 11 cats in that were adopted out, and another six that haven’t left.
“That’s OK,” says Kim. “They will always have a home with me.” As of October, 13 kitties had full roam of the house (and the enclosed cat patio her dad built).
Sometimes she traps the cats, and sometimes people surrender them, or call her for help when they find one in peril. Sometimes cats wander up to the house, sensing safety at Kim’s.
Dolan also opens her home to overnight visitors through Airbnb. Forty percent of the nightly rate goes toward her rescue efforts, and guests can cozy up with the kitties.
Bella, who came to Kim when her elderly owner died, will sleep on the bed if you keep the guest bedroom door open. Stevie, who is blind, was rescued from a shelter because it was unlikely he would be adopted. He sticks to himself.
“He’s blind, but can do anything a cat can do,” says Kim. “If a fly comes in the house, he’s on it. It’s his super power. He’s a ninja.” Honeybee, and her equally orange baby, Cinammon, were going to be put outside in a box by the owner. The other cats in Honeybee’s litter have been adopted.
Spice was thrown out. Kim’s friend called her in a panic at night, when she found little eyes staring at her from a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant. Spice weighed the same as two sticks of butter when Kim took her in.
Marley, with his chipped ear, had been cut and burned before he was surrendered to a shelter. Marley lived with Kim a year before he let her pet him.
Now, she holds him like a baby and repeats the same assurance she has told him every day since he arrived: “I tell him, as long he’s here, no one will ever hurt him.”
Kim says the cats are soothing for her, and they are a lot like human beings.
“They each have their own personality,” she says, “and you have to earn their trust. You can’t control them or judge them or try to manipulate them.” Kim’s dream is to buy 5 acres outside Gatlinburg, Tenn., to build a huge sanctuary. For now, it’s cat haven at the Dolan house. She screens all potential adopters and follows the cats with their new families, who send photos. Thumper is an example of what she hopes for each kitty that comes through Angel Wings. When his new family came to the house, he ran to the daughter, who hugged him excitedly and paid the adoption fee herself.
“That young girl used all of her birthday money for this cat,” Kim remembers. “I cried. Things like that make me happy and know what I am doing is right.” In return, Kim says the cats have made her a better person.
“I am more compassionate and loving. Having so much unconditional love for a creature — whether it is a cat or dog or rabbit — that can never physically talk to you or explain what they need, teaches you a lot. They communicate in other ways. If you listen, you can understand. “It’s a lesson that applies to people as well, especially those who are from a different culture,” says Kim. “They may speak a different language, but if you truly look at them, you can understand each other. Animals teach us that, all the time.”