Nine Lives Foundation gets a 10th life | May 11, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 11, 2007

Nine Lives Foundation gets a 10th life

'No-kill' cat shelter loses funding from benefactress but is finding a new home with new support

by Sue Dremann

The Nine Lives Foundation, a no-kill cat shelter facing closure after its chief benefactor decided to shut down the veterinary practice that funded it, is getting a new, if uncertain, life.

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

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at


Posted by Sam, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2007 at 12:01 pm

We desperately need Nine Lives Foundation, an organization run by Dr. Monica Thompson. I've been rescuing animals, mostly cats, for a very long time and it's nearly impossible to find a good vet that really cares about the well being of the animal, the caregiver and the community. Dr. Thompson is all that and more. It's outright ridiculous that most pet hospitals charge $400+ to neuter a male cat. That would discourage most people from taking their cat to a vet. I would go without groceries to help Nine Lives Foundation out anytime. If only more vets and pet hospitals gave back to the community like Dr. Thompson does, we could actually make a difference in the care given to the animals that live with us in our homes or on the streets. Why not start now.

Posted by jack, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I can't believe you are correct about the $400 charge to neuter a male cat. I have had cats for many years and have never had a bill remotely like that for this operation.

Posted by LM, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I hate writing poor reviews, especially about shelters but at the incessant request of my family I will write this one. I do want to be clear that I honestly believe Nine Lives has the best of intentions in all they do and that I may just be a victim of highly unfortunate circumstances.

I decided to foster kittens for Nine Lives after much deliberation with my husband as we already have 2 cats at home which we are VERY attached to and treat like our children. Well, my gut told me not to foster because I was afraid of my pets becoming ill and well I should have listened to my gut.

Foremost, the first time I went down to pick out a litter of kittens I picked out one litter which the next day when I returned I was told all had ringworm so I was given a different set of four kittens to foster which I was told were totally healthy. I was emphatic about the kittens I was fostering being totally healthy from the get go. Dr Thompson said that the litter I was bringing home was the healthiest to date...which now I guess should have alarmed me. Were all the other kittens sick? So I brought the kittens home and they did have runny stool but as Dr. Thompson said they were getting used to a new environment and may have some tummy issues for the first couple of days. Well all seemed fine for a while but then the stool got softer and so I called the office and was told " a lot of our fosters have been brought back with Giardia" and to bring in a fecal sample. UM? WHAT? I was confused, if a lot of the cats were sick then why were they being sent to homes. Perhaps I didn't understand the fostering process but I asked to foster only healthy kittens and although I kept them separated from my cats I was deeply concerned. So when I returned home from my very long day of work my husband told me that our cats had been acting strange and lethargic which sent all sorts of alarms off and I checked their litter...which was bloody. Not just a little bloody, there was a good deal of blood both in the stool and urine and on my cats.
I called our vet who told me I should bring my cat (the one who had blood on his fur and was obviously urinating blood as he was going in and out of the litter box every couple of minutes and I watched him actually do it) immediately as it could be a result of a number of issues. Once there, he was given IV fluids and pain meds and sent home with me to be watched for the evening. My husband and I then decided that the kittens needed to be returned to the clinic whether or not they had brought the illness into our home was no longer a factor we needed to focus on our poor babies. I spoke to LINDA at the clinic in the morning and asked when we could bring the kittens back and if we could be kept informed of the results of the test ran on the kittens and their health since initially Nine Lives had thought it was Giardia and my vet had found out it was not Giardia at all but rather another parasite. LINDA told me that most likely they would not be running tests right away and was very rude to me. Sure, I understand they don't want kittens returned but I don't want sick cats either so a little compassion perhaps?
Later that day I had a chance to talk to Dr. Thompson who in a nutshell told me that she did not believe the fosters had gotten my "indoor only never been outside or sick a day in their life" cats ill and told me that my vets charged to much. She also told me that it would have been impossible for my vets to come up with the diagnosis in the amount of time that they had, which I later spoke to my vets about and they defended fully and reasonably. She said I should have called her at 11pm with my cat with bloody urine and she would not have charged me at all, and that was her resolution. She said she felt badly for me but assumed NO responsibility.
I think this event unfortunate. For starters, it has opened my eyes to the dangers of over populated shelters. The cause is fantastic but unfortunately a lot of sick kittens are out there and getting a lot of other cats sick in this sort of environment. I notice on several reviews below people stating the great care they received when bringing back their sick adopted cats...but why did they need to come back in with their cats so soon???? I adopted my cats from other rescues and only normally take them in for their vaccinations once a year! Cats aren't normally ill.
I don't think Nine Lives is a bad place. I think they are over capacity and making slight errors in sending out seemingly healthy cats too soon. I wish them the best of luck in correctly their ways and hope that they accept more responsibility for the fosters they are putting out there in the world. I also will accept the responsibility for allowing a foster in my home and acknowledge the fact that doing so allowed illness in my home...that is my fault. Thankfully I am a responsible pet owner and have pet insurance so I hope to recover some of my costs.

Posted by sad, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm


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