The nonprofit shelter, founded four years ago by veterinarian Dr. Monica Thompson of Palo Alto, received more than 80 percent of its funding from Thompson's nonprofit veterinary hospital, the Feline Well-Care Clinic in Redwood City.
Thompson decided to close the full-service veterinary hospital, which provided affordable veterinary services to more than 2,000 families and cat-rescue organizations from as far away as Morgan Hill, after long-term support for the animal-rescue operation failed to materialize and she ran out of resources, she said.
The Nine Lives Foundation will continue to save cats and kittens, only from a smaller location than her Redwood City warehouse on Spring Street.
The new location, funded with more than $25,000 from donors since she announced closing the veterinary hospital in March, will operate out of 850 East San Carlos Ave., a warehouse owned by former San Francisco 49er football player and Stanford quarterback John Paye. He runs Paye's Place and Velocity Sports youth training in San Carlos, Thompson said.
For four years, Thompson said she worked 14-hour days six days a week to support Nine Lives, spending days, nights, weekends, holidays -- and more than $250,000 -- to shelter up to 150 cats. She gave so much of herself to Nine Lives and the Feline Well-Care Clinic, often she did not pay herself at all, she said.
"I have given everything I have and then some. I thought by now I'd have a larger donor base. I'd do this forever if money wasn't a consequence. I'm having a hard time with this -- it's difficult," she said of leaving. "So many families can't afford reasonable care."
In the next four years, Thompson will focus on raising her teenage daughter, she said. Known for her devotion to saving felines other groups would have euthanized, Thompson added that although her veterinary practice is closing she is pleased the Nine Lives Foundation will continue to save cats and kittens.
Monetary donations and volunteers are still desperately needed, Thompson said. The new shelter will cost $10,000 a month to run -- approximately $100,000 per year. Currently, there is enough cash on hand to cover two months' rent, she added.
Nine Lives still has 80 cats and kittens and would like to adopt out as many as possible prior to the May 20 move. The foundation is offering discounted adoptions, which include barn cats, mousers, lap cats, senior cats for seniors and cats that love dogs, Thompson said. She will operate a monthly clinic at the foundation one weekend each month to help generate some income for Nine Lives and maintain client relationships, she added.
Nine Lives will reopen on June 1 with an open house, kitten adoption fair and giveaways.
Longtime supporters were saddened by the Feline Well-Care Clinic's closing and the shelter's uncertain future, but remain dedicated to seeing Nine Lives survive.
"This is the valley where everybody loves pets. I think it would be a bad reflection on our Silicon Valley community to let something like this go," said Becky Allen of Menlo Park, who adopted her cat, Lexie, from Nine Lives.
Allen said she hopes with all of the valley's venture capital and financial talent, that someone will start a foundation to finance Nine Lives.
"When I met (Thompson) I could see how dedicated and overworked she was. There were weeks Monica couldn't buy groceries. ... That's the kind of dedication I want to support." To help the Nine Lives Foundation, call 650-368-1365; after June 1: 650-654-7330. Visit www.ninelivesfoundation.org.