Man Turns Grief Into Hope by Sheltering Hundreds of Cats

After losing his son in a tragic accident, this man turned to saving the cats that nobody wants

By Catalina Barrios

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary


In how many wonderful ways has your pet changed your life?  My life has definitely been happier and more fulfilled since I met my dog.  Even through my childhood we were blessed with pets – 2 budgies, a parrot, and two dogs.  The joy a pet brings to your life is indescribable. Some would say they can even save a life.

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Credit: Happy Cat Sanctuary

Chris Arsenault is a man who would agree with my former statement. He has found his way out from a deep, consuming grief by saving hundreds of cats. It was 2006 when Chris lost his son, Eric, to a motorcycle accident. A point at which he felt as if his own life was going to end.

A few months after the accident, Chris, already a cat lover, found a group of 30 sick kittens on the side of a railway track.  He took them home and provided them with the care they needed to get better. In the process, Chris realized that the cats were giving him back his purpose, along with comfort and love.


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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

Chris wanted to keep helping cats after the colony got better. He contacted local charities and shelters to reach out with his mission. Soon he had 10, 50, then 100 more cats. And it didn’t stop there! The current population of Chris’ “Happy Cat Sanctuary” is 300 felines!

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

To accommodate all of these animals, Chris gave his home a complete renovation into a cat sanctuary. There are lots of special spaces for cats including hammocks, heated perches, as well as a gardens in which they can roam. The only area he saved for himself is an 8-by-12 foot bedroom where he sleeps and eats. Chris says that every morning, when he opens his bedroom door, he is greeted by at least 40 cats.


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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

“My house, it’s a big house and there’s a big backyard area. Everything is kitted out for the cats. I designed and built it all myself,” says the cat lover.

Everyday, Chris wakes up at 7 a.m. to take care of the cats. He refills water bowls, cleans litter trays, and mops the floors. At dinner time, he gives his kitty guests their favorite food, roasted chicken. Chris also dispenses any needed medication and ensures every cat is content and pain-free.

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

Two years ago, the sanctuary, located in Long Island, New York, received an anonymous donation of $200,000. This has allowed Chris to renovate and expand the facility, creating space for even more cats.

Annual costs for keeping the sanctuary running are approximately $100,000. Funding comes from a combination of public donation and Chris’ savings.

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

Chris has developed an effective system for finding cats that need daily meds; he uses colored collars. It can be challenging when many cats need different treatments. Chris says, “Depending on their illness, I treat them with different medications, and if it’s something I can’t fix, I make sure the cat gets to the vet.”

This cat heaven has a special area Chris calls a medical ward, where sick cats receive the attention they need.

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

Chris says cats will always have a place in his sanctuary even if they don’t get adopted. Currently, the sanctuary has several employees who help him clean out litter boxes and feed the cats.

You can see pictures of the hundreds of cats Chris helps by checking the Happy Cat Sanctuary Instagram (@happycatsanctuary) and Facebook account. He is also accepting donations to help keep his impressive operation growing on GoFundMe.

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Credit: Facebook / Happy Cat Sanctuary

“I don’t find it overwhelming even though there are 300 cats here right now, ‘I truly believe that if you are passionate about something, you can handle anything. I really love what I do.” Chris smiles as he says this.

This is man who has found redemption and happiness in dedicating his life to saving cats.